Your Best American Girl

So, yeah. What happened was…

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  • I got deployed to assist with wildfire emergency communications in Prince George again. So, two weeks out of my summer were up there.
  • When I got home, I was immediately on vacation, that started horribly and tragically. It wasn’t good.
  • Got back from vacation, and still had some time off, so I mourned Buster, rode Oats, rode in a lesson, prepared for a dressage show on Saturday, and rode in a polo ‘slow chukka’
  • And now I am back at work, with a dressage lesson tonight, a successful dressage show in the books, and a polo night tomorrow, with jumping on Thursday.

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The show went super well, it was just a scored ‘ride a test’ where you ride the test, the judge comes out to run you through some exercises based on what she saw during the test, and then you had an opportunity to try the test again, maybe improve on what you worked on.

I did Training 2 & 3, and this time I finally had the correct Training 3 test (unlike last time, where I was kind of a disorganized mess…) and things went SO well. Oats was a tad spooky in the beginning but it was easily worked through and he gave me some really quality and consistent work.

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And our tests were scored fairly, the judge was so nice and very complimentary. She said we should be doing First Level, so I am going to talk to my dressage trainer tonight to see what she says. I was immensely flattered! Just to think, Oats and I getting these kind comments!

I’ve really been basking in kind judge comments. Our first dressage show of the season, the judge even wanted to know what kind of pony Oats was! 🙂

For a girl that prefers jumping, I am starting to wonder if I should be taking dressage a little more seriously or what these days? I am seeing some real progress with Oats in it.

What am I becoming?

Ah, I last left this blog on a Thursday and haven’t blogged in…Over a week.

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Sometimes the evacuees are bunnies!

Why? Not vacation, I can tell you!

I was deployed on the Friday to help with emergency communications in Prince George, a service I volunteered for from work. I received the call at 11am on Friday, and was on a 2:45pm flight to PG. (Sort of, it turned into a big debacle and we flew to PG, couldn’t land, flew back to Vancouver, caught the next flight back to PG, and ended up there at 10pm).

We worked until 1am that night. Hitting the ground running in a way, eh?

It was a challenging, life-changing and good experience. But it was exhausting, emotionally difficult, and a ton of work.

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At least I had the chance to have some great times with friends when I got back!

I got back home on Friday, and had great expectations for going riding when I got home. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I crawled into bed, feeling like I got hit with a ton of bricks. So exhausted. I didn’t get up until 4pm?! Riding happened on Saturday instead. Ha.

Oats…isn’t being super great. He’s pretty fine most times, and then other times has this massive demon-spook that is just INSANE. He has also been spooking at things that don’t normally bother him, like birds, squirrels, etc.??? He had a few big freakouts in the field, which is typically his happy place? He spooked so hard and flew backwards so violently that I pulled a muscle in my hip trying to stay on (I did..). Jesus.

At least I had a fairly decent dressage lesson last night, but it started off rough and I was in an absolutely terrible mood. I wanted to cry for most of it, until it smoothed out and he relaxed and gave up the resistance.

I am having an increasingly hard time breathing while I am running- so much so that I am struggling to breathe running a shorter distance (5k)?? It makes me feel panicky and trapped, like I am stuck in my own body and it’s betraying me somehow. Ugh, I hate it! I’m fine normally, it’s just when I am doing my long-distance running…And I am an experienced runner, so WTF? My lungs were checked relatively recently and they were fine, more than fine actually- superhuman. So …yeah. I now have an appointment with my doctor to see if I have a heart murmur or something that is causing this newfound breathing struggle.

I don’t want to collapse.

Anndd….I came back to work to find a lot of my dear friends and longtime colleagues got let go on Monday.

Lovely.

 

Sure Sure

Jump lesson recap! When I last left, I was feeling blah and uninspired…But I’m here to say, that’s not really the case anymore! (sort of?) ha.

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A beautiful summer.

Running-wise, if I was a horse I would say I was definitely Not Quite Right (NQR). My ‘gait’ as it were is choppy and stilting, up-and-down instead of striding out. My legs burn and ache when I run, and they feel full of lead, sloggy and slow. I assume this is because I am still recovering from running myself into the ground with the silly half marathon?

But riding-wise, Oats was pretty good last night! I couldn’t ride to save my life, felt hot and kind of dizzy, had the WORST dry mouth and just felt sloppy and clueless. BUT Oats is a trooper, so we rode through some prettttty long courses (15 jump efforts) twice, including a small gymnastic. I did get to make some decisions (for the gymnastic, a short quiet 5 or go big for a 4-stride. I tried once for the 4, didn’t make it, and elected then to let the very short/quiet 5 ride from then on and it went fine!).

Other than that, it was jump up his neck! Get left behind! Don’t make any decision at all! Kind of sloppy jumping. Whoops! What happened to my seat, legs and eye? Oats was hot and lazy, taking a TON of leg & crop to keep going and was resorting to the ever-lovely stop, big chip, crawl over the jumps so I had to ride ride ride ride to get to the base nicely, not poorly, and jump from a reasonable spot.

But the jump efforts were tiny, so I felt pretty ok about screwing up repeatedly. Oh well, if you can’t make mistakes in practice then when can you make them?? I did enjoy the sun though, mannn it feels nice (when I am not so cotton-mouthed that I can barely speak). I also coughed heartily after my ride, something about the combination of lagging cold symptoms + dust + dry air= coughing? Ah, life.

 

Being no one, going nowhere

Now that we are back in the swing of things, I resumed my regularly scheduled lessons with Oats. That means jumping lessons on Thursdays, and dressage semi-private every other Tuesday.

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Bad pony has also been undressing his horse friend….Photo by Sarah C.

We had actually a really good jump/half practice the WRONG dressage test last Thursday, and then I had my dressage lesson this past Tuesday and I was sooooo wiped out. I was exhausted, and it lasted through yesterday too- turns out I am not recovering from the horse show/half marathon/head cold very well at all, and I’m just exhausted.

But anyways, I pleaded for some leniency in our dressage lesson as I was so weak and tired, and I got it! We did a lesson that was very light physically (walk/trot) but very difficult mentally for Oats, being a more technical, lateral-focused ride. It always brings out the worst in him, haaa….So that was tougher for me.

He had a few ‘moments’ of I Don’t Wanna but we worked through it and Karen clued me in bigtime that Oats bullies me into giving up pretty easily, so this time it was NOT going to happen! She was also very clear with me about how I needed to ‘let him go’ and release downwards so he got a very obvious release from what I was asking. Asking, but giving too, is very important.

We ended that lesson on a good note, and I am asking my friend to school Oats for me in my warm-up for my jump lesson because ever since I came back from my sister’s wedding, Oats has NOT been very good (I know, I literally just said he was good in my lessons but hear me out). He has been unfocused, distracted, spooky as all get out!

He needs to get the sillies out of his system, because I do NOT want to get spooked off yet again. He is much better when I am riding with another horse in the outdoor though. Also it is creating a lot of tension in me when I ride, and I’m not interested in being that rider for him. I want it to be harmonious, calm, relaxing and fun!

Once upon a hell of a time: MEC race #3 The Pace Setter recap

Even writing this, a day or so later, makes me cringe. Jesus, what WAS I THINKING? Let’s put it this way- sometimes race times don’t tell the whole story. This race was 2:10, my personal worst time, and boy, the worst race I have ever foolishly attempted.

Clearly, my ego has more stamina than my body.

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Background of the race- Hatley Castle. Photos by MEC.

As I mentioned earlier, I made the (stupid and ill-advised) decision to run the half marathon the day after the Sooke Saddle Club, in the heat (hot for here, 28 degrees) with a raging head cold and exercised-induced asthma. I know enough that I just knew this was a bad idea, a really bad one.

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Three friends walking to the race. Photo by MEC.

I was joking around with my husband safely ensconced on our patio the night before with a glass or three of wine that my goal was to just NOT DIE. Newsflash- so I am a fortune teller, because that’s the way I spent the entire race feeling: close to death.

I also drank more wine to chase away my fears that what I was doing was dangerous and stupid and yeah….What could it hurt at this point? (Jury’s still out on that but I still like wine, so). Anyways, I was pretty beat after the horse show. I was jumping off Oats to blow my nose furiously, and overnight had developed quite the hacking gross cough that kept me up pretty much all night too. Lovely.

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Fueling with a gel. I should have known how bad it was going to be…Photo by MEC.

The morning of the race felt warm. Stomach-wise, I was feeling pretty good which should have been a warning sign of impending doom. I drank a bit of water, had some coffee, and met up with a friend running the 5k. I joined in with the warm-up routine and found my legs felt, well…like lead. I had a few twinges of fear but pushed that away, telling myself that it’s always like that and then I settle really well. Um, no.

We were off, and I felt ok for oh..1km? By 3km I was in trouble, and a lot of it. My legs were on FIRE, burning so badly with lactic acid I was wondering WTF was going on with them. I’m used to running pretty regularly??

This is a spectacularly hilly race, it starts off uphill, levels out a bit, and then has uphills on and off until one loooong downhill, to a really long flat section right along the ocean (so picturesque! I wanted to die!!) and then a steep and long climb back to the start, where you do it all over again.

I knew after my trouble at 3k that I was going to suffer, and suffer mightily. By 5k, I was really worried. Even after the downhill, I was telling myself I was walking up the big hill. No worries on that though, because by 8k I was struggling. My asthma started flaring up, I coughed phlegm basically all over myself and was gasping and dramatically clutching my chest.

Yay.

I walked/staggered/jogged my way miserably up the hill, thinking “just make it to 10km” and the miracle of miracles, I did. So, I just…sort of…kept going? At that point, I was fairly sure I was going to collapse. I have fainted this year so I know the warning signs, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be near a MEC volunteer or not…

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So glad to be done. Photo by MEC.

Stupidly, I struggled on. I couldn’t run at that point- my legs weren’t responding, I was incredibly thirsty and every time I tried to attempt a run up something that wasn’t flat, my lungs were gripped in a clenched fist. So, I did what any dumbass runner who feels like giving up is impossible did- ran/walked the entire rest of the 2nd loop. And boy, did that take FOREVER. Enough time to want to cry anytime I saw a MEC volunteer.

I was in a real hell of my own making, and spending a lot of time in it, too. I couldn’t even run 1km, it was more like 100m of weak jogging, walk for awhile, and then try it all over again. Hell is also hot and doesn’t have enough Gatorade stops.

Surprisingly, I made it to the finish where I dramatically got my puffer from my husband, and felt like crying again. I was SO. BEAT. I wanted to crawl away and lick my wounds in private and pretty much never run, or at least race, ever again. EVER.

I was salty with sweat. I could feel it coating my face, my arms, my chest and my hat. We went home and I showered and slept for 2 hours. No race, ever, had bested me this badly before.

I sat on the patio, drank wine and contemplated my life choices for the rest of the day.

Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?

Still feeling a tad put-out and grouchy about other situations, but I didn’t have time to linger/dwell on that too much as I had a TRACK RACE last night to focus on!! The series we do is called the Christie-Phoenix Victoria Run Series and they offer four track races for elites and community-level ‘all comers’ for me, the slow poke!

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Battling the wind! 3,000m and 800m last night.

That’s right, back on track!

It was insanely windy, so much so that when I stepped out of my office building a gust of wind blew my sunglasses off my face and my earbuds out of my ears. WTF? It was horrible. I called my husband to pick me up, because I didn’t want to be literally fighting my way home for 40++ minutes (gag) getting blown around.

So yeah, the track meet…

Was insanely windy. It was ok on the long side, but coming up to the finish line and around the corner from the finish was so bad, it felt like I was running in slo-mo. The wind threatened to blow my hat off, etc.

My times sucked! I ran the 800m and the 3,000m (was planning on doing the 1,500m but showed up too late and came as they were running it! Whoops!) and my 3,000m was over a minute slower that what I ran last year, hahahaha.

I enjoyed running the 800m as much as one can enjoy a good lung-bursting run, and in the 3,000m was dismayed to see my times stalling and dropping. Apparently, me, a girl who has run a descent 10k in the 4:30s now cannot even sustain that for 3k? WHAT IS GOING ON?

Anyways, my decent into pure mediocrity continues (yes, I know that thing about feeling sorry oneself, hahaha) but I enjoyed my track efforts last night, and I am looking forward to challenging the track again next week! The only thing I can really do without is the incessant and really heinous sounding coughing I get after racing. I cough and cough this awful chest-rattling cough alllllll night after running.

And it’s confirmed that I do not have asthma, so what gives?

Busy week & bad weather = bad

Got some kind of bad news, although it was not unexpected, it did greatly annoy me and it looks like I will have to start seriously look at making some changes in my life. SIGHHH…Well, to be fair I did kind of start wanting a change this year, but I didn’t expect to be forced into it!

That’s life, I guess?

I was also reminded that that, indeed, is life by this quote (from a poem by D.H. Lawrence)

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

 

Anyways, despite my title, the gloomy-ass weather today (pouring rain, grey skies, 12 degrees?!) things are generally ‘ok’ this week. Been practicing hard at dressage with my two lessons this week, and my run-throughs of the tests last night in my usual jump lesson went better than expected! Ok, our overbending was an issue and Oats wanted to goggle mightily at ‘stuff’ outside the outdoor arena, but kept his shirt on and we made it work out pretty well! Also, picking up left lead canter going downhill in the outdoor= not happening. Ha.

I was in kind of a grouchy mood about the aforementioned life change, so I was extra glad my lesson went smoothly.

And for the busy week? I have something every single day this week- Mon- ride, Tues- dressage lesson, Wed, dressage lesson (a theme eh? ha), Thur- track meet! Fri, work drinks, Sat- Hopoxia (a beer fest), Sun- the dressage show!

Crazy eh?

Oh well, life is for the living and I’m gonna damn well live EVERY SECOND OF IT!!!

(I say that sitting my butt on my chair, doing nothing at the moment, oh well).