MEC Race #2: 10k trail run at Thetis Lake

Now, this one truly took me by surprise. I came into it very nonchalant…I wasn’t going to even wear my watch (I did) but I certainly wasn’t going to fuss or stress about the time. Trail races for me just aren’t competitive- you can’t go fast enough, reliably enough. I also kind of thought I was aware of the route, and BOY that was a surprise too~

You want to run a half marathon, but can’t commit to the distance or time? Well I have a solution for you- run this race and trust me, it will FEEL like a half marathon by the time you’re done 🙂

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First lap- looking good! Photo credit to MEC.

It was tough.

I’m not complaining though. You get your time, effort and money’s worth for sure! My only complaint is that for a trail race, it was SUPER congested. Packed with people, impossible to find parking, waits for the porta-potties and bag check. UGH. That’s what happens when over 700 people show up, I guess?

We were almost late too, eek! Darn MEC races, I am always almost late or late to them.

We made it to the start by, oh 2 minutes. EEEK

Off we went, and I found my first km fairly slow- 5:40 or so. Ian was ahead of me by a bit, and he finished in around 58 minutes.

Hm, that is slow. Little did I know that was going to be my fastest KM! HAHAH. Next, it was hills, hills, hills. Then, some winding single-track in the mud. THEN we had to clamber through the mud, and hop past a log- or straight over it. I pussyfooted all of the mud stuff and was super slow clambering downhill. Trail racing is fun, but I can’t afford to injure my knee or ankle at this point, for a silly trail race.

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Second lap. Getting tough…Photo credit to MEC.

People BLASTED past me in the mud, splashing, etc and tore downhill. That was ok, I watched, waited and bided my time…to pass them on the final loop (the course was two loops of the 5k course). It did range from fairly easy and straightforward, to technical single-track and very muddy, slippery and tricky. My shoes were soaked with mud, I landed hard and bent my right ankle three times in a row (shit).

The loops ends with a series of hills- like, 3. Ha. Then we ran past the beach to start the second loop. In the first loop, when we reached the hills, my breathing was terrible. I felt sick, and hyperventilated a bit. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that I was struggling to breathe, that I had a weight sitting on my chest. It was kind of horrible…I couldn’t seem to calm down?!!

By the time I started the second loop, my body seemed to figure out the breathing thing and I completely forgot about my panic and nausea. Weird eh? I kind of fell into a better rhythm by the second loop and was chugging along.

I was soaked in sweat and pretty exhausted, but the volunteers kept it very safe, watching the risk points that were really slippery or technical. I felt cocky going in and very humbled finishing!

I finished with 1:04:33 good enough for 5/24 in my AG.

Not shabby, and it was fun!

It was also FREEZING when we finished, so glad I packed a toque. WTF Victoria, get with the program and I don’t know, warm up or something for spring? I changed into my breeches and rode right after the race. Thetis Lake is actually like 5 mins from my barn so how is that for timing?! HAHA. Horribly cold though, ouch.

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Things happen. That’s all they ever do.

Enjoying this song by Dawes recently.

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Oats, looking as impressive as always.

It feels lately like all I am doing is ranting about the weather (terrible), work (more terrible) and just feeling draggy, grouchy, griping, unhappy, burned out, fried, stressed, sleepless, exhausted, etc etc etc.

I’m happy to report that today, unlike every single day this week, the sun is shining, it is slightly warmer out, and I do not feel completely fried, though it is a Friday and those days are notoriously nightmarish at work, sooooo yeah. But hey, I’ll take it right now.

Last night though was a different story, ha. I walked home in the longest, bitterest, saddest walk ever. It was FREEZING, rain/frozen rain/hail/snow and blasting wind. It was quite epic in a really bad way. I was soaked, even with an umbrella, and had to take my dog out, and then get dressed and go ride in my Thursday jump lesson.

To say I wasn’t really feeling it is the understatement of the century, ha.

But, I did.

…And I didn’t regret it. I never do.

We had a fine warmup, it was a long warmup b/c I was FROZEN. I needed to warm up longer than Oats, who was feeling pretty fine. We worked over a really crazy exercise- two outside lines, and then a gymnastic in the middle of the ring.

It was pretty nuts! Small jumps-only x-rails, and we really enjoyed it. I was able to really ‘ride’ my ride. Sit tall, make decisions, ride forward, and go with it!

We’d jump the first outside line, and the slice the three fences on a diagonal- then jump the next outside line, and slice the fences on the diagonal going the other way. Then over small flowerboxes as skinnies (we failed at this EVERY TIME. Oats deked out, hahahhahah) and the over the gymnastic in the middle.

I like it! A good challenge, even if I was a grumpy Gus about the entire day.

Really enjoying the creativity. Go pony go! Loving what my trainer has for me each lesson.

Hot moment: Week update?

So this week. Yeah….

Not much riding happened- 1 ride on Tues where Oats was hot to trot, and I loved it! And then it blizzarded again on Wednesday, so I walked home and didn’t leave the house all night…

And then a jump lesson Thursday after all the snow melted and it was a slushy mess everywhere!

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So, my week and my winter…

My lesson was pretty good, some big oops moments (like, disunited canter and me turning Oats too fast and him slipping so badly I swear I thought he was going to FALL ON ME) he saved my freaking butt!).

We worked on a gymnastic- canter-in bounce to four strides, and then coming around to a single fence on the outside line, and then the gymnastic, but we then did a bending line the second time around to a small oxer. That’s where I screwed up a bunch of times, grabby hands on my left hand pulling Oats’ face around. Shit!

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Some days you ride better without hands. This remains true…

We then went from the small oxer to the angled fence, and then angled it the other way, and then to a small ‘step’ type jump, back to the oxer, and to a single fence on the diagonal.

We made some big mistakes, Oats got surprised by the angled jump and slammed on the brakes but it was like, oh hey no big deal, let’s try that one again. And he jumped it totally fine, phew!

So, even though my lessons aren’t perfect or necessarily really nice looking, I am working through some things and enjoying the process. I didn’t want Nicole to put them up though, so that’s my next goal- be ok with the course, be slower through my turns, rein in my rogue elbows & left hand, and BE BRAVER about jumps going up. The jumps themselves? Totally fine, not a problem.

So, do it, ME!

Also work has been a nightmare this week and I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping. UGHHH.

The life pursuit

Yep, listening to Belle and Sebastian again!

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Want this again…

I worked on a very challenging exercise with my jump trainer Nicole yesterday. It was my fault- I suggested it in an online post on Facebook and bingo- we are doing it! We…failed kind of hardcore.

It was this: a zig-zag with looped circles that we desperately could NOT maintain for the life of us in the canter. I got lost sooo many times. Ha. I had fun though! Oats found it fairly challenging, and then got jumping super ‘blahhhh’ and almost killed us by rapping the back rail of an oxer really hard and tripping because of it. YIKES!

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This is more our reality…ha.

It was pretty crazy! I enjoyed the challenge though, and felt like I was really working on ‘letting go’ my anxiety-brain when I jump. When the jumps come up this fast (and you get lost this often) it’s impossible to think too hard about what you’re jumping, hahah. Plus we kept the jumps teeny-tiny anyways, so no biggie.

Oats did start getting tired and sloppy with his feet, so having the close call with the oxer really woke him up a bit! Scared the bejesus out of me though.

I feel like we did a zillion turns and jumped 10’s of jumps, hahah.

A fun exercise and a real challenge that showed us we have significant weaknesses…It’s easy to get cocky when things are going well (as they were last week) and then have this week take you down a peg or three. Ha.

 

Olympic dreams: Cross-country! Phase 4

Back to the plan- we watched cross-country out in the Deodoro area, which seemed like quite the trek out but after learning how far boxing was? I was counting my blessings it was only subway + train ride away! (and a long walk).

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RIO!!

The cross-country course was extremely technical and thrilling. There were quite a few falls by horse and rider but no serious injuries and everyone was up and walking immediately. This is important because the eventing community has come under fire the past few months and years due to a number of serious falls at a series of events, some resulting in the deaths of horse or rider. It is very frightening, and I was soooo glad that while the course was very challenging, it was not a killer.

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The course (it was hard to decipher)

That aside, I was in AWE of the skill, bravery and sheer balls these gutsy horse and rider combos had. WOW. Just WOW. Go you guys! It was stunning to watch and just so amazing. I loved watching so much I was super sad to leave and wanted to come back the next day…

Just amazing.

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So much power!

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Spooky? Huge? No problems!

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Keyholes…no biggie

Wow!!!

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Just love it.

These guys are consummate professionals!

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Into the other water like no prob.

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I loved this, it is a churrascuria picnic table en rodizio!

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A good stretch

Oats, since a few pretty bad rides a little while ago, has been on a good behaviour stretch. Our dressage is progressing with minor hissy-fits, our lateral work is improving and the improvement is actually noticeable?!

Yesterday, my birthday, we had a dressage lesson that started fairly heavy on the technical- with walk- quick trot step transitions, to some mild lateral work with haunches out and haunches in. Oats was okay for this, some minor fussing and balkiness but nothing compared to his attitude in the winter.

He did desperately want to ‘stretch’ out his head and neck though, and yanked the reins quite hard a few times! Karen says this is ok, as he is just looking to get some freedom for his head and neck and he’s actually starting to work through his back a bit more.

We then went the opposite way of the technical work and let them do big stretchy trots, allowing them to really reach down and we did this both in the canter and the trot. Overall, it felt really nice and I was quite pleased with the effort Oats was giving me.

Ended my birthday day with a nice dinner and cake prepared by my husband and a few glasses of Prosecco. Good to be alive!