# Days of Thanksgiving — Days Fifteen thru Twenty-One

(Like so many things, I managed to drop the ball on actually staying on top of this on a daily basis. Shocking, I know.)
Day Fifteen: Fuzzy, kissable pony faces! (Even though she says “Please don’t kiss me, Mom, you know I hate that.”) Seriously, though. Super cheerful and well-behaved for hoof trimming and arena schooling.

Day Sixteen: Sofie learning how to play with Artemis and toys.

Day Seventeen: Artemis’s spay surgery was a breeze! (Keeping her quiet for the next week+, however…)

Day Eighteen: Scheming and plotting future ride potential and plans with friends.
Day Nineteen: A quiet day to keep an eye on Artemis.

Day Twenty: *BINGO* day.

Day Twenty-One: Fun times at The Hoof & Hound Expo — I get to do expo and convention stuff for work.

# Days of Thanksgiving — Days Eight thru Fourteen

Day Eight: One of the two dogs actually likes getting a bath.
Day Nine: Work innovation and experimentation.
Day Ten: Mixed blessing? The street getting unnecessarily repaved again motivated me to finally get the dead truck hauled over to the mechanic. Been putting it off, knowing the answer is likely to be $, but better to finally know and go about coming up with a plan for how to deal with/solve it. Day Eleven: Veterans Day. Those that served and continue to serve. Day Twelve: When you find out your truck needs$5k worth of repairs, it becomes one of those days where you’re pretty much just grateful you didn’t keel over/pass out from shock/heart attack/futility-and-hopelessness. Also, boozy-and-marshmallowy hot chocolate season.
Day Thirteen: Parental units that are good sounding boards and advice givers…and to personally have the willingness to ask for/take advice.
Day Fourteen: Fuzzy socks and bed-warmer dogs.

# Days of Thanksgiving — Days One thru Seven

The Challenge: Every day for the month of November, find something to be grateful for during the day, particularly during moments I might otherwise normally grumble about. It doesn’t have to be a novel or daily memoir, just a sentence or two will suffice.

Day One: To have Mimi boarded at a place that provides excellent care and a good lifestyle for her, even during my own phases of riding-lite. The kind of care and turnout she gets allows me to feel not too guilty about the times when I don’t make it down as often as I should.

Day Two: Customers calling in with questions and orders = job security.

Day Three: Easy access to the dirt-surface canal paths for walking/running/taking the dogs out means I’m not relegated to sidewalks and neighborhood streets.

Day Four: Rainy morning really makes it feel like a proper fall day.

Day Five: Friends that help encourage, guide, and support me.

Day Six: Funky exercise apparel that makes me smile. Sometimes it really is the little things in life.

Day Seven: A really good relationship with my parents, the fact we see eye-to-eye on so much of life, and that we all enjoy each other’s company. A quick “pop my head into the office with a brief comment on something horse-related” turned into a lose-track-of-time, highly entertaining regaling of all kinds of horse tales, future plans, and lots of laughter.

# Delayed Gratification

### endurance

noun en·dur·ance \in-ˈdu̇r-ən(t)s

the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeated: endurance ain’t for the faint of heart. Or the impatient. Or anyone who can’t deal with bouts of “one step forward, two steps back.” Some people make it look easy, but that’s rarely the whole story. I would say it’s somewhat unusual to not have some kind of setbacks, injuries, plans going awry, and life definitely not going as intended. And, speaking from personal experience, trying to adhere to a rigid plan and schedule is what creates so much internal angst and pressure on our parts.

Our horses don’t care about a “schedule.” They have no concept of time as we see it, nor do they understand our impatience when they “won’t get with the program.” You can’t rush success/progress/experience…and if you try, it’s more apt to be a shortcut/patch-job that will likely later end up blowing up spectacularly. There’s a reason for the popularity of “made” endurance horses: Appeal to those that may not want to take, or have the time to start a young horse from scratch.

And, as a friend recently put, “dry spell” is spelled “e-n-d-u-r-a-n-c-e-r-i-d-e-r”. Which is so true. The whole endurance journey is a lot of ups and downs — and I’m not just talking about the hill climbing. It’s probably going to be somewhat rare to have constant smooth sailing. Of course there are steps you can take and things you can do to help minimize some obstacles and potential stumbling blocks…but sometimes life just happens. Personally, I’m in the middle of one of those dry spells right now, and really, this is a case where temporarily accepting it, versus working myself up into a major angst-fest over things I have no power to change or influence, is the healthiest course of action. (Not to say I always take the healthiest course of action. This blog post was written in one of my more rational and charitable frames of mind.)

Life tends to have cycles and seasons all on its own, and throwing something as involved, complicated, and time-consuming as endurance into the mix can be that much more complicated. Sometimes it turns into an exercise in evaluating your priorities, learning balance, figuring out the “can’t do it all” factor…and then a bit of “the stars aligning.”

Julie Suhr once said about finishing Tevis that it is “one third horse, one third rider, and one third Lady Luck.” I would say the same applies to endurance in general.

And in a perfectly timed “universe has a sense of humor” coincidence, this year’s copy of the Tevis Forum magazine got delivered in the mail when I initially started working on this post. Ha. Hahaha. As anyone who has followed my blog for any period of time knows that’s one of my ultimate destination goals…and that the closest I’ve come to the stars aligning is multiple times of crewing, and some chances to preview and pre-ride sections of the trail. It’s all leading up to that point…steps in the journey…but in the meantime, I can’t help but sometimes feel a bit of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” syndrome…and wonder just how long I have to keep delaying gratification?

So why do we do this???

Because when it does all come together, it’s so worth it. Because sometimes have plans go awry can result in interesting and unexpected detours or re-routes, not all of which are a bad thing. And because it’s life. Life is unexpected, and rarely follows our idea of a well-behaved and orderly plan and function.

But that’s all part of living.

# reality check

Lest I get too full of myself post race success…there’s always a reality check gremlin lurking just around the corner, ready to make my acquaintance.

In this particular case, it was Wednesday’s group run, which was another vertical rock climb that was more hike than run…and completely demoralizing. There was a part of my brain that argued that I maybe I should have stayed home and given my body that had just done 21k over the weekend and a still-sore foot a break…but the part of my brain that jumps into the deep end with anything new wanted to prove how serious I am about being a part of the group and this running thing didn’t want to miss a week. And I had a new pair of more-cushioned shoes to test out — nothing like a good run as an acid test, right?

(Hey, I never said I made smart decisions.)

Bottom line? As good as I felt after Saturday, I was equally humbled after Wednesday. Not only was there a ton of climbing, but the trail was incredibly technical and very rocky. My new shoes have quite a bit of cushion on them, which I suspect I need for the support…but the trade-off is lack of ground feel, and I felt like I was wobbling all over the place as I’d hit rocks and random uneven surfaces.

Not my finest moment…and in retrospect, I didn’t exactly set myself up for success. Let’s see: a still-sore foot that I was altering my running gait in an attempt to protect, new shoes that I’d never tried on trail, in the dark, still-recovering body from race weekend. How was this supposed to end well???

Needless to say, runs like that do nothing for my self-confidence levels, especially when I start thinking ahead on the topic of moving up in distances. Over the weekend, I was all cheerful and gung-ho about my future race plans, full of confidence, bombing down the trails without a second thought or care. Last night, the gremlins were all pointing and laughing at me, my confidence shattered, straggling along at the back of the pack, and the only thought in my mind being “I don’t wanna get hurt.”

Maybe this is all part of the process? Some sort of a self-governor that keeps the ambitions to a sensible dull roar? It’s certainly not exclusive to running, I know that much…I can’t begin to count how much roller-coaster ups and downs I’ve experienced in horses themselves, not to mention distance riding specifically, and the personal, non-horse-and-running life is certainly not excluded by any means.

I’m not expecting cloud nine all the time…I’m not that unrealistic…but it would be nice if the roller coasters would coordinate among themselves sometime…I gotta have something to fall back on to maintain my functional levels of sanity at most points in time.

 I have to remind myself of this…everything has ups and downs,good times and bad…but if it means something, it’s worth it.So much of what I do and who I am involves serious head gamesand a certain level of mental toughness.

On the bright side? Even on my worst day, I’m still faster than a zombie, so have a decent chance of surviving the inevitable zombie apocalypse.