Ultramarathoner

So I did something this past weekend that seemed pretty crazy to ‘outsiders’ but pretty old hat for running nutters- I ran a 50k trail race.

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On the homestretch and feeling strong. Photo by Joseph Camilleri.

Now let’s backtrack a little- I didn’t tell anyone I was training for this, except for Ian and a few friends (ok, 1 friend). It scared me more than a little, and I was worried about it. Just completing it felt like a huge task, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I also didn’t want people analyzing me, or my running, or second-guessing how I was going to do. I wanted it to be personal, for me.

So…I kept it under my hat for months. I signed up for the race in December after deciding last year that if I couldn’t go faster, I would go longer. Of course, then I had an incredible race season that proved that I COULD go faster, so…Ha. But I maintained that this was my main goal- completing the race.

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At the start- the lady with the hat and walking poles is the legendary ultrarunner Ann Trason. 

The race: Prairie Inn Harriers 2:18 Run Elk/Beaver Ultras. Why Ultras? Because they offer multiple distances for the choosy runner (or crazy runner). I raced the most popular distance (50k), and they have a 40k walkers category, and a 100k and 50-miler.

The race is quite small, which surprises me because for a beginner’s ultra it is very race-friendly. Run 5 loops for the 50k- a bit repetitive due to the loops, but VERY safe, easy to stay hydrated and fueled, no need to carry nutrition or water with you, and it’s a flat course with some gravel and some roots but nothing difficult.

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Lap four and going strong! 

So, pretty doable for a first-timer ultra. The race started at 6am, I got up at 4:30am to choke down enough breakfast (hated eating, but I didn’t have a real choice) and get to the lake for the start. I was fortunate enough to have my long-suffering husband come and be my support crew (driving, handing me gels/Gu’s, electrolytes at each checkpoint to mark the laps).

Basically my brain/body was still asleep for oh, two laps or so? I ran pretty slowly and had a hard time getting with it. I felt like I didn’t really ‘warm up’ and feel like running or racing until the second lap. Which I guess, if you have 5 of them, is totally ok! I ran with another runner for the first lap (Steve) and we helped up another woman who went crash landing face-first on the ground. She was ok, but ended up dropping out after that.

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My best support crew ever! 

By the third lap, I was in the groove. I was doing it! It was a beautiful day, I had to use the washroom but nothing bad, and I felt like my fueling/water was right on target. I ate a LOT of Gu’s and gummies. The maple syrup gel I tried out was so gross I thought I was going to puke- gagging sweet. ICK!

I also ate a S’mores GU that basically slurped right down my throat because it got so warm, which was kind of gross but also…kind of ok? Ha. I really liked the Powerbar gummies, yum and great texture. The Clif Shot Bloks were harder to chew than I recalled.

I was getting tired of sweet things- yick, so many sweet things.

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Each lap I ran through the checkpoint to register my bib, and grab a few doughnut pieces to eat while I gulped down water and electrolytes. It was getting hot, my face was prickly with dried salt that abraded my nose whenever I rubbed it.

Halfway through the 4th lap (35k) my legs started howling. Wow, this was getting hard.

I struggled on and went through my last checkpoint- Ian was cheering and encouraging me, and I felt pretty good heading into the last lap. Except my right knee locked up when I started running again, and I limped for close to a kilometer until it got with the program. I was pretty concerned- was this where it ended for me? 40km? But I kept moving and motion is lotion so my knee got with the program and it was ON!

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The aftermath- not too bad actually!

My goal was to basically finish, but I was aiming for around 5 hours or under. I was right on target on my last lap, and I needed to basically pull it together for 10km more.

I felt pretty strong overall, and random older men who were unofficially manning the water stations (ersatz…water bottles left on picnic tables, haha not fancy) were impressed and told me I was looking really strong. YES! I can do this!

I ‘raced’ ok it looked like I was walking but I swear I was running so fast into the final stretch and I couldn’t believe it was over.  I ran it in 4:51 for third place in my age-group. A huge sense of relief, but also …I was expecting more? For it to feel different? For me to feel different?

I chatted with the volunteers, stood around for awhile and then we headed out for brunch- yes!! I did have a hard time scrambling out of the car (low+calves cramping up= can’t move nimbly) but otherwise, my recovery has been pretty fine. Phew!

So I did it. And I feel like if I did it, anyone can. It’s just a matter of putting your mind to a bigger, more frightening goal.

 

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Peru- the adventure of a lifetime! Step one: Lima & Radiohead

I actually put this off for a day since I’ve been back chiefly because I don’t even know where to begin! I will start by recapping my adventure from where we first landed- Lima, Peru.

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In Lima, we stayed in the Miraflores district. It’s a very safe, quite rich and fancy area in Lima. There are a lot of poorer areas, and one that is outright unsafe (at the airport, Callao, the port area). Lots of robberies, muggings, etc. But it’s easy to bypass by buying a safe bus ticket that leaves directly from the airport and it’s not an area you ‘wander in to’ by any chance.

We spent a few days in Miraflores in a very nice Air BnB that had a rooftop infinity pool, a ground floor pool and lots of sundecks. Really awesome. It was quite warm in Lima, as the sun really lazer beams down on people.

For our time in Lima, we visited the Pucllana Temple, which is right in the heart of Miraflores. It was very neat, and a cool way to learn about pre-Inca civilizations (there were so many, over 35?!).

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We then went to the historical old city part of Lima, and that was okay…It was kind of a bust tourist-wise because they just didn’t seem to be really set up for lounging at cafes or having cocktails, if you know what I mean? Just, nothing there to sit and enjoy. We did visit the San Francisco monastery, where they have very creepy catacombs. A reasonable price and a super interesting visit/tour through the catacombs. I highly recommend!

In the evening, we went to Barranco. Aside from Miraflores, people stay there. It’s really awesome- beautiful, quirky, funky, lots of people and restaurants and very safe. I loved it! There is also a brewery there, the Barranco Brewery.

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The next few days, we ran along the gorgeous Miraflores sea walk. They are very close to the South Pacific but it’s not a very friendly beachfront. There is no sand, just rocks and the highway runs right along next to it! The waves are also killer… And in the evening, we went to the Soundhearts Radiohead concert!!! WHOOP! The bus to the soccer arena was a flaming nigtmare, and I seriously wondered if I was going to get crushed to death. Yikes. I do NOT recommend taking the bus in Lima. It is a horrible experience.

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But anyways, we made it and the concert was SO GOOD. Radiohead played well to their audience, it wasn’t too crammed, and they had three encores. We left after the second, as I did not want to repeat the ‘crushed in a bus’ experience…But we still had time to listen to ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ which made it allll worthwhile….

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Corvina ceviche

And then it was up at 4am to catch a flight to our next adventure- Iquitos and the Amazon jungle. Stay tuned…

 

Teeth for days

Not a busy weekend, but a good one. Friends dinner out on Thursday, games night with the barn girls on Friday night, and nothing but hanging out with the husband on Saturday night. Just the way I like it- balanced visits/hangouts with friends and some quiet time.

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Fun in the field from last week!

Rode Oats Saturday and Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves riding in the field on Sunday (or at least I did, Oats seemed more interested in taking me back to the gate, ha when we were cooling out).

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Oats jumps an imaginary jump (aka a ditch, haha).

No dressage lesson tonight, and I skipped riding last night to let my legs hopefully recover. They have been having a hard time with recovery- I keep getting a big knot in my inner thigh muscles and it’s threatening to spasm prettttty hard. I have recurring issues with charley horses, quite severe ones, so I’m trying to make sure that doesn’t happen!

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I also went on a fairly long run on Sunday and was pleased with my recovery on that. I just need to be careful balancing riding and long runs, or else I will burn myself out physically!

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Honey Bunches of Oats does dressage!

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

I saw this quote in another blog (Medal Slut), and I loved it so much I had to use it~

“Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski

And here’s the shocker-for a reluctant dressage-er, we did REALLY WELL!! Got our personal best scores of all time?! 68.47% in Training Level 1, and 69% in Training Level 2~ can you believe it! I can’t!

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The whole gang with their ribbons!!

Rewinding a bit, I had originally wanted to go to the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper show on the Saturday, when everyone was going but as I mentioned yesterday we had a packed schedule and no hauler to go up with, soooooo dressage it was!

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

I had avoided the dressage ring for a few years, because it was hard, we were’t good at it, and it tripped all of my high-anxiety issues for showing and Oats did not respond well to my nerves, at all. So, jumping it was. But then, my husband got me some fancy white dressage boots for Christmas, so I wanted to show them off…and well, I had a ride to the showgrounds with my friend and her horse, sooooo…

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

It was fated! We were doing dressage for the first time in like 3 years!

As you will note, we practiced a LOT in the two weeks leading up the show. Four dressage lessons, even? I was ready. I was still very nervous, but luckily we didn’t have a lot of time to fuss around at the show, as we were running kind of late, haha. I hopped on, did a pretty perfunctory warm-up (Oats was ok, but swapping his left lead for his right CONSTANTLY in the warm up and it as driving me nuts). Anyway, off we went for Training Level 1 and you know what? It went fine. I felt pretty ok about it, despite him spooking a bit in the warm up and getting a little silly.

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Funny enough usually at horse shows, I can’t wait to BE DONE and get off. This time? I finished my test 1, and said I want to get back in their and have more opportunities to ride the test! Who is this girl? I was still anxious, but I felt like I could have more time in the ring and really focus on riding.

Cue super long hiatus where Oats got loose and ran over one of the girl’s finance’s foot. Whoops!! He did catch Oats for me though, with Oats pinning his foot into the ground. Yikes! Oats and I hung out for ages..My first test was at 9:50am, and my second one was at 1:50pm!!

I got ready at around 1:10pm and warmed Oats up for the second time. He was TERRIBLE in the warm up. Thundering around, swapping leads like crazy, kind of acting nuts. I had this awful sinking feeling in my stomach.

Nicole was like, hey leave it in the warm- up, and just go and ride your test!

Easier said than done…

But, we entered the ring, started the first half of the test, got whistled out (judge thought we were doing Training 3 mistakenly, so I got to go back out, re-enter and start the test over.) Despite the miserable warm-up, the whistling out, we DID IT. We entered the groove, where I was focused on my test, on my horse, and on my body.

Each moment was there for me, and I wasn’t thinking too far ahead. (I did worry about the canter, ha).

When we came up to the final halt, I just KNEW we had a rocking test. We aced it!! The judge called me over and asked what breed Oats was (a mutt, I said. haha) and she said she really liked him and he was a good size and a very nice mover! WOW!!!!! 🙂

That test? Highest score ever for me- 69%. Good enough for second place for us! YESSS. A great end to a good day. I was very proud of how we pulled it together, and you should have seen how great everyone else was riding yesterday- I wasn’t the only one coming away with some good scores!!

Kudos to my friends for their great efforts, and to the Cowichan District Riding Club for a friendly, welcoming and fun atmosphere.

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Photo courtesy of Makayla Hovey.

Second chance summer

What a great weekend. It was so lovely, I wish I could bottle it, so I could release those ‘feel good’ endorphins for months to come…

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Photo courtesy of my friend- blurry but it captures all the fun we had!

It was the kind of weekend where things just work out. The weather was fantastic, I had some great times with my girls, drank wine, ran, rode my pony, floated at Thetis lake and just had a fabulous time all around in the hot sun.

Saturday we went garage sale-ing in a community that usually has great garage sales, and this year it sucked! What gives??? I still bought a pair of shorts and workout pants (and they do look great) but in the past we’ve had way better luck. Oh well, that’s just how garage sales go I guess…

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Holding hands so we don’t drift apart! The two Sarahs.

Then I zipped out to the barn and rode Oats in the outdoor arena and he was really great out there! It was so hot too, I couldn’t believe it. Like a big frying pan. I had a super fun ride, hung out at the barn for a bit cleaning & conditioning my tack, and then drove home and prepared to…go on a really long run. In the heat. Wow! It was really rough, not gonna lie. More of an eternal shuffle-jog, but I did it!!

I then had the luxury of a great bbq dinner courtesy of my husband with a beer to share and a bottle of wine. Ahh….

Sunday I didn’t have to get up too early, but my super-husband made crepes! Whooo! And then we both set out for the day- I rode Oats and then my barn friends and I went and floated at Thetis Lake (a great idea of theirs and the BEST day to do it). I just had this feeling like, I wanted this day to last forever….

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Oats has also been enjoying the summer! Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

Husband went climbing for the whole day, so I wrapped up at the lake and then put my gym clothes on and stopped off and ran some hills (again in the heat, yeowch it was tough) before heading home to take Gidget out. I had to walk some, I was dying!! Oh well, my legs too quite the beating this weekend.

Home again, with an ice cream McFlurry to finish off an amazing weekend. I just wish I had so many more of these! 🙂

Back to the grind

Yep, back at it (work, riding, running, normal life that doesn’t include sitting at a pool drinking wine)..sigh. And I am still really sick, coughing a lot with some intense sinus pain pretty much daily. Love it.

Monday I flew in and rode Oats pretty much immediately. It was a HOT day and it surprised the heck out of me! We still rode in the indoor because my trainer and friends were hard at work on the outdoor, fixing it up and setting a course. It looks fantastic!

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Outdoor 2017!! Summer here we come. Doesn’t it look divine?

Tuesday I didn’t have a lesson, and desperately wanted to check out the outdoor arena, but it was not to be- there was a sudden and fierce windstorm, with winds gusting from 70-90km/hr! I had a devil of a time walking home from work, and then I was walking Gidget and the wind was so awful it blew her dog poo bag right off her leash where it was tied. She was getting blown backwards! It was horrible!

Nevertheless, I trudged out to the barn, my car getting pelted with small tree debris, leaves and branches. Greeeat….

My ride was good, but the tack-up and grooming part was marred a bit by me getting annoyed by a fellow rider, who insisted on ‘claiming’ a cross tie that led to me having to move all of my grooming equipment and tack THREE times. Next time, I’m saying too bad so sad you move! Seriously! I was pissed, had a violent sinus headache and just wanted to ride, go to the pharmacy and crash at home.

Anyways, despite that, Oats was in a good mood even if I wasn’t! Good boy. We worked on posting at the canter over poles, and I let it help me find my distances (sort of worked) as poles are our hardest work. I find it much easier to find a distance to an actual jump.

A good ride, even though my horrible sinus pain still plagued me and I couldn’t WAIT to get to the pharmacy to get some sweet sweet cold medication (I actually finished an entire pack last week, ugh this cold is something horrible).

Last night Oats had off, and I went running and made dinner. Tonight- jump lesson in the outdoor!

Biggest weekend recap ever: Jumping, massively sick, a bachlorette party?

Thursday I rode in my lesson (perhaps unwisely) as I had gotten turned away at work for showing up sick…I had a horrible sore throat that came on suddenly overnight and it was just awful. I couldn’t sleep all night, felt like knives stabbing my throat and I couldn’t swallow, my throat was so swollen.

Yay…

So I went home and lay around the house after work kicked me out. It was so boring that I was desperate to do something, so I dragged myself out of the house and went, drowsily, to my lesson. Where we jumped 2’9” hahah.

I know eh? But hey, it went fine! Scared the bejeezus out of me but he did it great every time! More times than I wanted to jump even! We just kept doing it. The other jumps weren’t…so good. He had some issues with a short distance into a line and kept slamming on the brakes? WTF? He is not a horse that stops, and it was NOT high, haha. It was almost like he was getting spooked by it? Weird. We did that one over and over again until it was fine with no issues.

Silly pony. 2’9” oxer no prob, but 2’3” black and yellow? Nuh huh!

I felt very spacey and dizzy after. Ugh. Just in time for my sister’s bachlorette party in Kelowna, which I was flying out to on Friday. Whoop! *cough* cough* sneeze repeatedly, cough some more…My sinuses hurt…

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The view from Arrowleaf winery. Sigh…

But yes, Kelowna. Despite being pretty sick, I had a really fun time! We rented a condo in a golf course area, and we had a blast! We visited the Kangaroo farm on Saturday, and then found a beach that wasn’t completely flooded out to chill out on and eat some junk food picnic, drink some booze, and float around on the lake!

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We wrapped up that day by more drinks around the pool at the condo, and then a BBQ (that turned out to be a total shenanigan…we had no propane tank?) meaning we had to make friends with a football team staying at the golf course to borrow their propane tank…It didn’t work so we had to get them over to fix it…I then put temporary tattoos on them like ‘Cheers Bitches’ and ‘Team Bride’ and ‘Miss to Mrs.”…fun times!

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I’m a natural (wallaby) mother!

I drank a touch too much but also I blame the heat (28 deg and unused to it) + junk food+ cold medication so yeah, ended up feeling quite rough the next morning. I got my run gear on, went to tie up my shoes, immediately felt like puking, ran to the bathroom, threw up, and then went back to try the shoes again (success!) and went on a wimpy, hot, weirdly sweaty run.

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Got back, still felt queasy and ick, showered and ate a bagel and then we were off to wine tours! The tours were great, we went to these wineries and they all had really neat and different venues with lots to offer.

  • The Blind Tiger
  • Arrowleaf Winery
  • Parallel 50
  • Grey Monk- we had lunch here and it is PRICEY. The food was not included in the wine tour, so the tour was $150, and lunch at the winery ran about $45/per person. Ouch!
  • Intrigue Winery

All in all, a great but quite expensive day.

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What’s a bachlorette party without hunks?

Then we were back to the pool & hot tub, and I swam for a bit in the pool. Really enjoyed it! I wast totally sacked though, so I prepared dinner for the gang (all 7 of us) from our grocery leftovers and did a pretty good job if I do say so myself, and then went to bed and didn’t sleep at all. Sigh! My flight out was at 8:45am on Monday and I felt so sad to leave. It was so hot, it felt like summer was finally here.

A good weekend all around, and I even got back to ride Oats on Monday, get a sunburn on my shoulders and still continue being sick back at work today. That part sucks!