Racing again?? Cowichan Autumn Classic ‘combo’ race recap

Things are still not great with poor bunny Tucker. I just don’t know what the right choice to do is.

But otherwise, I had a really fun/awesome weekend!

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

AND I raced again, for the first time in two years, I can’t believe it 🙂 I have had a really challenging return to running after my second stress fracture episode of Feb. I wasn’t healing, from something that seemed so minor, really wasn’t. It seriously cramped my style, brought me down. I signed up for this race and was doubting if it was the right choice up until I hit the start gates, I’m not kidding.

Dying at the finish- photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

I signed up for the ‘Combo’ race where you run the 5k and 10k and get two finishers medals (argh I do not need these, anyone want some medals??) but I figured it’s unique, new to me and why not? I also know myself and figured if I could take the pressure off one race then I could enjoy myself for two! 🙂

But yeah I aggravated my injuries last week and was DREADING the race. Like, I couldn’t run last week, wtf was I thinking??

Well, anyways the die has been cast haha.

We were forecasted for absolutely heinous weather and gotta say, SO GLAD they were wrong for once. It wasn’t terrible and rainy, it was pretty nice out and not too cold!! The setting was lovely for a fall race, so scenic, well organized and picturesque. I lined up for the start of the 5k right up in front, as I figured such a small race will have a lot of walkers/etc. Turns out my instincts were 100% correct: I went to the front, and stayed in the front. I felt funny, like I was having an out of body experience and boy this 5k was tough- some rolling hills, and you ran through trails?! For a 5k? hahh so that sucked the speed right out of me lol. I got beat by the 1st place woman and it was no contest, ha. I couldn’t catch her at all.

Running so fast you can’t catch me, camera! Photo by Ian.

But I was hanging on to my 2nd place, kind of by my fingernails even! It was hard, I was horking and gasping and just ..ick. Felt like I was going to puke going through the finish lines, but the ending was great, basically a screaming downhill for the finish. LOVE that.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

And after staggering around for awhile, I grabbed some water and felt my legs tighten up in a way that I haven’t felt in 2 years. Then it was go time for the 10k! My lungs were in pretty bad shape- I have asthma that causes me to cough like I have emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia all at once. It’s awful. That’s why I have a few inhalers, it’s so painful.

Taking it easy in the 10k!

But not time to linger, it’s 10k time! This one I was going to take it easy and jog it out. I started mid-back pack and started so casually that I forgot to take off my mask, haha. I cruised off and enjoyed myself until I got boxed in by slower runners after about 1km, so I had to actually ‘run’ sigh…And then I was running alone on and off for awhile. The trails were beautiful, big puddles but flat, and we ran up to the Holt Creek Trestle (but not onto it) and then back to the road and I passed one more runner on my way to the finish.

Lovely scenery that day.

Good thing too, because I didn’t know they judged the combo race as a separate race! My take it easy pace kind of killed it for me hahaha, oops! It was also a lucky thing I ended up passing that one runner, because she came in 4th and I was 3rd. Maybe I should have tried during it? Ahahah I am also glad that I didn’t know- it was more fun that way.

Much deserved wine sample.

We finished, and I felt good and happy. I then got my wine sample (think I should have gotten two, or maybe a full glass for winning a medal??) and we waited around for the awards. I was certain I got something- and I was right! But yeah, third place woman for the combo, and I was kind of like ahh…that second place for the 5k would have been sweet, but hey, who cares eh?

And a full beer for me thanks to Ian. A good day!

A lovely day, fun people and some excitement in our lives. What more can a girl ask for??

Go out fighting

Mega-run update!! As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I take each Sunday as an opportunity to go for a mega run/hike. Last weekend we went to Heather Lake, which was a good experience and full of bear poop with 1 bear sighting. The weeks earlier we went out to Duncan, Maple Mountain, Mt. Tzouhalem, Shawnigan and so on, even Courtenay!

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Borrowed photo- one of the many trestles

This week we revisited Sooke and the Galloping Goose. We have been working our way through 10km sections of the Goose every other week or so, and this time we started on Ludlow Road and went up to the Sooke potholes. Or so we thought…

We ran for about 7km, and then the entire trail was blocked off due to construction on the trestle bridge. No way around. Decision time- head home at 14km or try one of the offshoot trails (to a mystery destination??). Obviously we were too hardcore for only 14km, so we headed up into the hills to check out Grass Lake in the mountains. The trail said it was only 3km, so we figured sure, why not?

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Grass Lake! Up high. 

God, it was the longest 3km of my life. Sheeeeeeeesh. Rocky, clambering, very slow. We kept plodding along, and after running, it felt just deathly slow!

We kind of got worried that we’d be out on this trail all night (no exaggeration, it felt like forever) but then we ran into some folks, and then kept going, and then we found the lake! It was pretty nice, very quiet. Some campers were packing up from the 1 point you could visit the lake at. There were also very pretty hot-pink water lilies! It’d be awesome to swim in if it wasn’t constantly winter here and freezing cold.

We got chilled right down, and then hoofed it back to the main trail, a groaning 5.7 km back. But you know what? It turned out that that amount DOWN is way easier than a mystery 3km up and scrambling over rocks. Felt pretty darn smooth! And the best part, when we got down to the Goose, it was only 5km back to the car 🙂

All in, it ended up being over 3 hours and about 23 km. A bit more ambitious than we thought, and we were pretty underfueled for it (yikes) but it went fine! It helps that it’s not hot here anymore, so no fuel is not a big problem.

A good run day for sure! 🙂

 

I can’t help you if I can’t help myself

Back to JUMP lessons on Saturday! It seems so funny that only a few months ago, I was fussing hardcore about having jump lessons on Saturday because it can be tough on my weekend schedule plus I just didn’t like to really be scheduled on the weekends, in case things changed, plans came up, etc…

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After my ride, I turned Oats out with his friends. Here he is having a nice grooming session with a buddy! 

Well, I guess everything changed and now I have lessons on Saturdays because no other days worked! If I wanted to do dressage lessons, the only day that worked was Thursday. My jump day! So I moved jump day to Saturday, dressage to Thursday, and Oats’ novice rider lessons are on Tuesdays. Busy busy eh?

We had a nice lesson but WOW having to get strides in the indoor and in a line (4 strides) instead of 5 strides, felt tough! Really tough! I am not used to pushing, and neither was Oats, haha.

Still it was fun, I was out of breath and tired, haha.

We did a small line in 4 strides, and then a small course working with the line/bending line. I, of course, messed it up a fair bit at first (thank GOD the jumps are like..a foot. ha).

Still, getting back into it just requires more work! More than I remember, hahah and wow it is tiring. I think Oats felt the same way 🙂 Felt so good to do it.

Buy you some time

Well it’s officially ‘Snowpocalypse’ over here on the Island! White winter for sure. We have about a foot of snow in our neighbourhood by the water. I put my big treads on – the Saucony Peregrine shoes- and jogged to work today. It kind of sucked, it’s tiring to run in snow and while I made an effort to run in the street, it’s still a tough slog. Oh well, a good cardio workout 🙂

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Happier this year! 

I’m not sure if I will be able to make it out to the stables though- two days off and I start getting VERY itchy to go and see my dear pony! I know he is being taken care of and is safe though.

The critters are enjoying the snow- Tucker was playing in it yesterday! A marked difference from last year, when he sat angrily in the snow and it piled up on top of him, hahah.

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And I had one frightening incident (side note- why the DRAMA lately? jesus christ I am so OVER it). I was leading Oats up the hill to the stables, when the fellow rider in front of me who was leading her horse- the horse paused slightly and LASHED OUT her hind hoof in a huge kick. She kicked my coffee mug straight out of my hands and it went flying! The horse wears steel hind shoes too, so jesussss I got incredibly lucky. SO lucky that it wasn’t my hand that got broken, or my freaking face.

We both never saw it coming. That was the most chilling part. Usually you can read something happening by body language- they get spooked, antsy, angry or pissy. The horse looked chill, didn’t even raise her head and BOOM!! Kicked. I have been around horses for over 20 years and I have NEVER been kicked in my life. Until now, I guess? It scared the bejeezus out of both of us. The owner was really sorry- and it’s 100% not her fault, at all. It was just a really scary incident.

It was also a wake up call to me, to be very aware and careful with handling horses. When you are around them this much, you get complacent. Until something really serious happens, like Monday.

First the dog attack, and then getting kicked by a horse. World, please stop.

Doing your homework

Last night I went out to the barn and was really dragging. It was pouring rain, though still fairly mild, and I just wanted to sit on my couch and watch Heartland, to be honest.

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There was a lot of this. Soooo exciting… 

However, I know that Oats has his leasor riding in a lesson tonight (she has Tuesdays), and I like to give Oats Wednesdays off before my jump lesson on Thursday, so MONDAY it is!! And because I am a masochist (I don’t actually think I am, I am more of a hedonist, ha), I decided to do what I had been putting off all weekend- my ‘homework’ ride. These can mean anything from working on our canter (ugh), long and low work (ok) transitions (ugh), or the double UGH- trot fences. No cheating in the canter, trot only.

So trot it is!

I really don’t love having an audience for these rides. They are just so…unfortunate. Ugly. but, I had no choice last night, so I had to swallow my pride and just do it. Over and over and over….Trotting a million crosspoles. Knocking them down, having to get someone to put them back up, and going back at it.

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I’m sooo not a fan of trot fences. 

It was really tiring actually! I also ate too much at home and my stomach was joggling MOST unpleasantly.

Oats was a good boy but damn they are just…grinding. Grinding it out. Homework. Not flashy, fun, or glamorous or anything. I just do it. And do it over again. And over again, and then take a break, and then do it again. It’s funny but when I was a kid I would have KILLED to have access to a fabulous pony like Oats and the opportunity to do x-poles to eternity…As an adult I’m like, ugh not trot fences again…

I do know that this unglamorous, fussy and tiresome work of endless trot fences is GOOD FOR ME and I will keep doing it. It keeps me loose, my position relaxed, and me more fluid and flexible when I have a jump lesson. It is just hard work though.

 

Stuck under the surface

Dude, this week…For a short week, it sure hasn’t felt short. Work was an absolute shitshow. Everyone working flat-out all hands on deck style. While not physically tiring, I was SO.TIRED. by yesterday…brain tired I guess? Just fried. I know I’m not the only one, pretty much everyone feels like this.

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Some days you ride better without hands. This remains true…To this day! 

I also had a dentist appointment, huge event, and riding lesson yesterday. I am mentally tired.

Dear god, this week!

Thankfully, Oats had his lessor resume lessons for November, so I was able to ride Monday, she rode Tuesday, and he had Wednesday off. That left me with time to stay later at work and not have to worry about trying to get to the barn. I had my lesson last night, and while my day/tacking up was clumsy (literally everything I touched fell into the dirt. EVERYTHING. Helmet, saddle pad, bridle, horse boots, my gloves…everything I touched fell on the ground)…The lesson itself was really good!!! 🙂

We worked on a series of x-poles in a bounce gymnastic and when that was going well, we moved it to NO HANDS people! I was terrified- even though Oats is a saint, I have a lot of trouble relinquishing control, particularly in front of the jump. I just want to grab! I ended up trying a few times and failing, until I finally managed to let go of the reins a good stride or two before the first x-pole and it went perfectly!

We then worked on a small course and all was well. What a little lovebug.

Dressage lesson tonight, and I hope it goes better than last week. He just felt really stiff and resistant on the left rein last week. UGH. It sucked, given our general rides/jump lessons have been so smooooth.

Tough Jump

So in my post-juice-cleanse fervor, I forgot to update about my Thursday jump lesson! That’s right, juice cleanse + jump lesson = success?!!?

Um, maybe not.

But it was a very interesting one anyways. Circle jump with two skinnies (box and an arch) that we were VERY bad at, and even worse at angling…I just couldn’t seem to think fast enough/get my eye and brain going around the turn in time. Ha. Poor Oats was like WTF are we…doing?

Anyways, it was a pretty challenging ride and we didn’t even make it to the full course- I was exhausted! My legs were burning and I was huffing and puffing. Oats was quite sweaty, and seems to be sweating through his clip job in November, arghh.

My final course went like, circle jumps to the right, angle the arch (didn’t make it, had to go around and angle it correctly) to a small canter-in grid, to the circle jumps, jump across the diagonal, go large to a small verticle on the long side and then back to the circle jumps going to the left, and then over the ‘road closed’ on the long side, back to other verticle on the long side, with an angled jump over the arch.

PHEW!

Tiring I tell ya!

I couldn’t figure out if I was tired b/c of the juice cleans or just plain tired because it was a tricky and technical ride. I’m going to chalk that up to both!

SSITS Avalon Derby-Cross: Show recap!

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. –Michael Jordan.

So, my show recap is mixed. It was at once a great success and good memories, overcoming challenges, and at the same time kind of a bummer and a disappointment. So, with my quote from the great MJ, I’ll start with the recap.

We trucked up-Island on a rainy Saturday, leaving late from the barn. I had butterflies in my stomach ALL day- ones that barely abated even when I ran 14km with my husband in the morning. Too much time= a problem for me. Oats loaded up great, we packed everything up and headed out. The Malahat was rough going and absolutely pouring rain. It looked pretty grim…

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Soon I hope to have photos of the Derby!

There was kind of a negative energy rolling around, some people had some personal things on the go that were troubling them. I feel like I can be quite sensitive to that, particularly when I’m feeling on-edge as it is. Nevertheless, we got there fine despite the hard rain.

We tacked up, it was a monumentally confusing warm-up for us–we had a newcomer to the grounds with us, it was raining, wet, late, and we were very confuddled. Finally, things started to resolve and we headed out to the field. Oats was up up up! But, he settled pretty nicely, the rain started abating a bit, and we jumped. He was fabulous up until the log jump, when he slammed on the brakes. Ok, so that surprised him. We worked back up to it and he was lovely!

We then moved to the other field- it was a loooong course for me at 12 jumps and long flowing approaches- and I had some more trouble with him stopping at a brightly coloured fence with flowers. Not gonna lie, it really rattled me. We worked through it and after hanging out for a bit, Nicole encouraged me to go try again to really ‘cement’ the jumps in my brain and Oats was 100%- which made me feel way better. I felt like effing Ian Millar!! Whoop!!!

And then we were camping, and there was some sad horse drama….Oats was being a dink to the other horses penned nearby, which was irritating…But the really bad news? My fellow rider’s mount (my trainer’s horse) had a cut on her leg that developed back into her chronic lymphangitis…She was pawing at night, and we didn’t realize how bad things had gotten. Shit!!! In the morning, her leg was blown up, she was exhausted and not sound. My fellow camper/rider had to scratch. How terrible, given her lovely and very competent warm-up. I was sure her first Derby experience would be a great one, and then this happens? UGHHH.

So, the morning sure did not start off well…But the show must go on.

Sunday our first course at .70m- I was really nervous, eek- was fantastic! It wasn’t perfect but Oats was totally honest, I was feeling good and for awhile we even held the high score (at 78) for the round! It was a real thrill to hear my name as the leader for a few rounds. The classes were really big- over 16 riders? So I eventually got bumped down to 4th and finished in that place. I was beyond thrilled! I believe the winner had a good 10 points or more on me at 88 I think. I did miss an opportunity to get a score of 80…sigh.

Here is the link to the photographers: I LOVE the ones of Oats and I will be ordering some prints!! Maybe this one? 

Of course then I kind of started not wanting to ride my second and third courses, and mentally started backpedaling a bit. My second round, I started out pushing Oats quite hard- one of my biggest struggles with him is getting more forward, and I lost the plot at the 9th fence- the smallest one on course, and jumped up his neck- he refused the jump and I fell over his head (again!! ugh!). I was totally fine, but really bummed…

I knew that I wasn’t feeling mentally prepared to go out and make it happen with Oats – for some reason it was taking a lot of energy from me to be focused and ride well enough to get him going. So, Nicole suggested my friend, who was just there to watch, handle my 3rd class and get Oats really revved up and through to the jump-off. She put on our fellow rider (who’s horse scratched) breeches, boots, helmet and my number and was ready to rock!!

They did so well too! They achieved the jump-off goal- with Oats, who is NOT fast, a feat in itself! Sadly they had a stop in the jump off so out of the ribbons, but I was so happy to see Oats end on that note too.

So there we have it–a day of many mixed emotions. I have to give great kudos to the young rider who had to scratch. She handled it with great maturity, when I would have pouted like crazy. Even after I fell off and was feeling sorry for myself, she said hey, at least you get to ride! And that made me realize how lucky I truly was. She was 100% right.

🙂

Run/ride/PARTY!!

So, work has been insane this week (what else is new? eye rolls…) so I haven’t had a spare second to update. However, the weekend was super jam-packed with a lot of great things.

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Not quite so classy this time.

I ran close to 20k with my husband (my Garmin F10 was not working that well, so it started later into my run, hence the ‘close to’). It was a solid run. I don’t often feel that way –usually my long runs are horrible struggles, where I second guess my ability every step of the way, and feel tired at 4k. I still felt like I had been running forever at 4k, but then magically at like 17k, I felt like, hey no problem guys- I can do this!

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I got this, long run! 

We finished our run and drove home for lunch. I finished lunch and then zipped off to the barn to get in a quick ride, because I had a beer fest to attend at 3pm!

Oats was good, it was a VERY fast ride and we did a few trot-canter transitions: our homework as per Karen Brain from my last dressage lesson. We still suck at them but oh well. I then got home, changed, and we zipped out to Phillips annual Hopoxia! We had a blast! And those mini samples are deadly.

Long story short, we drank too much. Wow! Good thing we were walking, so we walked there and basically staggered home. Eeeek. Luckily my husband has a sixth-sense for when things are ready to go seriously sideways for us–though he does catch it when we are already somewhat inebriated- and he suggested we leave. Good idea!

We staggered home, at like 7pm. Whoops!

And that was it for the night for me. I am super glad my day was extremely productive, because my evening consisted of feeling too out of it to even watch tv!

Haha, I guess you have to get silly sometimes, or life is no fun. Though I gotta say my ride the next day, with a slight hangover, was really NO fun. Ugh.

Oh and who do I complain to about the weather? It freaking SUCKS. It is freezing outside. It has been blasting wind and/or raining every single day. It is also 9 deg right now- in June??

World’s Okayest Runner: VIRA Cobble Hill 10k race recap!

Yes, three races in three weeks! My legs are feeling TRASHED today, ha, and I had a coughing attack walking to work. Such is the price to pay for glory??

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Me- on any given race day.

So, last week was the MEC 10k, and the weather was god-awful. This weekend was much sunnier, and it was the VIRA Cobble Hill 10k. This is a race I vaguely recalled running last year, where I set my first 10k-related goal (the vaunted, hard-to-achieve time of 49:29 as Facebook reminded me today!). Wow, how things have changed eh?

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Photo courtesy of the Ceevacs run club.

This time, my time goal for the 10k is sub- 45:00, which I know is going to be extremely challenging to get. And that wasn’t necessarily my goal for Cobble Hill–I kind of wanted to see what I was capable of, coming off a 10k last week? Sound reasonable?

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My new fav run photo- courtesy of my husband!

I mean, if i got sub-45, I was going to be very happy, but I also realized that realistically in running, ‘wishing and hoping’ isn’t very well going to make it happen!

Newsflash: I didn’t get sub-45. But I got a time I was very good with!

The race itself felt like a slice of special Hell. I set a very good pace at the first km (4:19?!) and the immediately realized I could NOT sustain it, as I set it running down a slight incline…Whoops. My allergies were going insane and I could hear my breathing through my EARS every BREATH was like this weird echo of a loud person breathing in my ears. It was making me feel really crazy.

I started gaining time…from that fast pace to 4:29, 4:37,4:39, and then it got really ugly and I was gasping and starting to feel sorry for myself…4:44! I had thoughts like: I see Ian and his dad, I wonder if I could just pull out now, and end this?? Would anyone notice? How does it feel to quit mid-race? How did this feel easier last week?

Let’s just say 4km and I are not friends.

The race was also super super busy. It was packed! I wasn’t passing anybody. They were all passing me haha. I went around the turnaround and started mentally slapping myself. Only 5k left! Sharpen up! Focus! Pick yourself up! No feeling sorry for yourself!

The mental slapping must have worked, because I started to regain more control of my breathing (it still sucked, but sucked a bit less), and worked my pace down to 4:26. I then flip-flopped between 4:26-4:3-? until the last KM, and I ran my 9th km at 4:23, which I was VERY pleased with.

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Photo courtesy of Ceevacs. I swear, I thought I was sprinting…

I was not so pleased with how terrible I felt during, and after, the race. Jesus.

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Award ceremony! Photo courtesy of Ceevacs.

I staggered through the finish and sat down on the crumbling steps of the school. I couldn’t catch my breath well enough, and I felt dizzy. I walked back to the school/staging area with some nice runners and my calf seized up–I was dehydrated.

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Kind of Halloweeny eh? I actually tied for 8th, but ended up in 9th for some reason? (milli-seconds??).

So, I was very happy with my time (a not-shabby 45:23) I was not super glad about how it actually ran- it was ugly, it felt horrible, and man, it was just…extremely rough.

But as always, there is another race, another day, and my effort was good. Thanks to the Ceevacs running club, the volunteers, race director, photographers, course marshals, food staff (!!yummy chili!) and photographers (my husband included) for making the day a real one to remember. 🙂