Race recap: Cowichan Autumn Classic ‘Run now, wine later’

I ran this race last year and quite enjoyed the autumnal, small and cozy atmosphere of it- the fall colours, the winery, everything! So I signed up as an early bird this year and promptly forgot that I had signed up…Literally falling two weeks after my marathon debut. NOT great timing I guess?

But it took only about a week for my legs to stop feeling like total mush, and for my blisters to heal over and I felt fairly confident that it was going to be ok.

And then I got really sick…and dealt with a strong emotional blow with Tucker, and struggling with the after effects of the COVID+flu shot. Do not recommend, at all. Basically knocked me on my ass Thur/Fri/Sat. And race on Sunday? Yikes.

I slowly started feeling a bit better, but now it’s even Friday after having a cold and things for over a week and I am STILL snotty and nose blowing/coughing up stuff. WTF? My sinuses hurt man.

So last Sunday was not really an auspicious day at all but I’d signed up, felt reasonably ok but not great, and we did it! Ian signed up for the 5k just for something to do. When we drove up island, it was absolutely freezing, with frost on the ground. I was in shock. Two weeks ago we had a heat warning for the marathon, over 20 deg, and now frost? Damn! Luckily I planned ahead a little bit and brought my run gloves, but otherwise was in for a real slap to the face. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr… Plus we were running kind of late, we forgot how long it really took to get up there (an hour, apparently) and I was like arghhhh!

But, all worked out for the best! We hustled and got our bibs, raced to the bathrooms (not long lineups, thank GOD), didn’t have time to put our bibs in the draw 😦 and jogged to the start of the 5k. I was racing both 5k and 10k in a combined race ‘the combo’ where your times are added up and the fastest time wins.

We started and Ian and I were easily right in the leaders pack. I was pacing myself to a reasonable not great time- I didn’t really have the lung capacity to race super fast and my legs were frozen. Plus I wanted to be careful about not killing my lungs for the 10k. Burnout isn’t fun and when I start coughing, I really can’t stop!

It’s a super hilly course- up and down, with the downhill sections being very steep! There is also 1km section through a bit of trail, which is flat but very pitted with potholes, haha. So you went up-down-up-down on that part. I was reminded, with relief, how short a 5k is.

I cruised to a 22:?? and felt good about that. Hard effort but not killing myself. It still felt extremely cold. I then hung out for a bit waiting for the 10k to start. Ian finished ahead of me with a 20:?? which is a great effort- this isn’t a fast track by any stretch of the imagination!

Then the 10k- I learned my lesson from last year and started at the front. Last year I basically ran as hard as I could for the 5k and jogged the 10k…which was a mistake, b/c the combine the times and my 10k was just so.slow! Hit the middle for both, that’s the way to go.

We had more trail sections in the 10k course which was pretty good, but I am always surprised by how slow gravel feels compared with pavement. It is an excellently- marked course, very clear course markers and safe. Still damn hilly, haha. I didn’t really pass anyone, and nobody really passed me much.

It finally started to warm up (well, my body heat was going nuts haha) so I could take off my gloves the last 2-3 kms. A guy running ahead of me shouted that he wished he had my gloves earlier in the race 😉 I was SO thankful I had them. Lifesavers.

I tried to pull myself together for a stronger finish but kind of…blaaahhhhed my way. I felt strong, but nowhere near the lung capacity I could potentially have. That’s ok! I was done within my goal range (45 mintues) just squeaked under 46 hahah.

And it was good for 2nd place women in the combo race, Ian tied me with a 2nd in his 5k for the men’s, and we even got to do a complimentary wine tasting at Zenatta winery! Win-win eh??

This is a fun local race, quite small but well run with excellent and safe courses marked, good volunteers (thank you!!) and nice post-race snacks.

Before you fall apart

Things have been really nuts lately. Had a very challenging week last week that culminated in…

A lousy cold, that I STILL have this week

Getting a COVID booster and flu shot in the same arm, same day (terrible idea)

Putting my poor rabbit down

And this week, I ran out of my allergy medication and thought I’d be ok. WRONG. Immediately had flu-like symptoms yesterday (chills/body aches/sore and swollen throat/crazy phlegm) and today was woken up by insane sinus pain. So bad that it woke me up!

So I tried to get a renewal, only to be turned down by the pharmacists because they couldn’t be arsed. Thanks, guys. You are freaking useless. And I KNOW you can renew prescriptions now! God.

Basically, the entire weekend was a write-off, starting on Tuesday essentially with a sore throat…I should have known. It’s a shame, because the month was going so well.

We enjoyed beer events, wine tastings, races, horsey events, and great weather. It all came crashing down last week, and the weather joined in too- we are not in a drought any longer, rather it’s dropped to 10 deg and blasting wind/rain? Well, I know we had it coming but ouch, this stings. 😦

Onwards and upwards though as we prepare to leave on our big sabbatical. Only 6 days left- can you believe it? Then it’s adios, amigos!

Christmas part 2: Royston Xmas

I forgot to write about this AT Christmas, and I finally have a moment to do so. Over the holidays I took a big chunk of time off (had to for work basically) and at that time, I desperately needed it. Things got reeeallly rough in my horse life, personal life, and work life. It was very challenging.

I then headed off to Kelowna for a good old fashioned family Christmas, which went better than I could have hoped for! When I flew home, I had 1 night at home and then we were driving off for another family Christmas- at Royston, for the first time! Ian’s folks moved just before the pandemic hit and therefore we couldn’t spend any time at their place over the holidays the past two years. This year though, no prob!

It went really well, the weather was insane though. UGH. It had snowed a bit before we got there and it was very rainy and slushy, but on Xmas eve? Blizzard with no power!! We spent about 4 hours shovelling, woof. That I do NOT MISS about living in the North, ha.

We also had a chance to visit with my friend and her mom who moved up right near Ian’s parents too, so that was really nice, and Ian surprised me with a lovely Xmas gift- visit to the Hydropath! It was sooo nice. On Christmas Day I booked x-c skiing for a half day for me and Ian, and it was just lovely. It was cold, there was a ton of fresh snow, the skiis were way better than when I went with my mom, and we had a great time!

The only thing that really sucked was driving home. It was an absolute, hair-raising nightmare on the roads and I now have more grey hairs because of it. Jesus, I never want to drive in a black-ice, blowing snow blizzard ever again. Yikes.

Being active over the holidays!

I traveled a fair bit over the Christmas holidays (narrowly avoiding what turned out to be an absolute disaster of travel later, as many airlines cancelled due to their staff getting Omicron… ) and it went well!

Outdoor skating! I was so bad at it

I wasn’t in a great headspace due to the issues mentioned earlier (colleague dying, being way understaffed at work, Oats lame with what turned out to be a months-long abscess journey- thankfully that was it though?!!) but I figured it’s better to be away from all of that nightmarish mess, isn’t it?

Actually yes!

I visited my family in Kelowna and it went completely fine. We had lots of activities and I enjoyed being in a winter wonderland for Christmas, we we don’t normally get snow here (and as I write, we have had the WORST weather in all the years I have lived here sooooo yeah we have a lot of snow here this winter?!).

Very Christmassy

We enjoyed skating outdoors in a beautiful little outdoor rink in downtown Kelowna, we went to Mission Hill winery for a truly fantastic little private tasting event, we went to see House of Gucci, we decorated gingerbread houses, I took my mom cross-country skiing to a hill near their place, and we went to a lovely and extremely pricey dinner at the Eldorado Hotel.

Mission Hill

It was a very nice experience and something I didn’t know I needed- to get away from my own life.

Next up- actual Christmas in Courtenay at my in-laws house. And they had a ton more snow? Why/how is this winter weather chasing me?!

Working Equitation horse show Day 2: Ease of Handling/Speed Round

That’s right, Sunday Sunday Sunday was the most exciting day! And true to form, the weather was HORRENDOUS. Monsoon raining, a ‘weather bomb’ event was descending on us at the same time…How would Oats fare?

Pretty well actually!

Mr. Oats in the speed round!

I went straight to longe him, and I was a bit concerned- he hadn’t really eaten much of his hay (because it was the wrong hay, I am an idiot) and was fussy about his breakfast (it had his pills in it, which he hates..) so I had to hand feed him his grain as a ‘treat’…And he wasn’t drinking so he ran to the nearest huge puddle (there were TONS) and had a 5 minute drink from it.

All those issues aside, he was lazy. I had to chase him around with the longe whip in the pouring rain in the swimming-pool outdoor and he wasn’t very jazzed about it, ha. Poor Oats! So we didn’t need much prep time at all, which was good because unlike the day before, we rode first thing! Course walk was at 8:30am, and I got up at 6ish to be ready to feed Oats, longe/warmup and then course walk and then immediately ride. Busy!

The course was fairly straightforward due to us being constrained in a small indoor, rather than the huge outdoor that we were really hoping for (thanks, weather…) but it had some neat lines and good flow. The only super awkward turn was the single slalom turn to the gate (obstacle #6) but we made it work, but you had to be extra careful about getting disqualified from crossing your lines on that approach.

I wished we had a bridge though! I like those. But we gotta work with what we got!

I was up first too, so I didn’t have a chance to watch, eeeek. But it went well! We majorly flubbed the back-up and knocked down the corridor 😦 which is super irritating because I swear to god, I have BEEN PRACTICING on that?! Also I missed the ring AGAIN on the garrocha line…Again I just don’t seem to have the grip/wrist strength to really accomplish that. Well, things to keep hammering home I guess?!!! ARGH.

But again, the course still flowed pretty nicely and I took a long approach to get to obstacle #1 because I didn’t feel like I had enough ‘flow’ so it was a bit circuitous, but overall an ok course.

Next up was the course walk for Speed Round (my personal fav!!), with a slightly shortened course by 1 fence, and we started and ended with the jump (also my fav obstacle, haha. Oats is good at it!) and the start was quite a tight little turn from the jump to the figure-eight barrels. We ALMOST ran straight into the barrels but I sat up and we roughly kind of steered around it. Heck, speed is about speed and that’s it- so who cares how nice it looks?

Winners!

Oats was a bit slow off the leg for some of them, but turned nicely and was very accommodating for the whole round. What a little pleaser, my Oats 🙂 We had a lot of fun with this round for sure! I was smiling and smiling after.

I wanted to do it over and over again, so much fun! And best of all my father-in-law and husband came to watch the speed round too. Yay 🙂 My WE trainer also did well, though I know she struggled a bit with the jump intro and end- a bit nervous but her horse is a good girl.

It was very nice to have all the volunteers and everyone helping out- we had a lovely weekend despite the challenging and terrible weather events!

And Oats had a clean sweep of all of the classes- a first for dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed Round- can you believe it?!!! I can’t! We packed up and cleaned our stalls and headed out…Straight into a hurricane. ARGH again. It was rough travelling home and I know my trainer handled the trailer very carefully with our precious cargo on board.

A tiring but good weekend!

Life is too short: Horses go to the beach day!

We’re reclaiming our terrible year(s) and doing everything we can, right now! Life is so fleeting, so tenuous, so delicate and so fragile so why not do everything you can, all at once?

That is literally my life’s motto, so my friends and I who have all endured some truly sucky times these past few years decided to take our horses to the beach!

And boy, it was exciting! 😉 We went late because we were anticipated to have an absolutely miserable day (atomspheric river??) with pelting rain but we lucked out and it didn’t even rain on us! Grey but not that cold. How amazing is that!

Some photos…Enjoy! We did end up getting caught by the tides and one of our member’s horses was kind of having a freak out about having to go in the crashing waves to get back to the horse trailer, so we had to backtrack and then kind of dramatically crash over some rocks to jump to the main pathway, safe from the waves. All good though.

Oats with big bro Donato!
The gang 🙂

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??

A busy fall

After what feels like a year, going on two, of absolutely nothing now we have lots!!

Last weekend was so great, I got to do everything: Ride in a jump lesson in the field (Oats slammed on the brakes at the final fence, haaaa. Teach me to jump ahead when I see a distance, apparently!!) and the weather was GORGEOUS.

Soon we won’t have this, but I will enjoy it as much as I can now!!

I had Friday off (mental health day) and spent it doing everything I wanted to do: Go for a run (too full, urp bad idea after stuffing myself with pancakes), went for lunch with friends, went to the barn and walked Oats around in the field…. It was lovely and the weather was phenomenal.

Flying Oats!

Saturday I had the aforementioned jump lesson- great! And then I hoofed it home to get ready for The Bay Centre’s clothing swap!!! You had to sign up, bring 10-15 items and then you got a time slot to come and pick through everything. I had a blast! I would definitely go again and I picked up some great pieces.

Then it was straight off to a friend’s house party because….they moved into a MANSION?!!!

It was incredible. Huuuge historic house, 7 fireplaces, 8 bedrooms, two suites, an elevator? (that we crammed like 6 of us in a rode up….probably a bad idea), and it is just amazing. We had such a fun time!!! And then Sunday it was up to get ready for the arena raking pizza party- I worked hard, got a big ass blister on my thumb 😦 but the pizza and companionship was great 🙂

I rode Oats after that, and on Monday and then I was freaking tired. We worked on some flatwork, transitions and a teeny bit of renvers at the walk (still suck at it…lateral work turns my brain into spaghetti…) and on Monday I dragged out the ‘reverse in an L shape’ exercise and we were ok but not great at it. It requires a lot of practice!

And now it is raining and the season has really turned, but I can relish in the fact that I enjoyed the heck out of last weekend. That’s a win, right?

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 🙂 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… 

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 🙂

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.

Who you gonna run to? VIRA Hatley Castle 8k Race Recap!

Ok, going in to this race I felt equally hopeful and hopeless- I have kind of been alternately struggling AND doing well this race season. A true microcosm as it were. This is a challenging race, lots of hills, and I know I am not super conditioned on hills this season, since I was injured this summer.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

The day dawned blustery and rainy, cleared up for our drive and them BOOM! Promptly poured rain and blasted wind the entire race. I felt bad for the volunteers- it was sooooooo shitty out, and they are standing out there! Yeeeeesh.

The start is very narrow but I didn’t lose a ton of time there, thankfully (like, 5 seconds). It was cold and rainy, and we jetted off and I felt ok, but not great. We went up the first hill at 2-3km, and it started feeling kind of brutal. My legs and everything just felt really tired, fatigued. This is when I lean into my breathing more, and my lungs and throat are NO help this season- I have been struggling with asthma and coughing up pleghm constantly.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Camilleri.

So… I kind of just battled on. It was’t really great but the way this season is going, none except for Cobble Hill are, so it should not be a surprise to me.

I was happy to get to 4km, and then the out and back gravel section that kind of killed my vibe, ha. It’s just..eh. Not very fast, and I was coughing up phlegm and rattled breathing, all while having wind blasting with pelting rain my face. Lovely.

When we got to the trees/uphill trail section, I was relieved. It felt ok! Not fast, but nicer than the rain. It was quite muddy/slippery. You had to be careful. We made it to the hill (biiiiiig downhill) and I was pretty terrified of slipping and falling, but made it ok!

Then the long flat section had a few too many turns for my liking, and I kind of lame assed it to the finish. I don’t seem to have energy or lung power for a strong finish anymore, at all these days.

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I like this photo, because it shows me that even though I got passed, I ended up passing back! Photo is courtesy of Lois D’ell/Ceevacs Running.

Felt like I was going to puke at the finish, and was soaked and freezing. A good race, hahah. My friends were there too, and had some good runs with good times! My other friend is still injured sadly, which is another lesson to me- I recovered pretty quickly. It doesn’t always happen that way…A delicate balance, and one I have to keep in mind.

We had hotdogs and snacks at the finish, and my time was slower than last year (of course, all of mine are except for Cobble Hill), at 36:19, for 3rd in my AG and 11th woman finisher. Many thanks to the brave volunteers and race organizers, what a miserable day!!