Saturday, April 23, 2011

No Singing In The Rain Today

Practice today at 10am .... nothing like getting a text from your coach at 6am telling you to dress appropriately for the impending storm expected to hit partially through practice ... I still haven't warmed up from the ride/run with him from several days ago .... fun, I can't wait ... BUT at least distances were modified and shortened ... only 6 for me today!! Yay!!

Teammates showed up in full force minus a few lucky souls ... one being my favorite running partner who so luckily is enjoying her spring vacation in Florida! Don't I wish I was so lucky ... warm weather, beaches, hot sun .... okay enough ... reality ... cold, dreary, raining New England Spring - the humid heat will be here soon enough ... we like the extremes ... no walking the middle ground in this place. New uniforms were distributed! Team pow wow explaining the course and detailing the various runs ... from 8 miles down ... whew, 6 for me along with the twins ... out and back 2x .... "Hills?" I ask (my IT hates down hill!) .... "some long inclines with one small steep climb" is the response .... great! And off we go ... just as the rain starts ... we start as a group of 6 ... I just love the twins, they are amazing ... joking with the guy in the group ... nothing like a guy in sexy tights ... something only those that train in tights could appreciate .... speaking of tights, I spend more on my riding & running gear these days then I do on my "other" wardrobe ... so yeah, I do appreciate a nice pair of tights when I see one. Back to the twins ... they started running with EFS last year ... each has lost about 70 lbs ... they are game for anything ... competed in their first tri last year and are working towards their first half marathon this summer. They run side by side ... matching each other step by step in perfect rhythm as if they were one ... occasionally one will pull ahead of the other but never forgetting about the sister behind ... every few minutes calling out words of encouragement and support and never losing sight or step of each other ... not to mention the words of support they both have for the other team members as we cross paths doing our various and often diverse runs.

I finished the first 3 mile loop with the twins ... one thought the coach had dropped us down from 6 to 4 miles .... but no such luck ... he yelled "half way there" at the turn around so we knew we had one more loop to go ... just as the rain really started coming down. With streams of water rushing down the "inclines" and big puddles forming on the side of the road .... cars driving by without a touch to the break, splashing water on us ... we headed out for another 3 miles ... 1 1/2 out and another 1 1/2 back .... about 4 miles into the run I started feeling warmed up .... when I say I'm slow and steady, I'm not joking .... takes me 3-4 miles just to warm up .... it's always the same thing ... thoughts running through my head, arguing with myself ... "I can't do this ... yes I can," "what the hell am I doing?" "I'm so slow, fast walkers could pass me at this rate" and yes, "I could be in bed right now or eating a pancake breakfast somewhere warm & dry!" ... not to mention a few things I wont repeat .... but after I hit that 3-4 mile mark, I find my second wind and I just want to go .... I can't say I'm any faster but the evil thoughts go away and it just feels good and I want to keep running ... lately, when I get to that good point, my IT says "I'm done" and my mind and body lose their partnership as my muscles slowly rebel .... very frustrating BUT today .... that didn't happen ... my legs and mind were ready for more when I hit the 6 mile mark ... if it wasn't for the freezing rain and 10lbs of wet clothes covering my body, I would have kept going ... I know I'm never going to win any races ... maybe one day, if I keep running long enough, I will eventually reach an age group I can win ... 60 maybe? I can hope ... but in the meantime ... I'll just keep running! My coach says I have what it takes to do the ultra stuff ... we'll see ... I will be talking to him soon to set some goals and just see where I can go and what I can do ... my passion is mountain biking but I'm learning to love running just as much ... one day at a time.

Photos: 1) handing out uniforms; 2) me & the twins; 3) Coach Jay; 4) Team photo after the run.

Weekly Training Schedule

Message From My Coach:

Ok, so here are the goals for the week. I know this is going to be tough with your increase cycling mileage for Vermont, but lets really give this a shot this week. I want to make sure your legs and IT are ready for quick mileage increases when we start focusing on Stone Cat.

Today: 6 miles easy
Sunday: Long Ride
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: Mid-Ride + 3
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Rest

I'd like you to shoot for 100% of this mileage this week. The runs are short enough where you can "cram" them in, but the mileage is high enough to really test your IT. From here, I'd really like to start focusing on getting above 20 miles of running a week, but I want to make sure your legs are ready, so this is somewhat of a test week.

A Few Misadventures

Meet Marcy ... my fellow trail blazer ... and new mountain biker ...

And this is me ....

We've been riding together now for about 3 weeks with a few misadventures along the way ... a comedy of errors and 3 Stooges rolled into 2 ... the day isn't complete without a few crashes and a lot of laughs along the way. We are sort of like the blind leading the blind ... although I've been riding about 2 years ... I'm slow, I walk the bigger hills, I hate narrow twisty single tracks and narrow bridges and I crash a lot trying to get over the bigger logs across the trail ... but I'm persistent and I love riding despite my many limitations. Marcy has been riding about 5 weeks and I must give credit where credit is due ... she's just about game to try anything even if it means a few bruises or finding herself sprawled flat out on her stomach across the off ramp of a little bridge ....

I never saw anyone miss the ramp off this bridge before ... well, that is until the other day. Well, I never actually saw anything but after crossing the bridge, I heard Marcy's bike hit the bridge then seconds later a loud crash ... turned around and ooops, Marcy was sprawled out across the end of the bridge with her bike next to her. I guess she was thinking about something else ... and as you can see by the photo of her tire tracks riding off the edge ... she just missed the ramp ... and of course I had to get a photo ... can't let her live this one down ... we've had a few laughs over this bridge every time we cross since that mishap ...

And speaking of bridges .... my favorite (NOT) ....

I rode across it once .... by accident ... last winter on one of our night rides ... I was in the middle of a group and didn't realize it was there until I was already on it and half way across ... in excitement, fear and shock I yelled out ... then I heard a splash! Everyone of course thought it was me, but no, my friend, in his shock and excitement with me finally riding over the bridge went off the side into the water behind me. Thank goodness it wasn't me - that mud and water REALLY smells bad and I don't want it all over my bike!! I haven't ridden across it again this year but it's on my "to do" list when the weather warms up ... just in case I get wet.

On our "easy ride" days, Marcy and I have been doing a little exploring off our beaten path, but it never fails that each new trail takes us on a new adventure, which never turns out to be easy ... after following a new trail the other day ... we came upon a mountain ... well it sure looked one ... with a steep almost vertical climb in soft dirt. I said "let's do it" and she looked at me like I was crazy ... but up we went ...

The photos don't do the hill justice ...

but it was a steep climb ... and my friend was not all that happy with my choice ... but we made it to the top ... and off on our adventure we went ...

Back on our regular trail ... a slightly twisting but easy downhill, I look back and Marcy is no where to be seen ... I get off my bike and walk back up the trail ... all of a sudden I see a rustling of small pine trees and a hand waving in the air and hear "I'm okay!"

Another ooops ... just one of those days ....

And of course ... I had my camera to catch the moment ....

It's a good thing I'm the one with the camera so my moments of fame and shame aren't forever memorialized with a photo ...

Welcome To My World

Under the encouragement of my beautiful "apprentice tiger trainer" daughter, I am making this blog with the thought that today is as good as any to start ....

"Slow and steady" has been my motto for quite a while but I'm working to change that to "a little faster and steady" with the help of my coach and a regular training schedule which beats the impromptu "wing it" schedule I have lived by for the last couple years. My "fly by night" approach got me through quite a few races including my first marathon (Stone Cat Trail Marathon to be exact) but I paid the price running ... more like limping ... through it with a misdiagnosed stress fracture finishing at the back of the pack but not quite last. I hobbled through the next 3 weeks before I finally convinced my doctor that it was more than sore muscles and I needed an MRI. Surprise, surprise .... stress fracture. I suspected as much but who was listening ... also pedaled my way through my first and second mountain bike races in my slow and steady style ... the first was a 12 mile course and I encountered some rock gardens like I'd never seen or rode before ... and a few narrow bridges which kicked my claustrophobia into high gear but I made it through with minimal mishap ... next was the Vermont 50 ... nothing like taking the leap from 12 to 50 miles with your eyes closed! Starting with a combination of nerves and a lingering stomach bug, I had to walk my bike up a paved hill only 2 miles into the race because I was feeling dizzy and sick .... only 48 more miles to go ... a great start! Made it to the first aid station, ate a little, rested a few and headed onto the first of many miles of twisting climbing trails. Again at the back of the pack, I was in awe as the first and fastest of the runners caught up with me with a little more than 40 miles to go. I rode with a small group from Canada for a little while, chatted with a few runners along the way but spent a lot in my own solitude praying I didn't get lost. Pretty much spent the last 15 miles with the same group of runners - passing them on the downhills with them catching up on the twisting single-tracks and climbs. Pure determination got me through the last miles as I could hear the after-race party and announcer broadcasting finishers as they came down the mountainside finish. Looking over my shoulder, I saw another girl rider catching up to me and slipping into competitive mode, thinking "pedal damn it, don't let any one pass you now!" I rode as hard as my tired legs would let me. On the downhill finish, passing a few runner friends I'd made along the way and cheers of "Go Girl!" I crossed the finish line in just under 10 hours. Not a spectacular time ... last in my age group of 9 women (it would figure the girl that got me moving in the end was in a younger age group!) but I did it! Slow and Steady. I probably walked about 10 miles or at least that's how my feet looked and felt after hoofing it up some of those bigger hills with my bike in tow - bike shoes weren't made for this ... and my first thoughts at the finish .... I can't wait to do this again next year!!

And that brings us to this year ... started riding my mountain bike as soon as the snow melted from the trails and found myself a coach to help with the running ... started the season with my classic "wing it" style by running the Hyannis Half with less than 15 miles (3 at a time) total running for the season under my belt. Finished 30 minutes faster than my first half (Hartford) which was a pleasant surprise although my IT protested for the last couple of miles. Its been a little slow going since February, keeping the IT in check, with a lot of mountain biking and minimal running but everything is falling in place.

Ran a 3 mile trail race a couple of weeks ago - another slow and steady - but finished with minimal IT pain and ready for more.

This week ... ran 7 miles with the team last Saturday and no IT pain .... celebration! This week I racked the miles up on my mountain bike - Sunday - 7 miles of trail - Tuesday - 13 miles of trail and 3 mile run ... Wednesday - 9 miles of trail ... Thursday -8 miles (trail & road) pacing my coach on his run, although he paced me on the trails - he can run like a mountain goat being chased by a lion! And that brings us to today .... a 3 mile run and an easy ride are on the agenda! My mountain bike buddy is away for Easter so I'll be at it alone this weekend. My regular trails are a little crazy with riders preparing for tomorrow's mountain bike race so I'll probably do a little more running then riding.

That's it for now!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sport Pony

Full Sibling Comparisons - by P Wynn Norman
I just got a new video today, so I thought, given the discussion, some might appreciate seeing these. Someone posted about how uncertain even breeding full siblings can be. I agree wholeheartedly, but sometimes (like, for me, about 40% of the time), you get lucky.

Here are videos of four Teddy full siblings o/f, plus two "siblings in blood" (inbreds: same blood, different proportions, i.e. both sired by a full brother o/o two full sisters to each other, who are also 3/4 sisters to Teddy by virtue of being by the same stallion as he, but out of his grandmother).

Cooper (full brother -- getting ready to go Prelim, stands 14.3h):

Coda (full brother -- a winner at Novice, stands 14.2h, I think):

Cat (full sister -- she, too, was quite green when this was taken, but the last three jumps on the course really show her stuff, I didn't have the funds to keep her going, so now she is a broodmare):

Caleb (an inbred one from the line, leading Zone 2 in NAL and M&S jumpers, evented to Novice, also does Pony Jumpers, stands 14.2h):

Cliche (another inbred one -- she was quite green xc at the time the video was taken, recently 3rd at BN in her first season eventing):

Sport Pony

by: Tim Aiton Memory Lane Ponies

Here is the little dressage stallion we home bred. This chronicles him from 2 months up to 4 years. As a 4 year old he started showing in dressage against large warm-bloods and Anglo's. He won or reserved every class he entered and went on to be the provincial Champion Dressage Pony in his division and later went on to Win Reserve Grand Champion Dressage Equine in Western Canada, missing out on Grand to a 16.2hh older Trakehener stallion. Our little home bred Memory Lane Golden D' Nile, slightly under 13.0hh as a 4 year old, competed strictly against horses or open company.

The Chestnut (right) is his sire a multiple event Champion and 2x Secretariat TB descendant. Rpsi approved for the breeding of German Riding Ponies and a home bred.

The palomino (left) is his dam, a pure Welsh Mountain pony mare.

The very light palomino filly (below) is a daughter of Golden D' Nile named Twilight
Fascination. She has shown extreme ability in dressage since birth and I think is our herd's next good one.

When Golden D' Nile was young he had this ability to break into an extended trot that just made you stop and look and he did it with ease. His current owner and trainer Kelly Carter told me when seeing him at 4 months, "Tim hang on to that one he's something," and the late great Eric Brand, when seeing him do an extended trot across his lawn said " Oh Tim your stallion has done one hell of a job on that one, he's nice!" and Eric was a man of few words and great wisdom. For myself, I recognized very early in his life, by 2 months of age that he had enough quality to replace his sire and he has done so.

Also attached are links to his 2 dressage show performances that are on video.

His scores range from high 60's low 70's up to and including 75.6. In my mind with his win as Grand Champion Model Hunter Pony in show at one of Western Canada's largest hunter shows, and his win against some established and mature GCH hunter ponies at the age of 2, and being a Reserve Grand Champion in Western Canada in Dressage at age 4 (winning against approximately 200-300 dressage horses in open competition in Canada's Western Provinces), he has finally
earned the right to be called a sport pony!

What the pictures do not show is his incredible mind like his sire and his sire before him. Because I have been involved in Golden D'Nile's pedigree since the original import of his great grandfather Set in Stone TB by Council Rock by Secretariat and his great grandmother Bric's Suede by Leather Lyon by Secretariat, I have made a few statements over the years, that I am sure have made some cringe. My statements, such as "An American Pharaoh 2x Secretariat is how I intend to but sport into my ponies." I was stating things like this since "Pharaoh" was a yearling! Did I know what I had from birth, likely not the first few days as he was a very gangly long legged colt and a bit awkward on those long legs, but yes at three months of age I watched him go on a canter tear around his pasture and like Wynn in her explanation, when he dropped his head and took these enormous long strides with incredible speed, I knew I had an athlete. His son Golden D' Nile's stride is not as hugely ground covering as his sires but he got his sires wonderful free moving shoulder and a more than adequate stride for a pony over a hand smaller than his sire.

What impressed most with Golden D' Nile was his tremendous trot - with credit to his dam, who has passed on her wonderful Welsh trot to all her foals. I must admit at this point Dressage is not my love or choice of sport. To me its like watching paint dry, but dressage has become my daughter's passion and we were just lucky enough to have some capable animals in our herd to produce a couple.

You may have already read one of my posts about my daughter Annie having aquired a small 15.0hh RPSI approved daughter of the International Dressage Champion *Variant. Well this wonderful mare is in foal to Golden D' Nile for a early May foal. She is 3/4TB and he is 1/4 TB. The mare's name is Orianna, she is a very uphill mare, extremely light on the front end and with teriffic movement. When I envision the resulting foal I get excited as their conformations complement one another so well. She'll add size and I expect the foal to grow to 14.1hh as she has thrown nothing but small when bred to large warm-bloods so I think I am safe at 14.0 or 14.1hh. She will add to D'Niles already up hill build even more, she has a tremendous long stride and great trot, which will complement him. He is tremendously sound and powerful while she is sleeker and more TB in build, yet she has an amazing hock assembly and good bone. I envision a great foal with tremendous athletic ability but only time and its birth will tell. It will likely prove me wrong and be the ugliest most disunited conformed animal yet! But my gut tells me otherwise. Ha ha! Tim

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sport Pony

Recognizing A Sport Pony - by from Ponies-L
Below is a short comparison of two foals' movement relating to the Ponies-L list discussion on recognizing a potential sport pony (and "what is a sport pony")

Now, more than a decade later, I just watched his full sister's second foal, just like her first, gallop around with that same free way of going, neck low between her shoulder blades--so unlike its carriage at the trot--totally freeing up her back to produce real reach in her legs (both ahead of her body and under her body). Not everyone is looking for ground-covering stride like that, but over time, I've sure learned to be darn pleased when I see it (and tremendously disappointed when I don't!)

The lead colt is Ted's sister's first, the one behind it is actually a 3/4 sibling to the first, but as different from him as night is from day.
THE Shot

The chestnut is "upheaded" all the time, he moves with a tight back, his gait is choppy, and while he isn't short-strided, his stride is "inefficient," in my opinion, because he has too much knee action that does NOT reach forward (some have knee which does, though--knee action is not necessarily a bad thing in a galloper, IMO, it's just how it impacts reach and efficiency that is important). Anyway, with his tail up, the chestnut could "fool" you into thinking, at this age, that he has dressage talent.


But the proof of the difference between these guys lies NOT in that isolated moment that a picture is taken (or, IMO, on that isolated day at the inspection when the baby is walking/trotting around "on air", "head up, tail up" with excitement, but rather in the consistency OF moments, so to speak. To illustrate that, I'll close with a comparison of two shots, which, to me, typify the different carriages these two colts have, even when they are playing:


It's the way the brown one drops his neck DOWN, between his shoulders, even at play, that I saw in this year's filly the other day (she's not yet a week old.

So exciting to imagine that carriage translated to into jumping form!