Lessons, Habits, Progress

Decided to take a study break to write a post. And now I have writers block. THANKS BRAIN.

We’re in the home stretch. Only two exams left this week- after a quite successful run of five.  Found out today that I got a 94% on the psychology paper I wrote on the power dynamics Eric Lamaze used to influence the series of events surrounding the disqualification of Tiffany Foster from the olympics and FEI’s hypersensitivity protocol. I also got a B on my A&P lab exam, and a B+ on my P&C practical. Both those written exams felt very good as well, so hoping for good results there.

Besides studying like crazy, I’ve been working as much as I can, as well as riding and working out. So basically the past month all aspects of my life have been colliding into one big happy fun time. There were a couple weeks in there where I managed to pick up around 4-5 shifts in the week, as well as got out to the barn 5 times (as well as other forms of exercise), and wrote 1-2 exams. There is a reason “time-management skills”  has it’s own section on my resume. I’m getting used to living out of my car and using gas stations for wardrobe changes. Between driving across the city for work and play, and out to the country for training, I don’t have a lot of time to spend at Ainslie St. The time that used to be taken up by classes is quickly being replaced by five billion other things. Speaking of which I should really figure out when my spring class starts.

As of today I’ve had three lessons with M&C, and they have all brought significant improvements (for both me and Willard). The first lesson was really fun. We focused on grid work, and it was clear the Willard missed jumping over things. I felt great in the tack, confident and focused. The second lesson was a bit different. I was less focused to begin with, but that quickly changed as the lesson progressed. In the beginning I was sluggish in the saddle, my back hurt and my knee was not enjoying much of anything. Then I realized how much I was falling into old bad habits (hip angle too closed, shoulders forward, leg back). Then I thought about all that work I put into that biomechanics project I did my first term, and between that and Charlene manually adjusting my position in the saddle, I quickly fixed my own biomechanics and had quite a productive lesson after that. Just took me a while to wake up that time apparently. But it was an enlightening lesson for me in many ways, one of those ways seeing how my education- all those technical things about the human body I’ve been studying all year- are truly helping me to progress as a rider. It’s helping me change my perspective on things like those pesky old bad habits I’ve been trying to banish for so long. I stumbled across a quote the other day that fits this situation.. “When bad habits are hard to break, try bending them”. A lot of it is about perception.

That lesson showed me that I am well on my way to gaining new perspective, and that maybe those habits won’t always hinder me- but instead help me to progress further.

Oh, and the horse was good too.

My lesson today was much more focused (from my view anyway). Since Willard is still pretty enthusiastic about the whole jumping idea (sound effects included). We did quite a bit of transition work, before and after jumps. While is is very keen to jump, he is listening much better than even a few weeks ago. Where he used to grab the bit and launch himself at jumps, he was waiting with me for deeper distances and actually rounding himself over the jumps (of course followed by a squeal and a buck after because apparently it feels really good to jump oxers lately). Today there was only some of that, moreso after the jumps opposed to before. Charlene thinks that one more week and this “spring freshness” should be out of his system. Can’t blame him really, jumping IS pretty fun.

The biggest difference I’m noticing in my riding so far this season is that I am also better at waiting in the tack. Previously I had a tendancy to see a distance, and wait for it, but let myself fall forward in anticipation- which would throw the horse off, and lead to a chip or a extra stride before the jump. Whether it be my common sense progressing, my improved over all fitness, or M&C’s strategies working (probably all three), it brings a lot more confidence into my ride. For both horse and rider.

So that’s riding covered. The only other sort of interesting news I have that is fitness related is that I’ve finally started making ground with my pesky quad injury. After a few months arguing with it (especially during running), with the help of my ATs awesome/horribly painfully effective thumbs and elbows, as well as well planned rehab exercises, it has progressed from quitting at 1 mile, then to 2 miles, and now last week we were up to 3 miles before it started feeling like WWIII was taking place in my left leg and glutes. That day I also did a 5 miler maintaining a 10:30min/mile pace! Personal best for this kid! My training has kind of shifted from being in the gym 5 days a week to being in the barn 5 days a week mixed with more running and more body weight/pilates style exercises. I’ve found that for now, with my schedule and what is most effective for my lifestyle at the moment, this is the program that works right now. I still try and do a heavy lifting day 1-2 times a week, because it really is effective for me as a rider. I’m really looking forward to this summer to expand my training more with new ideas that come up!

Between everything else, the mission to solve my GI problems is continuing. The naturopath I consulted in March originally suspected parasite, while the Gastroenterologist recently suggested it definitely was not a parasite, and although I don’t have too many of the symptoms, Crohn’s might be the case and would like to proceed with a colonoscopy to confirm, which I said I would consider after all the other tests came back. I did stool and saliva testing for the Naturopath, and more blood tests for the Gastroenterologist. The GI guy was correct on the parasites, as I saw the naturopath today and got my test results back. The tests also showed some inflammation in my small intestines, but that could correlate with the high levels of yeast, bacterial growth, and gluten build-up also present. So while I wait the next 2 months for my Gastroenterologist to get blood test results, the naturopath has put me on 3 different herbal supplements to rid my gut of the bad bacteria, yeast, and gluten- as well as recommended I try out a restricted diet. Restricted being the understatement of the year.

Long story short (seriously though, I got a 100-page reference package), I am to avoid all gluten, dairy, and sugar- limit my fruit intake and bump up my veggie intake. I’m not sure how my Starbuck’s addiction feels about this. However, while I initially panicked because, lets face it, that is a lot of things I can’t eat, I then realized that my diet lately has been shifting that direction anyway. It will definitely take a little more time and effort on my part to make the complete shift, but I have been looking at the “paleo” way of life for a while, and this restricted diet is not too far off that line of thinking. The past month or so, I have been feeling really good, and during that past month I’ve been eating less starchy/processed stuff. So maybe, hopefully, the naturopath is onto something with this. Either way, it’s a new adventure.. or maybe challenge is a better word! I hope to make time to record some of how it goes on here, so if you’re interested make sure you stay tuned!

I finish exams Wednesday, where I will get approximately a 12hr break before I start full-time at the Manitoba Major Soccer League as their program coordinator for the summer. It’s sure to be a crazy summer (per usual), while I keep around 10 hrs a week in shifts at the gym, plus full time at MMSL, riding, showing, spring courses, and everything else in between. Bring it on!

 

 

That familiar-unfamiliar feeling

What a week! Classes are done finally and now it’s just wading through the 5 exams this month until I can shift my focus completely to work and riding (and my spring course..)!

Today I dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on my new summer job. This job will keep me in the city for the summer. While there is a certain amount of excitement about the job itself, and the experience it will give me, there is also a feeling quite similar to one I had frequently while overseas. The being outside of your comfort zone and growing up type feeling. Something new, something exciting, something maybe a little bit scary? It seems ridiculous to compare the two- staying in the city for the summer, somewhere already pretty familiar to travelling across the world, alone. But, is the first summer I will spend away (away is dramatic- its only an hour) from home. It seems to be eliciting some homesickness-like vibes.

So much of this past year has been about putting myself outside of my comfort zone- taking on the unfamiliar and the scary- and finding out where it takes me. That unfamiliarity is almost normal. Its starting to seem that just when I get used to one thing, I find a new challenge to take on. That’s what pursuing higher education is about though, right? Sometimes its not even an unfamiliar challenge that pops up- it quite often is something familiar to me, a challenge I have dealt with and worked through already, but presented in a new way. Demanding that I re-look at how I faced it before and develop a new game plan for how to deal with it now.

Those who know me best know that I love taking on a challenge. Which is why, although the unfamiliarity of stepping outside of that comfort zone is usually terrifying, I have been consciously making the effort to do it more and more. I can’t lie, it is completely exhausting, deflating, and runs me down some of the time. However, the changes I have noticed in myself as a student, friend, athlete, young professional, etc etc, show what that effort is providing me with. I am able to set goals and work towards them with confidence, even if the road along the way isn’t one I’ve travelled before.

Everyday is a new adventure, yadda yadda.

That got deep fast.

Apparently there are lots of things floating around in my head right now.

To summarize, summer job= staying in the city= mixed feelings.

I’ve had two rides on the grey beast since moving him to McMullans for some spring butt kicking. He has been exceptional both times. Tonight consisted of about 45 minutes of bending, and transition. His transitions are so so nice (miraculously) even now after the winter off- that is- until about the 30 minute mark when the energy levels start to dwindle. When we started our hack today he was floating around the ring in great balance, bending around my leg like nobody’s business. But as we continued to work- the whole floating thing went down the spectrum a bit, and he relied a little bit more my hands instead of carrying himself. It was good to spend a bit longer with him tonight, to see where we are at in terms of lateral work and general flat work. Fitness wise, he is way above my expectations. The biggest thing for the next little while is going to be reminding him how to balance himself, and getting some fluidity/impulsion back into his trot. And of course reminding my body what it is like to be in the saddle on a regular basis!

Spring is in the air?

I know, I know it’s been basically months since I posted last. To be fair, not much has happened except for the same old burnt out student thing.

The mountains of snow are finally starting to shrink. Slowly but surely this long winter will melt away into what is sure to be a disgusting, sloppy spring. The most exciting thing that has happened in the past few weeks is my momma bear getting engaged, and beginning the flurry of dress shopping and wedding planning. This excitement will, I’m sure, hang around for the next few months leading up to the big day. It gave me some excellent excuses to not go to research methods lecture a couple times. Who could refuse dress shopping over 2-way ANOVAs and factorial design??

Classes are FINALLY winding down this week. Which means I have to, need to, must must must stop procrastinating with my papers and final assignments. My exams are all spread out throughout April, kicking off with my Prev and Care practical this coming Saturday, and kinda average out to one per week. Which is nice. Since I got a regular shift at the gym and AM MOVING MY HORSE TOMORROW SO I CAN START RIDING. (!!!!!)

I’m not excited though. No way. Nuh uh. Totally could wait longer. Totally.

This week brought a surprise Naturopathic doctor appointment (I wasn’t supposed to go until May, but due to a cancellation I got in much sooner). After recreating the last year of crazy health issues for this guy, as he scribbled notes and gave me some classic “you’re-life-sounds-nuts” looks, he came to conclude that my symptoms match up quite perfectly with having a parasite.. of some sort. Which actually might make sense, as I did originally start having symptoms while travelling and working at LC (not the greatest living conditions), and parasites can often mimic appendicitis. It was encouraging to at least have someone give me an answer with confidence. However, further tests are still needed to confirm before going about treatment- all tests which I send in myself (and pay quite a lot for unfortunately). But hey, if it turns out this is what it is, it seems like an easy fix- without any sort of surgery. I am keeping my GIT specialist appointment as well, as it falls close to my follow up with the ND anyway. Definitely grateful I didn’t have my appendix unnecessarily taken out. Getting closer to some answers.. finally!

Good Friday took me out to Brandon for the RMWF. I don’t know what it is about that show- but it feels like coming home every time I go. Especially now that I know so many of the people involved in the competition- and have competed there myself. While it kind of sucked being on the sidelines this year, and only able to spend one day up there- it kind of kick started my riding brain (more so than the withdrawal symptoms I’ve been experiencing all winter). There are many other riders out there, I know, who will relate to the feeling of a kind of magic while watching those lucky enough to compete in that long week of classes ride their courses. Every day is different. One day can go perfect and the next will be a disaster. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of RMWF. It’s a tradition for many of us, whether it be riding or just watching.

Speaking of riding. The season is finally starting! My brat of a horse is about to get that worked out of him. It’s been a long winter for us both- with him bored out of his mind gaining weight and growing a more than adequate winter coat, and me working my butt off in the gym and in the class room. Going into this season I feel more than ready. Last year I was anxious to get back riding but I had the pilonidal sinus surgery on my mind, looming on the future, taking away from the excitement of a great show season. This year I feel completely different. I’ve worked hard to keep my body and my mind on track, throughout a tough school year and lingering health problems. Whatever this year brings, it doesn’t feel as intimidating as it could. I’ve handled so much the past while that it doesn’t phase me much when life throws me something else.

Today we moved the now 3-yr old (and much more grown up) Felix out to another facility where he will start his spring training tomorrow as well. He was such a champ. Walked onto the trailer as if it was something he did everyday, and got off at the new place with dogs running around and a pen full of bison close by in sight and hardly gave more than a snort. I’m quite excited to put a little more time in the saddle with him this summer as well, even though Mom claims him as “her horse” lately.

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Now that I’ll be back in the saddle on a regular basis, I will make an effort to update this blog more often with what are sure to be many fun moments getting back into training! Also I have done surprisingly well keeping my Fitness page updated, so take a look and ask some questions if you want to get you’re own pre-season training started!

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Pre-Exam Update

Ahhh it’s been a while. This is going to be short and sweet.

It’s been a pretty stressful month, what with finishing classes of my first term and all that good stuff. But, after 5 exams.. I’m done! Until January. I have survived-so far- what many thought would be the killer of all semesters.. five courses, four labs.. so pretty much 9 classes.. INSANITY. The past few months flew by. Last time I wrote I believe I was getting ready to do my presentation for biomechanics, on the posting trot. That went very well, I think, we have yet to get our feedback for that. I got asked my all time favourite question “is rider fitness important in the sport” Uhh, let me think.. YES (of course followed by a suitably intelligent sounding explanation). We finished our paper this week, and will hand it in sometime next week once it’s been proof read a few hundred times. I had Charlene read it tonight, and she seemed to think it was good. Hopefully our prof thinks the same thing! If anybody is interested in reading it, let me know- the more proof readers the better!

Tonight is the eve of what is going to be a crazy week (do I have any not crazy weeks?). Four finals await me, two on tuesday (nutrition, and stats), and then scientific principles of fitness and conditioning (I did my final case study (worth 25%) on a program for a equestrian athlete!) on Wednesday, and the big scary Biomech final exam on Friday. Biomech is definitely the only exam I’m worried about. I’m pretty determined on getting a good mark, so the pressure is on. The midterm was created by the devil, so I’m sure the final will be of the same calibre… but at least we have double the time to write. And then next week I finish off with my A&P midterm (this is a full year course). I basically have spent the last 3-4 days buried in my stats text book. Hypotheses testing, inferential statistics, and data analysis, are all things I will be very happy to be done with!

In other news.. well.. I don’t really have a life outside of school at the moment. Maybe I’ll think of something interesting to write about in the coming weeks, after my brain has recovered from what it’s about to be put through.. Wish me luck!