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 games
and 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. 

bring on the weekend

I’m ready for a couple of days of pony therapy + kitchen therapy.

Most weeks, my reaction is, “Oh, weekend. Okay.”

This week, my reaction is a little closer to, “Oh, weekend. Weekend! Ohmigoshwherehaveyoubeenallmylife?!?

With daytime temperatures pegging close enough to be called “near-summer,” I think a proper bath for the filthy pony is in order. That’ll strip off the last hangers-on of her winter coat, and take care of some of the stains that have been on there since…um…October.

And I’ve found a couple of recipes I want to try this weekend…hand-kneading some bread dough sounds like a really good idea right now.

Gooey chick-flick that requires no brain-power is on the agenda for tonight…no more thoughts about vehicles, mechanics, and all the other various and sundry of the week.

Hi. My turn for fun and games this weekend?

Whirlwind; or, Catch-Up, Redux

Even after 5 years of blogging, I still have some issues with consistency.  I don’t blog for a bit, say due to life circumstances and lack of time.  So I get out of the habit.  And I don’t blog.  And I don’t blog.  And suddenly, I’ve got all this stuff that’s happened, and I feel overwhelmed trying to catch up on everything…so I figure, I just won’t.

And then I can’t figure out what to blog about.

Ugh.

I haven’t really been up to anything monumentally exciting.  This is Arizona hibernation weather, the time of year where the pony thanks me for not riding her.  The closest national forest trailheads — and 20* cooler weather — are currently closed (at least as of last week) due to the extreme fire danger, and probably won’t open again until we get some more rain, so that put the kibosh on the vague “let’s go ride in the mountains” plans we had floating around at the barn.

I did have to go out of town a couple of weeks ago.  My grandmother passed away, and we all went back to Pennsylvania for her funeral.  Was not impressed with East Coast humidity.  My hat’s off to all endurance riders back there who successfully cope with it.

Work continues on…in short, I LOVE IT.  Finalizing Tevis plans for next month.  Rough schedule is I’ll be in Auburn Tuesday/Wednesday, then up to Robie Park Thursday/Friday for booting.  Ride Day Saturday, the plan is to be at the Hwy 89 crossing in the morning to shoot some video, then up to Robinson Flat, then back down to Foresthill, then to the Finish.  Yeah, I’m going to try to be a die-hard and stay up til the wee hours of the morning.  I just might be a bit crazy.  Massive quantities of caffeine will be involved.

Plans to try to meet up with several blog buddies…definitely looking forward to that!  One of my favorite things about endurance has been all of the great people I’ve met and friends I’ve made…that alone has been a major motivating factor to still keep my foot in the door of the sport, even during my competition-hiatus period — I would really hate to lose contact with so many of the great people I’ve met.

I’m also starting to put together a blog list that I’ll be putting on the Renegade news page — a list of “affiliates” of sorts, such as distributors or riders who use the boots that keep a blog and talk about the boots.  If you’re interested in having your blog or web page put on the list, let me know!

Tevis is a month away…let the countdown begin.

I still need to do an updated hoof post…will get photos this weekend when I’m down at the barn.

crunch, crunch

A year ago, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at jumping in the saddle and riding 50 miles.  Sure, my legs might be a little crunchy, but nothing I couldn’t walk off within a couple of days.


30 minutes in the saddle this morning, and my legs are grumbling at me.


Hmmmm.


Someone’s a bit out of shape, methinks.


Yes, I admit it: I’ve spent most of the summer hibernating indoors, venturing over to the barn enough to maintain Mimi’s feet and make sure she has plenty of her flax/beet pulp mix she gets.  But riding?  Eh, not so much.  One four-mile trail ride a couple months ago.  A couple rides around the neighborhood, maybe a miles’ worth of distance.  A handful of arena sessions.


All of this adds up to one out-of-shape rider.  Not that I’m completely out of shape.  I’ve spent a good portion of the summer helping my father with some of the larger carpet cleaning jobs…not exactly a low-impact activity.  Add to that the frequent petsitting jobs and the walking of said pets, and my cardio isn’t doing too bad.  It’s just the riding muscles that are suffering.


I’d like to say that fall is just around the corner, and nicer weather will be more incentive to ride, but we’re nowhere close to being out of the woods yet.  In fact, I think my rearview mirror thermometer in my truck just might have gotten busted today, since it refused to actually register a temperature for outside on the drive home.  Its poor, overwhelmed little brain was giving me an Ice warning.  Hah!


I’m now hugging the a/c back home and downing an iced coffee.  When I left Pony, she was employing the do-it-yourself swamp cooler method: standing herself, still wet from the shower I gave her, in front of her stall-mounted fan.  And nibbling on a cool, salty, bran-and-beet pulp sloppy I gave her.  Not a bad life.


But it’s this time of year that fish pond in the backyard starts looking real attractive.  That, or I contemplate why my parents though a fish pond over a swimming pool was a good idea.


As a final random aside: I know my last number of posts have been completely picture destitute, and as a result, probably kind of boring.  I’m working on changing that.  I have pictures, i just need to get them uploaded/sorted/edited.  But as a preview, Happy!Pony:

That was from our ride out at Estrella Mtn Park in March…still a lil’ fuzzy from winter, but looking so chipper and happy.


The Absentee Blogger

Not promising anything regular by way of posting, but just a quick note…yes, I’m still around.  I’ve become a very good ‘net lurker these days, and a pretty bad blogger overall.  Several reasons:

– I haven’t had much to blog about that is interesting and positive.  I went through some major upheaval and changes in my life when we sold Beamer and the trailer several months ago.  Long story short:

Dear Economy,
You suck,
No Love,
Ash

Beamer went to what we feel is a great home where he will be able to continue his endurance career in a way we currently aren’t able to do.  Horse and trailer actually went to the same place, so Beamer gets a little bit of home and familiarity with him.

– Consequently, I’ve been in a sulking funk most of the summer, and have ridden Mimi maybe half a dozen times, and only one of those times on a proper trail ride.  I hate not having a trailer, and I really hate bumming rides off people, because then I feel obligated to ride with them in a style that is very much not my own.  I’m a control freak with a healthy dose of Slavic guilt complex.  Means I’m sort of a pain to deal with in these kind of situations.  So I feel somewhat like a neglectful pony mom…but I’m still going down to the barn and keeping up on her feet (ironically, they look the best they’ve ever looked now…I have all of the flare completely gone), she still gets her regular supplements, and she’s turned out with the herd in the 3+ acre big pasture for close to 14 hours a day.

– I don’t like whining too much on my blog.  I tend to approach much of my “public” life with a “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it” mentality.  I figure that most people have enough of their own problems, concerns, and drama to deal with.  They don’t necessarily need to be hearing all of mine heaped on them as well.  Couple that with the fact I try to be an optimist (boy, is that getting put to the test this summer), and I just haven’t felt a whole lot like blogging this summer.  Each post would have essentially looked the same: “Went to the barn.  Trimmed feet.  *insert photos here*  Rode around the arena.  Wilted in the heat.  Gave pony a bath.  Went home and hugged air conditioning.”  Lather, rinse, repeat.

And just a quick life update:

– I took the summer off of school.  I needed the break, mentally.  And I noticed that I suffered fewer nervous breakdowns and stress headaches over the last few months.  And I still have plenty to be stressed about.  That lead me to the conclusion that, when the fall semester starts up this coming Monday, I don’t believe I will be sitting in that classroom.  At this point in my life, I don’t know if court reporting is for me.  Yes, I put a lot of time and effort into it…yes, it seems a shame to quit now.  But I don’t feel like incurring further student loans debts while I figure out whether I want to continue this or not.  Maybe I’ll come back to it.  Maybe I’ll figure out something to do within the field that isn’t the level of a certified reporter.  There are options, so the past four years isn’t a total waste.  But right now, mentally, I don’t have it in me to throw more of myself into that program.  If it hasn’t happened by now, I don’t know if it ever really will.  And I don’t want to give up more of my life trying to figure that out.

– I did find a new hobby/time-occupier over the summer: I’m learning to play the guitar.  At the moment, I’m self taught, since lessons take money.  But there are a lot of videos on youtube that are fabulous resources, and I’m slowly learning.  Turns out I do have an ear for music, after years of wondering if I was tone-deaf.  Not tone-deaf…just untrained.  I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I know when something sounds right or not.  And I’m definitely leaning towards a more countryish flavor with some of the tunes I’m managing to pick out.  Not like that’s a surprise with a guitar, but whatever.  I’ve sort of come full circle with music…growing up around barns and horses, I was always a country girl.  Expanded my music listening repertoire in high school and especially college, but have recently re-embraced the country thing, especially some of the newer, up-and-coming artists that are more than just traditional country.  (My new favorite artist of pretty much any music genre is Christian Kane — he does a great blend of rock and country with a ton of energy, great vocals, and he writes most of his own material.)

– It’s summer in Arizona.  It’s hot.  That mitigates some of my lack-of-riding guilt factor.  And makes it really easy to, while giving Pony a bath, turn the hose around on myself.  Long hair holds water for the next couple of hours and keeps your head cool. 

So, anyway…if you stuck with me for this long, my hat’s off to you.  I can’t promise regular updates, but I will say this: At least I have an interest in blogging again, and reading other’s blogs.  For a couple of months, I was completely incommunicado and not even looking at blogs.  So this is a step in the right direction.