In October 2016, team riders Sarah and Rose rode in the inaugural Race the Wild Coast from Port Edward to Kei Mouth in South Africa. Throughout the race, they and ten other riders were filmed on their journey… the product of which will be coming soon to your screens! Stay tuned here and at the Rockethorse site and we will keep you informed of the release date as it becomes available!
What was it like to be filmed while riding this epic race?
“I am not going to lie, I avoided the film crew at first. I was worried that taking time to interview with them on my holds would slow down my vet checks – and having efficient vet checks and horse changes was my strategy for the race. Any time I saw them approaching I would make myself busy… fussing over my horse or my pack. Once I had my routine down later in the race, I took some time to let them in.”
“We would be riding on a goat track the edge of a cliff with a hundred metre drop straight to the ocean. Then we would hear the whip whip whip sound of the helicopter approaching and just think ‘oh crap, what is coming next?’ ‘don’t spook, don’t spook, don’t spook’ and of course ‘don’t look at it you fool, they told you not to and wave at the cameras. Slap a smile on your face and pretend that your chafed damp legs aren’t stinging like a thousand wasps got in your pants. You are having fun remember?’ Later in the race when I was alone fighting to keep Asad moving, the familiar sound of the chopper told me that Sam and Monde were closing in. It was a telltale sign that something exciting was about to happen.”
“My headlamp turned out to be water resistant, not ‘swim rivers’ water proof. The second morning, getting ready in the dark, I was quite happy to have the camera crew following me around with their bright lights.”
“At a certain point, I found myself looking for the camera crew when something hilarious or frustrating was happening. It started to feel like a natural extension of whatever it is that drives me to blog in the first place. Sometimes when I’m trying to write a blog and reconstruct an event and find the right pictures, I think how much more convenient it would be if I just had a camera crew. That said, I don’t like seeing myself in photos or on video. Seeing myself on video, I can’t help wondering if I look that goofy all the time.
Ok I am going to change up the format a bit, just to keep things interesting. If you have been following my training progress for a while, you may know my general schedule is: run a lot, ride a lot, and core and strength exercises given to me bi-weekly by my fitness coach Heather Sansom of Equifitt.
So I really don’t need to get into the specifics of every workout anymore. Let’s just take a look at the changes and fun stuff I did.
Running – Sayonara treadmill. I am now running to or from the barn to do my distance running (around 9k). Its roads, so im getting some concussive soreness, but its big hills, so at least I am being pushed cardio-wise. Interesting too, I am getting cheers from passers by – walkers, cyclists, even cars. I wear my hydration pack (including my lunch) so perhaps I look like im on a mission. It certainly helps with the motivation and I am pretty sure I run with a goofy grin on my face the whole way.
Riding – I had some unusual derby prep last week. If you followed the Derby in 2013, you may have read that one of the riders was chased by a pack of wild dogs. I had my own little test run of this. On Wednesday after my lesson, I put away Bentley’s saddle and hopped on bareback to ride him up the drive to the turnout paddock – not an uncommon routine for us. Well just as we were within dismount distance of the gate, the property owner’s pack of dogs were out for a walk with someone. The great dane – a very nervous and aggressive dog – decided she did not like something about us (weird things set her off, so I can only speculate what she was thinking – once she barked at me for 20 minutes for wearing new boots!), started barking and took a running start at us – 4 or 5 more dogs following her. It was too much for Bentley to handle and he spun and started galloping back to the barn. As we turned a corner, the dogs caught up to us and were under him, snapping at his legs – he was leaping over them and twisting around trying to avoid their teeth. Somehow I managed to stay on, and Linda was getting into her car as we thundered up to the barn, which seemed to get the dogs out of “hunt the horse” mode. No injuries to either of us, but Bentley was a little traumatized from the event and I spent the remainder of our rides that week settling him on that particular stretch of road. Thankfully I was able to ride through it and handle the situation, that it wasn’t one of the children leading their pony back. There were a lot of “what ifs” that could have gone wrong. I do now worry what might happen if Bentley meets a dog in the forest though.
Aprilfest – the first competitive distance ride of the year – scheduled for next weekend is cancelled due to the trails still being under ice. Throws a kink in my plans, but at least we can do decent training at home (albeit mostly gravel roads at this point right now). If you still are stuck not riding, you can enjoy my uncut helmet cam from Sunday and pretend like you were right there:
Miscellaneous – On Sunday Lee and I, accompanied by our fried Joe, went to Mountsberg conservation area for a hike and Raptor encounter. If you have a free day, I highly recommend the encounter – we had a blast.
Monday – off to the barn to get some riding done. To make life interesting, we made it a hard short ride (alternating trot/canter intervals for 45 minutes – I guess that’s not short for some people’s standards) and I tried to remain in 2-point for as long as I could through the cantering. I need to work a LOT more at this, but I started to find ways to make it easier for me – namely working more to a standing position less forward than 2-point and stretching out to what almost felt like locked knees but loose hips. Did I mention that to make it interesting, I wore a backpack with 10lbs of weight? That likely contributed to the easy exhaustion. Also, I have terribly tight hamstrings and struggle just to get my feet parallel to the ground, let alone heels down. Heather has had me stretching and improving, but I still have a long way to go as I can feel them tiring. Looks like I will have to keep doing this exercise more and more! Both horse and rider worked up a good sweat, but only one actually enjoyed the mud bath that followed.
Home and finish up the night with a core workout and lower body strength exercises (as if my legs needed any more!)
Tuesday – Pop by the gym for upper body workout only – perhaps the fastest I have ever been in and out of the gym. I drove home in my shorts and tshirt with the windows down because that’s what happens when us North Folk get a day above 10C in springtime. Core workout again really fast then I convinced Lee to go for a walk. I spent most of our half hour out struggling with my Garmin which at first didn’t want to locate satellites (for 15 minutes) then died mysteriously twice despite claims of full battery. I am horribly afraid that I am going to be replacing it before the first Ride of the season. I did download a free App for my phone that will track distance/speed but it wont be as handy and durable as another watch. I have made a short-list of GPS options but can’t commit yet. I’m still in mourning.
Then as per the usual Tuesday routine, I went to yoga to do some yin stretching.
Wednesday I rushed home, starving because I had left my lunch by the door that day. I decided the only course of action was to do my bosu squats (strength training) while preparing my boxed pasta dinner. Lee came home early and caught me in multi-tasking like a pro.
After all that was over, I rushed to the barn for my riding lesson. Bentley was being a real crab-cake. First he wouldnt let me groom him (doing circles around his stall) then he nipped me during girthing, they he pooped in the immaculate HP barn – not 5 steps to the door outside – I swear he did it on purpose. Then as I tried to clean it up, he wandered after me and did his best to knock the poop out of the shovel and scatter it around the aisles. Despite his crabby start, our ride was lovely – a quick walk up and down the driveway outside, then a fun games lesson ending jumping a small course with almost 100% perfect spots. We think the explanation may be that he was pissed off at me for not feeding him before riding. My typical routine is to feed him after we ride, but recently the barn staff have been extra efficient and feed when they get brought in. So guessing the spinning was the “it must be hidden somewhere” response and the nip was the “im hungry, you are doing the routine wrong lady!”. Then maybe the poop was a reminder that he was soon to be empty? And if you are worried that he was indeed starving – he had been gorging himself on his personal round bale all day.
Thursday was back to the gym for a short speed run. Then despite my plans to ride, Lee informed me that he can’t subsist on mustard and old almond milk. So it turned into a grocery and chore day. But at least now I have banana bread. So I guess that’s a fair trade off.
Friday was an “off” day and we headed into the city to see our friend’s band TJ Hollywood perform at their CD release party. It was a late night.
Saturday I got my exercise at the barn with my chores and a short ride.
Sunday was a beautiful day and I took advantage both with a long ride on Bentley and a long walk with Lee. Its still too muddy to trot in most places so we only did 15.9km riding, despite riding for 2.5 hours. Of course we had our music going which made the slow pace a little more tolerable. For those of you who were asking, this is the setup I have with my speakers.
Coming to you a little late this week, I apologize! Its also going to be a little short because while I usually keep a draft running throughout the week, its been too crazy to keep that up, so hopefully my memory serves well and I can still keep you at least minimally entertained.
Monday – Speed day at the gym – busted out 4.4km in 24 mins. Stretching my brain to remember, I went to the barn intending to ride, got there and decided it was too cold and my motivation was totally zapped. Home to do some chores or something.
Tuesday – Yoga day, so as usual I did my heavy strength training this day, and relaxed at the end with an hour of yin.
Wednesday – My Equifitt session with Heather, I got my new strength exercises and we caught up on my progress. Then off to my jumping lesson. We had a nasty jump down at the end of our lesson – Lynn put the jump up to triple bar (which we have done before) and Bentley had a half-stop before it. I sat back, expecting the complete stop, but Bentley being a superhero jumped it anyway. He would have cleared it if it weren’t for my vertical launch and land on his back mid jump. He took the last rail complete with standards down with his back legs and was a bit sore – a big bruise on both legs but nothing serious. We jumped it as a crossrail again and called it a night.
Thursday – Speed day at the gym (actually everything this week is speed day – Heather wants me focusing on strength and I’m just running speed to maintain condition this week). Then off to the barn. Usually Thursdays he gets off to rest after our jumping lesson, but I was concerned about the owies so we went for a half hour walk and light trot around the ring. He was fine.
Friday – Makeup riding lesson, no jumping this time just flatwork. I can’t think of anything out of the ordinary here. Nice long ride though, spent some time wandering about the property and looking at all the pretty waterfalls (as a result of the MELT!)
Saturday – Early morning ride doing interval training. Both Bentley and I got good and sweaty, and with the intensity and duration I tried, I am pretty confident that we will be ready for the first competitive ride in a month to do the 25 miler successfully (40km) Perhaps he could be ready for the 50, but no sense to push it – if I remember correctly from last year, I am more likely to get better points for the 14/25 combo than doing a 50 (especially this year since very few have been able to train through this winter), so why put ourselves through that? Start on a high note instead! We rode to music – I have little portable speakers that I can clip to his saddle. He seemed to enjoy the music as much as me, and I SWEAR he was matching his canter beat to RHCP – Give it Away. Rocking horse.
Then of course, barn chores. Then down to the saddlery shop to take advantage of an annual sale. I got a few pieces of equipment that I need (namely a good helmet as mine is bordering on expiry, not a PERFECT fit, and has had enough tree branches deflected off it that I dont fully trust it for my adventure). I ended up getting one from Uvex which fit so comfortably and can adjust with my hairstyle of the day. Of course, it’s going to live in my basement for a while – at that price I feel the need to save it.
Sunday I took a trip to the gym, to get my speed and upper body workout in. The “Strong Men” of the gym had all the 20lb weights occupied which was what I needed, so I just breezed past, grabbed the 25ers and got to work. I have to say, I love that feeling! Then off to the Cottage show where I determined I was a lot like my horse – breezing from one booth of free food samples to the next, and ignoring anything in between. Also, its impossible for me to walk in time with the dazed crowds… Lee got quite frustrated that I kept getting lost from him.
Once we were done there (surprisingly quick for the size of the show – I just couldn’t take the crowds and sump-pumps and roofing don’t particularly interest me), I moseyed on over to the barn. I took Sable out for a ride and had Anna-Lena take Bentley. She is leaving this week and due to the weather had not had a chance to ride outside and see the property. We had a nice walk – almost 2 hours long. It was beautiful and sunny and brought new hope.
Monday – Speed day! But also since I missed running my distance day on the weekend, I threw in some steady state after and ended up with a 35 minute run, totaling 6.4km. I arrived home in that “do I or don’t I ride” time-frame. I decided not to – the hill to the paddock is way too slippery so if I were to ride, it wouldn’t be my horse. I knocked out some errands instead.
Tuesday – hill day. I have started to dislike hill day and find its where I feel sickest when running. So I toned down the speed, and felt great! Managed 3.9 kms and 570 vertical – not sure what unit it is, the treadmill doesn’t say. Then I did my strength exercises on the machine and with weights. Then drove home and dove straight into my grand prix core workout while dinner cooked. Definitely no time to ride tonight!
Wednesday – Jumping lesson. Bentley was surprisingly good despite his ice-forced vacation. We did have 2 runouts at one jump, but it was completely my fault. Lynn put the barrel under a jump, and despite having jumped the barrels before, and jumping that jump before, he had never seen the barrels under that particular jump. His eyes bugged with surprise when it appeared in front of him. They weren’t dirty refusals, but I have gotten pretty complacent since he has been wonderful in our jumping recently. My mind must have still been off in the forest somewhere… probably a forest down south or a forest 2 months in the future from now. He can read my mind, and if my mind isn’t totally there, he isn’t about to carry our performance on his own. Sometimes I forget he is still just a baby. Lesson learned, lesson fixed, lesson turned out just fine!
Thursday – long distance run. Since there is still too much ice and the temperatures are too low to run outside, it was back to the treadmill. Heather wanted me to stick to 5-7km in my distance run, but I just wanted to see… see what I could do if I just stuck it out for an hour. I started slowly increasing from 6-7mph, then sticking it out for 7mph the rest of the run, completing 6.61 miles in the hour (or 10.6km). Best part is, I felt as good at the end as I did at the start. Not much sweating, drank almost a full water bottle, and kept a bouncy happy stride throughout.
Out of curiosity, I mapped the route from my front door to the door of the barn. Its anywhere from 8.9-10.1km (depending if I want to use trail and go a little out of my way). Interesting, very interesting… I think you know what I am starting to plan. Spring better come soon.
Friday – I had to pick up a few things on the way home, but then went straight to the barn, hoping to ride outside. I texted Linda to see if she would join me, and she reminded me we had a makeup lesson at 8. Oops, completely forgot! So it looked like I would be spending the whole night at the barn. I wasted some time trying to get Bentley used to spray bottles. After fighting for a while, something clicked between the two of us, and it just happened easily. Not wanting to wait any longer for Linda, I tossed on his bridle and went for a walk outside, walking for about an hour (Linda came in for the second half of it) I found a few areas that were newly melted enough to safely navigate. Bentley would have rather we just puttered around the manure pile though.
The lesson was fine, it was a makeup so there was a wide range of levels, so to make it interesting, I went stirrupless. Still a little sore.
Saturday was windy, and I opted to ride inside than be pierced by the cold. It was interval training day for Bentley and we divided our ride up into 2 x 1 hour rides, with mucking stalls in the middle. Bentley was fantastic and loving his job.
One thing Bentley DID learn about on Saturday however, was Karma. Apparently there were fresh bales in the field, some better than others. He picked a giant, very green one and named it HIS bale, chasing off anyone approaching. Well, thanks to the richness of his bale, he got diarrhea. This lead to tail saturation, a bath, and the polo-pony look (which at first scared him when he swung it around and it just didn’t feel right)
I got home, cleaned up my “spray tan” and with a surprising amount of energy still in the tank, decided to go for a run outside. I know I did a little over 5k averaging just above 10km/hr. Here’s where I get confused: I had my garmin on, which died as I was doing my cooldown walk. It was counting up my kms and everything (which is how I know I did a bit over 5k and my speed). And now as I try to upload the data, its missing! No data on the watch since November. Very odd, usually when it dies it just stops it right there. So unfortunately I don’t have a map to share, but hopefully I can figure it out before I start running and riding outside more! This was supposed to be my distance run, but I kept it a little shorter as the roads were disgusting, and I decided to run with my camelback and figured the added weight of my backpack made up for the slightly short distance.
Sunday I woke up and went directly to the barn again. They were having an in-house schooling show. I helped out by raking in the track area (many times having to pickaxe it, its gotten so hard over winter) which took a good hour and a half or so. Still pretty sore today from it! Then I spent the rest of the day cheering on the students and selling a few shirts.
One last cute thing to share for my week, as I was doing my core workout Sunday night, Abbey (our cat) decided to crawl underneath me while in side plank, butt up in the air, head down and to the side – was she trying to plank too? I grabbed my phone and took a quick selfie, but she was no longer planking for the photo. Still cute, and we continued on through the workout together.
Monday – Speed work – 4 kms in 21 minutes. Then rushed home to do my session with Heather. As per our meeting, I switched to the Grand Prix level core workout after.
Tuesday – Hill and Strength work – 3.85kms in 26 mins. It was warm enough that I could have gone outside to do it, but I think I will wait just a little bit longer – a big thaw meant big puddles and I am not quite ready to destroy my new shoes. Also did my strength stuff at the gym, so it made sense to do cardio there too. Got home in plenty of time to have something to eat, then to Yin yoga for a lot of nice stretching.
Wednesday – an unexpected day of rest. It was supposed to be riding lesson, but due to “what shall not be spoken of” it was cancelled and I was forced to stay within the confines of my home. So what was I to do? Put helmet cams on the big screen and dream of brighter days of course! Here’s one for you to enjoy should you find yourself having a similar day:
Thursday – Speed day, doing 4.85km in 26 minutes on the treadmill. Then over to the weight machines to do strength work. After coming home, I did my Grand Prix core workout and stretching. I have decided Thursday is my sacrifice day for riding (meaning no riding), as well as Tuesday. Thursday makes sense as it gives Bentley a day break after our usual jumping lesson, and the arena can get pretty hectic as it is beginner night and sometimes they get distracted by Bentley and forget to steer. It’s a good decision for all of us involved! Unfortunately that means I haven’t ridden since the weekend. Given the coughcoughcough I am not terribly upset.
Friday – was one of my days off from the gym. I went right to the barn after work and dealt with a very hyper Bentley. No surprises there. He has long since discovered that he can set the rules for our ride (or at least make it longer) by being a pill when I ask for the coolout walk – knowing full well that I won’t let him finish on a bad note. Little bugger, plays me like a song. So anytime he expected I was about to cool out, he would get jiggy and silly, not wanting it to be over. I knew he was at least satisfied when a nice walk was received. I guess I can’t be too mad that he wants to spend more time under saddle, and the canter parts of our ride were sure brilliant.
Afterwards, I went out to the pub to meet up with my longtime friend Sheena, who I haven’t seen in ages. We stayed until the wee hours of the night catching up and laughing. Of course, sporting Eat Sleep Ride Repeat tees.
Saturday was a necessary quiet day, but I did manage to do some stalls for Lynn as per usual.
Sunday, I started the day with my core workout, and after lunch Linda and I ventured over to the barn to get some riding in. We brought our bridles and helmets up the hill in hopes to ride the horses back down to the barn. On our way up, we noticed that the hill path was 100% sheet ice and there was no way we would get a horse over it. The only other option would be through the field. We grabbed our horses and mounted up, and then set out to find a way back to the barn.
Bentley was eager to get out and made his best attempt to climb the 2.5 foot snow bank to clear a path to the barn. Unfortunately, the snow was somewhere between soft and crunchy, and hard and stable, and he struggled between staying on top of the snow, and being able to work through the snow. It would have been a disaster to try and work through it all the way back to the barn, and if the bulldozer had that much trouble, Sable certainly wouldn’t make it. We decided to just sit on our horses, standing in the sunlight for a while. Bentley, being eager to do ANYTHING decided to stake trail out down the side of the herd’s field where the snow wasn’t quite as deep as the route to the barn. We followed an estimated pattern of step-on-snow, step-on-snow, step-on-snow, crash-and fall-through-snow-while-imagining-my-funeral. Sable followed behind us as Bentley picked away at where he wanted to explore – seemingly unphased by the struggle. We tried to direct them down the drive which was half mud and half ice up at the top and looked more appealing than the snow to Linda and I, but Bentley refused to step foot in the stuff, and went bumping and crashing back through the snow instead. Ten minutes of that was enough for Linda and I, so we promptly turned them back out. We ran into the others as we came back down the hill horseless, and everyone agreed that if the Bulldozer won’t get through, the daintier or less footsure horses certainly won’t either. I am so proud to be surrounded by people who put their horses safety first.
I came back later to ride Romance, just because I couldn’t ride my horse doesn’t mean I couldn’t ride at all! Romance was very good, we just worked on being soft and relaxed and by the end, had a nice consistent trot and good soft bend around both 10 and 20m circles. She seemed to be pleased with the ride too!
I had some time waiting for Lee to pick me up, so I went and massaged GK – apparently she has been lame for some time now, so I thought she could use some TLC. I only ever made it to her neck, where she was very tight and clearly very sore. Using just a light touch, she visibly relaxed during our time together, and was good at directing me – at one point she just hung her head down by my feet for several minutes as I ran my fingers down both sides of her neck. Not sure if it was just the neck bothering her, or if there is more, but I ran out of time and she seemed happy with just the light neck work. I am very curious to see if she shows any improvement from this! It was also a nice way to wrap up with my weekend, with the quiet peace of a sighing horse.
For anyone who may just be tuning in late, I am working with personal trainer Heather Sansom over Skype. She specializes in equestrians and has developed a plan for me to be in my best possible shape to tackle the Derby. Every other week we touch base to review progress and move me to the next stage of the plan.
The first thing we addressed was time. If you read my weekly review, you might notice that I had to give up riding several times to get my workout in. Not such a big deal while the snow is on the ground, but once spring decides it is finally going to arrive, I will turn into a miserable grumbling suck if I can’t ride. So we made some big changes to try and free up more time.
Cardio – I am going to try and start running outside next week. I am finding I am getting stressed and tense on the treadmill now – some sort of cabin fever – particularly in my arms. Hoping that being back outside will make my run feel easier and more enjoyable. Also cutting it down to 2 speed days a week, 1 hill day, and one long distance day.
Core – I am moving up to the Grand Prix level from Heather’s e-book. This will save me a lot of time as 3 sets of the intermediate level was taking about an hour to complete!
Strength – Moving to a new machine where I will get more of a full body workout rather than just upper body. Also I got the go ahead to do strength and core on the same days. So instead of finishing my workout in the realm of “do I have time to get to barn? “, I will be having a ride sacrifice day or 2 and get all my workout done at once. Much more efficient for my schedule.
Riding – I am to keep doing my current exercises, and start riding with a small backpack so I can slowly get used to carrying weight on my shoulders.
Since I do measurements each Equifitt day, here are those updates:
Weight – down 1.1kg from last measurement, 1.4kg overall
Waist – down 0.5″, 1″ overall
Thigh – left is down 0.5″, but no change overall, right is down 0.25″ but overall is 0.25″ larger
Hips/Butt – no change this week, but 1″ down overall (PS butts look huge when you hold a measuring tape next to the string you just had wrapped around it)
Chest – down 0.25″, 0.75″ overall
Biceps – this is the first week I had measurable difference on both sides: both up by a small 7/8th of an inch. The right has always been 0.5″ bigger.
Splits – steadily growing, this week is 1.5″ wider, and 4” overall
Monday – Speed and core day – 26 mins of running (including 3 min walk warmup, 3 min walk coolout – so really only 20 mins running) got me 4.85km. Intermediate progression core workout by Equifitt, 3 sets of everything. Oh hello nighttime, how did you get here so fast? Guess its time to go to stretch and go to bed
Tuesday – Incline and Strength day – 28 mins of running at 6.2mph, varying incline. It was a little longer than my normal sets because I had to walk in the middle from being too tired. Not common for me, I blame it on a certain key ingredient for my lunch disappearing from the fridge at work. So instead of my good regular lunch, I scraped together some meager snacks at my desk but overall went hungry.
Strength day had me doing sets of row machine, then modifying my row to make it similar to a cardio rower (to which I got a lot of confused stares by the men lifting weights around me) since there doesn’t seem to be a cardio rower at my gym. Then step back lunges until it burned. That clock on the wall can’t be correct, can it?
Decide to try yoga this night, I haven’t done it in almost a year but I still know that the schedule has Yin – which is all stretching – probably a good idea to round out strength day. So I text Linda to carpool, and we enjoy the warmth and quiet of the yoga studio for the night. I was pleased to know that a few of the stretches were ones that Heather has me doing, so it was nice to kill 2 birds.
Wednesday – Riding lesson! But of course, not until after a run of 4.9km in 26 mins (including the warmup/coolout walk of course). Expecting I was to be entering the lesson late (I warm up in about 1/2 hour of the previous group’s lesson then do 1/2 hr private), I dawdled about – giving Bentley a haircut to end his scraggly mess.
Bentley really didn’t want his mane cut, and I had to chase him around his stall for a while… cursing him all the while. After a few stress laps, he got haltered and I rubbed the scissors all over him (much to his displeasure) until he decided they weren’t scary. Little did I know, it was just Linda and Rae in the lesson and I was expected to join them for a group lesson. Oops, missed that memo! So we didn’t get the warmup we usually would have.
There was nothing out of the ordinary in our lesson (other than being cold and stiff, but weather is not to be discussed). Bentley was 100% wonderful, as he has been. We didn’t accomplish anything great, but we had no troubles, just a fun happy ride. He really seems to love jumping now, so we are happy to have Lynn working with us on that – crosstraining is so good for us! After we were done, no time left for core work like was previously scheduled.
Thursday – Incline day at the gym, but my ankle was starting to hurt so I brought it down from a jog to a walk. Also was feeling just NDR (Not Doin Right) so I took it easier. Part of it is running in the confines of a treadmill I think: I keep my arms tight and have to fit into a box instead of stretching out. It makes my arms hurt/go numb and I feel increasingly tired for the amount of work I am doing (as opposed to a few months ago when I started running). Hoping I can have a nice outdoor run soon! Only did 2 miles, or 3.2km this day. I did however go home and do a full 3 sets of the Intermediate Core Progression.
Friday marked a change in pace, as I left work to pick up my friend Joe and hit the slopes instead of the gym.
We met up with Mom, Dad and Lee. Lee was learning to ski for the first time, and they had arrived early to give him a lesson before it started to get dark. Joe had only skied once or twice, so they would eventually end up together. For the start at least, we warmed up together on the green circle (easiest) slopes.
At one point, I had an oopsie with my Gopro, so unfortunately I don’t have any footage of the more interesting runs. Basically, I had forgotten to swab the helmet with alcohol, the adhesive came loose, and as I swung the chairlift bar over my head it clipped the camera, causing it to plunge onto the hill below. Fortunately I got there fast enough and it wasn’t nabbed by anyone, but it did get put away for the rest of the night.
Saturday morning saw me off to Mount Forest to consult with a saddle crafter regarding what to do regarding fenders and something to cush up the seat. He had a lot of the same concerns as I did with it, and we spent a good hour brainstorming ideas and testing things out. So the good news is I think I have found a solution to my comfort without making changes to the saddle. I just need to get my stirrups before he can get to work. Boy am I ever thankful that I can do this in advance – had I gone in blindly and then sat on the saddle… well, I am stubborn enough not to back out but it would not have been pretty that’s for sure!
On my way back, I stopped to buy Maple Syrup from some kids vending at the side of the road… just had to up the stereotype factor of my weekend.
Then straight to the barn to muck stalls and ride. Bentley was a little firecracker, first doing sewing machine trot around the arena until I decided to warm him up in the canter instead. He calmed down and we got some good trot work in after that. So I switched to bareback and we were having a lovely time. As I checked my watch and decided it was time for our 5 min walk coolout, he decided we weren’t done yet and refused to walk. Jigging and jogging and trying to canter all over the place. He is a smart boy and knows I won’t get off him on a bad note. So we worked some more on transitions in and out of the canter, and eventually he was satisfied with our work and let us cool out. What a card!
I also rode on Sunday, this time Bentley was superb. We worked on a bit of bend in the canter and also increasing impulsion in both the trot and the canter. He seemed pretty pleased with himself when I finished.
Monday – Hit the gym and did 6km in just under 34 minutes. Notice I have literally no clean clothes for work or the gym, I pass on the barn and get the house in order. Did I mention that temperatures are dropping again?
Tuesday – Gym work is 6km in 37.5 mins with llots of incline work. Then in the evening, my second session with Heather from Equifitt. I already blogged about it here.
Wednesday – The temperature is really starting to get cold. I get a text from Lynn after I leave the gym (having done 4.3k in 22 mins) asking if I was still coming – pretty much everyone else cancelled because of the cold. I’m game if you are! So instead of waiting around for my lesson, I went straight there to get it done so Lynn could leave at a better hour. Linda, Lindsay and Rae were in the lesson – it got conglomerated because we were the few willing to brave the cold (we also are all owners – hmmm, connection?)
Bentley took a while to warm up to nice soft frame, but did so beautifully. Well, at first he was very hyper, throwing his head around… i thought he might lose his bridle! Can’t blame him, he hadn’t been ridden since Saturday. Once he lost the hyper and got his muscles warmed up, wow! He sure is a beauty! It is a jumping lesson, and we must have been doing well because Lynn kept raising the jumps. We finished with a first – a triple bar! I cannot believe how confident and easy he has become. Lynn measured it when we cooled out, 3’2″ – personal best! Not bad for a trail horse.
Thursday – Gym was an incline day – 3.85km in 26 minutes. I was supposed to do cardio rower too, but after wandering around the gym in a daze for a while, and asking the staff twice, I determined that my gym has everything BUT a cardio rower. So I just did my strength exercises and left. It was now -24 C outside plus wind chill. So I decided to get groceries insted of ride. If it were this in January, I would still go… but I have had enough of these below -20 temperatures and cant be motivated to bobsled my horse down the icy hill in polar vortex temperatures, only to trot circles for an hour. Spring, please come soon!
Friday, I squeaked out 4.77km (3 miles) at the gym in 26 mins. Then had a nice but cold ride in the arena for an hour. It did seem to take forever to get even a somewhat acceptable performance out of Bentley. I am attributing this to the cold’s effects on myself, he was all crooked for the better part of 30 minutes, but I assume it must have been me being cold and crooked as I had a lot of difficulty correcting and preventing it. We did work a bit on speed/cardio – doing intervals of 10 min trot (more like jog), 5 min canter, 3 times over. He was pretty tired by the end, but not done, and likely could have done much more after a walk. This is comforting to know since hes so fat right now, that he isn’t as out of shape as I thought.
Saturday was early off to the barn to do some mucking, so I could get out in time to have lunch with my Grandparents and Aunt. Lee had decided to complicate the day by booking our car for an oil change during this time (and he was to be at work). This was already creating stress, since I had little wiggle room for time. But he assured me he would do the shuttling of the car around town so I could leave the barn in time for lunch.
Then the issue hit – he picked me up at the barn, and the car was roaring like a tyrannosaurus. Somehow the service must have broke our car. Seriously didn’t have time for this. I was roaring as much as the car since the service I never wanted (or believed could wait until next week) resulted in the ruin of my day.
As they hoisted the car up and I fumed, they showed me and explained what was wrong. At some point in the past, there had been work done on the exhaust system, and a poor patchwork job was done. Over a few years, the exhaust pipe connection worked its way out (since the pipe they used was too short), and was hanging down below the front of the car, making the wretched noise. I silently vowed never to buy a used car again – I just don’t know what other shoddy fixes may have been done and have lost all confidence in it.
They put the pipe back in, said it was safe to drive but I will need to get a permanent fix done at a muffler shop. As soon as I got in however, it sounded loud again, I think it was perhaps the lift that was the last straw, and the thing had fallen out again. As they said it was safe to drive, I went to lunch. Halfway down the line, the check engine light came on. Sigh. Thankfully I was able to make it to lunch and my afternoon appointments without my car bursting into flames (though driving was torture) and mom and dad agreed to let me borrow their car for a day or two.
In the evening, I got together with Linda and we did a OCTRA conference call to discuss some ideas for The Pulse. The plan was to do dinner, then ride. Well, as a bit of domino effect from my car troubles and stress, it never played out that way. Instead we spent the night there, making pizza and laughing with 2/3 of her daughters (who I have known since we all were toddlers). Linda dropped on me some wisdom – I don’t have to do ANYTHING. It’s ok to take a break.
This flowed over to Sunday, where our initial plans to go skiing cancelled in favor of other activities. I didn’t even end up riding, but instead enjoyed a day at home – visiting family, tidying up my basement, relaxing, and cooking for the first time in months (its been a long winter of frozen pizzas). I didn’t even realize how much I had missed that – I used to love to cook and bake. I still did my core workout of course, but didn’t put pressure on riding. Bentley is doing fine on riding 2-3x a week and I will have plenty of time once it isn’t -20 outside to bring up the fitness level. I realized this was the first weekend I had given myself a break in perhaps years (except when I was sick and forced to stay home). Despite resigning my full weekends at the barn several weeks ago, my expectations of myself filled up every day and slowly the stress level rose. Even riding became more work than fun in my mind, and I was looking for excuses not to do it. So reflecting back on a lazy Sunday, it was well worth the freckle on my training plan in order to refocus, recharge and motivate me. I am excited again!
Perhaps when I get that taste of spring – the first ride outside, the first hike down the Bruce trail, the first time I don’t lose my keys/phone in all my layers, this motivation will multiply. For now, I will ride when I want to ride, and not feel bad if it isn’t a daily chore.
This week was a little heavy on the gym and light on the photos, so please enjoy this cartoon I found online: