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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reflections

Today is Tuesday.  I’m *suppose* to be backpacking right now......but in fact I’m hiding out at home resting due to some unforeseen medical issues with my backpacking partner and the fact that I felt like I was in a car wreck post ride.  Does 10K feet of elevation sound like a good idea to you for 2 people in this kind of condition?

So, I’ve decided that today is probably my last day of self imposed quarantine and tomorrow I shall poke my head out and see what’s what.  Up until today I couldn’t actually move my head because my neck was so stiff, which would have made poking it anywhere a wee bit difficult. 

I’ve been doing some thinking and reflecting. 

MULTIDAYS.  I am not a multiday person.  I am a do-the-mileage-in-one-big-chunk person.  Two days is my max.  And I can only do that if I’m prepping for a bigger ride - such as a 100.  I rode the 2 days last weekend not as 2 50’s, but as a 2 day 100.  That helped me both mentally to get through the ride, and also remind me of why it was important to take the little stuff like food, hydration, seriously, because even though we were going to get a 12 hour break......in 4 weeks we would be doing the same thing without that break. It also helped me to ride each day as part of a big picture which really helped my mind stay in the game.

ADEQUATE NUTRITION. Besides rest, the only other change I can think of in Farley’s management is she is finally being fed good quality hay and enough of it.  Even her paddock at her current boarding situation is about the same size as it was when I lived in Turlock. However, it was only after her tye up after Tevis 2010 that I started feeding her hay I bought instead of relying on the boarding stable. I started supplementing selenium at the same time.  Unfortunately, it was only a couple of months later when Farley was pulled for lameness at 20MT and while I *thought* there was a difference muscle tone and her recovery after rides, it was hard to be sure - especially because I was still over riding her at that point. But now, I think in addition to the benefits of rest, I’m seeing the benefits of a horse that is finally being fed in accordance to how she is being worked (and I must say, now that we aren’t putting a gazzillion miles on, it’s far easier to keep her adequately fed).

ELYTES. For those of you that are interested, I gave a total of 2 or 3 half doses over 2 days. I’ve gone back to trying to be conservative to moderate on my elyte dosing. I bought a velcro pouch at Griffins at wild west to put my ride card, map, cellphone, and 2 elyte syringes in and it works like a dream.  I’m going to do some rearranging of my saddle bags and probably shove my Goo container in this pouch too. 

CREW.  Jessica was an AWESOME crew.  So listen up.  Here’s what to expect from your recently-was-a-completely-sane-adult, now demented 3 year old 100 mile rider. It didn’t faze her when I got grumpy the second day because I didn’t feel good. She calmly accepted the wild swings of “I’m so hungry I’m going to eat noodles off the ground”, and “all food is nasty”.  Her mom is an excellent lameness vet and Jessica is in vet school with me.....so she was truly a pair of experienced eyes on Farley’s trot outs - but if you don’t have that sort of qualifications - don’t worry.  That won’t stop your rider from asking you several million times about how the horse looks. She volunteered at the ride and entertained me with all the ride camp drama I missed while out on the trail (missing thumbs, falls, pulls, and how the other horses looked). She pretended to care about my silly stories and remembered my endurance friends’ names.  She calmly packed up camp while I ADHD’ed like a neurotic border collie chasing light flashes after the ride.  And then she endured an hour drive home with conversation (conversation? interrogation?) centered around what she, as an outsider but experienced equestrian competitor, thought about endurance. Doesn’t that sound like fun?  I’m sure you are lining up to sign up to be on my next crew.....

REST. I wonder how many endurance horses are being overridden.  I totally include myself and my horses in this category prior to 2011.

Obviously there needs to be a base will a ton of miles there - I’ve taken an underconditioned horse to a ride and experienced the consequences, but so far I’ve seen way more tired and over conditioned horses at rides, than horses not prepared for the distance. 

I don’t think Farley is an exception.  Funder is having a similar experience with her own non-arab, and there's at least one more endurance blogger out there who is as well (but I don't know if they want to be called out yet....).  Put a big base on, and then STOP RIDING. 

I know I made a big deal recently in a couple of posts of the the fact you have choice once you have that base - you can chose to do lots of rest or lots of miles.....but now I’m not so sure that there really is a choice.  I don’t have a clue how to condition a horse that can win and BC a ride on purpose, but I’m more and more convinced that if your goals are mid to back pack finishes, there is no point in continuing  to put on the miles. Chose the rest option. 

I think Wild West is what finally convinced me.  I’ve done Wild West for 5 years.  I’ve done it on an underconditioned horse, an arab, a non-arab, and an over conditioned horse.  I’ve done single days, 2 days, and 3 days.  And this year I had a second set of eyes so that it wasn’t just me and my opinions. Cache creek could have been a fluke.  Two days at Wild West isn’t.  Everything, and I mean everything - the vet’s comments and observations, Farley’s vet scores, physical indicators such as filling, my subjective observations, my friend’s observations - points to a horse that is handling the distance far better than before. And for some reason, this concept of less may be more is a hard pill for riders to swallow. 

TEVIS. If my life was a novel, I would be skipping to the end right now to see how Tevis turns out, because I can’t WAIT to see whether I finish or not, and how Farley feels during the ride and how she looks post-ride. I have 2 years of Tevis pacing data and I was really consistent both years.  It’s going to be really interesting to compare this year with past years.

I spent some time figuring my pace charts out and making my plan for this year.  The tevis ride provides you a “recommended” travel time between checks in order to finish before the 24 hour cut off.  I rode the ride in 2009 without the benefit of knowing how hard I would have to ride between checks to be on track.  In prepping for 2010, I evaluated my 09 paces and realized that I could take it easy going in and out of the canyons and still be on track, or better, to complete.  I did just that and I had a fresher horse at Foresthill and was able to go on.

Since I got pulled at Foresthill (65 miles) in 09, pacing that section was a bit of a mystery and again, I went really fast after Foresthill.  For example, I finished one section an entire HOUR faster than “recommended” when the rest of the sections I was within 15 or 20 minutes of the recommended pacing.  That means that I FLEW on a section in the last 3rd of the ride and pushed my horse more than was really necessary, potentially making my horse more tired at the conclusion of the ride.

Just like I was able to slow down in the 2nd third and have a less tired horse at 65, can I slow down in the last 3rd and have a less tired horse at 100? 

I hope so. 

While we are on the topic of Tevis, here is what I want out of the ride this year.

In the past all decisions I made were centered around giving me the best shot at finishing. 

This year, I want to fully experience the ride moment by moment.  Yes, I still want to complete, but most of all I want a sound horse that isn’t too tired at the end (where ever the end is for us this year) and to not have any regrets if I never ride this ride again. 

I want to go over cougar rock.  I have never been over the rock, and I really want that picture.  In some ways I feel like I haven’t experienced the full ride by avoiding this monument.  I told myself and others that I didn’t want to wait in line to go over - and while that was true.......if I’m being completely honest with myself, I was scared too.  I desperately wanted my completion and I didn’t want to do anything that could make it less likely that I would finish - whether that was falling on cougar rock or having to deal with boot issues.

Ah yes.  Boot issues.  In 2009 I was still shoeing and my farrier completely screwed me over in the shoeing cycle for Tevis.  Was that the reason I pulled?  Nope, but it was definitely one more factor in about a dozen of why that was not the year we completed. In 2010 I glued on, thinking that glue on boots were the easy answer to not wanting to deal with hoof issues.  The joke was on me when one by one my glueons came off, starting at mile 15.  I ended up using strap ons (which performed perfectly) or going completely barefoot until I got to the next check when Renegade could professionally reglue boots on for me.

This year I’m using strap on boots. There’s a lot of reasons that I may not finish this year and the LEAST of those reasons is the chance that I’ll have problems with my boots.  And as I learned the hard way, no matter what your hoof protection choice, nothing is foolproof.  So I may as well chose the option that isn’t going to damage my horse’s feet and has the least potential to cause adverse affects, such as accidentally getting glue under the sole in the gluing process and laming my horse in the first section of the ride.

Being able to let go of making Tevis all about the completion is incredibly freeing.  It allows me to make decisions about what is going to be best for me and my horse long term and not make questionable short term decisions just because I want that completion so bad.  I have my buckle.  Now I want my cougar rock picture, the satisfaction of doing the ride in strap on boots, a horse that wants to trot during our ceremonial finish, and one more shot at riding next to the American River in the moonlight. 

And then, I want to complete a 50 (or 2) and ride the Tevis again next year.  Lather rinse repeat for the next 5 years.

21 comments:

  1. I'm so happy for you and so excited about Tevis! And yes, yes, yes, I think rest is crucially important for non-racers. I'm really excited about "redoing" a ride - this year will be my second at Tahoe Rim, and I know Dixie was tired and thin going into it last year. She finished, very turtle and very tired, and I can't wait to see how she does this year. Rested, fat, with a rider who is taking care of herself and knows where to get off and run - I think we'll rock it.

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  2. Smart decision to give yourself some rest, too. No sense in wearing yourself out over the next three weeks. I'm excited about your Tevis plan, and will be cheering you on every step of the way!

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    1. The only thing I have planned between now and Tevis is a Disney land trip :). Just the thing to keep me from freaking out about the ride and posting obssessively on the topic.

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    2. I hate you. (Said with nothing but love. Seriously, I adore Disney.)

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  3. CRAP! I totally forgot to include my other thoughts on multi days and now I have to write yet another post. *sigh*.

    One thing I am worried about is that my 2 day 100 at 4 weeks pre tevis was a little close. Better for it to be 6 weeks out. Too late to do anything aobut it now, and it was the right ride and trail to do.......but since they moved it out of May to June, I feel it's marginal for my horse to totally recover :(. Oh well.

    So excited about the tahoe rim ride!!!!!!! I really do think that Team fixie is going to rock it. and I think that confidence booster is going to let you know that fixie absolutely can do a 100.

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  4. My main thought about multidays is that I (and you) would enjoy them more if I had a real bed. And a real shower. But roughing it and riding 50s over and over is just too hard for the emotional payoff.

    Also, it's way easier for me to bail on real life for a long weekend than for a week.

    Rest: there are plenty of people who use Gold Country as their last tune-up before Tevis. GOLD COUNTRY!! Two weeks out!

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    1. The other problem with riding 50 after 50 is the loss of blogging ability. 2 days is probably my max for retaining and retelling the adventures on teh trail. Past that I'm all like "meh". You know? and I think blogging has become a HUGE part of endurance for me. Teh first thing I did after I got home from wild west the same day after completing mile 105 in 48 hours was to take a piece of paper and write down as many points as I could remember that I didn't want to forget before I wrote the blog post the next day. Which is pathetic. I don't know what I would do without blogging or if I would be riding endurance at all at this point? Probably, but I would definiately be having less fun.

      Real bed and shower? Maybe. And an internet connection so I could tell my tales in real time.

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  5. Just wanted to let you know that this post is amazing - as many of your posts are. As I pursue things on my own over in the east with Q, your accounts, and Funder's, and Ashley's are foremost on my mind as I go through training and rides. The rest thing especially of late. It makes so much sense to me and I love that you and Farley and Funder and Dixie are proof that its a solid, working concept.

    So thanks, again (and again and again) for posts like this. I really, thoroughly enjoy them and learn from them every time.

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    1. I have to admit that it is these hodgepodge reflection posts that I'm sure will get me deleted off of people's readers and RSS feeds. it just seems soo......"un put together" and random and not really helpful. LOL. I hated stream of conciousness books in high school english and when I find myself writing these posts I always want to slap my wrists with a ruler.

      so I guess when I start compiling these posts for the ebook (Im going to start taking older posts off the blog and compiling them into a free downloadable ebook) I'll keep these types of posts :)

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    2. Different format. I mean I type with no caps or punctuation on Facebook and in emails to my husband, but I put on my English-as-a-first-language panties and write correct blog posts. It's the same thing, kind of - nobody reading a blog is expecting the kind of put-together narratives you expect from an article or ebook.

      I think you'd get a better finished product if you rewrote a lot of stuff for an ebook - write it as lessons learned season by season, instead of the day-by-day of a blog. Foreshadowing! Since you know how it turned out in 2010, 2011, etc.

      But for blogs? This is far more entertaining and educational than just reading ride stories. I love Karen Chaton, but I think she's through learning about endurance, and her ride stories aren't nearly as ~dramatic~ as our newbie stories. Her mistakes are so tiny, and corrected so fast. Our mistakes are huge and we let them snowball and things go dramatically wrong, or get fixed at the last possible instant. I just think you learn more from people who don't make it look easy!

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  6. So Mel, I was wondering, are you getting a shower this year for Tevis at Forest hill?

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    1. Was really hoping to borrow a certain shower tent.....?

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  7. You nailed it in t he head why I haven't done an ebook yet. Trying to figure out how to most effectively take stuff.off the blog and.make it available to those who want it. I'm up to something like 1200 posts and its becoming unwieldy and hard to find info, but I know people are still going back through and reading stuff even if its a couple years old. And I have this fear that something is going to crash and delete everything and I don't have it backed up. The manual break in the blog is after my first thousand miles which also coincides with vet school which is.perfect. To be honest if I put too much work into the ebook I'll have to charge like 99 cents for it otherwise I'll never do it. Other options are to migrate the older posts to a different blog and keep this as the active. Or change it up entirely as an ebook "lessons learned in the first 100 miles" and have it illustrated with funny cartoons by my cousin. But there.us something valuable about an unedited in the moment rendition of the experience and I'm not sure how to best preserve that and make the info more accessible and organized. Sigh. Makes me want to pull my hair out.

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    1. I will admit to having searched back through your archives (and other folks' archives) at some length and various times. Mostly I just wish Blogspot had a (much, much) better search function.

      I am tentatively planning a 25/25 for August and if that goes well, a one-day 50 for October. I like it on paper as a progression and will be very curious to see how it all works out in practice.

      Do you think/find there's a difference in the conditioning outcome from a multiday versus the same distance ridden in one day?

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    2. Hannah, you just brought up the very point that I meant to cover under multidays but forgot so it gets its own post :-)

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    3. Woohoo! ::victory dance::

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    4. Woohoo! ::victory dance::

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  8. Less is more - so, I'm undoubtedly in the endurance minority with a horse that's in a 12x24 paddock 24/7. I'm not yet in a position where I'm sufficiently motivated to change that. I'm reading all the comments about 'rest' and translating to 'horse moving freely in pasture during the day'. Does the concept still hold true for a horse that doesn't get to move around at will? Does 'bareback meandering around the barn' qualify as rest? (It's certainly not a workout!) Slow rides <7 miles? I'm sure there's a nice blurry line somewhere, but as a newbie distance rider I have no idea where that line is, let alone where it is for me & my horse. It's a lot easier to do a hard ride or two a week and feel like I'm doing *something* rather than doing a hard ride or two a month and feel like I might not be doing enough.

    I'm not actually expecting answers - but this is probably where some of the resistance to 'less is more' comes in. Plus the general feeling I get from non-endurance folks is that horses should be worked - if not daily - then close to it, and I actually felt a fair bit of guilt dropping down to riding Fetti just 4 days a week.

    Time to see if I can make the rest of my thoughts into a coherent blog post rather than writing a novel in your comments (again)!

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  9. Farley has done her entire career being in a paddock that size. That was actually my argument for riding so much previously. But she's still in that size paddock, not in a pasture. And I'm riding about five times a month. Sometimes a meandering 1 hour bareback, sometimes cantering for three miles, sometimes doing a 10 mile loop at walk, trot.

    Shrug. I just don't know how or why its working. But yes, Farley us in a small paddock, not a pasture and I'm still going 50 miles better than before.

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    1. I missed that she was in a paddock now. Somehow I was still picturing her in pasture. Oops! That does answer that question then. Things to think about.. hm.

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    2. FWIW, Dixie is in a small paddock almost exactly like Fetti's
      -Funder

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