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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Eye spy a problem

On Tuesday I noticed that one of Farley's eyes was producing some excess tear. Nothing too major, and in fact I forgot about it by the time I left the stable.

On Wednesday I was bored.

Surprise surprise surprise........I had both the time and desire to ride and so something bad happens.

I drove to the stable, without my cell phone and a dog that was VERY excited to go along on a trail ride to go on a pony ride.

And....and greeted by a Farley whose left eye looked much worse than the day before.

So of course I had to BACK home to get my phone and call the vet, try to explain to the dog why we WEREN'T going on a ride, and change out of my riding tights.

In addition to even more tear production, Farley also was squinting, blinking, and standing so that her left side was away from me.  Even though I couldn't see any foreign bodies in the eye or any obvious signs of trauma just the change from Tuesday to Wednesday was enough to make me pick up the phone and call my vet.

Eye stuff is NOT something you want to wait on or mess around with. I'm not a fan of going to vet for every bump and scrape - especially if the injury isn't sustained during an athletic effort. But a worsening eye over a 24 hour period is a major red flag.

As I made the vet appointment I did wonder whether I was overreacting - At that point I hadn't tried to take pictures and was in a rush to get home and call the vet before they closed for the day and so in my memory, standing in the kitchen Farley didn't seem THAT bad - the only thing really noticeable was the increased tears and increased heat. 

When I went back out to the stable to feed, I tried to take some pictures and THAT'S when I realized that Farley was indeed showing more clinical signs than I had realized.

The normal side? No problems snapping a picture of the eye while it was open.  The inflammed side kept closing and squinting every time I brought the camera out and clicked the shutter. And I had trouble getting her to face me evenly with both eyes - something I didn't notice before trying to take pictures.

 I wouldn't have thought that taking a picture could make something show up SO MUCH BETTER - most of the time I feel like everything looks so much worse in real life than it does on a photo.

 Seriously folks - in real life you couldn't see the difference between the left and the right other than an increase in moistness around the left eye - she wasn't holding it half shut. It was just blinking a lot more, and since the camera was a foreign object maybe she felt she needed to protect her injury against it?
 This is what I noticed first - the increased tearing.

 An example of taking a photo of the normal side - I did this just to remind myself that NORMALLY a horse eye doesn't close every time a picture is snapped!
 I got quite a couple like this - I would hit the shutter and she would blink.

I'm not going to expound on why delaying treatment of an eye is bad - that's information you can get on any google search.  However, I AM going to get on my soap box and tell you why you should self treat eyes that look like this with CAUTION.

My top two differentials for Farley were: 

1. Corneal ulcer - uncomplicated, probably not full thickness since I couldn't visualize anything grossly (but you never know....)

2. Inflammation without an ulcer (Uveitis).

Either one was a possibility.

A corneal ulcer is basically a scratch on the eyeball globe. The more minor (not full thickness) uncomplicated ones that get treatment heal in about a week and it's all about preventing secondary infection and keeping that nice uncomplicated ulcer from getting complicated.

Think of uveitis as a fancy name for "inflammed eyeball" (and yes, I know that uveitis specifically refers to inflammation of the uvea.....but I'm not teaching an ophtho class, I'm trying to explain a certain point....). Uveitis (specifically anterior uveuitis) can occur secondary to something like an ulcer or something else that is pissing off the eyeball.....or in horses, because horses are the definition are THE most fragile animals in the universe......they can get this condition called Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU). The most popular theory is that ERU is an autoimmune disease. ERU is a major cause of blindness in horses.

So, I either have an inflammed eyeball because she tried to skewer it on something OR I have an inflammed eyeball because her body has decided it no longer likes her eyeball. 

In both conditions we have inflammation.

In one condition we have a traumatic injury (could be very very tiny) that will heal nicely as long as a secondary infection doesn't occur - which requires a nice strong immune system to fight off any nasty intruders.

In the other condition we have a potentially overactive immune system that might need to be toned down a bit. 

Are you starting to see why the treatment for each condition, although they may look almost identical, are going to be treated completely differently?

Corticosteroids are IMMUNE SUPPRESSORS. They are ABSOLUTELY CONTRAINDICATED when a corneal ulcer is present. They are really helpful when you are trying to calm down an over active immune response that is causing uveitis.

My Dear Reader should know by now that I'm actually in favor of having horse people have access to drugs to treat their own horses, and with a few simple rules and some education, I think most of us can use bute, banamine, surpass etc quite effectively and without harm to our horses (I also don't think preventative products like flea and tick control and heartworm meds etc should be prescription but that's a topic for another post - the point is, I think that pet owners - and especially large animal owners - are fairly responsible people who can use medications properly if given some guidelines).

HOWEVER, I do NOT feel that corticosteroids fall into the category of medications I would be comfortable with a layperson administrating without some direction of a medical professional.

So far in my limited experience, corticosteroids seem to be administered incorrectly more often than not - for example: to an animal that is attempting to fight off an infection (or will be fighting an infection because of a wound).   Why would you want to suppress the immune system in this circumstance? The anti-inflammatory properties of corticosteroids are powerful and absolutely indicated in some circumstances, but if you aren't sure whether exactly what is going on, corticosteroids probably aren't the answer. 

Unless you are in the habit of administering corticosteroids systemically to your horse that you think isn't doing quite right (and I don't think that describes most of us), treating EYES is the most likely situation I can think of that the average horse owner might give a corticosteroid when you shouldn't have.

In addition to the eye looking very similar for both conditions, the eye medications themselves look really similar! The triple antibiotic that does NOT contain a corticosteroid that your vet may have prescribed when your horse was seen for a corneal ulcer looks almost identical to the triple antibiotic that DOES contain a corticosteroid, that was probably prescribed when your horse had uveitis but no ulcer

In class we were told to be very very careful because even vets make this mistake. It's easy to hand the wrong med to the client out of the pharmacy because all the boxes and the products look really similar.

In the end, Farley was diagnosed with uveitis WITHOUT an ulcer and I was sent home with an ointment that contains a corticosteroid.

Now that Farley has a history of a uveitis episode without an ulcer, I will be more comfortable treating a future apparent inflammed eye without a vet visit, as long as I'm REALLY confident that I don't see an ulcer (and knowing that if I missed a really tiny ulcer, I just made it worse by using that ointment - and deciding whether it's worth taking that risk).

In summary: 
- KNOW what medication you have from the last time. Does it have a corticosteroid?
- REALIZE there are 2 conditions that are very common that can be hard to differentiate that need completely different medications.
- CONSIDER the risk that you are taking if you decide to self diagnose and medicate. It may or may not be worth the risk. It may or may not be the same thing that you had *last* time. 
- There are a lot of things we do as horse owners that might help - and at the very least probably don't make it worse. Ophthalmic stuff doesn't fall into that can really screw it up by giving the wrong thing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

That Dam(n) Race 2013 1/2 marathon

My day started bright and early Sunday morning.

Well, more early and less bright since it was dark when I got up at 4:30am. And dark when I fed at 5:00am. And dark when I pulled into the staging area in cool at 6:30. AND dark when I checked in just before 7:00am.

I checked in and sat in my car until the pre race meeting at 7:30am and dug into my goodie bag - which made me very excited!

The scores of very muscle-ly people wandering around my car did not.

What did I get myself into?  I started calculating my potential finish pace, and verifying I would be off course by the 4.5 hour cut off.

Like any good runner I had at least approximate PR's (personal records) in my brain and did some rough calculations (because what else are you going to do at oh-dark-thirty prior to a race start besides get into the porta potty line?)

Based on nothing more than gut instinct, I decided 3 hours was a reasonable time to do a course that looked like this:  (Google map of the course here)

This translates into a pace of about 13:44 min/mile.

Here's the sketchy math my gut instinct was doing at 5:30am

Fact 1: My last marathon and half marathon season with regular training was 2006. 

Fact 2: The last 1/2 marathon I did was a road (flat) race in spring 2011. I finished in 2:58. Didn't train, miserable finish that ended in me basically crawling and clawing my way over the finish line. And being passed by a guy in a cast in the last mile. No kidding.

Fact 3: The only long distance running I've been doing since is the 10 mile Buffalo Migration races the last 2 years - which have been at a pace ~10:30 min/mile.

Fact 4: I did this course in reverse as a ride and tie and with 2 humans and 1 horse, and I managed to finish this course in ~2 hours.

Plug this information into a complicated, sleep deprived algorithm (patent pending), and the result is 3 hours.

Having this result was vitally important, because I had a feeling at some point on the course I was going to get very very tired and the only thing going to keep me going was the whole "I only have to run until 11am" trick. After 11am, I could lay down and die or do whatever until I turned into one of those skeletons on the trail that were holding signs saying "I made it this far. Oct 2012".

I had struggled with whether or not I should take a camera, but had decided that I didn't want the weight or bulk and once I stuffed my fuel belt pouch with Justin's nut butter pouches there wasn't room anyways.  I've been having issues with my back lately and even had to buy a new fuel belt for this race because the one I have been using during the ride and ties was doing unkind things to my lumbar muscles. Trying to shove the camera on the belt threatened to put pressure on the same areas that I had spent $50 avoiding......

Then, last minute I discovered I could stuff my phone into a side pocket of the stretchy undershorts of my running skirt and so brought it along. Life is short and crappy pictures are better than none.

I had a few goals for this race

1. Enjoy the scenery
3. Finish upright, and not on my hands and knees begging to be put out my pain
4. Be able to drive myself home post race (and then therotically study for my 8am block exam the next day...)

I now direct you attention to the elevation map above.

Do you see that downhill portion?  I did what every sane person would do when faced with the uphill that comes shortly afterwards - run like an insane person down the mountain so that I could crawl up the other side if necessary.

My mantra down was "toes up don't trip toes up don't trip toes up don't trip". It actually wasn't so hard this early in the race. I wasn't tired, the trail was a nice wide jeep track and since I have short legs and a low center of gravity I flew down that grade like a crazy person.

Besides calculating race finish times at the start, my other big decision was what shoes to wear. The Merrells have been getting progressively more uncomfortable for long distance running. The longer I run barefoot, the wider my feet get and the less they like being constrained in any manner. The Merrells, which were OK 12 months ago and borderline 6 months ago, are probably best reserved for endurance riding where I do my running in short spurts. I was guarenteeing myself toe blisters if I wore them on this race - but my alternative was my runnamocs 3 - which have a very very very thin sole.  At a previous rocky training trail run had bruised up my soles very quickly. About 1 hour pre race I decided that some hot spots that weren't actually unbearably painful while running were perferable to bruised painful soles, so went with the Merrells.

Which was a very very very wise decision.  Lots and lots of rocks....hopefully I read this post and remind myself of this fact when I'm agonizing over a shoeing decision next year.

I felt compelled to point out to the runners I was with where I had biffed it 2 weeks prior. My palms are even healed yet. I passed both spots with a bit of a shudder. Toes up toes up toes up!!!!!

Apparently my post fall trauma stress wasn't unique. Over the course of the race I heard many other runners point out sections of the trail that they had done spectacular falls in the past. I actually saw someone in front of my fall twice in a row and split her lip open pretty good.  So, my conclusion is that stumbling and falling, especially once you start getting fatigue is one of those hazards of trail running.

Finally we were headed up.  I was walking but so was everyone else.

It was really interesting. In most (road) races I've done, I'm one of the few runners doing a walk/run strategy. At a trail run EVERYONE (at least, everyone that is mid pack) is doing a run walk strategy depending on what the terrain looks like. One or two long legged guys passed me going up the hill, but for the rest of the time I held my own and managed to trudge up that dam(n) hill no slower than all those other muscle-y people who were talking about their 50K and 50 mile races. I even broke into a jog every time there was a little flat spot before there was incline again.

We finally reached the top. There was an aid station serving Gu's, water and gatorade, so I filled up my bottles but reached for the Justin nut butter packets I brought with me. I just can't do the carb heavy Gu's without protein anymore.

The trail was really well marked.

Apparently one person got lost last year.

They had a special sign for him.

At 1.5 hours in I felt pretty good. Tired, I could feel that my right IT band was "there" but it wasn't actually giving me problems, I felt a twinge or two in my right hip (also IT band related), and I just had an overall feeling I needed to be careful to not to something weird with my right side or I might end up on the ground.  Not that unusual - I have some chronic issues on my right side from over training when I was in my late teens and it was a reminder that I've been a bit lax on PT exercises. But honestly, if that was all I was going to pay for, screaming down that huge hill, it was going to be a good day.

There was a pretty little flat section that was single track on the side of a hill that just went on and on and on.  I fell in with a group of runners and we ran along for a couple of miles at this perfect little pace. It was wonderful. I've never run with a pack of runners like that. I'm usually too slow, or because I'm doing walk run during my longer distances and I'm faster than the typical person that does a run/walk strategy, no one really matches up to my pace. But apparently, trail running is where everyone my pace is :).

At 2 hours I had to fight the urge to ask fellow runners how far we had come. I knew dam(n) well that I had 1 hour to go, and I had gone about 9-10 miles. I was still managing a nice little run when it wasn't uphill but I was having to be really careful of my feet. I wasn't able to recover from little stumbles as well, and it was far far better to prevent a stumble than expend the energy and muscle to keep myself from slamming into the ground.

I told myself "just 3 more miles to go" and since it was 10:00am, that I would be off the trail by 10:30!!! (knowing darn well I wasn't going to do 10 min miles into the finish....but it's amazing how you can lie to yourself, knowing full well you are lying....and have it make things more OK. 

At about the 10 mile mark was another aid station. A runner caught up to me and exclaimed how "strong" a runner I was. I looked at her in shock. Strong has not been an adjective used to describe my running.  Ever. I smiled and laughed and told her it was my first trail race and she told me I was doing really really well. And then, because I was using approximately 90% of my concentration at that point to keep from stumbling and falling down, and talking apparently occupies 20% of my concentration, tripped and had a minor fall. Meaning I fell on my hand that still has a healing scar, but since I did not bleed, cuss, we will count that as minor.

At 2:15 I told myself that I could walk all the uphills AND the flats and only run the downhills.

At 2:20 I found out that running actually hurt my muscles LESS than walking so I did a version of fartlek training. ie: I ran as fast as I could to a certain point, and then I walked. We will ignore that the "point" I was running towards was measured in yards, and "as fast" was this slow pitiful shuffle that was designed solely to propel me towards the finish line faster.  I've never ran until it hurts less to run than to walk before....

At 2:23 I told myself that I could reformulate a different plan of "attack" for the trail at 2:30. But between now and then I had to just keep going without thinking.  At 2:30 I would do *something* different. And that *something* was going to be magical.

At 2:25 I tried to take a pretty picture of a pond. But my camera was out of juice. Kind of like me. So I'm reposting someone else's pic of the pond.

At 2:30 I started asking runners how much further, even when I knew where I was and it was about a mile and when they answered "about a mile" I would cheerily say "I thought we were close!!!! " to hide the fact that my asking was one of those end stage desperation questions designed to trick my brain to keep going.

At 2:33 I started to think of the pointy rocks and the narrow banks of the trail as evil and malovelent, just ready to reach out and grab my little feet and flip me end over end, bashing my face and healing palms into the ground.  I think at this point I start to really define what makes trail running different from road running for me.  Notably, in a trail race/run I can't go into that "zone mode" late into the race where I just pretend I'm a zombie and keep going with minimal of effort. I have to stay engaged every second to make sure I don't trip or stumble on rocks and roots. I've perfected over YEARS the minimalist stride that wastes no effort or energy and just skims over the road. That's a recipe for disaster on the trail and I had to work really really really hard to NOT go there where I was really tired. I also found myself holding back and keeping more in reserve because I didn't want to get to the point where I was so tired I couldn't recover from a stumble.

At 2:35 I told myself that I could see cars parked on the road and I could keep going.  I started giving myself little pep talks about what I want to accomplish athletically in the future.

At 2:38 My calves started to cramp, which was a total WTF moment - I'm having elyte issues on a cool day? Really?  I've been taking a good amount of elyte caps, drinking plenty of water, and ate on the course. It was only after the race that I realized that my brow was completely caked in sweat, that I had sweated enough that the pink dye on my older sports bra stained my white shirt, AND although I drank consistently and refilled my bottles at every aid station, I didn't have to pee until I got home.  And when I actually calculated my caloric intake I only ate 360 calories for a 2.5 hour effort, which is a tad low (250-300/hour is a good target).  I don't get sick running like I do during endurance rides so I thought I could just wing it when it came to eating and drinking. Which just goes to show that unless you have a PLAN for an event and stick to that plan, you can't make the best decisions in the moment.

2:41 I turn the corner and there's 30 seconds on the clock. I tell myself I can make it over the finish line before the clock turns 2:42. And I do it. And I get a little choked up because it was HARD and I had to pep talk myself, which doesn't usually happen, and I haven't done a lot of things that have been truly hard FOR ME and where I've felt I've really given it my all - and I really feel like I did that day. And even though my three hour goal was a totally made up goal that wasn't based on anything but a guess of when I would finish, I did it faster. I ran 'til the end. I didn't get hurt. I kept going even when I didn't feel like it. Now THAT'S a Dam(n) good race. 

I immediately starting looking for somewhere to sit down.  As I sat on the concrete picnic bench, I quickly realized that if I didn't drive home fairly quickly I might not make it. My legs were pretty dead, and my calves were cramping.  I waddled over to my car to drop off my fuel belt and drank an applesauce packet and forced myself over to the pizza line (I must have known I was pretty calorie deficient for the effort I put in, even if it was subconscious because I wasn't actually hungry).

I knew with the number of runners milling around there was no way that I was in the placings for my age group, and felt like I just needed to get home - probably a bit of cramping muscles, tiredness from being up at 4:30, and the stress of knowing I needed to study SOMETHING for the test. I ate pizza and drove and took off my shoes.

That wasn't the hard part.

Trying to dump the appropriate amount of water out of my nalgene bottle out of the window in order to mix up a packet of cytomax, while driving the canyon out of Cool was the tricky part. The cytomax packet was YEARS old but I felt a certain craving in my stomach that I know means drinking cytomax will help and is needed and hoped that something that processed was immortal....but after taking one sip decided not to risk whatever mycotic infection was waiting for me in THAT particular mix and threw the Nalgene bottle in the back seat.

The race results were uploaded really quickly after the race and when I got home, I saw to my surprise I was 5th out of 11 for my gender/age group!!!! 

That evening I was pretty sore. Just like post-10 mile Migration my IT bands and hip flexors were SCREAMING. 

But then, just like after the buffalo migration, I got up this morning (the next day) and I'm barely sore. Not sore going up stairs at all. Can feel the quads a bit going down stairs and my IT bands (both sides) feel like I probably shouldn't do anything radical for a day or two.....but overall I'm FINE.  I suspect I'll be a little more sore tomorrow (DOMS and all that) but I have to conclude that I'm preparing adequately for this kind of athletic effort. It's just so weird. To be doing so many LESS miles and feel so much better at double digit races.

In fact, my arms and lats are as sore as any other part of my lower body from stabilizing and balancing.

FYI - this is where I'm going to start blabering on about training and stuff and I'm pretty much done with my story. So feel free to tune out :).

Early on in my marathon training someone told me it wasn't the mileage that made you tired - it was the time spent on your feet and over the years I've come to believe they are right. In backpacking and hiking at some time point (usually around 5 hours) I'm sore, tired, and done and the point doesn't move based on how much weight I'm carrying, or how fast or far I've gone. My feet are just DONE at a certain time point. The interval training is preparing my cardio (was never out of breath in the 2 1/2 hour effort) and to some degree my muscles. My other normal activities (taking the stairs, walking, running the down hills in endurance rides) must be doing an OK job on the remainder of my muscle conditioning. I think the major thing I need to focus on is time on my feet - my treadmill I use for my walking desk still isn't unpacked, and I've been sitting in class instead of standing.  I also need to see if I can do something to reduce the inflammation in my hip flexors and IT bands. So far it doesn't seem like any of my old issues are cropping up - the reduced mileage running "program" I'm doing is helping a lot - but I want to be careful.

Trail running may carry a higher risk of falling and traumatic injury, but I feel a lot less beat up than after a road 1/2 marathon or even after a 10 mile road race. The variation in terrain does a good job of "spreading" the stress around to different muscles and areas of the body, and is certainly easier on the feet. My ride and tie partner Michele told me that trail runners are less beat up than road runners and it possible you can keep doing it longer, and I think she may be right. I think I'll seek out trail races rather than road races in the future, even though trail races have those nasty things called hills.

In summary, I think doing a trail race is an excellent way for me to be "rider fit" and so far is the best non-horse activity that I feel really is adequately preparing me for the rigors of a 50 or a 100 mile endurance (horse) effort. It will be interesting to see how I feel after I do my next 50 on Dec 1! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Respiratory disease caution

Consider this another friendly vet-student annoucement.

Respiratory disease isn't something I've had to worry a lot about in my endurance riding. My worries have been confined to prevention only - it's one of the reasons I don't allow nose to nose contact between my horse and other horses at events, and I consider Farley's individual risk for respiratory disease when I'm choosing her vaccines.

But actually having to deal with the effects of respiratory disease hasn't been a big topic on the blog, mostly because I haven't to deal with it directly. 

However, as I finish up my large animal respiratory block I saw a post on facebook from a friend about a potentially coughing horse prior to an event and it reminded me of a very important concept I should share with you on the blog.

Here's the *main point summary*.

If you are lucky enough that your horse gets a viral respiratory disease that has very mild symptoms and goes away quickly.....DO NOT RETURN THE HORSE TO WORK FOR THREE WEEKS. 

If your horse had a mild cough and temperature a week ago, IT IS NOT OK TO BRING THAT HORSE TO AN ENDURANCE RIDE. 

Now, you might be thinking that this has something to do with the shedding of organisms and getting other horses sick and this is some altruistic concept.

And you would be wrong.

It has to do with the mechanism of viral respiratory disease and how it sets the stage for a nasty little bacteria to come along and make a mild viral infection into a very nasty bacterial pneumonia. 

And considering that a bacterial pleural pneumonia comes with a price tag of $10K, we should all be REALLY motivated to prevent this from happening to our horses.

Here's the deal.

There's a TON of commensal bacteria that hang out in a normal horse's oropharanyx that if were allowed to travel further on down the respiratory tract, would cause pneumonia. Think about the lining of the respiratory tract as a field of grass. The motile little grass blades protect your tract against this bacterial invasion by not allowing the bacteria to travel down into the lungs, or penetrate the lining.


See how pretty and peaceful the little field of grass looks?  All is well......

And then something happens - usually a perfect storm of stress-inducing, immune-suppressing factors (training really hard, travel, heat, dust irritation......) and it allows a little virus to penetrate the respiratory system. 

Besides give the horse a little fever, a little cough, and maybe a little nasal discharge...what else does it do?

It mows down the little field of grass in the respiratory tract.



The moat of the castle just got filled with concrete and the alligators got rehomed.

How long does it take the grass to grow back? 


When does the horse look and feel better after the viral infection?

Much sooner than that.

But here's the problem.

If you stress the horse's body and its respiratory tract and its immune function (training and exercising ABSOLUTELY counts as stress) , those commensal bacteria of the oropharanyx (and perhaps bacteria in the environment that aren't normally found in the horse's respiratory tract) are going to move in and cause BIG problems.

Here's an excerpt from Merck on the predisposing factors for developing pleural pneumonia, which nicely summarized what was presented in my respiratory block:
Viral respiratory infection, long-distance transportation, general anesthesia, and strenuous exercise are common predisposing factors that impair pulmonary defense mechanisms allowing secondary bacterial invasion. Head restraint results in significant bacterial contamination and multiplication within the lower respiratory tract within 12–24 hr and may be the single most important predisposing factor for development of pneumonia associated with long-distance transport. Race and sport horses are particularly at risk.

So let me recap this for you
1. your horse had a mild viral respiratory infection which cleared up without incident a week or two ago and your horse looks fine.
2. You put it in a trailer for 4 hours and drove to an endurance ride
3. You may tied your horse to the trailer +/- being able to lower it's head to the ground for 12+hours.
4. You asked the horse to travel 25-100 miles at an athletic event
5. You may have tied your horse to the trailer for another 12 hours
6. You put the horse back into the trailer for a couple of hours.

Do you see why this is a really really bad idea?

If you get a bacterial pleural pneumonia, you are going to have WAY bigger problems than that little viral infection your horse got over.

And there's no guarantees that everything will be fine with some time off and antibiotics. While the survival rate has greatly increased over the last 20 years (90% survival rate), return to athletic performance is not guaranteed (about 60%). By the way, delaying treatment for more than 48 hours causes these numbers to go way down. 

If I was writing a guide to "avoiding stupid mistakes" in our endurance horses, asking a horse to return too soon after a mild viral respiratory infection would definitely make the list, along with administrating NSAIDs right after finishing an endurance ride. If your horse has a cough, take a temperature, and considering viral infection. And then consider the implications and consequences of taking your horse to an endurance ride in that three week period.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And so I ride

 I've not had a good 24 hours. The sort of mood where you are angry at the world and life and situations, but not necessarily one person and you aren't even angry in that frustrated way that causes you to take it out on other unsuspecting living things....but rather that anger that builds in the shoulders and the back of your neck that causes tenseness and an inability to focus or do something productive or do anything except angerily read the entire series of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, out of order because you can't GET them in order in ebooks from the library, so you read book 1, followed by books 3, 5, 4, 2. And it was still awesome. And tells me if I ever write a series, I need to be talented enough to write in such a way that my readers too can read my books out of order and they are still good and interesting.

But we are getting off the subject. This afternoon I decided enough was a enough and it was time to implement Mel's 4 step plan to a better mood.

Note that this is the "BIG guns". Steps 2 and 3 are ALWAYS appropriate as steps to a better mood. Steps 1 and 4 are only taken in dire need. And if too-frequent dire needs arise....then, well, a reassessment is in order. :) (It's been a while since 1 and 4 have been "trotted" out!)

Step 1: Eat something delicious. 

I had a one hour drive until I was home. My choices were to stew in my own juices or indulge in something that would immediately start the endorphins flowing.  Popcorn is really really really high on my list of "foods I would live on if I could only chose one thing" and I discovered this beauty with Michele on our way to the Coolest Ride and Tie competition a couple weekends ago. It joins my other fav bagged popcorn (click here) for the times I can't be at home to pop my own.

Is eating something a good coping strategy?  Probably not.  Do I have a weight problem?  Nope. Last I checked I was down 13 pounds and have a very very good relationship with food. So chowing down an entire bag of this to jump start my "have a better afternoon plan" on the way home is something I am TOTALLY COOL WITH.

Step 2: Go on a ride.

With the pony a mere 6 minutes away (if going *just* over the rural country highway speed limit), I wasn't desperate enough to ride in jeans and cros branded fuzzy boots, so I stopped home to change into tights and riding shoes.

And....I decided to grab the camera and a couple more pieces of gear that I'm testing for my trail half marathon this weekend. I had initially thought I would tell you the results of my gear testing here (because they are riding relevant as well) but I'll wait on that, since it seems my whining and verbose-ness is filling this post quite well.

I have no idea why the picture over exposed so much. The autosetting on my calendar decided that an ISO 80 was appropriate?  Me and the pony are cute. Tess is merely a brown splotch on the left side. Considering the effort it took for her to be a still-dog and not a dog-shaped comet speeding through the atmosphere at warp speed (because she was going on a RIDE), I decided not to push my luck. 

Tess was at first upset that she wasn't prominently visible in this photo until I pointed out that she got to share in step 1. (Tess would point out that I didn't share nearly enough...)

 The plan was to get lots and lots of shots of the pretty fall colors by the river.....but my 4 GB storage card was mysteriously "full" after just 4 pictures.

So instead we just galloped down this pretty little path at warp speed and avoided both smashing the white dog into smithereens (I explained to Farley that wasn't a sporting way to win) or bucking me off (I explained that this too, was a cheater way to win. The only way to actually beat the white dog was for me to stay mounted AND for the white dog to have full possession of all her limbs when we crossed the finish line).

I feel like I'm probably 50% back to normal.

I must say that it is here in the process that I'm writing this post.  Mostly because I believe that steps 3-4 will take most of the evening, and along with finishing up some online assignments due tonight, and entertaining my Mother, the probability that this post will get written if I don't do it RIGHT NOW are slim to none.  

Here's the plan for the rest of the evening. 

Step 3: Go for a run.  

This is dicey. The last couple runs I've done haven't gone well. I've felt rather flat and icky. And with my half marathon coming up on Sunday, a bad run will only mentally psych me out...and even a good one, while it will be good for my MENTAL state, won't actually help me physically, and might even harm my performance Sunday if I step wrong, or go too hard.  So.....I might go for a walk instead. But go in clothing and shoes that if I just *happen* to want to jump and go for a couple blocks I can.  Be fun. Be spontaneous. Be unplanned.

Step 4: drink something

I tend to be a wine person.  A red wine person.  But my friend Nikki sometimes sends me home with this very excellent bottle of white wine that is sweet but oh so drinkable and delicious, even though it is the very opposite of what I typically drink. Michele and I polished off the last bottle at the RnT so there's the benefit of it bringing back very nice sensory memories....

Here it is. (Ironstone Vineyard's Obsession Symphony). Yes it's white. Yes it's sweet. Yes it has a screw off lid. BUT, against all odds, it is AWESOME. Even though I was drinking the 2010 or 2011 last weekend, having let it set for longer than I had intended. It was STILL AWESOMELY DRINKABLE. Can't wait to pick up the 2012.  (BTW - another great wine that is available in supermarkets around here, that doesn't break the bank but I know will be a great, drinkable wine if I'm going to event and don't have something special sitting on the shelf is Gnarly Head's Old Vine Zin).

And there's always cider, or the rare beer, or even something herbal-y and gin-y. 

We shall see.

Step 5: Cook or read something
Food and books. The 2 great pleasures in life that are NOT done outside or in bed. How can I go wrong with an ending to the day that involves one of these?


As for why I'm in a bad mood? The concrete thing I can point to is the fact that I just found out that the small animal externship I wanted to do up in Aarene's area is not going to be approved. And the reasons it's not going to be approved for totally suck and smack of politics and bureaucracy and represent everything I hate about small animal medicine, and if was a large animal practice instead of a small animal one it would be approved (and in fact, one of my equine externships that is exactly like this practice WAS approved). And I'm bitter and disheartened and frusterated and that is all mixed in with being really nervous about clinics, and the amount of money I owe and the fact I have a ride in FOUR WEEKS and should I do it or not?? and and and and and and and :). 

You know, basically life and the good and bad it throws at you while you are lucky enough to live on this earth :).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Coolest RnT pics!

First off - here's the link to LAST year's story (2012) in case you missed it. It's interesting. A LOT of similarities between 2013 and 2012.  I was actually not that sore after this year's race either. I'm a little trimmer this year, but not by much and didn't train as hard, even though I did PR my 10 mile road race over my 2012 time by a couple of minutes.

It was a lot more chaotic last year - 10 teams did the short course last year, while this year was only 4, which probably accounted for the much more sedate Stashi and the total lack of company the first third.

What's funny is that Michele and I looked very much the same at the end of the event last year as we did last year - I was filthy dirty with various injuried body parts and Michele had a scrape on arm - last year from being pushed into a "tree" this year from being rubbed into a manzanita on a tie.

I still agree with my assessment from last year. RnT is the most fun I've ever had on horse back. I love endurance, especially going out on the last loop of a 100 after dark. But I adore RnT in a visceral and deeper way. It has an element, which I haven't quite figured out, that endurance doesn't have, which leaves me with no regrets of choosing championships over a potential 100 next summer.

Here's some pictures of the ride :) Enjoy!

No particular order

Coming into the start. am I starting to see a bit of muscle definition in my upper thigh???????? Just maybe if I squint and blur a bit?  

The start. I'm hidden behind another runner and my rider is already up the hill

A great photo of me and my partner after accepting our awards at lunch. 

What start would be complete without a bucking horse?

Nothing better than a post ride roll followed by.....
 ....a post ride shake.

an almost picture perfect finish. What's up with my wrist?

Hanging out the day before. 

Drying off the pad for tomorrow (it was still damp from being washed) and looking at the sunset. 

Evidence of Stashi's crime....

Pre start

A bit of my "art work"

In addition to the lightening bolt down his face, he also had racing stripes down the back of his thighs, on either side of his tail down to the level of his hocks. Really helps to ID the horse from a distance when there's a bunch of random grey horses tied to trees. 

Mounted and ready to start. 
 Trying to fix my number after putting it on upside was super cold (according to partner was in a light jacket and running around in shorts....I was in pants and my heaviest down parka) and my fingers could NOT operate the safety pins.

The coolest ride and tie part 2

Even starting with the pack this year, I was quickly alone running along the trail. I was running at my “expected” pace, but I was huffing and puffing more - my asthma flaring? allergies?  I’m not sure, but I felt more like a sturdy mule doggedly pounding down the trail instead of a fleet jack rabbit.

Less than a mile in I saw Stashi tied to a tree.

Last year at my first mount I almost lost my balance while mounting and got my stirrup caught on my foot and came the closest I’ve ever gotten to being able to visusalize being dragged.....the adrenaline of running and the excitement of the race start really revs the ole’ sympathetic autonomic nervous system and can make that first mount fairly exciting!!!!!

So, I took a deep breath, walked up to Stashi, and smoothly mounted. Success!!!!!!!!!

In fact this year, I didn’t have any problems mounting and dismounting.  I’m giving credit to all the running I did during endurance this year!  No sprained ankles, no close calls - just smooth balanced mounts from both sides of the horse both on and off trail. 

*Yawn* says my Reader.  “I was promised blood sweat tears and so far I’ve only seen the tears!!!!!!!  When do we learn about body fluids?????”

Soon my Dear Reader.  Soon. 

Now, at endurance rides I ride my own ride and I’m happy with a smoothly executed ride with minimal problems. In the one and only fiddle contest I competed in (pre blogging thank goodness, so you’all weren’t subjected to *that* particular sound clip) My goal was to get on stage, get through my three pieces with a reasonable degree of competence and gracefully exit stage left.

Not exactly the most competitive goals.

But somehow.....if it involves running.....cue “EYE OF THE TIGER” and by God just TRY AND PASS ME IN THE LAST HALF OF THE RACE YOU SUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You know....just enough competitive spirit to make BAWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

I had previously scoped out our competition pre-race. I didn’t recognize anyone from the previous year, and everyone I had asked was doing a different course (there were 6 races going on simultaneously). Then, about 15 minutes pre start I saw a couple that had done the short course last year and who had just nearly beat me, Michele, and Stashi.  In fact, we had wondered at the time if we had known that they were doing the same race if we could have improved our placing by just going a *little* bit harder. 

So, I sauntered over to say hi. 

And inquire about the course they were doing (the same one we were doing!).

And then I learned a juicy piece of information.  They were riding their *backup horse*.

Maybe it wouldn’t matter that they moved down the trail like a well oiled three piece machine on their sinewy-obviously-run-regularly-and-definitely-live-where-there-are-hills legs.

This year we would edge them out for a victory.

I scurried off to inform Michele that our competition was the appaloosa

Note to the riders who may very well recognize yourself in this story: you guys were awesome and provide my team much fun and motivation over the duration of the course :). I hope to see you at the next event, and I hope you have a good laugh over the story that was unfolding around you on the trail.

After a couple of ties, Michele and I started to try and catch the appy team in earnest.  At one point this resulted in a long stretch of me running while she galloped Stashi up the trail trying to make time.  I’m the faster runner and at that point the course was still fairly flat, so it was a reasonable strategy.

Except for the fact that at one point I started to wonder whether I had missed Stashi in the bushes and me and Michele were BOTH on the ground running with Stashi somewhere behind BOTH of us.

I already had a sinking feeling who got to run backwards and find the horse.  Me.  For a lot of reasons including the fact I knew I could run double digits if I needed to and still finish the course.

Darn darn darn!!!!!

Oh the blessed relief of seeing the grey horse on the hill tied to a tree.

I galloped up to Michele and confirmed that yes and indeed we were right on the heels of that appy.  After over 30 min of being in a bubble by ourselves, we were making time.

At that point the course started to go down hill. Now, my race plan was based on my experience last year.  Last year, I was too reserved in the beginning of the race and had more to give at the end.

This year the plan was to run every minute close to the maximum of my ability.  This strategy worked perfectly for the first flat portion of the course, and combined with the efforts of Michele and Stashi, resulted in us and the appy team being neck and neck. 

I knew I was screwed when we started to go down, down, down......and yet more down. The course may be 2 miles shorter than last year, but had a feeling maybe my "give it all" strategy wasn't going to work this year.

I hold this truth to be self evident: What goes down down down, must come up up up, if the start and finish are in the same spot.

Now, for all of his exceptional qualities as a ride and tie horse, moving down hill at a high rate of speed is not one of Stashi’s and I watched the appy moving further ahead.  But not *too* far ahead.  I had watched that appy move up hill and even though Michele and I did dismal impressions of “real” runners as we “ran” up the hills, Stashi can do a wonderfully balanced canter up hill, and because of the ties and being able to rest, can make REALLY good time up hill. So I knew if I kept that appy in sight, we were still in the running. 

At the aid station I ditched my helmet, knowing both that it was 5 years old and so if I didn't get it back,  due to be discarded anyways, AND knowing that the orange mohawk on it made it very likely I would get it back.

I ran like a speedy gazelle downhill, until I became the gazelle that was definately lion’s lunch because clumsy gazelle’s don’t get to live and reproduce.

While moving off trail for the appy and rider to pass me (darn it!) I caught my toe on a rock and fell (DARN IT!) with one of those hard, fast falls where one moment you are a 2 legged creature and the next you are a blob on the ground. I did manage time for one small wimper as I landed on outstretched hand, skidding downhill on palm and knee for about 4 feet, facedown, downhill.

Wow. That really hurt.  That was the definition of “biffed it”.  A section of skin on my palm ripped off and hurts like a SOB, and clinically I note that I seem to have only penetrated through the epidermis, exposing dermis and thank goodness for the weird thick skin that makes up our palmar surfaces.***

***It is with this statement that you can tell I have lost my ability to think and communicate like a normal human being. 

Well, continuing on.  Did I mention it really hurt? Like way out of proportion to the small amount of damage? 

Michele rides past me and I whine for a bit and she leaves me to continue down the hill. 

The down down down levels out on a hard packed road and I can see in the distance a hill that goes up up up.  Like up for MILES. 

I can see Stashi catching up to the rider on the appy and I *almost* caught up to the second runner from the appy team.  I decide to make friendly conversation.  I don’t know if she remembers I doing the same race. I don’t know if she knows that me and Michele have made them our motivation to run our hearts out. And I don’t know if she has a competitive bone in her body.  But, she’s a friendly face, and I’ve been doing a lot of this course by myself, and I have a HUGE hill in front of me that I’m trying to distract myself.

So I start a light banter. 

Blah blah blah BAM!!!!!!!!

This time I fell so fast and hard there wasn’t time to do anything except crunch into the rocky dirt at a high rate of speed.  I sort of skid forward on my knee, hip, and face, embedding gravel into the palm of my OTHER hand on the way down. 

It hurt twice as bad as the first fall. It hurt bad enough that I decided I would do ANYTHING not to do that again.

Including picking up my damn feet.

You see, I haven’t been running very fast for very long. 99.99% of my training until the last 2 years has been all about running as efficiently as possible for as long as possible, mostly on roads. I’ve practicing the art of a very short stride with my feet moving as close to the ground as possible.

Which is efficient until that said road runner decides to run on rocky trails, and get tired and DOESN’T PICK UP HER FEET.

I start up the hill. Michele has nicely tied Stashi to the base of the hill and I mount up and canter past her to tie.

There isn’t much to tie to on this stretch, but I can’t make Michele climb that horrid hill all the way up.  So I pick a little scrub brush that looks like it will do the trick. 

Stashi hasn’t been particularly hot during this ride, and sometimes as you get later into a ride, you can tie to less substantial things.....

But you know how you can get a feeling sometimes?  See the future sometimes?

Like....I kept turning around everytime I heard a horse to see if it was Stashi+Michele or just Stashi.

It was just Stashi. 

A Stashi with a particular look on his face that said “this is such a fun sport to do with or without a rider!”.  It was a very content look.

If you were wondering, the look on my face was NOT content. The look on my face said “I will catch this horse, and if I don’t, the amount of effort I put into this will be in evidence when Michele finds me on the trail bloody and unconsious.

I calmly stepped in front of Stashi.

He considered, and darted left.

I firmly - without jerkiness, panic - just with immense resolve stepped to the side, once again blocking him.  I stepped forward. Stashi begin to move like a cow horse in a fancy evasive manuever. I smoothly bent forward and grabbed the dangly tie rope.  I squashed the urge to remount and gallop up this miserable hill and instead walked 20 feet to a nice sturdy mazanita bush, where I tied him for Michele.

A couple more ties went by (in RnT I measure time in ties, not miles) and the trail was just up up and more up.  The appy was long gone, less than a minute away, but it might have been a bazzilion times that based on the chances our team was going to get ahead of them. 

Michele and I had both agreed that we were both going to walk hills that were steep and I resolutely tromped my way up this massive thing. I tried to decide whether my ignorance about the total amount of hill still to go was bliss, or whether when I have to go up that hill again in 2 weeks as part of my trail half marathon, whether I’ll be more or less miserable, being more informed exactly what’s ahead.  Because I’m pretty sure the hill I did for the ride and tie is the one that is pictured here in this elevation map as part of the 1/2 marathon course.
At one point I saw a guy in front of me. An older guy. Which isn’t that surprising.  If you’ve done any running at all, it’s the white haired older gentleman +/- beard that pass you at blistering speed. But, as I got closer I recognized him as someone I had heard about in the sport that was still doing this after a double(?) hip replacement. And I watched as he would run a couple steps up the hill, and then walk for a while, and then run a couple more steps.

I decided if he could do it, I could.  I ran for the count of 10, and then walked again - probably to the count of 30 or 40. And the ran for a count of 10 again.

In my wildest dreams I can’t actually imagine running UP a hill. It’s just too hard and I’m too wimpy.  But as I continued with this weird semi interval thing, I wondered if this is how people train to actually run up hills eventually?  You just do a couple steps at a time and just keep repeating?

Eventually we made it to the top.  The 1 1/2 hour mark passed. When I had heard that the 14 mile course was actually a 12 mile course, I had thought we might be done at that point, but that’s BEFORE I had to climb that giant hill.  So I thought 2 hours was more realistic.

I knew we had to almost be there, but I was having trouble even with the flats now.  I managed to plod along and Michele and I traded off a couple of times, both of us pretty beat, but managing to stick to our plan of running the flats and downhills and Stashi was still cantering along.

Finally the 2 hour mark was approaching.  I was running on flat ground. I was tired. I didn’t know how far behind me Michele was. I really wanted to walk...but it was flat. So, on the pretense of getting a drink of water I slowed to a walk to gulp some water and OF COURSE THAT’S WHEN STASHI AND MICHELE COME THUNDERING DOWN THE TRAIL.  I jumped like a startled rabbit, totally caught red-handed walking on the flat. LOL.

Stashi and I rode down the trail.  We were so close and Stashi was pulling to go home.  I passed the “1/4 mile” sign to the finish at blistering speed and started looking for a place to tie.

Michele was way too far behind me to catch up and Stashi was moving fast, so the logical thing to do (if tying your horse to a tree and running around is EVER logical) was to tie Stashi at some point in that 1/4 mile and run towards the finish line.  Hopefully Michele got to Stashi and was able to gallop towards the finish line, catching up to me just as *I* was passing the finish line and we all get to go across the finish line together, hand-in-hand.

That was the theory at least.

And I’m proud to say that after the laughable attempt last year where we did NOT pull this off......this year we got it dang near perfect.

I rounded a corner and saw the finish line. I started jogging backwards looking for Stashi to come up.  It was probably the longest 30 seconds of my life until Stashi appeared. Michele, not sure whether I had remembered the finish line ritual rode in screaming for me to wait and I’m trying to reassure her I remembered and then we grabbed hands and smiled for Pronto who was taking pictures while I tried to not trip and fall in the rutted trail a THIRD time.

And then we pulsed down and finished, less than 2 minutes behind the appy team. A 3rd place finish (out of 4) in 1:59.

And started immediately making a plan for championships next summer :).

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Coolest RnT 2013 part 1

If I seemed less prepared than last year for this ride and tie event, perhaps the following timeline will give you a clue why.

Saturday Oct 5: Whoo hoo! this is going to be fun.

Sunday Oct 6: Uh Oh. Stashi is super lame on right hind. Very likely a shoeing issue (just shod), stepped on a rock?

Monday Oct 7- Wednesday Oct 9: Lame, not lame? Slightly off? No idea. Probably not going.

Thursday evening Oct 10: Not going. Biathlon on Farley?

Friday morning Oct 11: No biathlon on Farley. Too soon after possible soft tissue injury. Not going to event period. (this is the tears portion of the blood-sweat-tears components of this story).

Friday late morning Oct 11: Shoer volunteers to fix Stashi?  Maybe going?

Friday afternoon Oct 11: Pack and go to Michele’s. Haul to Cool. Have hind shoes pulled, feet evaluated, hind shoes replaced with pads.

Trotted out sound. WHOO HOO!!!!!!!!  We are doing this!!!!!!!

So yes, after much drama and stops and starts, Friday night finally saw me, Michele, and Stashi tucked in for the night at the Cool staging area, ready to do the 14 mile short course (actual course was actually only 12 miles) on Saturday morning. 

At least, we were tucked in until around midnight when we realized Stashi was no longer with us.

My Dear Reader might remember last year when Stashi pulled a similar stunt.  Stashi loves ride and ties. Especially the eating part. According to Stashi, there is a contract. He gives us a GREAT ride, and we provide him with food.

Last year, it was decided because of Stashi’s errr......”excessive girth” that perhaps he didn’t need a full hay bag overnight. Stashi broke his lead rope and proceeded to “take what was his” out of the bale bag.

This year, standing over the bale bag post bottle of wine (thanks Nikki!), Michele started to say “Stashi doesn’t need.....” and I said “OH NO!!!!  We are NOT making that mistake again!!!!!” and so we laughed and handed Stashi a mostly-full bag of hay and stumbled to bed.

A couple hours later I heard a pissed off Stashi banging his empty hay bag against the trailer, which I was sleeping in.

Courtesy of the wine, it was very easy for me to roll back over and go to sleep - Stashi would just have to deal. :).

Well, Stashi decided he did NOT have to deal.  He had previously scoped out ride camp during the vet in and knew exactly how to rectify the situation.

He silently untied himself and tip toed away from the trailer. Ninja style, even with steel shoes on gravel, he didn’t make a sound.

Michelle got me out of bed around midnight to help look for him. 

Wasn’t anywhere obvious. Not at the water troughs, not hanging around anywhere close.

Michelle headed out towards the road where she remembered there was a patch of irrigated green grass. I started sweeping the perimeter of ride camp with my head lamp.

I walked towards the vet check and got a flash from eyes situated at horse head level.

Stashi tried to hide himself behind the picnic he munched on the sole bale of hay that was brought by ride management for the event the next day.

I would guess he ate fully a third of it.

As he was led back to the trailer in disgrace Michele and I debated the merits of filling his bale bag. Are we “rewarding” him for bad behavior?  Considering he had sufficiently rewarded himself post-escape we decided it didn’t matter and put some more hay in his bag.

Neither me nor Michele slept another wink the entire night as we listened to the disgruntled Stashi bang his mostly empty hay bag around. 

Saturday morning we woke up for an event that we hadn’t thought we were going do, after a night of no sleep.

I demonstrated my readiness to DO THIS THING but putting my number on upside down.

At least we got to the start on time this year.

Ready set GO! 

I have to go spay a cat now - stay tuned for part 2

Tuesday, October 8, 2013



Most of it is short term, let-me-get-through-these-2-weeks type stress.  Scheduling my externships is not going as well as I want, and I REALLY want to get out of the teaching hospital for the entire 12 weeks that I can use for externships, and right now, I only have 2 weeks for sure. Everything for 4th year schedule (rotations and externship dates/places) needs to be entered into the "system" by Oct 25 which is NOT that far away.

Had some unfortunate (definitely "first world" problems) issues this week - being late for a class this morning because of traffic that I should have anticipated, my computer charger completely dying last night - along with the charge on my computer battery, test on Friday I feel unprepared for, surgery on Monday that I feel unprepared for.  Tons of household and animal chores that are demanding my time and preventing me from doing my "self care" activities, stress from a new leadership position in a community organization, and a client  who I canNOT get to pay me for a pair of boots I sent her (the days of sending boots off without getting payment first may be over.......) with multiple payment reminders, oil change over due, smog that needs to be done by the end of the month, a deadline at work that is "soft" so of course I've delayed completing that REALLY NEEDS TO GET know, all the little issues that pile up on the "list" that aren't that bad by themselves....but are completely overwhelming when taken together :).

I think the low of yesterday was opening an email titled "your student loan snapshot" and seeing that I have slightly under $120K worth of debt....and I still have at least 4 more disbursements to go (out of a total of 9 for the 4 years).

Went for a ride yesterday (10 miles of glorious trail that we did at whatever speed felt right, including both 4 beat gaits) and felt better and going to fit a run in this evening even if it kills me (because not running might!) and somehow find a way to do the really really really really important stuff on my list of really really important stuff before I suffer the consequences.

This really is a b*tchy, whiney post that serves no one but me, but at least I don't have to look at my blog in dismay and realize it's been too long since I posted. So, I'll share with you a poem I heard on the radio (NPR), that is on my list to put into a post because I think it's so true and reminded me of why I blog both the good and the bad. (and as a bonus, I can mark this post topic off my list!).

Here's an excerpt from Garrison Keillor's "Address to the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Sanders Theatre, June 2008":

O brave young achievers, you have now achieved the pinnacle
And forgive me if it sounds cynical
But as we gather to celebrate ya and hail ya
It is time for you to think about the benefits of failya.
Failure is essential, a form of mortality.
Without failure, we have a poor sense of reality.
It is all well and good to strive for glory,
But today's grievous mistake is tomorrow's humorous story.
And one should not be a person whose memoirs consist
Of notes from the classes you never missed.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Notable things that I've done since we chatted last

My my my it has been a long time! 

Long enough that this post deserves to be a "what Mel has done in the last couple weeks" so we can be all caught up on recent events, and thus ready to dive into other topics.

1. History essay. Thank you for everyone who has given me ideas!  The subject of worming seems to be especially popular.  I find the topic of the lack of recent triple crown winners intriguing, as well as how treating and rehabbing tendon injuries has changed. You may not consider the last one worthy of a whole essay....until you learn that we used to "rinse out" central/core lesions - ie put fluid in the top of the tendon through a needle, then rinsed so the fluid flowed out the bottom of the tendon (from another needle)....and then they tried this technique with bone marrow and voila!  It worked better and how we've progressed to the point where we are injecting stem cells into core tendon lesions.  And we haven't even gotten to tendon splitting and pinfiring.  I'll definitely be keeping more than one topic at hand because I'm not sure what information is out there on specific topics. I tried to do a "practice" short essay on the history of animal castration/sterilization that described its practice in agriculture and how the focus on sterilization of companion non-food or working animals came about, and tracing the changing attitudes from the early-1900's on neutering companion animals, to the establishment of the first spay/neuter clinic in the mid-1900' the increase of pre-puberty sterilizations, to today's controversary of how early sterilization may predispose dogs to orthopedic issues or cancer risks.

It was actually extremely difficult to find good information!!!!!!  So, I have a feeling I'll need 2 or 3 really good topics in case my "chosen" topic ends up hitting a dead end relative to my time available to reserach it......

If you come up with a good idea - please continue to submit them.  I may choose to do a short brief on the topic here on blog if it ends up being intriguing :).

2. I moved. It was a lot of work. It is still a lot of work. It's probably the number one reason why you haven't gotten blog posts. Note that my MAILING address hasn't changed - it's still a PO box in Marysville. However, I don't have to admit to a physical address on "Meconium" way anymore, so perhaps I'll actually start using my street address....

I had all sorts of #firstworldproblems associated with moving.  Such truck will not fit in the garage. Since MY truck won't fit, that means MATT'S truck won't fit, being a couple inches longer.....which is a HUGE bummer.  It turns out that our lease limits us to 3 vehicles (check!) and none of them can be parked on the street.  Which means 1 in the garage, 2 in the drive way. So....the vehicle that is driven less than once a month has to be parked in the driveway.  Matt's commuter truck has to be parked in the driveway....and my commuter car has to be parked in the garage. Which means every time I need to leave or come home Matt has to move his truck out of the drive way if he's home.  UGH!  Being a diesel,  none of us (including the truck) is a fan of this plan.

Very much first world problem.

As is not being able to get the treadmill into the workout room (or into the house past the living room, which is why it remains in the garage).

Or the next door neighbor leaving their outside lights on that shine into the bedroom window.

3. I put on my skinny pants. No, I'm not being rhetorical, "skinny pants" are not a euphemism for "big girl pants". :). A couple years ago my mother gave me a pair of exercise/lounge pants she found at the thrift store. I really liked them. I was told to give them to my sister because they wouldn't fit.....and she was right. They didn't fit. But I LIKED them. I wanted them. I coveted them. So I didn't give them to my sister. I put them in my dresser and tried them on once a while.  The problem was they weren't stretchy and so until my hips and butt were little enough there was no "squeezing them".

Last summer I lost enough weight that they fit!  It was a miracle. I wore them all the time. And then.....winter came. I moved somewhere I couldn't run unless I drove somewhere....and the weight came back. Every single pound.  Grrrrrr.......

The pants went back to the dresser. I still refused to give them to my sister.

This summer I lost weight again.  Not as quickly as last summer, but a slow, sustainable weight loss.  I continued to make my "one small change" and slowly saw the numbers drop.  My goal is 10%, I'm at just over 8% right now.

Now....I know that numbers aren't everything. I have very little tolerance for being hungry so I'm not willing to starve myself. I'm more interested in feeling strong during my runs than weak and tired and I love food. However, the pattern over my entire life of gaining 5 pounds in the winter and then losing 5 pounds in the summer wasn't exactly ideal. Especially because as I got to my late 20's the "losing" part of the equation was going away :).

My hope is because my weight loss was slower than last year and later in the year (when I'm usually struggling to keep the weight off that I lost during the summer as school starts and it gets cooler) that it will stay off, and my skinny pants can just become "pants". :)

For those interested in such things the most significant "one small change" that built up to this point were:
- fasting 2 days a week (500 calories) with emphasis on protein and veggies. The other 5 days a week avoiding wheat, but not being overly strict on exactly what I'm eating, and eating according to hunger, even if it increased my calorie count past recommended
- Walking most days a week. Interval training a couple times a week. Lifting heavy things at least once a week. Ride as often as I can.
-  Stand if I can. Sit if a must
- Use to log food and exercise - even on the days that I'm not "watching what I eat". What counts is the logging, not what is logged :)

4. Upcoming rides. My ride and tie is next weekend. I'm seriously considering a 50 the Sunday after Thanksgiving since it will count towards 2014 season (and thus my decade team). Farley looks great and very sound. My solstice is the highlight of my life and I will keep it forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Not horse related....but I'm planning on doing a trail half marathon near the end of this month.  It has a giant hill in the first 3rd that looks worthy of a Tevis canyon.  Which I shall be clawing my way up without the benefit of my horse's tail.  Which may be more stupid than tying my horse to a tree and running away from it on purpose.

5. Third year the best. Seriously. So much more fun. More applicable, more interesting. My surgery's are going well. I was anestheist for my last dog neuter, which I enjoyed so much more than being surgeon. We are now done with dog neuters and will be moving onto cat spays next week!