Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What happened to the moratorium??

So, in theory there was a horse moratorium starting this spring.  In reality - not so much.  So what does my herd look like now.

Some things haven't changed

Gizmo continues to hang out with Debbie and Elena in Virginia. Elena did compete him a little bit this summer and is looking forward to a more active season with him in the coming year.  Meanwhile, both Debbie and Elena are spending time in the tack.

Keebler remains lucky and has nearly grown out of his "menace" moniker.  He and Jordan had a very successful fall season, finishing 4th, 3rd and 1st in their three events at training level.  Cyndi failed to blog. I'm looking forward to seeing them down in Florida.

Keegan will head to Florida at the end of the month and I'll be there on weekends to ride with Hilda Donahue.  I'm definitely hoping that Florida is warmer than Aiken last year and looking forward to seeing if I can continue to ride Keegan as well as he deserves at the preliminary level.

Finn is still (yes, really!) for sale.  He's with J.F. Gagne in Aiken and while everyone loves him, so far he is still mine.

Some things have

Solo was sold in March to a lovely adult jumper rider in NY (not too far from where I bought him).

Astro is leased to Kat Drake at Copper Meadows Farm in California.  They are getting on wonderfully and Kat is pretty good about sending updates.  I'm looking forward to hearing about their competition season and hoping that before another year passes, Astro will have his own person (possibly Kat).

Copper is now for sale.  She is another who has said dressage is good, jumpers are great, but eventing is only meh.  We've just started marketing her, so contact me or Rachel Gross at Blue Hill Farm if you are looking for a really lovely dressage or jumping horse.

And, then I defied the moratorium, not waiting for June, Finn or Astro to sell before jumping in and committing to buy a new one.  More on him to follow.  He is a 4 year old OTTB who looks surprisingly like Keegan.  Minimal racing and very well bred, plus ridiculously cute.

And in the not my horse news -

It is fabulous to be part of Caitlin Silliman's team as one of Hoku's syndicate members and as a syndicate owner of her new horse, the winner of the YEH 5 year old championship, Vagabon de Champdoux - although I hear that name may change. Super exciting to see what she does with this very cool youngster.  I find it even more exciting as he is an OTTB - although the track was in France.  http://sillimaneventing.com/owners/

Remi has moved on and is having quite an impressive career with Camilla, winning four training level events and then finishing 4th in the very competitive area 2 championship.

I remain part of the Ideal Contini Syndicate. Sally is fabulous about updates and really making her owners feel like part of the team http://sallycousins.com/sce-idealcontinisyndicate.html

Jollybo also is moving along and doing well. http://teamspuk.com/

While there isn't a specific horse named, I also recently joined the David Ziegler Equestrian team. David not only had a fabulous year, winning eventing gold and dressage silver at NAJYRC and sweeping the young rider division at Dressage at Devon, he is also a super young person, exactly the type of horseperson and human that we hope to see excel in the sport (even if he does compete for the wrong country).

So, I'm looking forward to enjoying my two guys this winter and following the exploits of the rest of them. May everyone enjoy their ponies and their riding in the new year and if you need a horse to help you do that, I've got at least three great ones for sale.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Events everywhere

So last weekend, the first weekend of November was a huge eventing weekend.  On the east coast the Virginia Horse Trials and CIC was taking place while on the west coast, the United States FEI season was wrapping up with Galway. In Virginia, Ryan Wood had a great weekend.  The EN coverage is here http://eventingnation.com/home/ryan-wood-nicholas-hansen-win-at-virginia-other-scores/ and the scores here http://www.vahorsetrials.com/index.php/horse-trials-events/competitor-info/results/197-results-vht-fall-2014. Out west, both East Coast and West Coast riders showed there stuff at both the big tracks and the YEH championships.  Those results are here http://eventingscores.com/eventsr/galway/ht1114/.

On a smaller scale, my biggest thrill of the weekend was Jordan and Keebler's third place finish at the Rocking Horse training http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15760.html. It was especially impressive that they were tied for first after dressage (we're hoping for a Keebler guest blog soon!).

And going even smaller, there were starter trials at both Plantation (Saturday) and Waredaca (Sunday) over the weekend. Several Blue Hill riders headed to Plantation, but all wisely elected to not go cross country in the sleet! Others did stick it out and those scores are here http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/192.html.  At Waredaca, I judged the SJ with Nancy Seybold scribing and announcing.  In between, we had many enjoyable discussions about here horse, my horse, horses in general, etc. We didn't get rain (or sleet), but it was cold and windy through the whole day.  We were actually a bit surprised that the horses were so well behaved given the wind (the jumps blew over several times - even those weighted down with cinder blocks). 

In between stalking all the eventing results and being at Waredaca, it was an excellent social weekend.  Saturday evening, Henry and I hosted a post-wedding party for Andy and Jen (who you will remember got married on the beach in Florida Plantation weekend). It was great fun with friends, colleagues and family members toasting the happy couple.  Vee St. Maurice, David Ziegler and Rachel Gross all came and helped Henry stay on top of all of the food and wine, making the larger party less stressful.  They also helped clean up, especially nice as I had the early morning Waredaca deparature and Henry would head to Glasgow on Sunday to teach. 

Sunday evening, I headed back from Waredaca and was lucky enough to attend a lovely gathering that the Gardners hosted to celebrate particularly Jennie Brannigan's Fair Hill win (and yes, I completely failed to blog about Fair Hill which had not only Jennie's win, but Caitlin's 4th place finish and Sally and Tsunami skipping around another big track making it look easy), but also Nina's great success with her breeding program in both race and sport.  The Gardner's have been great supporters of eventing and I particularly applaud them for making the decision to support Jennie, a well-mentored, well-positioned up and coming rider.  This is something that I wish more owners would do.  While the excitement of being part of a Boyd, or Phillip or Buck team is a great opportunity, there is so much possibility for impact by supporting one of our up and coming riders to be able to succeed in the sport.  So congrats to Jennie and kudos to the Gardners and I had a great time at the party, getting to chat with both Caitlin and Jenna Silliman, with Mary Hazzard, Sally and Nat Cousins and meeting for the first time 3 of the Gardners' 4 kids, all of whom are interesting people in their own rights (as well as passing on some nice stories).

Go eventing everywhere all at once!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Come for the Cross Country, Stay for the people (thanks for the title Brena!)

OK, this is a really lazy blog, but find below a copy of the short feature I wrote for the Area II Newsletter and a link to Eventing Nation's post of my PRO Faces of Eventing interview.

Come for the cross country …. Stay for the people (originally published in the Area II Newsletter http://usea2.net/departments/newsletters August 2014)

I’m not the only one who feels this way about eventing.  We all love running and jumping cross country.  If we didn’t, we would pick another sport, but beyond the cross country, what makes eventing special are the people.  The riders, the organizers, the volunteers, the officials are all welcoming and willing to go out of their way to help each other.  Here in Area II, we are incredibly lucky to have or to have recently lost many people who made making our weekends better and helping us enjoy eventing even more a major part of their lives. Since this is a “shout out”, it seems appropriate to start with the voices behind the events, our super announcers and controllers.  We recently lost two of the best, Dick Thompson and Jim Lignon, but they were fixtures at Maryland, Waredaca, Plantation, Fair Hill and Radnor long before I came to Area II.  I had the privilege of working with Dick fairly often and loved his stories of eventers from back in the day to the present time. He also taught me how to set up and work the electronic scoring system at Fair Hill and several tricks about positioning speakers to cover a course. Still carrying on is Brian O’Connor, who is not only a great announcer and controller, but could have a second career as a stand-up comic.  He has announced at major venues everywhere, including the 2008 Olympic Games and has ridden both real and imaginary horses as part of fundraising efforts for eventers. How often have we all heard these voices announcing, not only where we are on course, but something special for us. How many times has some special moment on course been announced by them becoming a part of our eventing memory?  I don’t think I can count.
We are also blessed to have in Area II, secretary extraordinaire, Mary Coldren. Mary somehow manages to assign functional ride times even when there are 4 riders each riding 5 horses at the same level and remains unflustered through horse changes, rider changes, monsoon storms requiring event rescheduling…She does all this calmly and cheerfully and always makes the riders feel that she is on their side.  She really knows most of the riders and what works best for each of them. She is willing to help organize your ride times so it is not too early for your grandmother to drive in and watch or early enough that your trainer can help you before they have to ride their own horses. In addition to being the best secretary ever, Mary is a USEF ‘r’ TD and works behind the scenes in multiple roles at Fair Hill and Plantation after getting her start in the eventing world working for Judy Thayer and volunteering at Radnor. Judy is another long-time person that we’ve recently lost. Her work at Radnor and Fair Hill events as well as her teaching and training have touched many in Area II and she will be missed. XC at Fair Hill won’t feel the same without Judy there putting the final touches on the courses and assisting through the event. The upper level riders will particularly miss her introduction of the pumpkin path, an addition she brought to Fair Hill to help the riders make the long hack from stabling to the start without getting lost.
Fair Hill is one of several Area II venues that run multiple events every year and several of their organizers also play many other roles in eventing. Brian Ross, the co-organizer (with his wife Penny) of the Virginia Horse Trials, recently retired as a judge and TD. I was lucky enough to apprentice with Brian at an event that had more than its share of “special occurrences” and was deeply impressed by how he handled them. Brian always said something along the lines of there being enough ways to get eliminated and the role of officials being to help riders avoid them. For example, at one event, where the stadium jumping map was posted a bit late, one professional who had ridden preliminary, then missed a fence on the Intermediate course. Brian talked with the rider and gave them four faults.  He said, “had the map been posted on time, I have no doubt you would have jumped that fence, but we can’t know that you would have jumped it clean.” Brian’s thoughtful decisions on the side of the rider were a great boon to the sport and while we don’t begrudge him more time at home and with the grandkids, we will miss him at the venues.

There are many more I haven’t mentioned and probably many I don’t know. But the past couple years have been a reminder that time is not always our friend.  So say thanks, share a moment (and a great eventing story) with one of the people for whom you stay in eventing. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Volunteering also rocks

Last weekend, I spent a day volunteering at the lower dressage rings for the Fair Hill unrecognized event.  This is much easier than at the recognized because I don't have to check bits.  On the other hand, I did have to remind one rider that draw reins aren't allowed at events (not even in the warm-up ring at unrecognized events) and had to do more wrangling of inexperienced riders (some of them with inexperienced or just somehow less organized trainers) than at the upper levels where 2/3 or more of the classes are professionals.  I also had a co-steward, Lea Purcell who both rides and works at Christiana Care (although our work lives haven't intersected thus far). So mostly, I got to hang out, pet cute dogs and chat with friends and acquaintances (or random TB owners).  Molly Kinnamon is riding a new project that Denis Glacum owns.  I looked at him, really liked him and when I checked the pedigree, found that he is a Danzig grandson - no surprise there!  We did run on time all day and only had about 4 minutes of rain, so it was great.  We even finished early enough for me to have a lesson afterwards.

This weekend, I spent volunteering as cross-country control at Plantation Fields, the Best.Event.Ever.  I really like the control job, as I get to hear exactly how horses are doing at each fence.  Of course, at Plantation, everyone gets to see how horses are doing around the course as all but 2-3 fences are visible from the top of the hill.  There were also great food booths, rockclimbing, a bounce thing, alpacas, excellent shopping and face painting, so even if you didn't just want to watch horses, it was a worthwhile weekend.

I did have to miss the big dancing with the stars party which was ok, as I got to spend Saturday evening celebrating the wedding of our good friends Jason and John.  There must be something about the 3 weekend of September.  Last year, I attended Kaiti and Rob's wedding (which I apparently didn't manage to blog about) and missed Steph and Keith's. This year, in addition to Jason and John, Jen and Andrew got married down in Florida.  So I'm expecting to hear about September weddings for 2015!

Back on the Plantation front, Sally and Wes were third in the Advanced and Gus and Brevan both had great outings.  Brevan is going to be super cool.  Apparently he and TigerLion (one of Buck's many rides) are full brothers. It was most excellent that Jennie and Cambalda won the advanced in excellent fashion and that three of my favorites Caitlin, Sharon and Erin were 5th, 6th and 7th in the CIC***.   Some Blue Hill Riders and alum were also competing.  It was great seeing Stephanie Cauffman, Maggie Deatrick and Megan Lynn out on course (and at various points through the weekend).  I missed visiting with Snuffle (it was her birthday weekend), but got to spend some time with my buddy Brody and with Snoopy.  I met Ryan Wood's mum and watched Justine Dutton win the bareback puissance (at 5'11") as well as having a great weekend on Jollybo (who also is Danzig on her dam's side).  There were many more things that made it both a wonderful weekend and the Best.Event.Ever.  Special thanks to Katie and Cuyler Walker and to Mary Coldren keeping it all together and to Melissa Wright for giving me the Best.Volunteer Job.Ever.

And while I was doing that, the Eagles managed to win to start the season at 3-0.

Weekends are good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beijing quickstop

When I was invited to lead a short course, "Outcomes Research for Medical Devices and Diagnostics" at the ISPOR (International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research) Asia-Pacific meeting, I thought it sounded like fun, so I said yes.  I got my slides in after some conversations with my (Beijing based) co-instructor and then pretty much forgot about it.  In August, I realized I should make travel arrangements, so I booked a flight and hotel pretty much the same way I do for all meetings and then forgot about it again.  A couple of days before I was to leave, I thought I would check out transportation from the airport to the hotel and also what the good things to see might be in Beijing and realized, OH SH%*^!!!  I totally forgot that I would need a visa... Luckily, this was a moment of brain death that it was possible to throw money at, so I did that (using a Los Angeles based visa expediter) and was told I would have the visa via FEDEX First by 8:30 Friday morning.  This was cutting it a little close as my flight was to leave Philadelphia at 10:15, but it was to Dulles before going on to Beijing so I thought it would be OK (no checked luggage). As it turned out, FEDEX arrived at 7:40 (go FEDEX) and I headed to the airport with plenty of time. And then I arrived at the airport and discovered my flight to DC was cancelled (fog at Dulles or something).  I was rebooked on the afternoon flight, but this did me no good as the next flight to Beijing would get me in 2 hours after my short course ended.  Luckily the guy that happened to be at the United counter was a manager and once he understood the issue, worked hard to get me onto a PHL to ORD (Chicago O'Hare) flight and then on to Beijing, which worked perfectly.  There was even an empty middle seat on the flight to Beijing.  The guy in the window was Grand Rapids, a Ferris state engineering grad who lives in China, works for a Canadian company and works all over the place (currently in Papua New Guinea).  I was able to get a ton of work done on the plane, both reviewing information for my upcoming PCORI meeting and reading a bunch of papers. Thing that surprised me #1  - they fed us on the airplane.  Not once, but 3 times and the food while definitely airplane food, wasn't all that bad.  Lasagna first, a little sandwich roll second and an egg dish last.  Getting out of the airport was very easy and I decided on a taxi to the hotel, although the train and subway seemed feasible, it involved some transfers and I wanted to get the lay of the land first.  Thing that surprised me #2 - the majority of people had no to little English.  Yes, I understand that it is China, but it surprised me that at the airport information station, at the hotel check in, the taxi drivers, later the security guards and ticket sellers at the Olympic Park, Tianamen Square, the Great Wall, etc. spoke no or very little English at all. Everyone was friendly and through gesturing and pantomime, it was possible to figure out what I needed. Those who did speak English were interested in having conversations so that was fun.  I got to the hotel, where there were many rules in the elevator
and took a nap (arrived around 4 pm Beijing time and napped until 8) and then went to the welcome reception.  I chatted there with Adrian Towse (current ISPOR president from UK) and Jalpa Doshi (from UPenn) and enjoyed the entertainment which was brief performances by the China Beijing Opera.  

I then went back to sleep and got up early, did some core work in the hotel room and then got ready for the short course.  The course seemed to go very well.  People were fairly engaged and asked questions and at the end, we were able to have a good group discussion.  My co-instructor, Libo Tao is a health economics PhD who works with Becton Dickinson in Beijing.  He was able to provide some very interesting insights on the Chinese health market and market access, but also on the view toward urbanization, economic growth and public health in China. Thing that surprised me #3 - there was only coffee and premade Lipton tea at the meeting, no other kinds of tea, no decaff coffee and no food on short course day.  Food otherwise was not very good, nor plentiful and at the receptions, there was only canned soda, bottled water, orange juice, bad red wine and not very good beer (in small tumblers). During the lunch break, I went over to Olympic Park and checked out the stadium and some of the exhibits. 
I then attended the first Plenary session at ISPOR.  After that, I headed downtown to the Forbidden Palace, which was interesting, but not really my kind of place.  
I found Tianamen Square much more interesting.  I was not surprised that there was no mention whatsoever of the 1989 events, although apparently, in Beijing leading up to the 25th anniversary, there were peaceful protests.  I was particularly impressed by the trees and park like setting of Tianamen Square. 

I walked around outside a bit before heading back to ISPOR for the evening podiums, posters and reception and then early to bed. Thing that surprised me #4 - the car distribution is much more American than European.  Cars are mostly midsized with plenty of minivans and SUVs (compact and mid size for the most part).  The taxis are all Hyundai's which wasn't so surprising, but the number of Volkswagons was. There were plenty of Nissans and Hondas, but also very plentiful Audis, Mercedes, Fords and Buicks.  There were fewer BMWs than other German cars.  I saw no cars by Great Wall or Geely.  I did see a couple by FAW and one Merek Mobil (Indonesia).  I also saw a few Bentleys (I think they build for the Chinese market specifically).  Thing that surprised me #5 - very few dogs.  I saw only 3 or 4 stray dogs and less than 10 on leashes with people in all of my walking about. This may have been due to a recent rabies incident. The nearly 5,000 dogs that were killed were in Baoshan though, not Beijing. 

Monday morning, I got up early (earlier than planned as my wake-up call came at 4 am, not the requested 6 am). So I did a couple hours of work, then headed off to the Great Wall.  I went to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, slightly less popular than the Badaling section, but apparently greener and less crowded.  There were definitely people, but it wasn't too crowded.  After a breakfast of yummy dumplings in the park, I walked up to watch tower 6 and then walked from Tower 6 to Tower 23.  I believe it is about 3 miles round trip, but almost all either up or down.  It was very awe inspiring and a perfect morning, cool and sunny.  

I got back to town for the education symposium and workshops at ISPOR then took the subway back to the airport.  The subway was not surprising.  Apparently, subways are much the same everywhere and I had no trouble getting around, despite 2 transfers from the Olympic Park station to the airport. 
The flight from Beijing to Dulles was long, but uneventful.  A chance to do some more work and watch a couple of movies.  I decided to just stay awake as I would get home at night and then just sleep to get back on time zone track.  Upon arriving in DC, clearing customs and immigration was all easy, but my flight was delayed two hours.  The downside - I was going to end up awake for a long time.  The upside - I got to watch most of both games of the Monday Night Football doubleheader.  The Detroit win was most excellent and the San Diego-Arizona game was an excellent match-up.  I also tried a new cider, the Virgina made Bold Rock Apple Cider.  I got home around 1:45 and went straight to bed.  I managed to get up at 6:30 in time to head to work to teach my 8:30 class and actually was functional through the day.  I slept for 11 hours last night and now feel ready to be back on track and on ESTime.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

in which I hit some trails

Not with Keegan, although he is great out on the trails, but running some trail races.  Of course, in my world race isn't really the right word.  We'll call them trail adventures.  August 16th, I headed first to Chicago and then to California to share important milestones with great friends.  In Chicago, we celebrated Dan and Patrick's wedding taking place on their 25th anniversary together.  I also got to meet some of Dan's colleagues and students and hear more about his life after St. Louis. 
Then on to California for Hilda's birthday celebration.  It was great to meet Ken's family.  The drought was very evident at Folsom Lake.  It was a lovely celebratory weekend for both Hilda and her brother-in-law Bob (both big milestone birthdays one day apart). 
While I was in California.  I decided to do the Cinderella Trail run.  This was not a Disney themed event, rather it was in the Oakland Hills and steeper than expected.  I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea 
but the views were great and the organization top notch.  It was pretty hot, but most of the run was in the shade so not too bad.  It seemed pretty straightforward at first despite a pretty steep descent and climb that weren't too long. At first, I thought this was the massive gap I saw on the map, but no. That chasm was really tough. Unless you're crazy and/or hate your calves, it takes time to go down it, so you're constantly looking down at this giant drop and then, I had to go back up. I wasn't the only one who never really picked up my pace during that climb. And there were a few points where I really had to work to keep moving. Usually these moments occurred when I reached the top, only to discover that it was "a" top. SO MANY FALSE SUMMITS! But after that it went pretty well and the food at the finish line was awesome.  The track was also really well marked so while worrying about getting up and down, at least there were no concerns about getting lost. 

This weekend, I went for the https://Pretzel City Sports.com/ Labor Pain 12 hour ultra.  My plan was to go for about 10 hours not 12, as start time was scheduled 7:30 (and actually 7:45).  It went pretty well, but this was really hard. There was a mixture of surfaces, small bits of paved road, some dirt/gravel road, a fair amount of grass fields, and the majority single track trail with more than enough roots and rocks to keep it interesting.

There were steep downhills and steeper uphills.  This track was a 5 mile loop, which I completed 6 times and then did the small out and back for a 50k finish.  It was a very slow 50k finish.  The 5 mile loop was pretty good, long enough to not get boring, but nice to have a sense of what was coming.  As I was finishing the last loop, we got about 20 minutes of torrential downpour, which wasn't too bad as a hydrating cool-off.  The worst of it was the bugs.  Gnats, midges, biting flies, mosquitos and other than the mosquitos mostly impervious to the bug spray.  My bug bites are more bothersome than my sore muscles this morning, although I'm surprised that my abs are sore. I'm looking forward to the Bear Chase Trail 50, but hoping for a little less of a "true trail" adventure than these last two. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

In which Keegan moves up and rocks on!

I was hesitant to commit.  The wonderful Mary Coldren told me that if I wasn't sure, to go ahead and enter the preliminary.  It would be easier to move me down to training that to move me up if I entered the training, so I entered preliminary.  Then the goal was to get prepared. I went to some schooling dressage shows and did the first level tests.  The scores were somewhat variable, but it was very encouraging that the issues at the shows were the same as we were working on at home.  I took dressage lessons with both Missy and Rachel (poor Keegan) and we also jumped more than usual.  I took lessons with Missy and we also cross-country schooled once at Fair Hill and twice at Boyd's Windurra as well as doing the schooling jumpers at Windurra. And it all seemed OK, so a dressage lesson with Rachel on Friday evening and then came the weekend.  On Saturday, I volunteered as dressage steward and bit check for the Intermediate and Training.  As always, it was nice to chat with many riders, owners, coaches, moms and cute dogs.  I had an excellent Snuffle Cousins visit as well as a Jamie and Izzy get together.  Megan Lynn and her own Hoosier knocked the rust off and had an excellent go at the Intermediate.  My favorite in the training was Icabad Crane.  He has his own Fan Club Page, so if you are interested in a great story of a race horse second career, you might want to follow along.  All the Fair Hill scores are here.  Once we finished up with the dressage around 2:45, I headed over to walk my course.  The SJ looked fairly straight forward.  There were two in and outs, one 1 stride and one 2 stride, but no triple, so that was one less thing to worry about.  I set out on cross country.  As is generally true at Fair Hill, the first 4 fences were lovely galloping opportunities, all nice and straightforward

  1. The usual mulch log first fence.  I didn't see much difference between the training and the preliminary
  2.  The blue house.  Keegan doesn't care what color jumps are, so this was fine
  3. The chevron.  I swear we jumped this same chevron the last time we went training (and if we didn't, I'm going to continue secure in the belief that we did.   
  4. A roll top
  5. Our first combination, an open corner to a brush type jump (a rounded coop with brush sticking up). It walked a fairly long 3 strides.  I though 4 might make more sense, but put that on the ask Missy list.
  6. A big open oxer on great galloping ground
  7. The up bank, one stride to a log at the foundation - then across the field to
  8. The bench in the treeline
  9. The double "brush" This was one of the two fences that I was nervous about.  It was shared with the intermediate.  On Sunday morning, they removed the brush for the preliminary, but it was still a decent sized table with a fairly significant drop on the backside
  10. The ditch and wall.  Mmm, we haven't jumped one of these, but it seems ok
  11. The water combination.  When we schooled, Keegan was brilliant to A and B (the house to the down bank), but we didn't continue on to C which was a bigger house a couple strides after the water, very close to a tree.  Accuracy would be important
  12. A little house that I'm fairly sure has been on the training course
  13. A roll top to a bank down.  Visually it is a bit scary from the top, but the drop wasn't too signficant if you pour off as it is on a hill.  Then around the bend to
  14. the corner.  We schooled this last time and it was smaller than the corner we schooled at Boyd's so all good
  15. the angled line coop to coop, this was quite forward, but the angle of approach was easy to find
  16. O S**t!!! Why is this trakhener on the preliminary and why didn't we school it when we were here.  Still, Keegan jumped without issue the trakhener at Boyd's place that Caitlin claims she thinks is scary, so if I ride, we should be ok
  17. A small roll top
  18. The coffin.  A is the biggish roll top, B the ditch (I swear that is one and a half strides) and C a small rolltop, then the turn back toward the start, across the little dirt road to
  19. A blue bench.  This didn't look big, but the next one did
  20. The skinny table.  I just thought that I should make sure that the uphill helped us get a powerful canter.  This was not a fence to jump flat and then
  21. the final red table - no worries
I went back to Blue Hill and had a great lesson with Missy.  Keegan halts quite well.  Then, when I touch the reins, he throws his head in the air and starts looking around, basically checking out.  If Missy taps him, he runs backwards.  We schooled it a bit, (and I had been working on it in various ways), but at this point decided just laughing at it would be the best approach.  Most everything else went quite well.  He is developing a very nice trot rhythm and while I am not good at being 100% straight in the lead changes on the diagnonal yet, the actual changes and transitions are coming along nicely.  The medium trot remains a work in progress.  I then packed up stuff I would need for Sunday and then headed over to Lisa Thomas's place for a small get together in honor of Brigitte Aickelin's 21st birthday.  It was quite sedate as Brigitte was also competing on Sunday.

And then it was Sunday morning.  We headed over to Fair Hill running a little late, so I got on as soon as we arrived.  I realized that I had forgotten my jacket (and was actually planning on wearing it in honor of the move-up).  Luckily, we are all of a size and Carli's jacket was in the trailer, so I borrowed it to ride in.  Keegan was quite good in the warm-up and Missy seemed pleased.  We heard "198, you have 5 minutes" and I realized I didn't have a bridle number on, so we trotted back to the trailer (and Brigitte met us part way) to get it and then trotted back.  Keegan stayed quiet and relaxed through this unscheduled work. He remained good in the ring.  I actually think I got about 90% of what I get at home.  Since the usual rule of thumb is to be pleased with 80%, I was quite happy despite knowing it wouldn't be a great score (turned out to be a 42.2 - so not horrifying at all, but plenty to work on).  Missy and Ike got a 31 and Devon and Dan pulled off a 27.4 and ended up finishing 2nd in my division.  Dan is for sale (gold medal young riders horse) if you know anyone interested.  

I got off and got Keegan situated with Brigitte's help and then went up to watch a bit of the jumping.  I saw Sally jump the stadium, which was perfect.  Just do it like that and all will be good (positive visualization is helpful, really!).  I chatted a bit with Sally about the cross-country course.  She told me to really stay upright and slip my reins over that table at 9 as it was quite a drop.  I chatted with Jennie Brannigan who told me it would all be fine and that the corner to brush was a nice three if you pushed to the corner.  Steph Butts let me know how her ride went as well.  I headed back down less worried about 9, but still concerned about the Trakhner. 

Brigitte had Keegan studded up for me, so we got him and me the rest of the way ready and I got on.  Missy put sticky spray on my boots (first time I'd ever tried it - was this a good idea on event day - oh well too late to change that now).  I was also riding cross country in my brand new saddle for the first time.  It is a Ryder Saddlery custom monoflap.  Very nice and a really great price.  Ask me about going this route if you are saddle shopping.  

I got up to the warm-up which wasn't too busy.  Bruce Davidson was setting fences for a student, so there was a good progression and Erin Sylvester was there and pictched in to remind me to keep my leg on and told me I looked set after a nice forward trip over the oxer.  The stadium round went great.  There was counter cantering as I had predicted in a COTH forum thread on the subject of lead changes in eventing, but it didn't seem to matter.  We came away with one rail (the out on the one stride where I pushed a little too hard for the longish distance). Even better, it all felt really easy.  I'm sure I looked like a drunken primate, but it felt great.

Then over to cross country.  Sally's mom checked my girth and noseband for me (eventers are just so the best, despite the schedule not allowing Missy to help at the jumping, I felt like I had plenty of support) and after jumping the solid obstacle twice, I felt pretty ready.  And off we went:

  1. No issues at the log
  2. Ditto at the house
  3. Lovely over the chevron
  4. I succeeded in jumping the roll top out of stride without taking a tug
  5. Good line to the corner, Keegan jumped boldly.  I was a moron.  We ended up getting to the brush on 3 1/2, but Keegan just did his quick feet thing and jumped it perfectly from there
  6. another nice galloping fence
  7. Good jump up, a little disconnected, but no problem to the log.  Nice gallop to 
  8. slight chip stride to the bench, but great jump and on to
  9. I actually did sit up and didn't drop my shoulders on the landing.  Steve Berkowitz provided photo evidence (I love that Dr. Berkowitz takes and shares these pictures so generously.  They are all over everyone's Facebook feeds). 
  10. No issue
  11. Very bold over the house and down the drop.  I slightly lost a rein, but had sufficient steering to get out over the house, which Keegan knew he was supposed to jump.  This horse is always looking for how to jump the fence, not how to avoid jumping. By this time, my ability to breathe is becoming a significant issue, so slow to a bare lope knowing the next one is easy
  12. and the small house at a slow canter was fine, we continued the slow canter to 
  13. the roll top and drop, nice distance, very comfy.  I stayed at an easy pace to 
  14. a nice jump over the corner and then put my leg on to be forward to
  15. the in and out - all good
  16. wait, that was totally easy - my horse didn't look at the trakehner at all.  Apparently "look up, leg on, look up, leg on" is an appropriate mantra, then more slow down to breath as we headed to
  17. the easy roll top and on to
  18. the coffin. We continued at a slower pace to 
  19. the bench and then moved forward to 
  20. the big enough skinny table (also a Dr. Berkowitz photo op) 
  21. and the last, realizing not only that we had made it around with no trouble (other than time faults attributable to the ever-worthless lungs), but that none of it felt difficult
I have a preliminary pony - a total rockstar of a prelim pony!  I wouldn't without so many people starting with Kate Chadderton who sold him to me; Missy, Hilda, Sally, Rachel and Caitlin who have been such amazing trainers and coaches; all the Blue Hill gang current and past; all the eventers at Fair Hill who helped get me ready and encouraged us; the Fair Hill regulars who all were vocal in their enjoyment that I was riding at this one; Glen at Ryder for the great saddle and everyone that I should thank, but can't think of at this moment. Did I say I have a prelim pony?  This was Keegan's first prelim and my first since March 2008 on Squire's Cap
who had many CCI*** under his belt before I rode him.  It was the first time since 2000 that I moved a horse up to preliminary and that one ended in elimination, so maybe I have learned a little or more likely it is just that Keegan is a total rock star!

Meanwhile, that horse that I moved up in 2000 is now 22 years old and still going strong.  He and Elena did a CT on Sunday, getting a dressage score of 35 and jumping around.  This is impressive, given that Elena had her second child the end of May.  I was amused at her accounts of needing to pump between rides, but kudos to both super Gizmo and Elena!

Elsewhere, Buck Davidson was winning at GMHA.  There is a great Buck Shout out over on eventing nation.

The Phillies even pulled off a come-back win Sunday evening topping off a pretty perfect day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In which I visit the West

I just got back from a (for me) very looong vacation.  I was gone for 10 days (plus took yesterday off to organize/recuperate).  There were no horses, but it was fabulous nonetheless.  I flew from PHL to BZN (who knows that airport code?), or for those of you wondering --- Bozeman, Montana.  I immediately drove down from Bozeman to Idaho Falls, Idaho.  I am newly enamored of airbnb and highly recommend that you check it out if you are traveling (especially to smaller towns).  In Idaho Falls, I stayed in an upstairs room of a lovely home about a mile from the race packet pick up location and about 3 miles from the race parking/finish.  Oh, right, race.  Well, we know I am slow, so there isn't much racing, but my primary goal for this trip was to complete 3 half marathons in 8 days.  June 19th, The MAD half marathon in Idaho Falls, June 24th (Pioneer Day),the Deseret News half marathon in Salt Lake City, and July 26th, the Madison half marathon in Ennis, Montana.  So after settling into the room, picking up my packet and having a decent dinner at a local bar/grill (with interesting conversation with some local folks there), I had an early night, then got up in the morning and headed to the park to catch the race bus to the start.  The race bus got totally lost and dropped us off in a random parking lot.  We kept telling them it wasn't right, but they had no directions and no contact information for the race director.  One of the drivers ended up going back down to the park and finding out where we were really supposed to be, so we got there late and then there were only two porta-johns for about 100 people.  The organizers were really nice though and it was for a good cause, so hopefully next year they will have the buses, the johns and the aid stations (which were on the wrong side of the road with unclosed roads) sorted out.  The course itself wasn't terribly interesting, slight rolling hills on back roads around Idaho Falls, no real scenery, and simple aid stations, but it did the job.  It wouldn't be first on my list for a race recommendation, but for locals, it is a nice group of people.

I grabbed a shower, then hopped in the car to head down to Salt Lake City, got there and checked into my next airbnb accommodation, which was really wonderful.  I arrived Saturday evening and would be in SLC until Friday morning.  I ended up filling the time with yoga, local beer, Liberty Park and quite a lot of work.  I found a great yoga studio just about a mile (through the park) from the apartment and they had a Groupon deal, so I bought a 10 class card and ended up doing those 10 classes while there (2 Sunday, 2 Monday, 1 Tuesday, 2 Wednesday, 2 Thursday and 1 Friday).  On Thursday, I ran the Deseret News Classic half marathon.  It was mostly downhill, so I was able to run a reasonable amount of it and enjoyed the race.  There was a great view over the city and good shade in the canyon, so while daytime temperatures had gotten up over 100 the past several days, we got about 15 minutes of rain and wind which cooled things down and with the shade, it was quite pleasant. This was a fun, well-organized race.  The medal was quite large for those of you who collect the bling.  The logistics weren't bad at all, a quick drive up to the Rice-Eccles stadium to park and then a quick bus ride to the start.  After the finish, the buses back to the stadium were very prompt, so I was actually back at my room by 9:30.

After a quick shower, I headed into town, did yoga and enjoyed the Pioneer Day festivities.  There were parties and fireworks at night, but I fell promptly asleep and wasn't bothered by any of it.  Friday morning, I had a leisurely breakfast and then headed up to Montana.  It was a 5 and a half hour drive, but much of it very pretty.  Ennis is tucked away alongside a river, a cute little fishing outpost where 3/4 of the shops on the main street seem to be selling fishing gear.  Packet pick up was in a park outdoors and we then got a pasta dinner from a local non-profit and a great talk from Frank Bartocci who was running his 600th marathon at this event.  I can't even imagine running that many marathons.  There were also guys who were running their 350th and 300th marathons and many other high mileage folks.  Interestinging, the first place male, first place female and overall first place half finishers were all NCAA athletes and the two marathon winners were each running their first marathons.  The race was super challenging, billed as the highest elevation *road* marathon in the world, it has an average elevation over 9,000 reaching a high point just over 9,600 feet.  We got on buses in Ennis and headed to the staging area (almost 2 hours by bus) and then from there onto the start line (over the race course road 13.1 miles away).  The start was pretty much straight uphill and I had a couple of minutes of wondering if I was going to be able to do it at all.  I had been worrying a bit about whether the blood-breath machinery was going to be up to this one but I told myself I would go very slowly to the first aid stop at mile 3 and make a decision there.  The first mile was slow and hard, mostly uphill, but then there was a pretty good downhill and some reasonably level ground and by the time I hit the next uphill before the aid station, I was feeling fairly warmed up and capable of finishing, so I chugged on and did finish (very slowly).  Much of the slow was just me being slow, but I did stop to take some pictures along the way. 

The Wildflowers didn't come out that well.  After hanging out at the staging/finish area for a while, watching several runners finish, I climbed back aboard a bus for the two hour trip back to Ennis.  Once there, I jumped in the car and drove the hour to the airport.  I was tempted by the Norris Hot Springs, but decided to head onto my airport motel (no airbnb near the Bozeman airport).  The front desk folks recommended a surprisingly good Italian place around the corner, where I had a very nice glass of montepulciano with yummy eggplant parmigiana for dinner.  Then packing, sleeping and up at 3:45 for the flight home (uneventful).  

In other parts of the country, much eventing was occurring.  The first weekend, I was gone Maryland Horse Trials took place, scores here: http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15648.html.  Then the second weekend, both Rebecca Farms in the West (I considered going up, but it was over a 7 hour drive to Kalispell) and the WEG test event at Great Meadows in the east.  It felt a bit odd to be fairly disconnected from horsey happenings for so long, but I ended the vacation feeling very refreshed.  

Sunday night invovled massive amounts of lightning and very loud thunder, but I fell asleep fairly quickly despite the light show. Monday, I took a day off and hung at Blue Hill, getting a great dressage lesson from Rachel and then Tuesday was back at work, but ending the day with xc schooling at Fair Hill.  Keegan was very good and jumped a bunch of the preliminary stuff, so I'm starting to feel ready, though still nervous.  Dressage at Dunmovin Saturday, lots of work and hopefully this amazing weather holds.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Keegan being a rock star

Happy recovery Monday to everyone.  I enjoyed the weekend.  Lots of barn time and some great meals and wine.  Wednesday night, Henry and I started his birthday celebration early and went to Sovana Bistro.  The wine that night was the Greenock 2005 Alice's Shiraz.  Thursday, I had work and then a great dressage school on Keegan.  I got home just in time for the big wind to blow through and knock out the power (luckily dinner was already cooked).  The power remained out for 16 hours with a very widespread outage.  Friday, I was happy to discover that Delaware had power so I did Pure Barre,  and then after the power returned, hung out at the barn for a couple of hours, then had a dressage lesson.  Things are starting to come together, although I need to work on sitting trot for longer periods of time and continue to work on the trot lengthenings. The canter lengthenings are quite good.  The leg yields are doing well to the right, not quite so well to the left, but getting better as we practice.  Friday evening, more good food and wine at home.  Henry's sister Judy joined us and then we went off in search of ice cream, which took some doing as several places didn't have any as a result of the power outage.  In the end, we had success and ice cream for dessert.  Saturday, Keegan had and I had a nice hack with Fie and Jean.  Fie is a lovely Danish Warmblood mare, who has been at Blue Hill Farm since early winter.  She is very well behaved and I enjoyed the company and hearing more about her on our ride. Saturday evening, Henry and I enjoyed attending one of my colleague's wedding.  It was a nice ceremony (although a little hot outside) and the Farmhouse in Delaware was a very nice site for the wedding.  Henry and I got to dance a little bit, which is always fun.

Sunday was great.  Pure Barre first thing, then a little bit of gardening to replace one of the butterfly bushes taken out by the winter storms.  The afternoon was schooling at Windurra.  As always, the jumper course was challenging and on the excellent footing.  I goofed on the first try, coming to fence 3 underpaced on a counter canter and then chucking my shoulders at the fence, but I set off again from the start, and Keegan jumped around perfectly.  We then headed out to the cross country and had our first go at some preliminary fences.  It went very well, with Keegan jumping everything he was pointed at and me eventually getting my form into decent shape and finding the right pace with some consistency.  We jumped a one stride to one stride coffin, the trakehner, two versions of the same corner and the keyhole as well as a bank and a couple of logs on lumps.  Keegan took it all in stride and other than a brief peek at the trakehner on take-off and "ducking" through the keyhole leading to a somewhat awkward jump, he was very good about everything.  I was surprised at how good he was staying straight to the corner.  Brigitte and Harper also had a successful day and Devon rode both of hers, the youngster Salty at novice and her seasoned boy Dan at Preliminary to knock the rust off.  Lexi rode her Merry over both training and prelminary show jumps and did a bit of work out on the xc course trying out some tack options.  I think everyone felt it was a very successful day.  It was great seeing Steph Cauffman out on her boy Dylan and seeing Cindi Cauffman and their adorable puppy Beezie.  Annie Jones apparently is looking at a Danzig grandson and she admired Keegan when she saw him.  Always nice to see lots of eventers in this kind of fun, laid back setting.  Nilson da Silva and Laura Vandervliet were there with some nice youngsters as were Ryan Wood, Jane Sleeper and Pam Wiedemann.  Caitlin had a day off so I didn't get to see my buddy Brody.

Now back to a busy work week, ending up with SBIR grant review day in Bethesda Friday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Running and Riding at Fair Hill

Fair Hill Natural Resources Area is a great local "resource".  If you event, you just know it as Fair Hill and spend time there through the year schooling and attending horse trials and possibly aspiring to Area II's big show in October.  The past two weekends, I spent Saturday at Fair Hill, not riding.

Saturday, the 21st was the XTERRA Big Elk trail marathon and half marathon.  I did the half (plus a bit as it turned out).  We started right outside the Walls building, but started out going across the bridge (which I've never crossed on foot before).  We ran through a lot of areas of the park that I hadn't seen before.  Early in the course, I missed a turn (along with a fairly large group of runners) and ended up tagging on an extra 2.1 miles to my day.  All of a sudden, I see two very big jumps and we were running in the CCI jump field.  Then toward the end of the run, we cut across the middle of the horse trials jump course, on the water side of the mound and then took the trail that we come up on the horses to xc back to the starting area. It was hot and humid as well as fairly hilly, so I took it slowly, but was doing OK.  I ended up walking more slowly about the last four-five miles as a fellow marathon maniac had fallen and cut her knee pretty badly.  She said having me with her helped and the knee looked bad enough that I thought it a reasonable idea to stick with her.  She ended up heading to the ED for some stitches at the end, but got credit for a half finish.  It turns out she also broke off a bone spur, but that shouldn't cause any issues going forward.  Trail runners are tough. Minus the big green arches, this should look familiar to my area II eventing peeps.

Then, Saturday the 28th, I spent the day volunteering at the Fair Hill unrecognized horse trial.  I was dressage steward down at rings 1-3, so had many opportunities to chat with folks.  Sadly, I missed June's test as she was in Ring 4, but did snap this shot as she hung out while her friend Chester did his dressage test. 

It was Chester's first BN and he was excited, but a good boy, thanks to David's excellent calm riding. Here they are waiting to do their stadium round. 
June put in a very nice dressage test and was tied for 1st place after dressage and stadium.  She had a green moment or two leaving the warm-up to head out on course, but once she got into the rhythm, Rachel said she was very bold.  They are headed back to Fair Hill today to do some xc schooling. 

Meanwhile, Keebler was at the Longwood South jumper show with Jordan.  I hear many blue ribbons ensued, but no details.  We need a guest blog!

To kick off the summer, last evening we had lovely Henry margaritas on the roof deck in the city.  It was great fun and made Monday a much better day.  Looking forward to a busier than usual holiday weekend, complete with a wedding and xc schooling and/or jumpers at Windurra as well as Henry's birthday.  Usually, I'm excited about baseball this time of year, but the Phillies are 8.5 games back and the cubs 14.5 (despite yesterday's really excellent almost no-no against the Red Sox and a 2-0 win), so I'm rooting for the US to defy the odds in Rio and for Andy Murray and Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon this week. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More running and riding reports

Does this blog read like a broken record??  Keegan and I completed the training at Fair Hill the weekend after my last blog.  The cross country was tough enough with three triple combinations, but he skipped around it.  We ended up having time faults as I had to stop for about thirty seconds to be able to breath, but the whole thing felt really easy and I don't think it was.

The following weekend, I ran the half marathon at the Alexandria Festival of Running.  It was a fairly nice day and I had a decent race, but it was rather poorly organized, with the start over 30 minutes late and several very tight turns that were not well marked and course marshals off doing other things.  My GPS said 13.6 by the time I finished.  The best part of the day was catching up with Kaiti Saunders for brunch at another great restaurant that she selected.  This was accompanied by an excellent mimosa.  

Keegan and I ended up not competing at Plantation as he had bump up on his shoulder that seemed somewhat ouchy.  Stacey wasn't sure what it was, but it resolved over a couple of days while I was in San Diego.  The Value Institute presented 13 posters at the meeting and we had a lot of good discussions.  The 5 of us stayed in a great house up on Banker's Hill that was listed through VRBO.  It meant 3 floors, 2 kitchens, 3 televisions and all for far less than the price of a hotel.  After the meeting ended, I spent some time with my dad in Encinitas, where I  I did try something other than riding and running and did a SUP yoga class
, and we both went up and spent some time with my brother in Calabasas.  Just my brother this time as my sister-in-law and the kids were in the Philadelphia area.  It was for the sad reason of paying last respects at the funeral of Kathy's younger sister Jane, who passed away from cancer last week. I then ran a trail half marathon in Temecula, California.  It was very hilly and the first time I've ever wished for trail shoes as some of the downhills were very steep and slippery.  I finished up and flew home, arriving BWI at 1:30 a.m. then arrive home around 3:30.

Meanwhile Bromont and Luhmuhlen happened.  Lots of coverage of both over at the ever up to date  Eventing Nation.  Sadly, two riders and a horse passed away, but as always the eventing community showed great support and community/ and in a great show of team spirit, Boyd Martin and his owners made Trading Aces available as an option for Phillip Dutton. 

Sunday was a lazy day at the barn.  I met Maggie Deatrick there.  She is a COTH and FaceBook friend who has moved to the area.  Her lovely advanced horse, Dante, will be joining us at Blue Hill Farm in August. It will be great to have Maggie at the barn and as a member of wine night in the city.  We are meeting tonight for a BYOB dinner and Henry is picking out good wine for that. 

Yesterday, I rode Keegan in his new dressage saddle.  It is great.  Of course, in the way of these things, I bought a new (to me - it is used) dressage saddle, but my jump saddle sold first, so now I have two (three if you count the E. Jeffries Justine is still holding on to) dressage saddles and no jump saddles, but I've placed an order for the monoflap version of this one, which I'm really looking forward to.  I briefly had a similar Ryder saddle, but it was a demo and ended up not fitting the horse I had at the time (it was bought for a different horse that was sold in the interim).  So if you know anyone interested in a dressage saddle....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In which I do all the things

Once again the combination of work, running and riding in Area 2 made for a packed 4 days, and then I had a lot of work to catch up on, hence the Wednesday blog.

Friday, I attended an NIH grant writing conference at Penn.  I've written and successfully obtained grants in the past, but was looking for more tips to pass along as part of my mentoring work in Delaware's ACCEL- CTR program.  The conference was interesting and I have some great material.Fighting traffic on the way home makes me even more thankful that I don't have to make the Friday commute on a regular basis.  I headed straight to Plantation where I happened to run into Missy who was there to walk the xc with Jason Racey, so I got some Jamie time, walked my course and then met up with Ann Baumgardner who was in to ride her Mick Dreamy on Saturday and was staying at our place (Mick got to stay at Blue Hill).  We headed home after walking (and wondering a little about the course layout) and Henry cooked us super yummy steak and asparagus with a great bottle of Syrah for dinner.

Saturday, I rode at Plantation (after not riding Friday - good Keegan!).  I also played groom briefly (for Jason Racey doing the intermediate with his handsome Dodger) and then volunteered as cross country control (one of my favorite volunteer jobs) once I finished riding.  Keegan was great.  We were back to our traditional 38 dressage score, but he was much better throughout the test overall and especially in his trot rhythm and his canter transitions.  His show jumping was excellent and he clocked around the cross country.  We were just a little slow (7 seconds) because there were some very weird turns on the course that I elected not to make.  I either made circles to present at what I considered a better angle or trotted a bit.  We also trotted down the steep hill as it was starting to get a touch mucky.  The jumping was great and I had a lot of fun.  We even brought home a ribbon, moving up from 7th after dressage to 5th and racking up our first USEA leaderboard point :).  Steve Berkowitz captured another great picture and was kind enough to share it.
 Control also was fun despite the late afternoon thunderstorm that suspended activities for an hour.  We were able to stay otherwise on schedule to finish up just before 6 p.m. I then spent 20 minutes searching for the car key that I managed to lose - in my car.  For those of you that have seen my car, this is not surprising.  And the day was still not done.  Henry and I met Blaine and Rachel for dinner at Catherine's to celebrate Blaine's graduation.  He is now officially a radiation oncology A.A.S. and has a great job lined up to start next week.  We're hoping this will mean he has more time and funds for riding.  Because we started dinner at 8:30, it ended up being a fairly late night - well at least in my world where 9:00 is generally considered bedtime. The mushroom soup was fabulous as always and Henry brought a bottle of new find Spanish wine that tasted very good and had a nose to die for.

And the alarm clock still went off at 5:00.  I didn't have too much trouble getting up and got dressed and headed down to Wilmington to pick up my packet for the Delaware half marathon.  At 6:15 when I arrived, there was still easy parking and no lines at the packet pick-up (apparently most people took seriously the admonition to pick up their packets on Saturday.  I had planned to do so, but was thwarted by that thunderstorm).  I got my stuff, put it in the car, wandered around and at 7:20 headed out.  It was another warm, humid day and as at DeLeon Springs in January, I had to go on the slow plan.  Still it was a lovely day.  I had a good time and racked up half marathon number 40.  I also got a hug at the halfwayish point from Eddie Vega, the Barefoot Bandito who was there running barefoot marathon 28 for his targeted Guinnness World Record.  Read about his exploits here as well as learning more about the charity for which he is running, Soles4Souls.  Apparently, it was a bad weekend for keys as Eddie lost the key to his rental car and ended up missing his flight and having to take the train home.  With his usual great attitude, he considered it an adventure.  I also saw one of our Value Institute Biostatistics Interns who also was running the half.

After finishing, I headed back to Plantation where volunteers were in slightly short supply given the confluence of 1)Jersey Fresh CCI, 2)Mother's Day, 3) Willowdale Steeplechase races.  I somehow was lucky enough to get to volunteer as the xc finish.  Because the Plantation starter events operate on the honor system, I got to ask every rider how it went.  Even those with stops had big smiles and thanks.  There were some incredibly cute kids and ponies as well as some very good looking young horses.  While many of the pros were at Jersey, Molly Rosin, Daniel Clasing, Cherie Gaebel and Jane Sleeper each rode at least 3.  My favorite of the day was seeing Camilla on Remi at novice.  They won the novice on their dressage score of 25.2 and looked great doing it.  Remi did not seem to object to pink bell boots.  The weather stayed lovely through the day and we finished up just before 5:00 with no lost keys or other objects.

Meanwhile across the state line, Caitlin and Hoku finished 4th in the CIC*** and Erin and Bucky finished 2nd, so that was a great reroute for both of them.  The overall scores are here. David and BG demonstrated their talent and poise by turning in a clean xc run after being held at the water for a fall (only half of the riders who started dressage completed the CIC**), then being sent back to the barn for the thunderstorm and having to jump the water as their first fence after getting untacked, retacked heading out and only having one practice fence before being restarted.  Both crazy and impressive.

We wrapped up our weekend with Mother's Day dinner with Myrna Levin.  Henry and Jonathan Levin have been friends since 4th grade and it was great to catch up with Myrna. I also got a great update from Kathy (my sister-in-law) on how she and the kids are doing.

And the fun wasn't over as Monday was first ACCEL- CTR Conference on building Academic-provider-community partnerships for research.  It was a great chance to network with colleagues from the VI and beyond.  Tuesday was back to the everyday work world, although I did end it with a great dressage lesson with Missy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

And then there were marathons

Before I get to the main marathon part of this blog, a few eventing shout outs.  Plantation was last weekend.  The scores are here.  Caitlin was first and fourth in the preliminary on Callisto and Ballyneety.  This weekend, Fair Hill is going on up here.  David and BG finished 5th in the Intermediate and David said it all felt quite easy.  Kimberly Kojima finished 9th in the CIC*** and also served as David's SJ coach.  Busy weekend there with preliminary XC running until after 5:30 today.Scores from FHI

In Aiken, Jordan and Keebler were completing their first recognized training level event together.  They had a successful day, adding just one rail to their dressage score and, according to Cyndi, almost getting speed faults xc.  

I had a lovely hack, hill canter, couple of logs ride on Keegan today, enjoying the warm weather.  It was the first time I've used fly spray in 2014.  I felt good, although the legs still felt a little heavy. This resulted from my first multiple marathon adventure. 

From last Saturday through Wednesday, I completed the Mainly Marathons Riverboat Series. This consisted of doing 5 marathons in 5 days in 5 states, a total of 131 miles of marathons plus 1400 miles of driving.

Friday, I flew down from Philadelphia to Nashville.  I considered it an auspicious sign that my rental car was a VW Jetta with Michigan plates.  I drove to Mayfield, KY and checked in at the Wingfield Inn, then hit a CVS for the last of the needed supplies for the week.  I sorted gear into a few different bags and pop-up laundry baskets for ease of organization during the week.  I went out to check out the site and then had dinner and headed back to the hotel, where I met my roomies for the week, Chavet Breslin and her mom Alexis Milosc.  We hit the sack fairly early, ready for the adventure to begin.

Day one was at Columbus-Belmont State Park.  As for all of these events, the course was a fairly short loop (in this case a figure 8 type loop) so that we passed the start/finish/support area frequently.  At each pass, we collected a rubber band.  This course had a first loop on asphalt trail (with some hills) and a second loop on dirt/grass trail that was more of a traditional single track trail, although not too technical (photo credit Cynthia Tanzi).
I took it pretty easy, not at all sure of what 5 days of marathoning were going to be like.  It was also fairly warm and humid and there were definite hills.  I finished feeling fairly good.  Got in the car and drove to Millington, TN.  In Millington, our hotel was the Plantation Oaks.  We got upgraded to a very nice suite there.  After settling into the room, I had some dinner and then pretty much went to sleep.  In the morning headed to the park.  I ended up doing most of day two with a new friend, Deb Lazerson.  She had injured her ankle, so we took it fairly easy.  This group of folks completes many, many races per year and often compete through injuries and illness in search of their records.  I finished up with Mike and Frank.  I was excited to hear that Frank will be completing his 600th marathon at the Madison Marathon in Montana in July, which is also on my schedule.  After finishing, it was off to the next venue.  I had gotten us a cabin in Leroy-Percy State Park in Mississippi for two days.  I was a bit confused thinking it wasn't too far between day 3 and 4 venues when in fact, we ended up having to drive a little over an hour for day 3 in Arkansas (and my GPS was a bit confused about the route), but got there successfully Monday morning and completed all of day 3 in the rain (photo credit Cynthia Tanzi).
It was fairly chilly as well, so I didn't mind the slightly long drive in the warm car back to Leroy Percy State Park in Mississippi.  I did some work and then had dinner with Deb at her hotel before once again heading back to the park for the night.  We had some confusion about the heating system, leading to the night being fairly cold and reminding me of the night in Florida when Hilda had set the system in the coach to cool for the night and it was 42 when I got up.  It didn't get quite that cold this time, but was still a bit chilly as we got ready.  We didn't have far to go as we were already in the park.  It was a chilly day, but I was still feeling quite strong and finished faster than any of the days before.  There was then a fairly long drive to Winnsboro, LA where I had a lovely Mexican dinner before heading to bed prior to the final race.  The final race had the most loops (22 as opposed to 20 on days 3 and 4 and 12 on days 1 and 2).  I once again felt very strong and pushed a bit for my fastest finish of the series (still turtle slow, but nonetheless).  At this race, Patrick Weldon, a neurologist based in Mississippi finished his 100th race!  He runs to raise money for a great cause http://www.upwithdownsteam.com/ and is another of the Mainly Marathons extended family.

Major props to Clint Burleson and his team/family for putting on these races.  They were super organized and very well supported.  While many runners did all 5 races, several others did 1-4 and volunteered at the ones that they didn't run.  Alexis planned to do her first half marathon ever on day 4.  She ended up doing the full marathon and I think we may have another addict. She supported us at the other 4 races.  Chavet will be doing the Keys 100 in less than a month.  Eddie Vega is working on 50 full marathons Barefoot! in a single year and ran again today (as did at least a few of the others) at the Kentucky Derby Marathon. Sabra Kurth did both running and volunteering and several who did half marathons stayed the rest of the day volunteering.  It is another one of those groups that one is proud to be a part of (and can't quite believe one is).  Following the final event, I got in the car for the long drive back to Nashville and a nice night at a bed and breakfast there before heading home in the morning.  I assembled the medal when I got home - most excellent swag!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eventing Rocks

This was a COTH post, but I'm putting it up here because I'm too busy to write a new blog.  On the countdown to Marathon craziness.

We are all sad about the loss of two lovely horses this weekend. We feel for their riders, owners, grooms and other connections. Hopefully, those who bash are 1) in the minority and 2) not really eventers because those of us who are eventers know how much we care for our horses (and each other's). A couple things I noticed over the last 48 hours or so:

1) Phillip riding Boyd's horses at the Fork. The fact that everyone just accepts (as lovely, but still not that big a deal) that Phillip would give a competitor's horses a final run so that they might have the opportunity to compete (against him) at Rolex.

2) Posts #7 and #8 here http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...ianapolis-area!

3) Kate Chadderton withdrawing from the Fork to gallop Cole (who had some time off due to a bruise) with full support from the owners of the other horses (Liberty and Buckharo) and then posting on facebook, "my all consuming problem of Cole's bruise seems totally irrelevant now. I'm stopping on the way home to buy my horses some carrots to go with the hugs I'll give them tonight."

4) Sally Cousins winning an advanced and an intermediate (with Minion tape on her xc boots https://www.facebook.com/13930022275...type=1&theater), continuing to take it one step at a time with Taz, giving him time to grow into the big time horse she believes he is capable of being

5) This excellent story on EN http://www.9news.com/story/news/mili...arity/7389389/ 

So: hug your ponies, cheer for your friends, coaches, and competitors, give to support those things that touch your heart (including the USEA Equine Medical Research Fund if you want to help understand more about what contributes to horses dying in our sport) and Go Eventing!!