After weeks of frigid temperatures, this weekend was a welcome relief with highs in the upper 40s. Saturday morning, Alex took Dakota out for a short solo trail ride. Saturday afternoon Vicki rode Duchess and Amanda rode Huey at Pony Club games practice. This was Duchess’ first group practice and she did awesome.
This morning started with 4 hours of tack and tack room cleaning to kick off the ride season. After a break, we tacked up for a ride. As usual, I took Mojo and Vicki rode Duchess. Alex rode Teddy, which will be a regular occurrence this year as they will be competing together at endurance rides. Amanda elected to ride Devil, which was interesting, as Devil is a lot hotter on the trail than Huey. Finally, Anna rode Amira for their first time in the woods.
We rode for 1:15 which was just about perfect for today. The temperatures were dropping, but everyone had a good time. Amira did great – she crossed water without hesitation, took turns leading, following, and bringing up the rear of the group. Amira fits in well with the herd and had a great first outing. The sun set before our ride ended and we got to ride in at dusk with another beautiful New England sunset.
Our new Brittany puppy, Rusty Red Waggin’ came home yesterday night. He has had a busy first day meeting Mack and Turbo. It was a rainy day, but finally cleared up enough this afternoon that they could run around outside for a while. Mack was happy to have another dog in the family. Turbo was more skeptical, but finally decided it was ok.
Today is also Vicki’s 12th birthday. As usual, she demanded to bale her own cake. Anna bought her a new cake pan that is a 3-D cupcake. It is baked as 2 cakes and then assembled and decorated. She made a unicorn cupcake, complete with fondant ears and horn.
This morning I loaded up 4 horses and 3 kids and headed up to Goddard Park in RI. Rob is underway on a submarine and could not join us today. The West Greenwich Horseman’s Association had their annual turkey trot and we rode a 6 mile loop. Amanda fell off in the warm up ring when Huey decided to catch up to Dakota with a canter, but otherwise it was an uneventful ride. She got back on and immediately wanted to trot so no harm there. Goddard is located on the Narragansett Bay and offers a little beach riding out of season and beautiful views of the bay. All the horses eventually went in the water at the beach. I rode Mojo today since Teddy blew out an abcess last week, and he was good, albeit a bit of a brat when he doesn’t get to lead. We will have to work on that. Lunch, turkey and trimmings, was great and we came home with raffle prizes like cookie cutters, sweat scraper, grooming block and a safety led light. Good day.
Today, I ran my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon. It took me 4:16:07 which was in the top 15% based on the number of starters (~30,000).
Since I started training back in the spring, I lost 20 lbs and feel great. I highly recommend the book “Primal Blueprint” for anyone struggling with weight.
Anna and the kids joined me on the trip to Washington DC. We did a little sightseeing yesterday at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History after attending the race expo.
We had an apartment that was right on the marathon course at mile 23 and also where the Family Expo was held. Anna and the kids didn’t have to run around all over town trying to see me.
The race started at 7:55. I left the apartment at 6 and took a bus to the Pentagon. Everyone else slept in.
There was a lot of walking from the bus stop to the start area. We saw Osprey fly overs, parachute jumps with the American Flag, and lots of people.
Once the race started, I bumped into one of my co-workers, Steve Wright. We didn’t stay together long because we had different pace plans.
My training for the marathon was all heart rate based. I limited my training runs to a 140bpm heart rate. On flat ground, that equated to about a 9:45 pace. I knew I could increase the heart rate for the race, but I wasn’t sure how much. I had been warned by friends to start in a higher pace bin than I needed. I started at the 3:30 group, but even then, my first two miles we about a 9:40 average. It started to open up after 3 miles and I ran my best mile of 8:07 for the 4th mile. By the half way point, my pace was under a 9:00/mile, which was perfect.
The only catch was, the temps were rising. It was in the mid 50s when we started. By the half way point, we were in the upper 60s. By about the 18 mile point, we were over 70F and I fell off my ~9:00 mile pace and couldn’t keep up with the 4 hr pace group.
The last 8 miles were definitely tough. There was basically no shade. At every water station, I drank a cup of Gatorade and 3 cups of water. I was walking some and running some. I still maintained a pace in the 10:00/mile range, but I had 4 miles over an 11:00/ mile.
I finished at 4:16:07, with an average pace of 9:46/mile. According to Garmin, i burned over 3000 calories and had an average heart rate of 169 bpm.
Overall, I am pleased with the results. I definitely left it all out there and didn’t have anything else left in the tank. I am totally in awe of my friends who race Ironman triathlons and do a marathon after the swim and bike phases.
Marine Corps Marathon lived up to its reputation of being family friendly and a great first marathon. I’m not sure if there will be a 2nd…
This weekend was spent in Buckfield, Maine at the Northeast Challenge endurance ride. We left on Friday morning with the whole family in the truck, 3 horses (Mojo, Teddy, and Duchess) on the trailer, and plenty of camping gear. After a little over 5 hours of driving, we arrived at a gorgeous base camp in a hay pasture. The sites were all marked off to show clear division of where your area was. Since we brought 3 horses, we were allowed to use 2 sites. We gave the horses a little break to eat some grass and drink water before vetting in. With just under 50 riders, there was no wait at the vet check. This was the first ride for Alex as a rider, Teddy, and Duchess, so we planned to keep it conservative during the ride.
The rider’s brief was at 5 and immediately after was a pig roast for dinner. The ride manager invites all the land owners (over 40) that allow the trails to cross their property to join the camp for dinner. The food was great and we got to meet some new friends around camp. Ride camps get quiet early the night before a ride. By 8pm the sun was setting, the temperatures were dropping, and everyone was headed to bed.
We got up at 5:00 to eat breakfast and watch the 100 mile riders head out at 6:00. The temperatures dropped into the low 40s overnight. The horses were happy to have a layer for warmth. Alex started the morning with a cup of hot water (we forgot to pack tea bags) and Vicki had a cup of coffee to warm up.
There is a note on our endurance camping packing list: “pack clothes warmer than you expect to need”. That was definitely true this time around. We started the ride at 7:00 with layers of clothes on for the first loop of 13.8 miles. The horses were peppy and ready to go. We didn’t take a break until 5 miles in when we stopped for some grass and water.
The trails through the woods were phenomenal. There was a lot of up and down through the mountains, but also plenty of areas that were flat and fast on grass paths through the trees.
We finished our first loop of 13.8 miles with a 4.8 mph average. It was a little slower than we planned, but the goal was to make sure we didn’t over stress Duchess in particular. We also knew the second loop was faster and we could make up a little time if needed.
All 3 horses cleared the vet check within minutes of arriving at base camp. We chose to go back to our trailer, remove tack, and let the horses have free time in their paddocks. The hold is only 45 minutes long, but this also allowed Alex and Vicki to eat food without holding horses. Anna and Amanda were our ride-crew for the weekend and had everything ready for us. We all had to shed layers of clothing for the second loop as the temperatures hit 70F by 10:00. Luckily, that’s about where the mercury stopped for the day making it perfect weather.
We headed out on our second loop which was 17 miles (although we thought it was only going to be 15 miles at the time). We managed to bump up our speed to an average of 5.4 mph on the second loop.
At the end of the day, we finished 30.7 miles in 6:09 (yes, 6 hours of saddle time). There was 3,768 ft of elevation over the ride. All three horses did wonderful and Alex and Vicki both had a great time (although Alex did say he wants to do more conditioning for himself in the future).
We chose to camp for a second night and watch the 50 mile riders finish (the have 12 hours to ride 50 miles, including 2 45 minute holds) and the 100 mile riders (24 hours allowed time including holds). I’ll confess, we didn’t stay up much past dark to watch 100 mile riders do vet checks and holds. This morning, there was a pancake breakfast and awards ceremony for the 100 mile riders. Three of the riders present completed the East Coast Triple Crown this year, which is the same horse/rider team completing these three tough 100-milers: the Old Dominion 100 in June, the Vermont 100 in July and the Northeast Challenge in August.
As the awards were being handed out, Vicki leaned over and whispered, “Dad, I want to ride the Triple Crown one day.”
I want to throw out a huge “Thank You” to Blaine, Sarah, and everyone else who made this a wonderful weekend for our family. The kids were talking about “next year” and who will ride what distance. Amanda is planning to toughen up and put the miles on her pony to be able to join the fun. We look forward to seeing everyone at more rides.
We will be purchasing this photo, along with others from Wanda Clowater. Support your ride photographers!
On Friday morning, Vicki’s team gathered up at 0700 to verify their scores from the previous day. The worked as a group to polish their boots prior to the final phase of competition, Barn Phase. They entered the final day in 1st place, but with only a 3 point lead on the 2nd place team.
Once they were done with Barn Phase, we spent some time watching the stadium jumping for eventing in the Rolex Arena and Jr Games final round while we waited 9+ hours for awards.
We visiting the Saddlebred Museum (King is a 1/2 Saddlebred) and enjoyed the air conditioning. Vicki hung out with her friends from her team since they all live about 3 hours away. She spent time during the week trading pins from her Region with kids from other parts of the country.
Once it was time for awards, all the Quiz teams went into the covered arena together.
Alexis is Vicki’s best friend and also in the same Club. She was on a different team from Vicki and was the highest scorer on her team, helping them get 5th place.
Vicki’s team wasn’t able to hold on to the 3 point lead. In the end, they got 2nd place, but were all smiles as they collected red ribbons, silver medals, and a pair of boot socks.
After team awards, individual awards were announced. At the Regional Rally to qualify for Championships, Vicki had the highest individual score. She again led her team and won 5th overall in her Junior D division.
Now that she has done Champs in Quiz, she wants to ride next year in Games, Show Jumping, or Eventing.
We decided to just drive on home and not do any sightseeing on the way back, so days 9 and 10 don’t have any pictures. Overall, it was a good vacation and we enjoyed visiting Lexington. I am thankful my parents were able to come up from Alabama to join us and spend time with the kids.
Tuesday morning we started the day with a trip to Keeneland, a large racetrack in Lexington. We chose to do the self guided tour because Vicki was “tired of listening to guides talk so much” after the Mammoth Cave tour. The girls in particular were very happy to watch some horses being exercised while we sat in the grandstand. The kids also enjoyed walking around the barns. Vicki declared her intent to move to Lexington so she could exercise race horse, even if she doesn’t get paid.
Anna then dropped off Vicki and I at the KY Horse Park to check in for Pony Club Championships where we met up with the rest of her Quiz team. Anna then took Alex and Amanda to the KY Railroad Museum where they met up with my parents, who drove up from Alabama. The group spent some time touring the museum and went for a ride on the steam train.
They all then returned to the Horse Park to watch the opening ceremonies. Vicki joined the rest of the delegation from our Region (New York Upper Connecticut) as they walked into the Rolex Arena. The teams all lined up to spell “USPC” in the arena. 41 of 42 Regions are participating in the event from across the whole country, including Alaska.
When the ceremony was done, we headed to Cracker Barrel for dinner. We enjoyed our food and took some time to play a few games of checkers before heading back to the hotel.
On Wednesday morning, we headed in to the park to get an early start. Vicki had her written exam at 8 and Megaroom from 3-5. In between, she spent time hanging out with her team and studying for the next phase of Quiz. I enjoyed watching some Eventing Dressage while the team took written exams. While they studied in the middle of the day, the rest of the family watched the Flintstones (NYUC Senior Games team) play mounted games, toured the Horse Park Museum, and watched a few other things.
After things wrapped up, the kids went swimming and I got a good run in. While it was around 90, I needed the break for 7 miles of personal time.
On Thursday, we were back at the Horse Park by 7:00
This past weekend, all three kids did their first multi-sport competition. A short while back, Alex and Vicki joined the Nutmeg Youth Triathlon Team (NYTT). A Griswold branch of the team was started by the mom of some of the kids in our 4-H Club. They have been doing weekly practices for biking and running (it’s a little cold for open water swimming), while continuing twice a week swim lessons at the YMCA. Amanda joins in for some biking and running as she can while doing swimming lessons once a week. Amanda worked very hard to learn to ride without her training wheels to get ready for the first race.
For their first race, the kids participated in the New London Proud to Du It, Youth Duathlon. Amanda was in the 5-6 yo age group and had to run 1/2 mile, bike 1 mile, run 1/2 mile. Alex and Vicki were in the 11-13 yo age group and ran 1 mile, biked 4 miles, ran 1 mile. The starts were staggered by age group and by gender. All three kids finished and all three had a good time.
80+F on Easter? In CT? That is definitely horse riding weather. After doing a few small projects around the farm this morning, the family went on an afternoon trail ride from home. We only rode for about 5 miles in 1:20, but there were some important lessons learned.
Amanda is building her confidence and endurance in the saddle on the trails. She did the whole ride today without any leadline assistance, including 4 small water crossings which are usually a challenge for her on Huey. She didn’t have any problem handling the trotting.
Vicki rode Duchess. This is only her second time out on the trails with Duchess and they are making progress. Today she rode in a bitless bridle and that definitely helped. It’s definitely different having a mare back in the herd. Duchess isn’t completely comfortable with all the boys yet and she will threaten to kick or bite any horse that enters her space. Unfortunately, there were a lot of motorcycles out today as well and in the first encounter, Huey ended up too close and Duchess kicked him, hitting Amanda’s foot. It didn’t actually hurt Amanda, just scared her. That also rattled Vicki a little. Later in the ride, Duchess threatened to kick Dakota when he rode up too close on her butt and it made Vicki really upset. She decided to get off and walk for a while (about a half mile) and then mounted back up when she had calmed down. While it may not seem like much, it was an important lesson for Vicki about backing off when her emotions run too high and calming down to handle the situation.
Overall, the ride was a success. No one got thrown. No one got hurt.
When we got back home, Vicki stayed on Duchess and joined Mojo and I in the front pasture for a little jumping. This was the first time Vicki has gotten to taken Duchess over anything other than ground poles. We didn’t work too long and we kept everything low, but they did very well together. Vicki has learned to control her canter speed and in the bitless bridle, they seem to be getting along better. I didn’t have much opportunity to take pictures because I was jumping Mojo (who was a rock star!) but I did shoot a short video clip of Vicki trying a simple approach at the canter. Despite the challenges on the trail, after over 2 hours of saddle time, she was all smiles as we headed in to the barn.