Some really fun rides

Had a great lesson last night, where we worked on an exercise that was deceptively simple but also tricky: Jump a small 2ft jump on the long side, then canter leg yields weaving through jump standards! We remixed it a few times to change direction, trot the jump, canter the jump, back to trot, and worked on straightness via leg yielding to the fence.

Small fences, like this from the summer

We had a really nice time! It was a reminder to focus on straightness as well, as that was definitely something we struggled with generally when we jumped. Also I haven’t really jump-jumped in awhile so that was nice too πŸ™‚

Ah miss summer…

We had a really fun ride and the ponies were game to try anything! Though they really herp-derped the warm up fence a few good times too hahah. Silly guys!

VIRA Comox Valley Half Marathon: Race redemption?

We had our first half marathon in over two years on Sunday and WOW I was ready to go!! It was up island, so quite a few hours drive away for us, but luckily our in-laws moved to that region so we could go up Saturday and stay overnight. That was particularly nice due to the time change (spring forward…) and I still feel tired and am not sleeping. Love that…

And they’re off! Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But yes, the race. I like saying I have unfinished business with the half marathon. With any distance right now actually, as I enjoy a burst of newfound speed. (Seriously, who am I????). I was a touch apprehensive going into the race as I did feel a bit undertrained, two 8ks aren’t really cutting it and I wasn’t able to get up to the distance/mileage I might have wanted but hey, them’s the breaks eh?

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camillieri.

I was a bit worried that it would be pissing down rain on race day but we got lucky- just gray skies! Yay!

It was chilly but not freezing, ideal weather some would say for a race. I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt, and felt warm enough to unzip it about halfway through. We warmed up fine, and I ended up chatting with a run guy I know, who also does race announcing- it was nice to see him again πŸ™‚

Off we went, and they actually had pace ‘groups’ for 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00 so you could align yourself with your ‘corral’ and I lined up with 1:30 feeling VERY ambitious. We started and I ran with the 1:30 group- kind of unofficially- for as long as I could hang. Turns out I could hang for about 8-9km and then not at all, lol.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

I felt quite comfortable but was very aware that I hadn’t had much time on my feet lately and not raced this far and at 10-11km, it SHOWED. Woof. I immediately felt worse and while I wasn’t struggling, it wasn’t as smooth and easy feeling as up to 9km had been. Goodbye, pace group!

I ran alone for awhile, which was ok. Did some creative math that always equaled out to me finishing a shorter distance instead of the full one, that was boiling my brains a bit. I didn’t even get water? I just felt like if I did, I’d never be able to regroup my legs. My left hip felt pretty miserable, I guess from the road cambering. I felt like I handled the hills ok for my level of conditioning but I never really got better at pacing through them.

Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

But I was trucking along. The only real killer time was the loooong 2km stretch before the final turn to the last 1.5 kms. All a big lineup of trucks, diesel exhaust and just so blah. An uninspiring finale on what is a very picturesque course.

Yes!!! Under 1:30 πŸ™‚ Photo courtesy of Wink Richardson.

And then it was the finish! And I was running alone, just like Rocky hahah. I felt quite triumphant and not even like puking or anything?! Yes!!! My time was 1:29:23, good for 7th woman overall and 3rd in my age group. It is a small but fairly competitive field. Ian did amazingly as well- right behind me at 1:32:51. With no training?! HOW?? I just know I personally would just die instead, ha.

Enjoying a post-race beer at Gladstone Brewery.

The volunteers were excellent, and did a great job wrangling all of the recalcitrant runners. We had some chili after that was great, and I picked up my award. After, we had a beer outdoors at Gladstone Brewery. I was pooped!! It was chilly out but a pretty decent day all around.

No training at a 1:32. How?!!

Don’t shy away: Dressage lesson!

Man, I haven’t had a good dressage lesson in…2 months? Soo many things came up, unfortunately.

Nov we had extreme flooding, so had to wait for the roads/arena to dry up, and there was a gasoline shortage too. Fun!

So naturally I had to get video. Still wish I’d gotten it from the right, it was a touch nicer.

Dec we had abscesses for weeks (not so fun), snowstorms, holidays. Boy that really adds up! We also had extreme cold- a week and a half of -9 so people had frozen pipes, frozen/black ice on roads and a ton of snow. Needless to say, not a productive month.

Jan my trainer got COVID so we had to wait until she was feeling better, and now she is! Yay!

And I was thrilled with how lovely Oats was feeling. Man this guy- 20 years old and he blows me away with how lovely and accepting he was in my lesson. We worked on a little pole circuit, and to the right he was foot-perfect. To the left, we started off really well but managed to kind of blow it to the pink poles. SIGH. Something to work on, as I know going left causes my body to twist in ways I don’t really want, lol. Oh well, guess it can’t be totally perfect, can it?? It was close!

Good boy Oaty, I love you!

Jump lesson #5

And it went quite well! As I have been working back up to our regular height/ability with Oats, I did find myself getting freaked out by going ‘too fast’ and feeling rusty and out of control. We addressed that by trotting in to a line instead of cantering, and it has made all the difference.

Still needs work? My legs felt flappy and weird trotting in this week, and Oats was crooked as all hell, funny enough with a big LEFT drift even though he tends to drift right?

Wheee! Mega-dramatic release by me over a tiny jump πŸ™‚

Also I kind of gave up leg-wise and we had two mega chips every evident in the video, hahahah. My fault, 100%. When I actually ‘rode’ to the jump, things were great. If I gave up? Well, chip-city and a re-do. Oats has been performing really well, honest to a fault. It’s just me that needs to get their butt in gear!

And then of course I ride on Wednesday and I don’t know what it is about Wednesdays but Oats is always SO bad?! He picks that day to really lose his mind about every single corner in the arena, regardless of whatever is going on IN those corners…Yesterday he lost his mind about a squirrel outside the arena in one corner, and then had a comically dramatic meltdown including a rapid backpedal at warp speed when the trainer moved the wheelbarrow…. Sheesh. Maybe I should just start giving him Wednesdays off?? Save us a bit of drama and hassle? He’s such a gem on Tuesdays and then kind of a nightmare on Wednesdays. ARgh.

All in all, I’m very happy with our progress. Good boy! πŸ™‚

An amazing weekend!

The weather was INCREDIBLE last week and this weekend. Wow. After my extensive complaining that April was the new February (no joke, I realized I had been writing ‘Feb’ on all my journal entries for Oats?? I guess it really did feel like Feb?), we had a real turnaround with a heat wave and I loved it!!

So glorious…

Sadly, like all things ephemeral and temporary, it will not last, but man…Wasn’t it glorious? Weather up to 20 degrees (15 where I live on the water always), and it was just stunning. It was easy to forget we are still in the middle of a pandemic that is getting worse before it gets better- my vaccine time is NOT going to be soon, sadly- it was just so nice to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

I enjoyed the sunlight perhaps a bit tooooo much- my face was sun-shocked and red and tight but not sunburned after my extravagances this weekend. Even with sunscreen! Ha! I guess it had been that long since it was so sunny and warm, my poor skin didn’t know what to do.

We took drinks to the beach and sat for a few hours and watched otters play in the seaweed beds, hunting. We people-watched, admired the sunlight, the water, and listened to music. It was perfect.

On Saturday my husband joined me on the track!! I know! He never does, so we hoofed it over there after I rode Oats (lightly- he is very hot with his shedding fur coat and is not acclimatized at all), and worked on rehabbing both of us for running again. Me due to injury, him due to not running over the winter. It was hot and really nice out.

That afternoon we hit the beach again! It was glorious.

Sunday I went for a brief run, then headed back to the stables to ride and medicate Oats, and then we set up a work party for Sunday so after our ride I worked in the fields cutting back blackberries, dumping and scrubbing water tubs, and checking fence lines, picking rocks and fallen branches. Hot work and damn those blackberries are terrible. But, good to get it done and such a lovely weekend to do it on eh? Hard to believe it was April.

The good times never last though, and this fine, fine weather will be going on Thursday. Back to cold and rain. I am already sad to see it go….

Jump to it!

So I had my jump lesson on Saturday (like, real jumping, not dressage jumping) and it went pretty well! We worked over a small course, and the jumps were teeny-tiny, ha. I, on the other, hand, was feeling like total crap. We had gotten rudely woken up by movers wanting us to move our car so they could get into out neighbour’s house, which is fine, but they were here before 8am!

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I want this…

I had a terrible sinus headache, staggeringly bad allergies, and felt fuzzy, muzzy and really exhausted and weak all day. Great for a riding lesson eh? My head felt like an effing balloon. I couldn’t remember a damned thing and my head/sinuses were going to explode.

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When I am doing this! How?

So yeah the lesson was fine, I just felt like absolute garbage for the entire day. I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep on the damned couch. Which I basically did as soon as I finished my lesson, ha. My allergies have taken over my damned life.

Also I am having trouble trying to get the right ‘feel’ from my Thursday lessons to translate to my jump lesson days on Saturday. I LOVE the feeling I have on Thursday, and then I get to Saturday and it feels… wimpy? I can’t get him off my leg, or get any connection. He breaks gait, slows to the fences, etc. Just not the same. How do I reconcile this?

Something to work on!

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.Β 

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 likeΒ 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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

 

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!Β 

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!Β 

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

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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.

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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.

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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??

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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).

 

VIRA Cedar 12k Race Recap!

To start off with, I don’t think my time or effort was bad during this race, it just felt…Β tough. And I fully accept responsibility for that, as I had kind of run a lot in the two weeks prior and didn’t exercise the discipline I needed for rest days (an ongoing struggle for me). I like running and working out! So…That’s what I did. And my legs were definitely a bit flat. Sometimes I can rally and really give it, or not. And this was more of a ‘not’…

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You can see the strain in my neck. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.Β 

The course changed last year for the better! Gone are the two mega hills and the slow, demoralizing trudge through the elementary school field to the finish. Was this a fast race for me? Nope, not really. It was quite cold out, and this year I am really having to manage severe asthma, particularly during cold weather where it flares up badly. I can manage it, but it’s not really optimal.

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At the start. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.Β 

At least I don’t feel like I am going to die!

I can actually see the strain it puts on my chest, neck and lungs in the photos, compared with my racing at Cobble Hill. I am straining as hard as I can through a tight chest, compared with smooth, flowing runs. Interesting! Just something to note.

Everyone started very fast for this race, I started ok-fast for me, but I knew I could NOT rally like the other runners. They started fast, and held it. I sure didn’t. I know my abilities right now and they aren’t there.

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Levitating! I like these pix a bit better, though I had QUITE the unibrow in them (shadows). Photo courtesy of Bastion Run Club.Β 

I held on for a bit, and kind of just didn’t bother looking at my watch. There is a GPS dead zone, so I knew it would be off anyways.

I kind of struggled with the rolling hills on the way out, and on the way back, perfected my patented ‘pick them off one by one’ move. Note I didn’t really step up my pace, it was just easier on the way back and I could hold it better.

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And across to the finish! Photo courtesy of Bastion Run Club.Β 

The finish was ok, and my time was ok. It was like, ‘eh’ alright, rather than my really jubilant and triumphant race at Cobble Hill. You truly can’t win them all! My time was ok, 53:19 though I felt it was a lot of effort again for an ‘ok’ time. That is just what I am dealing with this year. Last year my time was 52:49? and felt better too. Good for 4th in my AG and 10th woman finisher.

As always, the food was good- lots of chips! Yummy! The volunteers were excellent despite managing a lot of traffic on a busy, extremely busy main road and parking lots. Keeping us safe πŸ™‚