Bazan Bay and series finale with the Vancouver Island Race Series

Last weekend we had the final race of the series, the 5k and the series wrap up! πŸ™‚

Heading back. Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

I was kind of dreading the 5k- I just find it so tough, and I feel like I am pretty weak at getting any top end speed but I figured I could probably hang well enough for a sub- 20:00 with the fitness I have right now.

And it was FREEZING out. We have had a really miserable spring- super cold, wind storms every other day, it was a blizzard last Monday?! The race morning it was 0 deg, and by the time we were racing, I think it crawled up to a measly 4 deg? Anyways I was frozen, wearing gloves for the last race of the season and cursing our luck. I guess we should have considered ourselves lucky that it wasn’t snowing (it was on the Malahat and up Island all day…) and the brave runners who traveled here definitely had to contend with a really tough go to get to the race.

Photo courtesy of Lois D’Ell.

Weather gripes aside, the race itself was fine. I did get annoyed when I saw some older, non-elite runners head to the start. Guys, that’s a good way to get really hurt. Of course, when we started everyone blew past them and they got elbowed a lot. That’s life when you try to hang w/the pros… Do better!

I was hung up in a few packs throughout the race but nothing too tight, which was nice. I forgot my watch so didn’t have that pressure πŸ˜‰ at least!

At the start. My lungs didn’t love the extra-cold weather. Photo by Lois D’Ell.

It was tough, Ian blew past me like I was standing still which is always irritating! Lol! Wish I had speed if I didn’t train- how??? That will always confound me. My breathing was fairly labored and I did feel like I was at my max for speed. We hit the turnaround and zoomed back. As always, the finish loomed just out of reach for muuuchhh longer than I ever want…

About 1.5 kms to the finish, a guy was telling us we’re getting under 20:00 and I was like yes my dude, I know that, but I’m not gearing JUST for under, you know? I was running hard!

Second place in the series! Photo courtesy of Joseph ‘Crazy Legs’ Camillieri.

And luckily I did get under 20:00 by a fair margin- gun time was 19:22, chip..can’t remember haha. Good enough! I got 5th in my AG, and then we had the series awards. It was confusing at first because none of the 5k times were loaded so nobody knew what they had placed in, and the placings did have an effect on the series end awards. I was in 3rd place, until they called out the placings and I – in a big upset lol- moved to 2nd?!

Yeah!!

$50 gift card to Frontrunners was all mine, baby!! πŸ™‚

And the race results never did get loaded, so a few days later we saw them. Ha, my AG was quite competiive this year, phewww!

Grateful to have a good racing season, nice weather until the last race (how??) and lovely to see my run community buddies and enjoy some excellent post-race snacks. Until next time, racing!!! πŸ™‚

Working Equitation Schooling Show at Wildwood Stables!

Wow now where to begin- we took the horses (mine, and my WE coach Shelly’s mare Heidi) up island this weekend to compete in a schooling show for Working Equitation, which was also a fundraiser for the Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society πŸ™‚ And it was a pretty intense weekend for 1 major reason- RAIN. Holy god, it was basically a monsoon for two days.

Oats was definitely a trooper and managed better about the rain than I thought, but me? Yeeesh, it was pretty rough haha. A good experience all around though, so I won’t discount that! I took Friday off and we loaded up the horses at 1pm, and headed up Island. It was so balmy out that we were wearing t-shirts, which was the last nice day we had, hah. We took the horses to the hosting stables, Wildwood out in Courtenay. It’s a great place with a coverall indoor and a really big outdoor. Too bad the outdoor was basically a swimming pool all weekend!

The horses settled in nicely and I had made 1 major mistake- I grabbed the wrong hay by accident and Oats HATES the barn hay. He gets really nice mega $$$$$$ hay and I …mixed it up and brought the wrong stuff. Shoot. He then kind of had me freak out this weekend wondering why he wasn’t eating much of the hay (ok he got hungry and had to eat) but not much and then was fussy about his grain (because I had his pills in it…) and I was worried! Plus I think he wasn’t drinking water- it is well water and he can be weird about drinking, because I saw him drink heavily from one of the huge puddles?! And he drank from it all day?! Sheesh, horses…Giving me heart attacks…

Anyways, drama aside, I also had bought Good as Gold calming paste, as he’s been a bit of a nut at shows lately. Getting it into his mouth turned into a big humongous fuss where he broke a crosstie off the wall and ran backwards into another horse. I finally wrestled him into his stall and managed to sort of finagle it into the corner of his mouth, but I think you can guess that this weekend I wasn’t Oats’ favourite person…

And in the morning (Saturday) I got out there super early to feed and wrestle with him/pick out his stall, and then I immediately went back to my in-laws because it was pitch black out and HAMMERING rain, allllll day lol. I cooled my heels for a bit enjoying the warmth of indoors and then went back to the show to warm Oats up. Newsflash: It didn’t stop raining, ugh.

He was hot to trot in the outdoor, pretty amped and was trotting around with his head on a swivel, charging around. I decided not to risk an explosion by cantering him like that, so I borrowed a longe line (I have one, but why do I never think to bring it?!!) from the barn owner and longed him first. He had zero explosions, just a few head tosses and then settled nicely. Phew, good to go!

I hopped on and he was ok, but tight throughout at the trot. His canter was better but yeah, he felt a bit stiff and resistant.

Finally our dressage test, it felt like forever to get there! I was completely soaked, hahah. Wet tack, gloves, helmet, boots, horse, argh. I wasn’t super thrilled with the test, he was still tight through his back and not coming through nicely. It’s a bummer, because we have SUCH NICE dressage lessons and they do not translate to horse shows, at all. Well, he did have a year off, so it’s a process to come back I guess??

Anyways, moderate griping aside, he was very compliant and well-behaved. He did have a look at the judge’s stand, but held it together nicely and gave me an honest, if not thrilling, ride. The judge (who I know pretty well) agreed and I got hammered hard on the scores, but with the understanding that she knew we could accomplish a nicer ride. I totally get that, and I think it was fair- we just need to get to a place where we see the work translate better at shows! πŸ™‚

And stay tuned, Sunday was the exciting stuff- Ease of Handling, and Speed Round. My faves!!! Ok, speed round is my absolute fave πŸ˜‰

Goldstream? More like COLD-stream!

This weekend after dithering for literally weeks we finally did it…We pulled the trigger and CAMPED. Now, I am no camper. I am not an outdoorsy type of person, haha. But it’s been such a long year(s) during the pandemic and we were getting bored out of our skulls after 15 months of…the exact same thing every day, every weekend.

Goldstream is local to us, 20 mins from downtown, which is awesome. We can only stay locally now due to COVID-19 rules, and we respect those rules.

Deflating the damned air mattress!

Plus it was so great, we could get all of our stuff done (riding Oats for me, climbing for Ian) and then go camp. Easy-peasy right? Ha, close.

We got there and it was quite packed, but we did manage to find a spot. We unloaded, fought with the new tent (NOT an intuitive process, that one), and then hoofed it out to see the waterfall. It’s a lovely deep pool there, but quite cold as it is under a great expanse of trees and it was windy as hell on Saturday.

We actually ran into friends who were thinking about doing an impromptu camp night too and made plans to meet up later for a COVID friendly meetup around the campfire. I haven’t seen some of these folks in OVER A YEAR! How exciting!

We then waited…and waited…and waited…for the firewood person to come by and they didn’t. I was freezing! I hopped in the car and drove to the convenience store to get firewood, freaking finally. It was great wood and we had a nice fire for dinner.

We then met up with our friends and chatted around the campfire for a few hours- it was cold! I really missed seeing people and it was so nice to see them again. It felt like ‘before-times’ ya know? Before we knew it, we were cold and it was getting late so we went back to our site and went to bed. BED. Man, that sucked. It was FREEZING, and the air mattress deflated on us so we woke up (ha, like we were sleeping at all..) basically on the ground. Not fun.

Ian pumped it up a little bit more and we snuggled back down to freeze our butts off for the rest of an unrestful morning, ha.

At least the morning was gorgeous- sunny, bright and pretty warm (not in Goldstream- it is always cold there). We had some coffee, some pancakes and our friends said goodbye! We took our time and packed up, and drove to the barn so I could have a Sunday ride and medicate Oaty. It was a lovely day, not that warm (15 deg?) but so sunny! A nice end to the weekend and a great day to try something different πŸ™‚

Oh and I tossed out the damn air mattress when we got home. I do NOT want to repeat that experience!!

BC Day Adventures on horseback

So I have a friend who is big into trail riding- she has a great trail horse, and all the fun gear like a speaker that hangs on the breastplate of her saddle, and a TRAILER! I am a self confessed trail riding chicken with my own horse. Other trail horses, no prob. Trail ride on Oats? Ughhhhhh…no.

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However, since our other friend has a horse that is recovering from a torn ligament and will likely be off for a year (god, now that is another bad story entirely 😦 ) Our trail friend had nobody to ride with, and so I gathered up my courage and said I would ride on the trails with her. And so, a plan was made!

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We went up to Glenora on Sunday, to the Cowichan Valley Trail that is basically a section of the Trans Canada Trail. There are a few trail options at the trailhead there, but we took the most basic one- straight ahead πŸ™‚ It is very horse-friendly, with lots of parking, two small paddocks, hitching posts, water and a manure pile.

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I asked my husband to come as our lead rider on his bike! We were honestly not at all sure how Oats would be on the trail, so we thought it would be safest to have a hand on the ground just in case the horses got nutty.

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They didn’t though! Good as gold! I was really impressed and surprised. Oats can get silly waiting- he tries to rear, or go in circles, but otherwise he was as cool as a cucumber. From the minute I got on, he was just chill. He is NEVER like that at home on the trails, so I was pretty surprised.

We even got to the trestle and the horses were like no big deal?? Even my dog is afraid of bridges (but she is a huge wimp, sooo…).

We chatted, rode, had snacks and water from Katie’s saddlebags and I even rode up behind Ian to grab a Clif bar out of his backpack while he was cycling. I never thought I would be able to do that?! It was so fun, and just a really chill day.

Rocky (Katie’s dog) was also really well behaved too. The trail was busy, lots of cyclists, runners, dogs, but the horses and everyone kept it together and I was appreciative of how respectful and careful the cyclists and other trail users were. Yes! Plus it was great of Ian to come and ride his bike, because then he could pick berries for us- there were thimbleberries, wild blackberries and huckleberries. Yummy!

What a great day.

Nelson is great in the summer!

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After spending time in Kelowna, we headed up to Nelson to do a little exploring, trail running and eating/drinking. And it was fabulous! Very hot, sunny and gorgeous out. We stayed at a cool hotel downtown- the Adventure Hotel- which is pet friendly. Great because we had both critters with us πŸ™‚

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We went on a trail run on the Trans Canada Trail, and there were SO many thimbleberries!! Very tempting, and I guess, tempting for bears as well…

Since it was quite hot in Nelson, we did the run in the morning, and did a little bushwacking and found an old railway (still had the ties), followed it down to the lake, while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. It was a gorgeous little interlude.

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Then we got back to the room and the sun was very intense. We grabbed a drink/shower, and went for a walk along the waterfront with Gidget. It turned out to be a pretty long walk and WOW I had a terrible headache by the end of it. Turns out Ian and I both got a bit of sunstroke that day….I felt awful for the entire day. Never shook it.

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We then went to a local brewery and enjoyed a beer, and by that time I was developing a miserable headache…

We chilled in the room for a bit, feeling like crap, haha. Then we went to this cool Hungarian restaurant and the food they had was pretty great! We only went out to eat at places that we could sit alone, nobody close by, and outdoors. This one fit the spot!

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The next day we had to pack up and begin the loooooooong drive back to the Island. Of course we had ferry drama- but we made the 6pm!! if you can believe it!! And we were all pretty darned tired, Gidget, Ian, Tucker and me. πŸ™‚

So easy to root for

So I know I grouched mightily about how miserable my ‘summer’ has been but you know what, I finally have something fun to talk about!!

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My dear pony is sound again, so I took Monday off work to join a few friends for a beach ride!! I had this idea last week, when I was moping around because Oats was lame with an abscess…I just was DYING to do something fun with him, you know??

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Fortunately it resolved by Wednesday, I rode on Tuesday and I was able to have my jump lesson on Saturday even! And then on Monday it was the big ride πŸ™‚ Even better, the weather finally cooperated and it was sunny for once. We actually had a pretty lousy weekend for sun- 16 deg and raining for pretty much all of Saturday, which was great (NOT) because I had invited friends over for a small patio party…That turned out to be indoors wearing jeans and sweaters because it is so cold here now!

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Oats trying to exit stage left…Β 

And then finally Monday was nice! So we did it!

And the horses were pretty well behaved too, considering how busy the beach was. Boats, trucks, RV’s tents, beach umbrellas, kids, babies, toys, dogs, bikes, kites, beach blankets…You name it, it was there and flapping around!

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Luckily the horses were very well behaved about all of it and we had a nice time πŸ™‚

It just felt SO GOOD to be able to go and DO something with my horse since it’s been such a lame and boring summer, with the occasional absolute disaster.

I just wasn’t made for these times

So, in these strange new days, my husband and I don’t have a lot going on during the weekends (well now I have jumping and he has climbing) but we got into a routine of doing a mega run or trail run/hike day on Sunday.

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About halfway up?

A big one, where we pack food, drinks, camelbak, and hoof it out for hours to a new place! Lately we were exploring sections of the Galloping Goose (just running), after a few mountain excursions, but this weekend we returned to the mountains… Heather mountain, in Youbou.

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See the trees at the very top? That is where the trail begins!Β 

I have never even been to Youbou (it is just past Lake Cowichan, from Duncan), so it was all new and strange to me, ha. And quite a long drive from where we live, with large sections of gravel road.

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We made it after shooting past the (fairly unmarked) turnoff, and jogged up the trail for a ways. We made 1 false move by following a trail we thought was the one, and we were confronted by an angry grouse pretty much immediately! Ha! Ian screamed and was pretty surprised. After that the trail turned into bushwacking and IΒ hated it. I got scratched to pieces, ugh and was like NO WAY are we doing this for hours.

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Nearer to the top

We struggled through and then returned to the main road, and followed that to a trail- that- thank god- was wide and well maintained. The only thing we didn’t realize is that it takesΒ forever– like 2.5 hours- to get to the actual top of the mountain trail above the treeline. So by the time we ran there, we were freaking spent and tired.

We also noticed the trail had tons of bear poop on it. TONS. Yikes! At that point I would be surprised if we didn’t see a bear…

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So we finally made it to the top of the trail and I backed down. It was steep, closed in and really high up= triggering all of my vertigo. Yikes!!!! We called it there (ok, well I called it..) and then jogged back down. We stopped for a snack and a drink and I spotted the bear- finally!

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Mr. Bear!Β 

He was ambling around the path, sniffing and stuff. We watched for a bit and then decided to shout, to scare the bear off the path that we had to go down. He immediately lumbered off and we got down to the path where he had been- and wow you guys, bears go FAST. He was already halfway back up the mountain in like 3 minutes?!

Lucky for us it was the only bear we saw, and it was a safe bear situation. Phew!

We got down with no other interactions and back to the car. A long day but a good one 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™‚

Nothing Feels Natural

Finally we had some sun! In fact, we are now on THREE whole days of sun! Can you believe it?! I can’t. We honestly had close to 3 months of straight rain, or wind and rain, or wind/rain/snow combo. Not a single clear day for months, and boy does that drain a person…

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Daisy is at another stable now, but Oats loves his friends!Β 

Friday I had my dressage lesson and it was really good! I wasn’t expecting much, given it was basically a tornado with pouring rain, the arena was super flooded and Oats was feeling okay but not amazing. However he really rallied and we worked on straightness in the canter on the diagonal fences, and then some head-to-the-wall leg yielding. Success! He was quite good and sweet. Love my boy πŸ™‚

Saturday the ring was still nuts and the vibe a bit off but not too bad, it was a bit quieter which is nice, and so Oats and I worked on transitions, and his leg yields. The canter to the left is still..eh. We will call that a ‘work in progress’ shall we?

Sunday I had a race (Cedar 12K recap coming soon!), and then managed to finagle a bareback 20 minute ride on Oats after- you know I can’t resist getting a ride in, any way, or anytime I can! He was very sweet, and apparently had spend the entire night running amok outside of his paddock, going horse to horse to play bite-face with the ones who would oblige him! He then was exhausted and spent the afternoon flat on his side, sacked out. Phew!

Monday I was tired from the race, but also determined to do my ‘homework’ which I do try to do once per week- straightness on the diagonal jumps AND trot fences. It was good! I did find that when I posted trot in, I was able to control the take-off spot a bit better, rather than coming in two-point using the ‘hope and pray’ method…! Good to know. I think I ride Oats better when I am more ‘connected’ through my seat, vs straight-up butt out of the saddle 2point.

Things you learn eh? 25 years in and I’m still learning.

Anyways, day off for me, Oats teaches a beginner tonight, and I am off to dinner with friends to the new place: Boom & Batten. I hope it is good, it is very pricey.