After the CTR, our riding for the day wasn’t over! We were still booked to do the 7 mile ride and tie on Sable. The 2 hours between our finish of the CTR and the start of the RNT flew by, especially since most people thought the RNT started at 3:00, but I saw it clearly written in my ride package it was 3:30. Everyone was haggling us for not being ready for the start time, but I read my package, I knew!!!! So to avoid them having to wait for us any longer, I told them to start the race and our horse will catch up, so long as our runner (me) started, we are at least making SOME progress!
Linda also made the decision to change the stirrup leathers before the ride (so we could have them covered in sheepskin, she was riding in shorts) so that was causing a bit of a delay too. This ended up being not helpful because she started rushing when everyone else wanted to leave, and one of the stirrups was backwards and twisted inside the sheepskin which was sore for me.
Anyway, I started out running, and for the first half mile or so I had a lot of thinking “why in the world do I do this?” That first half mile is always the hardest. I kept myself motivated knowing the road comes up fast and would be a much easier run than the sand I was currently in. Right before the road (1.2 miles into the run) the horses caught up with me – I pluralized this because Barb and Robbie were sponsoring us – basically just riding alongside and staying with Sable so she didn’t panic if horses passed her while tied. They said they would go to the end of the road and switch. Sounds fair! So I mounted up on Sable after about 1.75 miles of running.
Sable seemed to think she was out for a walk in the park, because she did NOT want to move. I am not used to that at all! Eventually we picked up a better trot as Robbie threatened to pass us, she likes to have things her way! Linda had made good progress running and instructed us to go right to the vet check which we assumed was halfway and should be shortly. After a mile, I started to wonder if I should just get off. After a mile and a half, I said “ok this is far too much, I am getting off here” So I tied Sable and went off running. I then proceeded to run 2.5 miles before coming to the vet check at 5.25 miles – beating Sable. I asked where the other riders were, and was told I was in 5th or 6th place. They almost got me – but then I remembered there were only 5 or 6 teams starting, and I knew of at least ONE i was ahead of. They laughed and said I was in second place, but about 10 minutes behind the front runners. I immediately knew who it was and that I would never catch them, so I happily accepted this.
I waited for about 5 minutes before they appeared. Linda got off and ran, and I vetted Sable through, she met parameters immediately and we were off! I rode for about another half a mile, passed Linda and tied Sable.
I ran the rest of the way in, at this point, my body was enjoying the running more than the riding (Sable feels so different than Bentley!) so I was able to keep a good pace of about 6mph or more. I also was enjoying my music (in fact when I first came to ride and took out my earphones, I was a little disappointed because I had just started a great song!) Sable and Linda caught up with me about halfway down the rail-trail (less than half a mile in) and stayed right behind me to the end. We ended up crossing the finish line as a team, which was fantastic! I think that’s always the way it should be if you have an efficient strategy and you are performing to the best of your abilities!
Very happy to finish in second, I know the team who won were training for a half-marathon the next weekend, so I felt very accomplished. More accomplished that I never had to walk out of exhaustion or pain – just a nasty hill that I didn’t want to waste my energy on – Oh I should have mentioned, it was right before the vet check, I saw the vet check and knew Sable was behind me, so that’s why it wasn’t worth wasting energy running up it. See – Strategy!
When we came back into camp, I could hear Bentley across the field whinnying. I knew it was likely for Sable, but I liked to pretend it was him cheering us on at the finish. He continued to whinny frantically while we vetted. I was drenched with sweat and Linda said she would handle the vetting so I could go back to the Roadtrek and shower (possibly the best feeling in the world at that point!). Before I did however, I sat down for a few minutes at our site to have a drink and a quick snack. What I didn’t realize (until Lee pointed it out) was that Bentley had stopped screaming and instead was looking at me over his corral with lovey eyes.
It was the cutest thing ever, he wasn’t screaming for Sable, he was screaming for me! I love him too!