Both the night before the ride and the day of the ride, Farley sucked down mashes spiked with elytes. SUCCESS!!!!! I probably should have packed elytes on the saddle and elyted on the trail, however I was so scattered brain just trying to prepare for this ride on a basic level, thinking about adding one more factor was too much for my pea-sized brain to handle. So, the elytes she got in her mashes pre, during, and post ride were the only elytes she got.
Now that I can rely on her eating 2-3 doses of elytes during the vetchecks in a mash (and in water if I can acclimate her) I can be more conservative giving them via syringe. Yeah!
2. My food
This was the BEST I've ever done on food for the rider. As I shared in a previous post, my saddle food was grouped into ziplock baggies that each contained a form of electrolytes, carbs, and protein. I would finish one ziplock baggie before going onto the next, so that I wouldn't just eat my favorite stuff and I continued to consume appropriate nutrients throughout the ride. I knew how many calories were in each baggie and my goal was to eat 200-300 calories per hour in the saddle, based on the 20 minute book's recommendation for refueling during exercise. Post ride I calculated out the number of calories I consumed and it came to EXACTLY 300 calories per hour. PERFECT.
I kept the ziplocks in a saddle bag near my right thigh. Anytime I thought about food, or I took a walk break I would reach down and grab something out of whatever ziplock baggie I was working out of. Most items I was able to eat one handed, and quickly, although some required me to use 2 hands to open the package. During a walk break, I usually had time to eat 2 different things out of the bag. Here's some of my favorites from each category that I'll make sure are included next time:
Electrolytes: SCaps are still a fabulous source. I found that the electrolyte "blocks" work better than Gu's for me. I like the "Honey Zinger" brand better than Gu or cliffshot brand --> they are less sweet and and don't stick in my teeth as badly.
Carbs: The applesauce packets with the twist off lids were a clear winner. If I hadn't had everything portioned out in baggies I would have eaten all my applesauce in the first hour. Honey Zinger's "waffles" were quite good - chocolate was the best - when I wanted something that kind of felt like a real food desert. Wasn't impressed with the non-chocolate varieties. My favorite close-to-real-food fav was something called "Simple Squares". The rosemary one was absolutely incredible. They are dense calories and were included in baggies for longer loops.
Protein: I packed almond butter packets and jerky as my protein sources. The almond butter was much more palatable on the trail. I sorta choked the jerky down.
3. A break is a chance to simplify everything
I realized at this ride that taking a break from something allows you to simplify when coming back. My horse set up was the same --> mash pan, low pan that holds at least 5 gallons of water, muck bucket with hay, small bucket for a water topper, sponge bucket (5 gallon). However, my camping set up was drastically reduced. I slept in my truck cab with Tess. I brought an ice chest full of food that required zero prep, 3 gallons of drinking water, and a chair. Next time I will remember to bring a sleeping pad, and perhaps plan on heating some water for coffee. However, it was good to get back to the basics.
4. Blue moon so bright I didn't sleep
5. Changed saddles half way through
I rode the first 20 miles in a saddle that I borrowed from a friend, that we have done the majority of our training in. By the end of 20 miles my knees were KILLING me, probably a function of the knee rolls. Although I've ridden a lot of miles in knee-roll-containing-saddles, I think that my future miles in them are limited. It puts too much strain on my poor abused IT bands. So, I switched to a borrowed aussie (from my dad). I had done exactly 2 rides in this saddle over the previous week and knew the following:
- It's totally secure and would probably take me falling unconscious to fall out of this saddle
-The seat is hard as a rock and after riding for an hour in it during a ride last week, I wasn't able to sit down the next day AND had visible saddle sores.
-It fit Farley's back at least as well as, if not better, than the english saddle I was borrowing.
Riding the last 10 miles in it didn't change my opinion that it needs a sheepskin cushion! But it solidified my decision that for my endurance saddle I am going to move away from an english saddle for the longer rides and into an aussie style saddle.
Near the end of a hard ride, especially near the end of 100's, I have a hard time staying in the center of motion if Farley is changing gaits or adjusting for a technical trail. I fall forward, I fall backward --> each time forcing Farley to compensate for me. She's tired, I'm tired, and the least I can do is make her job easier, not harder by staying in rhythm and balance with her. The aussie saddle will make that easier.
I think one of the reasons that it's difficult to stay hydrated and full of calories on the trail is the complicated-ness of attaching saddle bags to an english saddle so that they don't bounce, shift, rub against the horse, or annoy me. Snug pax, Stowaways etc I've tried and do not like. My preference is the "boot bag" draw string type, and a water bottle holder. I can get them on my english saddle by hooking to various rings, tying to the girth etc. It's amazingly easy to put the same saddle bag set up onto an aussie saddle and have them not bounce, rub and do all those other acrobats that annoy me and sometimes leaves my gear all over the trail without me knowing it.
The aussie saddle was a compromise between me wanting more "saddle" underneath me that made being on the endurance trail easy, and still being able to maintain a realtively good "dressage" seat.
I'm not totally giving up the english style saddle for trails. I'll still use one for shorter conditioning rides or rides that I'm not carrying much stuff for. A light uncomplicated saddle that I can just throw on and not feel so confined in. However, I just don't want to work as hard at the end of a 100 to keep a good position, and I want a saddle that doesn't tempt me to do without because I'm too lazy to find a way not to make it bounce or rub.
So what was the verdict? Unfortunately this saddle that I borrowed from my Dad isn't going to work for Farley. There isn't enough wither clearance for her (a reoccuring theme when I've had to go on a saddle search), but I already have some interested buyers for this saddle, and a line on a few other saddles that are priced low enough I can afford them. I'll keep you posted.
The vet was a little aprehensive when I told her this was Farley's first ride after reinjuring a bow 18 months ago, so when she told me, very seriously, at the end of the ride that Farley looked EXCELLENT, REALLY GOOD, and that I had done a good job --> it made the compliment even sweeter. She also told me that Farley had the best recoveries she had seen in the day so far. We did our completion exam with a CRI of 44/44.
I didn't even know that me and my partner had come in 3rd and 4th until the awards ceremony. No wonder everyone kept complimenting us on how good our horses looked! We had cantered/galloped in part way to camp, not realizing they could see us on the road coming in :).
8. Tess the endurance dog
9. I hurt so good
I didn't walk for 2 days. 'Nough said. My calves still hurt from protecting my right IT band. Farley on the other hand looks great......
10. Future plans
I'm 55 miles away from an LD patch - which would be my first. I definitely need to do at least one more LD, and hurt LESS afterwards before I consider moving back up to 50 miles or more. Farley definitely had the thought of "Oh crap, what if I have 70 more miles to go?" half way through the second loop, so doing another LD or 2 shouldn't blow her mind for the longer distances. She was hot during the start, but not bad - no bucking, some spooks (just to prove to everyone that she hadn't been out in a while), and just a head toss or two to show me that she still was more than capable of handling the endurance trail and didn't need my meddling (I still meddled....) Farley loves her job and is happy to be back - If anything, she was perkier after the 30 mile finish, than at the 20 mile vet check! She was all business, but also didn't seem to take it TOO seriously, although she was miffed that I kept ignoring her signal to get off and climb up the big hill on her tail instead of in the saddle.
-I'll do another LD or two and if everything goes well.....
-I'll do a 50 or two and earn her 1000 mile medallion.
-And then? We'll take them as they come :) For now I have dreams that might pop like a bubble if I shout them too loud, so I'm keeping them close until Farley can show me what she can do.
In the meantime I have a 10 mile road race the end of September, a 14 mile ride and tie mid-October, and a 20K road race in November. Plenty to keep me busy and fit for whatever comes my way.