Taking it easy: Horse edition!

And how is old Oats? He’s doing great! We haven’t had many WE lessons- due to my race schedule and a few other scheduling conflicts, but we have been enjoying our dressage/multitasking lessons on Thursdays very much πŸ™‚

Out for a walk in the sunshine

And on Sunday I was sooooo tired from having friends over that I couldn’t stomach the idea of rigorous ride so we cruised around the block and then I met some friends for lunch (for me that means a gigantic milkshake from Politanos!) 100% a great idea. Get yourself over to Politanos and you will not regret it!!

This is the Cookie Monster. It was good!

Camping take #2~

That’s right, I have now camped more this year than in my life, basically! Ha. We went up to Stoltz pool at Cowichan River and camped from Fri-Sunday, and luckily the weather was on our side. It was pretty warm out, so we didn’t need to wear too many warm clothes and didn’t freeze our butts off at night, phew.

Can’t complain!

Saturday I still wanted to ride and let’s face it, hanging around a campsite for an entire day/night?? NOT my thing. Plus it’s a no-service area, so no phones or internet! So we zipped down to Victoria and I got to ride, and pick up grain for Oats. A win-win πŸ™‚

Ian whittling down the sticks for my mega-marshmallows to roast!

We then had lunch (sandwiches that we made) at Spectacle Lake and it was a lovely day. Headed back to our campsite, packed up our chairs and headed to the river for some chill-out time!

Sunday it was grey and drizzly, so a good day to pick up and go I guess. Decent timing of the weather, get crappy when we’re leaving. All in all, a nice weekend to try and do something different. πŸ™‚

Fake it ’til you take it: Port Alberni 15K Paper Chase Race Recap!

In the midst of this madness…We actually had a fun Sunday! We hoofed it up (of course on Daylight Savings minus 1 hour of desperately needed sleep) to race in Port Alberni. This is the fourth race in the VIRA race series, and it is relatively new- only a few years in existence. You should have seen the sweet-ass medals we had at the first one, niiice!

88363646_1789809177823287_7168740934639681536_o

Trotting through the Mill site. Photo courtesy of the Port Alberni Chamber of Commerce.

It is a challenging course, and each year I remember getting a 15k ass-kicking. Was this year any different? Ha, not really! I felt horrible all week (thanks, severe asthma and allergies), and was just generally feeling miserable. I did not have high expectations for this race. It was really chilly when we got up at the crack of dawn to drive out there, and the beginning of the race was super cold too, but it cleared up and was pretty darn nice after!

The race is a smaller one- the drive is pretty long for folks- but it has a very generous start line, not congested at all. The vibe was pretty cheerful! πŸ˜‰ Love the run community.

89307878_10156756737566456_3564102100038189056_o

Trying to get more air by like, craning my neck?? UGH! Photo courtesy of Lyndon Cassels.

It also starts going up hill, and boy…By KM 3 I was like, is this some sort of sick joke? Jesus. I was gasping, coughing up tons of phlegm and just…Kind of struggling. Like I have been every day, ha. It’s a race that has quite a few rolling hills, and then the turnaround is good, and then into the McLean Mill! You run for just over 1 KM I believe, and it’s through the woods, mud puddles (wasn’t too slippy though), and then back to the road.

89448136_10156711697301087_3030018647583096832_o

I call this one- faces of pain. Photo is courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I struggle-ran the entire way out, and through the Mill, and then was like, hey you know what? I CAN turn it on! I am running this race, it isn’t running me! And I could pick it up. I was still gasping for breath, and in the photos you can see my neck straining mightily to breathe. That’s just my life right now, breathless, constantly. It sucks.

I felt ok though, and picked it up until the last oh, 2km? We then hit more hills that slowly dragged out my will to live… I needed some go-button help here. My husband helped me finish pretty strong though. I was happy with that! (we still got passed at the finish like we were standing still, ha.). My time was fine, good even for how shitty the week was/breathing/sickness- a 1:07:31.

I, of course, grouched that my time last year was over a minute better, but I checked again and I was wrong- my time last year was like 30 seconds better. So, fineΒ  with all things considering. I need to be friendlier to myself and my efforts, sheesh. I finished second in my AG and 9th woman.

We had excellent chili for post-race refreshments, and everyone was in a good mood~ The sun was out, so we decided to also cruise to the Quay and check things out in good ol’ Port Alberni. We got doughnuts – they were GREAT! So fresh, great flavours and selections, and the price was right- $6 for 6, even. Steal, right??

IMG-0043

Maybe a silver, but I got excellent doughnuts, so who’s the real winner here??

We wrapped up the lovely day by going to a new brewery, and they had patio seating open. Sunshine, a few beers, a 15k race. What more could a girl ask for?

(ok, well a sound horse, no allergies, no injuries, a non-pandemic…but this isn’t reality).

 

Music for the long emergency

Sooooooooo…Work is crazy right now, and that is due to the emerging coronavirus. I am assisting on the file (it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ thing right now), and making life extremely difficult for many, and in some cases, deadly. It’s a real challenge, and while I don’t want to dismiss fears, the risk we have here on the Island is very low. I do accept that the impact will eventually come here- like the flu, like H1N1, it will spread and sort of becoming ‘the norm’ but right now? Yeesh. Also I can be a bit paranoid, so having this be my ‘all day everyday’ existence is difficult.

IMG_1324

Bright side to the weekend: Doughnuts and sunshine!!Β 

But anyways, my normal life is fine actually, with a few dramas. Oats got out of his pen twice this weekend- 1 time on Friday night after I rode, where I SWEAR TO GOD I double checked his latch. I have never, ever left it open.

The other boarder suggested his horse might have opened it by playing with the gate. I thought that might be it, but my trainer said it’s really unlikely, but that I probably forgot to do up the gate. Ok, but yeah…

Until Sunday night it happened AGAIN! And I was not at the barn on Sunday- at all! And even worse- he got out past the external fencing, that leads to a MAJOR ROAD. WTF?

I wasΒ pissed. And it’s definitely the new horse neighbour messing with his gate that caused it to open both nights. So, there is a new chain, and mercifully Oats is ok. Phew!

And in other annoying news…Oats was stiff, balky and shitty on THur/Fri, and I found out why- and it’s twofold- 1. He needed his feet done like, 2 weeks ago. Bad me. I thought he was fine, and he just…Wasn’t. This is entirely on me.

2. He was playing too hard with his horse friend, and was sore. He felt prettttty terrible on Thur/Fri. Thursday I chalked it up to him just being stiff, but on Friday he felt awful- moving laterally, balking, stiff, stopping. It took about 45 minutes of riding to warm him up enough to feel ‘ok’ but not great.

The farrier came out on Saturday and trimmed him up, and then I rode. He was definitely improved from Friday (no tripping!) but his left lead canter still felt like a bag of crap. His trot work was almost back to 100%. He then had Sunday off (to escape…) and then I am riding tonight. Fingers crossed that he is back to his old form by now!

Man, Life. Just…ah.

Sweet, simple things

This weekend was a real low-key, quiet time. The weather was sooo nice, finally coming up to the double-digits. The sun was shining, and I didn’t really have to do much of anything. I did keep fairly busy, but I made lots of time to sit around and enjoy myself.

DSCF8370

The Chinese Cemetery in Oak Bay. Cool eh?

I rode Oats on Saturday and he was in snooze town. To be fair, I did ride on Friday night as well (and had an intensive dressage lesson on Sunday) so he’s going on a fairly consistent string of rides….

Went on a long run, watched TV and sat on my deck and drank a cider while reading my book. A great day.

Sunday I got to the barn a tad too early and got ready for my dressage lesson with Karen Brain. It’s been awhile in the making (because of Oats’ illness) so it felt good to get back on that train. We worked on some moderate leg yields and then on some horse-body-shaping, which Oats did protest at so we had to move it up to canter, because he was getting VERY bogged down. HA, poor OAts!

IMG_0480

I think my real job should be candy purchaser. Or reviewer!Β 

The day was beyond gorgeous. The only fly in the ointment is the extreme DUST that is taking over the arena. That, combined with a very high pollen count= my eyes, nose, ears and throat are on fire. I was coughing, wanted to gouge my poor swollen eyes out. Can’t stop rubbing them right now. Soooo itchy! ARGH.

We enjoyed our lesson despite the extreme dust and the sunshine just make it so lovely. I got changed into shorts (I know! shorts!!) and ran some hills on my way home from the barn.

We then went and took some photos of the Chinese Cemetery at Oak Bay. A very unique place!

I wish the weekends could last forever….

Family Day long weekend: Doing ALL the things!

We had a long-anticipated long (ha) weekend and boy, did we cram it full of things to do!

37320089444_5f255b9b17_o

The day was PHENOMENAL! Photo courtesy of MEC Victoria.

I even got up early-ish both Sat/Sun to be able to get stuff done. So what did we enjoy this weekend?

Saturday:

  • Got up, had a great breakfast (pancakes!) courtesy of my husband, and then up and off to ride Oats. Great ride, someone left a bunch of jumps up to a reasonable height (small verticals) so we schooled those.
  • Trimmed up his mane and then rushed home, to run my long run. It tookΒ forever.
  • Got home, took Gidget for a walk, showered and rushed downtown to do a happy hour crawl with husband. It was GREAT!
  • We started at Table 21 for $5 prosecco, (their food isn’t really great, and not a good deal), and then went to Perro Negro for their awesome $6 charcuterie platter and $4 glasses of wine, and then to Famous Original pizza for their fantastic pizza deal- can of PBR and a slice for $6. We got another slice each after that!!

Sunday:

  • Get up early for my riding lesson with Karen Brain. It was tough to get up that early, but my friend was at the barn and brought me coffee!! Sweet!
  • The lesson was awesome- I was really happy with Oats’ efforts, and minimal drama from him too. A focused and good lesson.
  • Got dressed at the barn and ran hills on my way home. PHew. My legs were fried!
  • Got home, and collected husband and Gidget and we went to check out Oak Bay for a change of pace. Grabbed some candy, bought raspberry hot chocolate and cruised around. We saw three otters swimming in a pack! So cute.
  • Husband made a great shepherd’s pie for dinner. Yumm.

Monday:

  • No early mornings here! Waffles thanks to my husband, and we packed lunch to go hiking up Mt. Wells, near Goldstream.
  • It was a good trail- I am not a skilled hiker, so I find it tough but it was quite fair. Lots of steep climbs though and great views to round out the experience. Gidget loved it! The weather was soooooo good. Cold, but sunny and so bright πŸ™‚
  • Ate sandwiches on our way to the barn after the hike, and a quiki ride on Oats. Some minor lateral work.
  • Home, and the climbing gym for husband, and the couch and Baileys for me πŸ™‚ Chores to round out the evening and some TV.

I LOVE long weekends!!

 

Race report: VIRA Cedar 12k (er…11.9k)

This was an exciting race because at the last minute the course had to change! A car hit a hydro pole, so crews were out at work on-course the morning of the race. The host club- Bastion Run Club- had to work fast to re-route the course and save the race!

27503995_1602145293202510_5282761805077300780_o

From the start line- photo by Lois D’Ell/Ceevacs Roadrunners.

They did a fabulous job. The re-route was slightly short- my Garmin read about 100m short, so not certified. BUT it was a lovely route, along some farms, quiet road and very scenic. Slight rolling hills but nothing compared with the prior BIG hill the Cedar 12k usually features, so times were indeed faster this year (well also it was short).

I wasn’t interested in racing this one balls-to-the-wall because I wanted to run during the week and save my race efforts for some other races – and quite frankly I am still riding the high of reaching my 10k goal at Cobble Hill, natch!

So, my husband ran with me (he was also not racing hard for this one) and we worked on some pace strategies. I want to try to see if I can maintain a 4:30/km in a race scenario longer than a 10k. Could I this past Sunday? Not quite! I was at 4:32/km which is close and I was pretty happy with that. It felt hard, and my legs were tired, but it wasn’t an insane gasping-for-breath pace that a tough race effort would be.

27710232_284965945365796_95244858983107515_o

At the turnaround: Photo courtesy of Ross Palfrey.

My next goal is to try and take that pace longer- for a 15k. Can I do it? Maybe? Not sure!

The volunteers kept us safe on the new course, the scenery and weather were FANTASTIC and a great day was had by all!

I finished the race with a fairly respectable 54:24, which was amazingly good for 2nd place in my AG. This is the best I have ever placed in my AG! It was a softer field for sure, less entrants. I felt pretty gleeful about that, whoop!

We had some great snacks afterwards, the awards went pretty fast and we had time for a beer at Chemainus’ Riot Brewery-score!!! πŸ™‚

Image

Riding is always simple, never easy

Riding is always simple, never easy

Love this photo, it’s how I feel in the summertime! I want to do everything- and nothing- all at once.

My ideal day? Ride Oats, do some jumping outdoors, go for a good long run (10k again?) and then grab an iced coffee or a cider and relax at the beach and read a book.

I frequently fall asleep at the beach- though after looking at my idea day, I’m not exactly surprised haha. There’s something so hypnotic about the sound of the wave, ambient noise of people talking near, but not that near, and the smell of hot sand, cold salty water.

Had a lesson last night- moved back to the indoor b/c the outdoor was quite hard, and I was worried about making Oats sore and sour after doing two straight days outdoors. You have to work up to riding fully outdoors and we are not quite there yet.

So we worked on bending, canter bend/counterbend with lots of breaking back to trot- oops! And leg-yield at the trot- transition to canter when we ended the leg yield. Was not a fantastic ride, but it felt more ‘thorough’ like we had lots of sort of chew over, rather than a YEAHHHH jumping ride that you feel exhilarated about.

Sometimes I go for the ‘easy win’ of a rush of good feelings in a jumping lesson, because the leg-yield/bend/transition/shoulder-in lessons are tiring, and you don’t get that WE CAN DO IT feeling…It’s much more subtle, and can get lost on me when I’m searching for that endorphin rush.

Riding isn’t necessarily about endorphins though, haaaa. Well, I did ride in the outdoors on Tuesday and it was much improved, and we cruised over a fence that caught my eye- unfortunately it was set up just to have a jump ‘set up’ and not necessarily for jumping! There was a pole a few feet tossed behind it, that I only saw when we were like, over the jump. Ooops!~ Luckily Oats is a nifty little fellow and handily saw the pole, jumped the jump and hopped over the pole, only tinging it slightly with his hooves.

Apparently the jump we hopped over was almost 2’6” and I didn’t even really notice- it’s funny, but the jumps in the outdoors seem less intimidating that indoors. It’s like they seem less significant when placed in a larger arena? Not sure why that is.

Image

Back in the great outdoors~

Back in the great outdoors~

Had a lesson that was FINALLY in the outdoor arena yesterday!! It has been closed all winter/spring due to mushy spots and water pooling in the corners.

The weather jumped up to unseen of highs of 25 deg and out we went! I was so glad, even a bit apprehensive as Oats and I haven’t been in the outdoor since last October. And how would he be?

Our indoor rides have been ~okay~ but I’m feeling a bit uninspired in the indoor and am seeking different challenges. I feel like I want more and more from Oats while we’re in there, and am dissatisfied with what I’m getting (even if it’s perfectly good?!) so this was a good time to get out and expand my comfort zone for the summer.

He was so good! We kind of stumblebumbled our way through some trot poles but really started bangin’ it together for a small grid of crossrail-vertical-vertical and then finished up with the grid to a small course of crossrail on the diagonal, to the long-side crossrail, to the middle-line lattice fence (pictured, though it was a bit shorter this time, think 2’3”).

My heart was racing but Oats was so good! We met every spot, he was eager and interested. I felt GOOD! Yeah!!

Also I was spending a lot of time at the park this week with my dog, soaking up the sunshine and reading my Kobo. I think that helped me feel relaxed and generally happy about life. I have to say Gidget really enjoyed her park time, getting to go snuffling around in the dirt and scamper around the park. She also liked drinking out of my water bottle (it was quite warm for her!).

A nice week, helped by some really awesome weather and good ponies!

Image

Throwback Thurs: My sweet little pigs

Throwback Thurs: My sweet little pigs

And their buddy the rabbit Cephi! Sadly, all three of these little guys have since passed on, but I love their little photo shoot and fondly remember all of them.

They were out enjoying some grazing time, and I was always very careful to move their cage into shade once it got too warm out, as these little fellows overheat very easily. Cephi was unimpressed by the cage and decided to hop right on top!

Perrie and Susan were very curious about their new visitor. They were always very friendly with other critters, like my friend Pixie’s pig Merri.

Miss all these little guys!