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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

May 29, 2015

You Win Some. You Lose Some.

All things considering I had a great ride at Top of the Rock (TOR).  I've been experimenting with using electrolytes trying to get myself a bit more weather adverse...I'm not good in the heat is an understatement.  A history of heat exhaustion at least seven times over the past ten years.  I really wanted to do a 50 at TOR, we'd trained for it, set up back to back LD's at the Indy ride in preparation for it.   The week before this ride I was very much on the fence as to what I was going to do, LD / or 50?   So I took the plunge and signed on for the 50 mile ride.  Maybe I pre-doomed myself, I don't know, but I told the ride manager I'm gonna try this, but me and heat/humidity do not mix.   There was no shade in the camping area, it was primitive camping unless you have a generator (I do not), my horse trailer is enclosed without any windows in the front, and painted an unfortunate heat absorbing dark gray.  No awning for shade.  Catching the drift here?   So I arrived on Thursday late morning, and the temperature climbed all day and the dew point with it.   Cracked open the electrolytes, and took them religiously yesterday, drank copious fluids, had a mostly liquid breakfast, and more electrolytes, frozen water bottles with dilute sports drink on my saddle.  Sounds like a recipe for success!


A really nice fellow named Nathan offered to pair up with me for the 50.  He was riding a beautiful Shagya Arabian Stallion that had a natural 11 mph trot.  Good for Nathan ☺  Not so good for Journey who over extends herself and feels extremely unbalanced at that speed.  Journey's natural happy place is 7 mph- 8 mph.    She moves well, and is relaxed, and doesn't over tax herself.    So I told him it wasn't working and to go on, and things settled down to a nice Journey paced working trot. 

Everything felt good for the first thirteen miles.   During that time I had left rear boot failure (l♥ve/hate my danged Renegades), so I had to stop on a hillside, tie her to a tree, unstick the hoof boot from the mud, and reapply the filthy thing to her hoof, while trying to convince her that the three fleeing horses were no cause for concern.  By the time I did this simple thing, I felt..breathless, heart palpitating a bit, but once we got moving again, not too bad.  We rode by ourselves as the herd had done moved on and came upon a ridge where the trail went straight, or you could hang a left.  I was following yellow ribbons on the right, and there were none, but there was a yellow ribbon on this I thought it was a turn.  We started down hill, going down, down, and no confidence ribbon, and I thought this just doesn't feel right (though there was horse poop and some tracks).  It gave me a sense of panic wondering if I was on the wrong trail and wasting time and energy, we turned around, and climbed the hill back up, hung the left and trotted that direction, and pretty soon there was a confidence ribbon.  Good choice!   We continued on alone, and things were still good, but the humidity was climbing and so was the temperature, and I was slick with sweat.  Eventually we came out on paved road and trotted down that thing, were rushed by a Jack Russell which Journey took rather well considering he was yapping at her heels.  Eventually the road turned to gravel and went back into the woods.  We came to some nice filled water tanks near a forestry office/parking of some kind and I stopped to give her an opportunity to drink without any other horses coming or going.  She put her head down to the water then did that arab thing of a half spin back, nearly dumped me but I was able to save myself with a death grip on her mane.  At that precise moment both of calves started cramping.  Didn't last long, but not a good sign if you know where I'm going here. 

Just a bit later Nathan comes along behind me, big smile, (really sweet young guy) and I say "why are you behind me?"  You should be five miles ahead of me by now.  Remember that bad turn I made?  Apparently he made one  too, only he went a couple of miles and then turned and backtracked to the yellow trail.   His horse was still rolling along nicely, but not so fast as the beginning so we shared trail again.   Somewhere in this process I lost another boot, same hoof, only to retrieve it I'd have needed to go back a few miles ( a rider said it was that far back), we came to some water tanks, and I dismounted and pulled my spare boot from my pack and rebooted her and she was wriggling around wanting to walk off, finally got it on, rehooked her reins and instantly I felt bad.  Really bad, nausea, weak, legs like they didn't want to keep me upright.  I'm thinking I gonna make it out of the woods?  Started working on my water bottle, and to some degree realized I had not been drinking near enough considering.  But at this point it was too late...I still needed to drink, but it wasn't going to give me some miraculous recovery.  I'd be lucky to make it in.   Four miles left on the twenty mile loop.  Kept chugging on my water bottle.  Then we hit flat gravel road and my left foot went partially numb, decided that wasn't near misery enough and shifted to "it hurts so bad I can't freakin' stand it."  Still working on the water bottle on the short walk down paved road back to ridecamp I drop the water bottle (getting clumsy and poor coordination).  I did not have enough anything to get back on the horse.  Myself was all used up, sweating, wanting to puke, legs like rubber.  So I hand walked her in slowly, LSEGH (the long suffering endurance granny's husband) was waiting, I handed him the horse and said "I need to sit down." 

 Did not have the energy to even look up...

 As I am home typing this if I had gone back out I'd still be out there.  My outcome in that instance just would not have been good.

I really don't like failure.   But I've come to the certitude that hot weather riding is not for me and it never will be.  This is self-limiting, but I'm required to take medications with dire warning labels to stay out of the sun.  Maybe the labels are right!  I want to enjoy my rides.  Don't get to do many, so they are important to me and all...but not worth having a metabolic failure of my own.  You know what?  I'm not twenty anymore, or thirty, or forty, and it won't be all that long I'll be adding sixty to that list.

And Nathan, if you happen to read this, thank you for putting up with me that last little bit.  You have an incredibly athletic horse, I wish you many wonderful rides on him in the future.  Enjoyed meeting you very much.

But there is good stuff.  Journey covered 21.3 miles in about 3 hours and 10 minutes.  She had all A's on her vet check except gut sounds (which is typical of her on the first loop), she trotted out sound, and that was a big concern for me after Indy where she bruised her heel bulbs on the gloves, banged up a fetlock from interfering with the gloves,  and had a bad rub from the glove gaiter, and had a tight and miserable hamstring, and moved lame for about three days post-ride.  Today she looked good, and the Clark State Forest offers up some challenging trail.

So we conclude the weekend with a rider option.  Horse in good shape, rider feeling rather wiped out, but mostly okay at home in my air conditioning.  No points for The Green Machine...sorry TEAM.  You win some, you lose some, but a rider option means maybe I'll be healthy enough to ride on another (cooler/low humidity) day.

Speaking of green...Lisa, Tammi, and Sara were all at the ride.   It makes me so happy to Green Beans coming to the rides.  One was volunteering, one was doing an intro on her Appaloosa (went great) and one was doing the LD (and completed) yay!    I have this wonderful network of people all because of the Green Bean movement.   No more lonely ride camp.   So nice to have someone call you by name ☺   After years in the sport piddling around?  Now I have people that stop by and talk, let me know how they are doing, ask how I'm doing.  It makes me happy. Suddenly I've found my tribe ♥   Long live Green Bean!

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