Gidget goes for a kayak ride!

The weather was SO NICE this weekend- just phenomenal. Very warm for February (which isn’t unheard of here, but last year was really nasty) I loved it! We went for a long walk after Oats’ farrier appointment/our riding on Saturday, and then on Sunday we had the trifecta: Our first VIRA race of the season (the first race was cancelled due to snow/ice, the second one we were in Mexico for, so voila!) and then I went riding while Ian went to buy life jackets with Gidget, and then we got the inflatable kayak Ian got for Christmas and went for a paddle after the barn!

What a great day!

The kayak requires a few kinks to be work out: Seats, leaking, etc. But we are going to figure it out and enjoy ourselves 🙂

Gidget seemed to be having an ok time too!

I could live in hope

So, when there’s nothing left to do…What do you do?

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Found all these cairns on Maple Mountain?!

Well, my husband and I started doing mega-runs on Sundays! Sometimes they are up mountains, or along the excellent Trans Canada Trail- we try to mix it up. When we were able to safely expand our personal ‘bubbles’ we went to Courtenay to where his parents moved, and ran from Courtenay to Cumberland. It was great!

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A nice outlook from Maple Mountain.

We bring a cambelbak (which we left the water bladder in Courtenay….shoot!) some granola bars and gummy candies, and then for after our runs, sandwiches, drinks and some snacks. It’s great!

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All our run days are blustery and rainy! This one we got caught in the rain for a bit.

I’m really enjoying the opportunity to go out and run more of this great Island that we have. It provides us with a valuable opportunity to get out, get some exercise and fresh air, and bonus- away from the incredibly crammed in parks that we see here in Victoria. All the parks that we like going to, Thetis, Elk Lake, Matheson Lake, Sooke, Goldstream/Finlayson, are swarming with people. One endless stream after another. It’s incredible. And not good for maintaining physical distancing, as we often see a mega SUV stroller that takes up the entire trail…Never mind the people that don’t believe in sharing the pathway…

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Running into Lake Cowichan! 

It’s just safer and easier to pack up and haul out of town (self supported) for the day.

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Both of us! 

And I am getting to see more of the local mountains and trails than I ever believed I would! Lucky me. 🙂

I miss you when I blink

So this was a loong and very fun weekend for me! The only (big, ugh) fly in the ointment? I’m still very injured – and I can’t run at all without shooting shin pain stabbing me every step. It aches every day, all day. It stabs when I try to run. I am not loving it.

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Ugh this sucks.

I did get to enjoy a lot of amazing friend time this weekend (spent the ENTIRE day on the beach, paddleboarding!!) and had a blast!

I also treated myself to a new swimsuit top, RockTape for my injury, flower headbands (what can I say, the film Midsomar inspired me…), and happy hour and a movie with my husband, AND I finally went to Red Barn and he made me a sandwich in the last 5 minutes of his time there. Success! I had many lovely rides, and even when I knew I wanted to get in a fight with Oats about contact (ugh, he was so heavy!) I pulled out an older trick I used (towel under the arm used to stabilize contact) and we had some truly excellent rides. His trot is to die for!

I also harvested, dehydrated and ate seaweed, from the beach near my house on Dallas Rd. Crazy eh?!!! Yum!!! There were, however, two horrifying bugs in it with literal pincers. YIKES. I ran away screaming and Ian had to handle the washing and processing of my harvested seaweed. UGH!!!

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Yummm!!

I also made these delicious blackberry popsicles! SO easy, good for you and delicious! Yeah!! (photos to come, I ate a bunch too quickly) I also included granola. 🙂

A place I’ll always go

I had a lovely weekend, and while it did end up being fairly busy it was also very low-key, which is my favourite! Saturday I rode, cleaned my tack (oh god, it was so gross), chatted with friends and went on a mega long run (so cold, so long). And then went to a friend’s housewarming part- a surprise because I didn’t even know he was back in town! Yay! I’m really happy that he is back, so maybe I might have a running buddy again.

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Last winter was very snowy. Maybe this year?

We got back laaaaaaaate from the party, and then on Sunday my husband kindly came to the barn and even got up on old Oats for a ride! I am trying to work more on Oats’ canter-  one of his weakest gaits, and something that I’m trying to address by using lateral work in the canter to strengthen. Mixed results, but each ride he is coming through better, I think.

We rode, and then my husband even rode Oats up the hill back to the barn. Ha, my friends were a bit concerned but Oats was as good as gold and he did fine.

We had our dog with us too, and decided on a nice-but-increasingly chilly walk around Thetis Lake with her.

Back home -brrrr- and I went on a quickie run before dinner, after desperately trying to stave off the magnetic pull of my couch. It only won partially, hahah. Brrr it was cold, and here we are entering a week of deep-freeze, just in time for me to jet set off to Mexico on holidays for a week! Good timing!

 

Guest post: Finlayson Arm 28k 2017 Race Recap!

Courtesy of my husband who bravely undertook this insane race last weekend! Without further ado:

The good memories of the 28k Finlayson Arm race are overshadowed by my evolution through intensifying stages of discomfort. This constant pain was punctuated by bursts of sunlight piercing magically down between treetops, a stunning vista or two and little reminders that this amazing network of trails is in my own backyard. There was also the reminder that I had volunteered for this little jaunt through the woods and that no one would sympathize with my agony.

A few weeks before the race, I had decided that four hours was the longest it would take me – the rough number to beat. I figured that was setting expectations so low that I was sure to finish with a smile. There was even some pre-race training for me, complete with my brand new water-bladder on my back and getting lost for an hour or two in the trails behind Thetis Lake. I felt sure-footed and strong. This was a race I could do. All I needed to do was power through some tough hills and keep moving. In a sense, that’s exactly how things turned out.

It was a chilly morning when we set out – cool and clear over night – but the forecast was sunny. The 50k and (suicidal) 100k racers had finished the day before in the rain. As if their punishment was not enough. I went quick off the start as I anticipated getting bottlenecked later on the narrow single-track. After a kilometer I was established near the top 10. Then we hit the creek. Anyone who has been to Goldstream Park will notice how a four-lane highway rips through the middle with no safe way to get from one side to the other. You either need to dodge cars or get your feet wet (and maybe your legs and maybe your ass depending on how nimble you are). A rope strung across helped the crossing not be complete madness, but it was a gritty way to start a race.

With wet feet I carried up through the rolling side hill on the west side of the highway. This is a really nice section of trail that I will have to remember to check out when I’m not racing. It was a time to flex out your legs, find your pace and your seeding, a bit of a free pass before you hit the real hills. Looking back I wonder if I went too fast in this section, maybe blowing too much gas.

About five kilometers in, we were back under the highway (luckily through a dry stream bed this time) and through the main park, eerily deserted in the still early morning. I already had a pain in my leg, a nagging injury that I’m learning to live with, so I started to run a bit more cautiously.

Next it was on to the main event of the first half of the race, up the face of Mt Finlayson. There’s a slow build to remind you that this is a serious climb, to check your pace and your ambition. Then it gets steeper. Then the trail kinda takes a break and you start scrambling over rock, open to the sky. I should mention at this point all the volunteers and signage to keep you on track. There is plenty of both and I always felt like I knew where I needed to go. They seemed to anticipate in these early sections where you might go astray and had people there to point. On the mountain there were more guides. It’s the kind of climb where there is the very real possibility of running off a cliff into thin air so I’m glad they were there to point the best way.

At the top of the hill I felt pretty good. Well, not good. My legs were burning. But there was a lift in getting over what I knew was the hardest section of trail and I had kept my pace and not been passed. It was this feeling that propelled me down the backside, not too steep (which was nice) and into trail that I had never seen before. Just before we popped out on asphalt (a surprise) I was passed by someone with a bit more lift than me, but I stayed on his heels as we ran along the short section of road towards the first aid station.

The station could not come soon enough. Almost two hours into the run, I suddenly felt depleted. I wanted to stop and sit and eat some cookies, but my new nemesis just cruised on through. I grabbed a cookie and a banana piece anyway and set off on the next leg, back into trail. This is where my memory of the route got a bit hazy. What kilometre were we at? How far to the turnaround? Basically, the race had moved solidly into ‘not-fun-anymore’ territory and I was doing some mental math on how much longer I would have to move. At two hours the footsteps behind me turned into people passing me. I tried my best to make sure they weren’t increasing their lead on me, but I found myself slowing on every little hill, my flow completely evaporating.

There is a long hill in this section that, mentally, nearly did me in. Where was the bloody turnaround? The trail was also quite technical, with loose rocks and big steps up in places. Then I saw the front runners coming back down and couldn’t decide if I was elated or destroyed. It meant the end must be near but also put the necessary route back home into perspective. At least they were giving shout outs to keep me going: “Almost there!” I hoped they were right. Finally there were more people coming back down towards me – people I recognized! Hey, you’re only a bit ahead of me! And there were the volunteers, a photographer snapping a picture of my grimaced face, and the end of the ‘out’ – it was time for the ‘back.’ (Side note: one of the volunteers or spectators or whatever was announcing ‘halfway there’ and I thought that was a bit cruel. Maybe most didn’t hear or didn’t care, but I was a believer for a moment. Could this truly be only halfway?)

I was so happy to be heading home (and downhill to boot) that I even passed who I would later find out was my trail buddy. I swung my bag around and took out my gel pack. Time to take in some energy and get going. Things were looking good. Now it was my turn to dish out enthusiasm to those still on the grind to the top – “keep going,” and “almost there” I kept saying even as it became less true the further I went. And there were so many people behind me. I was doing well! Then all of a sudden I wasn’t.

I was coming undone, step by step.

After three hours of “running” I did not have the strength to keep my pace, or any pace. I was passed, then passed again. I knew the aid station would be coming back up again but I needed it now. As I popped out of the woods back into the daylight I was passed by another three. But I had to take a moment. I grabbed another gel pack, a banana and squashed a cookie in my mouth. The volunteers were asking if I needed to fill my pack, something to drink. I shook my head and imagined the madness in my eyes. I muttered something about wanting to use up what I had. Maybe I had filled my pack too full as well. Then I was off for the final few kilometers and my once measured race became an unhinged stumble to the end.

The return route did not go back over Mt Finlayson, but skirted along one side. It was a rolling bit of trail that took a lot of focus. Right in front of me was the aforementioned Trail Buddy – temporary companions in suffering. It felt reassuring to keep pace with someone. Those who had passed us seemed to have extra energy to tap and were pulling away, but we were hanging in there, moving forward. I knew the end could not be too far off, but looking at my watch I began to wonder if I would get in under four hours. More importantly, would I be able to stand on my feet for that long? We rounded the mountain and rejoined the steep trail up from before – this time heading down. My legs – knees, shins – could not handle the steep downhill. I grimaced with every step. Up or down would not do; I needed flat, please.

Down and down we went and we were passed again. My world got smaller as I narrowed my focus on foot placement without collapsing or catapulting downhill.

Next was a split off to the left, in the direction of end/start. I could hear the highway again. I was picturing a mental map of the park and where we were in relation to salvation. The end could be around any bend, I told myself after every bend. Out of nowhere this guy in his sixties came up on us, hooting and and maniacally urging us along. “C’mon boys, let’s give ‘em hell” he shouted as if we were heading over the top of the trenches or storming Normandy. I put on a face and groaned some more. The crazy old man disappeared whooping and skipping along. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.

Then at about the same time that I decided my legs were finished, I spotted spectators ahead. There was a volunteer with a clipboard, calling ahead with my number, the sound of fans and a PA system blurting out names and congratulations. And then I heard my name, a mix-up, before I shot out onto the grass and over the finish, some prize pack thrust into my hands, the buzz of activity all around. There was my run buddy (he beat me in the end) with a high five and then food, glorious food.

For the next 45 minutes or so, I paced around in agony in between vigorous stuffing of burgers and beer. I could not decide whether to sit, stand, walk, or crawl into the bushes for a little nap. It was agony, but I had done it. And I never had to do it again.

I stayed on to cheer some others as they came across. A seventy year old, a guy who had finished the 100k yesterday was doing the ‘double-double,’ some others who I recognized from races past. Were they fast, was I slow? Did we all do “alright?” I cared a little. As much as this race was an experiment, you want to do well. Or well enough for your expectations.

I got in at 3 hours and 51 minutes, somehow just inside my (soft) target. I might as well have run a marathon. It’s the slowest 28 kilometers I’ll likely ever run yet certainly one to remember.

Everything is starting to make sense

Had a BUSY weekend. But a good one!

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So, what did I, Oats, Ian and Gidget get up to?

Saturday I had rescheduled my lesson for this week so I rode two jump lessons last week instead- Thur/Sat. Saturday I was out in the field for my ‘brave girl’ jump lessons! And it went really well- though most certainly not perfect, ha.

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Oats was on fire! He was charging off and it surprised the heck out of me. Who replaced my lazy as sin pony with Mr. Hot Pants? Wow. We had to work through some stuff (a few silly stops when I pulled my hands up before the jump, one attempt through the barrel jump that was basically a runout-stop-climb over it, I think he was feeling tired by that point, and one jump we crashed straight through in a -go-no-stop-no-go disagreement…Whoops! We circled around and jumped it fine the next time, so no hard feelings on that one.

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We jumped a lot, ha. It was quite a warm day, so my husband and I then headed straight to Thetis Lake for some good trail running (9km slow) and then we picked up our swimsuits, got changed and went swimming in the lake! How perfect is that?

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In the evening, we went to see a film- The Big Sick and it was pretty good actually.

Sunday I was on the go again- I volunteered as a flagger at the polo tournament (Victoria’s Lt Governor Cup) and it was a scorching day in the sun! I wanted to ride in the slow chukkar but didn’t get added to the tournament, so spent the day volunteering instead. Bummer! But oh well, there will be plenty of opportunities to play coming up.

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It was VERY exciting, and I saw some really crazy plays- full bore gallop ride-offs, some neat backhand goals and some really intense gallop leads. WOW!

Then I hopped back in my car and went to ride Oats (dressage in the indoor, I was feeling completely fried by the sun. Ouch!! Even the next day my face felt tight and hot.). Silly me, too much sun exposure and no hat. I know better than that!

All in all, a good and busy weekend. 🙂

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! 🙂

Track Meet #2 Race Recap

This past weekend was also my second attempt at racing on the track at the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series.

Was I ready? Hmmm…not so much. It was hot, and I was feeling pretty lazyyyy….Literally the polar opposite of last track race, where it was freezing and I was so cold my teeth were chattering.

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I am a winner! (of nobody in particular)!

We had gone to Thetis Lake with floaties and got fro-yo and I had ridden that morning, and just, yes I was feeling entirely warm and very mellow to get up and gear up for a race. Nevertheless we were going to do it!

We checked in, got our bib numbers, and waited and waited. We had an opportunity to watch the elites race and WOW…They are astoundingly fast. Phenomenal. To compare what I do and what they do is like watching a camel vs a gazelle. No comparison.

I registered for both the 3,000 and the 1,500m but only ended up running the 3k because they were running both back to back and my lungs were KILLING me. I couldn’t stop coughing! So, yes the best option was to leave gracefully on the 3k and go home haha. The 3k went okay–I went out way too fast. My fastest kilometre on record- 3:45! And then I immediately bombed it. My pace was too fast, my lungs couldn’t keep up and I rode the struggle bus allll the way to the finish line, finishing with a really bad 4:21- which is a km that I would normally finish a 10k at. HA!

BUT since I was the only young woman racing in this race- I race in the slow people category because I sure am no elite! I still won first place and received a medal and some lovely flowers, that I am extremely allergic to and had to keep them outside on my patio.

I’m glad I went, but I wish I had run a little bit smarter. Each race teaches me a bit more about myself and about racing. Last race I learned not to try to pass on a corner, and this race I learned – again- not to go out too fast in the first KM, no matter how tempting it feels and how good you think you are!

Also because I only ran one race, my lungs were rotten all night and I was coughing like I had serious emphysema, but then the next day they were recovered way faster than my first track race–success!

Go us! 🙂

Who needs Who?

So, weekend recap: It was great! Had a weekend to enjoy the sun, as we are having a bit of a mild heatwave here (heatwave on the West Coast- +25 deg) Yeahh!!

Saturday, I rode Oats and he was hot. He tried to test me a bit by balking and refusing to walk forward at the far end of the outdoor riding ring, but I defused by just being like, uh..no. You will walk forward, even if it is sideways. He got over it pretty quick.

We got some great canter work, and then schooled a diagonal line that we messed up in our lesson- the waves jump to the ‘road closed’ plank. He did it very well! 

Husband and I then went to Thetis lake with some floating air mattresses, and floated out to the small island. SO nice. Sublime…

The evening, we met up with friends for a small BBQ in Beaconhill park and played Bocce. A good way to end a beautiful summer day.

Sunday- busy day! I got up to run Elk Lake (haven’t done a 10k since the Times Colonist race!) and mannnnnnnn it sucked. My knee was bugging me instantly. So, a run turned into a 10k walk/limp and took freaking FOREVER.

Sigh. Guess it’s not going to heal and this may very well be my reality…Despite the foam rolling, the ‘short runs’ and stair work and the muscle-building exercises. Grragrrrh!

Brought clothes to change and some snacks and headed straight to the barn. It was getting HOT! I rode Oats in the indoor, because I was a bit afraid of getting heatstroke- I seem very prone to it right now, for some weird reason. He was pretty good, we worked on ‘gallop’ and bend/counter bend at the canter- and yes, it was tough. We were dripping with sweat!

Hosed him off, and me too, and then it was home again and off to the beach! I took my dog out, and then left her at home. Packed up my Kobo and set off to chillax at the beach for awhile. It was quite hot, I was like..Am I in danger of getting too warm? That almost NEVER happens here, hah.

I got home around 5pm after the beach. All in all, a very nice weekend.

(photo of Nemo jump- yes finallly, I told you I could figure it out- courtesy of the talented Sarah C.)