Friday, May 10, 2013

Aftermath, gear, etc.

I don't mean "aftermath" in a bad sense, just that I certainly owe yall one more post about Washoe.

The drive home was fabulous.  It was 35 and spitting snow over Donner Pass, but the roads were just wet, not icy.  I've really gotten comfortable with how my rig handles and I had no worries at all.  I stopped at Gold Run, the usual rest area where I stop on 80, but it was still 45 and raining pretty hard so I didn't unblanket Miss Thing.  I drove on down to Davis, where it was 75 and sunny, and found a shady spot to park in a shopping center.  Dixie chilled out and ate hay without a bit of stress.

I met Mel for lunch and I didn't even let her sit down before I blurted out "I wanna do a hundred now!"  She laughed at me, because two years ago I couldn't fathom riding more than 25 miles in a day!  But something she said back then really stuck with me, because it's true and it's worth repeating to you future endurance readers:
You can ride exactly as far as you plan to ride.
Fifty mile riders doing an LD get to the end and think "to hell with getting back in the saddle." Hundred mile riders doing a 50 slither off at the end and think "stick a fork in me, I'm done."  You just go as far as you've planned on going, period.  I don't know if I could do an elevator ride (one where you can ride a 50 and elect to keep going for a 75 or a 100), because mentally, I'd be riding a 50 and I'd be toast at that point.

And one more, but I can't remember who told me this - maybe ~C?
They get stronger on the second day.
I was really hoping that'd be true for us, and it was.  Dixie was less amped up trying to race.  The second day was more calm, steady energy, just focused on heading down the trail.  The only thing she did that worried me on the second day was not graze.  But when she was hungry, she'd take carrots on the go, and they seem to work as well as mouthfuls of grass.  I carry a couple pounds in my pommel bags, and when I think about it, I'll pull one out and poke her in the shoulder with it.  She turns her head and slurps the carrot down or glares and me and keeps rolling, her choice.

Horse Gear:

I've already packed the scrapbook, so I can't do the side-by-side shot I'd meant to show you, but this ride represented a total gear replacement from our first ride.  Literally nothing was the same other than Funder and Dixie.  It's been piecemeal over 2.5 years, of course, but I slowly yet surely changed out my clothes and helmet and her saddle, tack, and footwear.

This was the big test for the new Specialized Saddle.  Of course it's not ideal to take a new-to-you saddle to your first multiday, but it seemed like it'd probably work, and you have to try your gear at new distances somehow.  The saddle fit Dixie perfectly - she had the faintest bit of edema at the bottom edge of the bars, but nothing that caused her observable discomfort.  Yesterday I beveled the edges with a knife - worked ok - then today I went over them with the fine side of my rasp, and they look great.

The saddle made my knees very happy indeed, and I feel very secure in it, but I need to try a fleece at the Tevis Educational.  I am a bad downhill rider.  I hate riding downhill, and the faster I have to ride downhills the worse I hate it, so in general, I get off and run the downhills.  It's a good chance for my horse to recover, and it's good for me, blah blah - but I can't get off and run the first 10 miles or so of a ride.  Dixie is too amped up and she'd trample me, freak out, etc.  So I had to ride some serious downgrades on Saturday.

My form sucks and I let myself slip forward and bang into the pommel.  It was also the first time I rode this saddle with my pommel bags attached, and I repeatedly slammed into a little seam of bag material pretty good, and I ended up with a deep bruise inside my right thigh.  Then I protected and compensated for it for the rest of the rides, sigh.

I need to get good enough at riding downhill at a trot/pace (she does both, depending on the random dice roll in her head) to stay balanced and not hurt myself for an hour or two.  I think running downhill is a great plan for us, but I have to get good enough to ride downhill when I need to.

And I have to switch diagonals!  That's just stupidly hard for me, because when we're "training" and I try to switch, Dixie will just roll into a rack or a pace.  And if she's motivated (read: I keep posting the "wrong" diagonal), she can easily rack for ten miles.  But I've gotta do it.

Boots:  Last year at Washoe was the first time I tried Gloves.  Lucy helped me get mine fitted and even loaned me a second pair for her hinds.  I liked them and I've been using them, when I bother to boot, ever since.  They are NOT for everyone, but they've worked pretty much flawlessly for me, even though they technically shouldn't - they don't look like they fit right on Dixie's oval hooves.  I've lost boots maybe five times total in that year so I don't care what they look like!

But after a year, I figured I deserved new boots.  I couldn't believe how black and shiny and flawless new boots were so I took a picture to immortalize the moment.

They don't look like that anymore.  :(

I didn't even bother to tape her hooves, just slapped four new Gloves on and called it good.  One slipped off on Day One, but after I whacked it back on with a rock I had no more problems.  The old set still has plenty of tread, but the gaiters are starting to come to bits - they're good training boots, and one day I might foam them on for one last hoo-rah.

Speaking of hooves, they absolutely respond to movement.  She's grown at least 1/8" of wall since last week.  Time to trim again, bah!  I got a new Save-Edge rasp when I picked up the boots, so that'll make it slightly easier...

I'm rocking a lot of new biothane from American Trail Gear.  I got the new breastcollar and crupper at the convention, then when I got the new saddle, I called them up and got a girth loop (slips onto the girth, has a D-ring to attach the breastcollar, barely visible in first pic) and biothane-caged stirrups.  They're the same EZ Ride stirrups I'm used to, but the biothane cages are very flexible and didn't rub annoyingly against my toes.

That's a swanky pad I'm rocking in that picture, but I don't think it matters.  That's a nice fitted ECP pad with neoprene waffle stuff on top, and I got it locally.  I might've gone back for a second one, but when I was paying, the women who work there started making snide comments about "those Mexicans" and I'll be damned if I give them any more money.  Just on general principles, shut your racist mouth, plus those Mexicans keep my horse clean and well-fed and VERY happy.  I gave my barn guys some ride pics and a big hug, because I seriously could not do this sport without them.

Anyway, so I wanted another pad for Sunday, so I stopped at Greens and Sierra Saddlery in Reno. Greens is phasing out their English stuff, but I found a totally basic thin quilted square dressage pad (in PURPLE) at Sierra, and it worked just fine for Sunday.  A well-fitted saddle really doesn't need much pad, just like they say!

People Gear:

I can't remember if I've done a 50 in my half-chaps before, but now I've done 75 miles in them and they perform as advertised.  I only bought them because they look so stunningly cool, so that's high praise ;) I did 25 miles before lunch Sunday without chaps and I didn't get rubs, but I wouldn't want to do the whole 50 that way.

I broke my Camelbak - ripped the nozzle off dismounting - coming into the first check, but my friend was there with my old Camelbak that I'd left at her house a year ago, so I just filled up #2 and went on my merry way!  (Thanks, R!)  I didn't want to clean the Camelbak, and it wasn't ever hot, so I just ate handfuls of those Hammer electrolyte pills at the holds and drank 1.5 liters of water per loop and I was fine.

I didn't bring my crop - maybe it's at the barn?  I don't know - and I didn't need it.  Well, I really needed it to hit that hateful bitch in the head when she stepped on my leg at one point, but I did not need it as a go-faster tool.  It's my ugliest bruise, a big purple number just above my Achilles.  FFFFFF HORSE :shakes fist:

I did a terrible job eating on the trail and suffered greatly for it.  I have Plans to feed myself much, much better at Tevis Edu and Sunriver, but that's a whole other post.

I did both days in my purple Merrell shoes but they were so nasty and my feet were so swollen on Sunday and I'm really thinking about buying another pair a half-size larger for multis/100s.

Aarene is right:  commando is the only way to fly, time of month permitting.  Death to panties.

It just gets easier the longer you do this, guys, and I don't have much else to say about gear!  I don't think I could do a 50 in jeans, but I do think I could do a 50 with water bottles instead of a camelbak, or sweats instead of tights, or (urgh) a bra and a t-shirt.  You know what?  Death to all underwear.  It's all evil.  Wear non-jean clothes, wear a damn helmet, and go ride.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Washoe Valley II 50

I woke up at 3 am when the rain started.

I couldn't believe it at first, and I almost went back to sleep, but I'd only thrown a cooler on D so I had to climb out of bed and put her waterproof blanket on.  Then I went back to bed.

At five, I was awake again.  I knew I'd made a huge mistake.

In a lifetime punctuated by bad decisions, getting back on my horse in the rainy predawn gloom seemed like a top-ten bad idea.  But I want to ride Tevis next year, and I want to ride Sunriver 100 this year, and I knew that I had to get the hell out of bed and cowboy up and get it done.  I used my favorite mental trick and told myself I only had to ride the first loop and then I could wuss out and pull.

Dixie gave me this "oh no you cannot be serious" look when I went at her with the saddle, but she didn't bite me or kick me, and some days that's all you can ask for.  It was 45 or 50 and lightly raining, so I pulled on an extra hoodie (see yesterday, re: no rain gear at all) and got one leg on either side of the horse and headed to the start.

Seven intrepid fools riders were assembled at the start at 6:30.  Twenty-one ended up starting, but the number one secret to endurance riding is to leave camp as soon as it's time - start on time and get the hell out of the checks on time.  It actually paid off for us on Sunday!

I was planning on riding Day 2 with my friend Wayne on his firey little TWH Vader.  Vader is a year less seasoned than Dixie, so he'd done the 25 on Saturday rather than try two 50s, and Vader was a fire-breathing monster at the start.  We separated at the ride pics, a mile into the park, and I didn't catch up for a couple miles.

I have questionable decision-making skills at the best of times, and that morning I'd decided that since I was cold I'd just wear sweats over my tights instead of half-chaps.  They rode up to my knees in about a mile and I spent the first loop constantly worrying about where my feet were, trying to keep the leathers from rubbing my calves.

Day Two shares a lot of trail with Day One, but it's all backwards from Day One so it really feels like you're riding something different.  I climbed up Bobcat with Connie and Lou, and Dixie really felt strong powerwalking that big canyon.  We caught up to Wayne on the downhill, then Connie and Lou disappeared up Jumbo and Wayne and I stayed together for the rest of the day.

The drizzle had slacked up on the climb, and the view was just gorgeous.  The big valley to the left is the north end of Washoe Lake Park, and the tiny white dot on the near hill is a rider - Courtney on Max, I think.

But then we got to the top of the mountain and it started to snow.  I am not even kidding, it totally started spitting snow at us.  Happy Cinco de Mayo, Nevada style!  Wayne and I were sick of riding so we hopped off and jogged/slid down the back of Jumbo.  Wayne is a runner who's new to endurance, so he jogs a lot more than I do, but he's a good influence on me.  The SOBs on Saturday had reminded me that I can't climb uphills, but I know I can do the downhills, so I got off every time he did for the downhills.

The climb was tough, but the downhill run gave Dixie a good chance to recover, and she felt fine when I got back on for the traverse around the back of the hills.  Not a too-fresh wild mustang, but surprisingly not tired!  We wound back around to the water trough where the horse had gotten loose Saturday.  Courtney and Max had passed us on the downhill, and we caught her at the water, but she took off a bit faster than us and stayed gone the rest of the day.  We worked through the hills, made one last climb, and ran down the mile to camp.

Dixie was down and looking good when we got in.  Her CRI wasn't great, like 60/62, but it wasn't awful.  She ate pretty well at the hold, and she'd been drinking good all day, and I was incredibly sore but I knew we could finish.  I took off my sweats, put on my half chaps, got cold, and put the sweats back on top.  The hour flew by as they always do and before I knew it we were mounted up and headed out again.

Dixie and I always get all shitty and resentful with each other after lunch.  I'm used to it, so I don't even care anymore.  For about an hour or two after lunch, I just hate riding and she hates going back out and we sulk slowly down the trail together.  It's the part of the day where I really honestly need another rider around to help pull us down the trail.  So we just sucked our way down the south end of the lake, admiring the gorgeous views and every now and then feebly trotting to keep Vader in sight.

The way I think about Day Two is:  you climb Jumbo in the morning, then there's some easy stuff and you're back at camp.  Then you head out and it's easy and then you have to climb Cinder Mine and that's the worst thing in the universe, but it's literally all downhill after that.  So that hill we were climbing in the video is "the easy stuff."  We worked our way up that thing and did a couple ten miles of mostly flat mostly ok sand roads and then there it was, looming like Mount Doom, waiting for us.

That black thing.  That's Cinder Mine.  You drop down into a valley, then climb up an absolutely endless gravel road, then you pass the mine and climb the rest of the way up an endless rocky jeep trail, then you're at the top of the universe.

Last year was hotter, and Dixie was less fit, and I thought we'd never make it.  She did her dead zombie horse plod, and she'd stop and pant and quiver every hundred yards, and it felt like we'd never get there.  This year, Dixie was just as unhappy about the climb, but she just. kept. walking.  Wayne was leading Vader up the hill, and he'd stop and pant every half-mile or so and Dixie would stop too, but she never asked to stop and she'd often get bored and start walking again.  She was such a rockstar.  

One of my all-time favorite books is The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley.  There's this one bit where Aerin, the heroine, is climbing an endless stone staircase in a tower to confront the Big Bad, and she's got a rash.  She's trying not to scratch the rash, and she's trying to keep plodding up the stairs, and she's thinking about the silly names of the gods in her pantheon.  "She had been climbing forever; she would be climbing forever.  She would be a new god:  the God That Climbs.  It was no more improbable than some of the other gods:  the God That Isn't There, for example (more often known as the God that Follows or the God That Goes Before), which was the shadow-god at midday."  

We were the Team That Climbs.

 The views were astonishing, though.
 That's Carson City.
 And the Sierras, where we'll be the Team That Climbs again for Tahoe Rim.
 Even Wayne gave up and got back on eventually.

 And finally, we were up and over to the water trough.

And then we went back down.

After Aerin defeats the Big Bad, the tower collapses (as they do).  "The sound of the mountain tower falling was so loud she could no longer make room for her thoughts, and so she gave up thinking and blackness hurtled past her, and heavy fragments of that blackness fell with her but did not touch her, and she wondered if she might fall forever, as she had climbed, and thus perhaps become the God That Falls, or perhaps the God That Climbs and Falls."  We were the Team That Runs Downhill Til The Human Can't Run Anymore and Rides Downhill.

But really, running and riding downhill is easy, even with a bruise on your thigh that's bigger than your hand from your thigh slamming into the pommel.  Dixie knew we were going home, and she felt good under me, and all we had to do was switchback a couple ten miles down the hill and we were back in camp.

We had a fifteen minute hold, then another seven miles around the park.  When we came in, Wayne and I were in 7th and 8th place and there were maybe fifteen riders total still in it.  During my time as the God That Climbs, we'd seen a few more riders come in to the water trough at the bottom of the mine road, but we hadn't seen anybody on the long miles coming downhill back to camp.  We were comfortably in 7th and 8th, and when we headed out we were feeling pretty good.

The horses set up a good but tired pace, where we'd trot/gait for 3 minutes or so then walk for a minute.  We worked up the fun little winding singletrack to the north end of the park and watched a huge cloud of cold rain blow down the Sierras and over the lake toward us.
 It was a bit of a low point emotionally.
 The rain hit and it turned out to be mixed with sleet.  Dixie was irritable and furious about the rain and I couldn't let go of the reins long enough to get my (totally inadequate) hoodie un-velcroed off the pommel and onto me, so I just rode through it in my yellow long-sleeved running shirt.  I figured if we kept trotting, I wouldn't die of hypothermia before we got back to camp.

It was a short squall and it blew over in a few minutes, and the desert air had me dried out by the time we got back in.  We sort of kept not-so-secretly glancing over our shoulders, waiting for someone to catch us.

When we hit the north end of the park and turned for home, the horses perked back up.  They'd been trotting out easily enough when we asked, but when we were facing the trailers again they started picking up a trot on their own.  In the last two miles, Crisanne and her friend appeared out of absolutely nowhere and blew past us, bumping us back to 9th and 10th place, and we had to fight to keep the horses from galloping in behind them.  (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  Enough horse left to fight about running in after two days of 50s!)  We kept checking, and at about a mile out, there was one rider visible behind us.

Look, I'm not a racer.  I always knew I'd never top 10 unless there were only 10 or 12 entries, and that's ok.  If I wanted to race, I'd buy an Arab and race.  But top-tenning would just be the icing on a very sweet weekend, and we were far enough ahead of the lone rider to make it, and... well, we let 'em trot the rest of the way in to top-ten.

I threatened to make Wayne rock-paper-scissors me for placing, but he didn't have a First TWH award and I did, so I let him take 9th and I got 10th.  We finished at 4:10, three minutes faster (15 minute hold vs 10 minute hold) than on Saturday.

Dixie was HANGRY (that's when you're so hungry you're angry) so I took her by the trailer first.  I stripped her tack and let her stuff her face, and when she came up for air I dragged her over to vet out.  It was undeniably the worst trot-out I've ever performed and I don't know if I even managed to run fast enough to make her trot, but she looked good.  Her back was all A's, with just a little bit of puffiness where I need to shave the edge of the saddle pads down a bit.  Her final CRI was 52.

And we got loot!  Turned out we were first middleweight too, so I ended up with a big mesh thing - I think it's a cooler?  Cause it's not fitted like a fly sheet? and interference boots and a logo'd bag that I stuffed a set of boots in.  Plus Steve finally gave me our awards for last year's NEDA rides - Dixie got 10th high mileage horse (and I'm super proud of that, considering we only rode half the available rides) so I got a plaque, a NEDA tee, and a gift cert that I used on a big sturdy hay bag from Henry.

And I cried.  I could not stop giggling and crying.  She looked SO good and she did SO well and my horse is just a stupendous badass.

Tomorrow I'll post some more:  gear review, plans, the trip home, but I've got to go do boring real life stuff now.


2013 Washoe Valley I 50

So Friday I hooked up the trailer, loaded the horse, and drove to Reno.

That's probably not the right place to start, but it's a place.  We've got lots of boring real life stuff going on - we had visitors two weeks ago (loved seeing you guys!!) and we're moving to Oakland in two weeks, and it's been incredibly hard for me to concentrate on that part of my life.  My husband picked up a lot of my slack, cause he's awesome, but I still felt like my mind was revving aimlessly at 5000 rpms the whole week before the ride.

But once I pried my trailer out of its impossible parking spot and loaded my horse, the fog started to clear.  The best way out of Oakland is on Hwy 24, through the Caldecott Tunnel, which is a half-mile of gut-clenching terror for me.  I am a little claustrophobic, and the lanes are just wide enough for my trailer with about two feet to spare on either side, and it's more than a half-mile long under an enormous mountain that could collapse on me at any moment, and UGH.  I hate it, but it's better than taking 580 up to the Maze in morning rush hour.

The trip to Reno was smooth sailing.  We stopped at Green's Feed in north Reno to pick up a new set of Gloves I'd ordered, plus some miscellaneous horse junk, but they didn't have any English pads, so we had to head down to Sierra Saddlery for that.  But Sierra had a purple pad!

I got to Washoe Lake State Park about 3 and snagged a prime camping spot (right near the food crew's trucks, beside the pavilion).  Dixie came off the trailer, looked around once, and dove into her food like a good horse.

The weather was glorious.  About 70, light breeze, blue sky as far as the eye could see.  I got D braided, booted, and blanketed; went over my game plan in my head; went to the ride meeting; and crashed out.  

We did the Sunday ride last year, but I'd never done the Saturday ride.  Dixie turns from the laziest plug of a trail horse into a fire-breathing monster at the start of a ride, so I was really glad to have a controlled start up a very large hill.  It's a 600' climb in about a mile, so it's enough to get her brain back online.  

My whole goal for the ride was to ride slow enough to have enough horse at the end of Sunday.  I wanted her to be pulling on the reins for the last mile into camp.  I knew I couldn't let her go as fast as she wanted at any point or she'd tire herself out and have a hard time recovering, so I just tried to keep her to a dull roar for the first five miles or so.  

At the first water trough, Dixie didn't really want to drink, but I made her stand around for a minute and catch her breath.  I'd just started out again, mid-pack with maybe four other riders, when a horse went curving around behind us at a full gallop with a saddle hanging off its neck.  Later, I heard that the rider had gotten off to adjust the girth and lost the reins - the horse took off, the saddle slipped around to hang by the breastcollar, and that's all she wrote.  The horse ran up the railroad tracks, parallel to us, weaving in and out across the tracks for a couple miles, then peeled off and headed for Dayton.  

(Dyke went out on a four-wheeler and found it that afternoon, unharmed, and got it back to camp, but watching it disappear to the east was pretty awful.)

We all curved around the back of the mountain and started a long climb up Ophir Grade - 1600' in five miles.  The lower part is steady, easy going up gravel roads, and I lost a boot in there.  It came off her front right foot but hung on by the gaiter, so I rode til I found a likely boulder and hopped off to fix it.  They were brand-new Gloves, so there was a lot of cursing and sweating to bang it back on.  

Three more people came up behind me right as I got the boot seated, and thankfully they waited for me to get remounted.  I walked toward the boulder, failed to lift my foot high enough, fell flat on my face on the boulder, and dropped the damn reins.  Dixie trotted merrily off down the trail and one of the other riders trotted after her and caught her.  She turned to come back to us with a loose horse in one hand and a water bottle in the other, and her horse did a little sideways hop and knocked her off.  I'd gotten up and moving again so I ran over and caught her horse, she caught mine, and we swapped!

After that drama, we headed on up the hill.  Gina on Destiny and Nicole on Golden Knight had detoured off down a road to see if they could catch the loose horse, but it had disappeared into a grassy little valley so they gave up and came back to the trail right as I got there with my horse-catching friends.  The horse-catchers and Knight pulled away up the hill, but Destiny and Dixie were climbing steadily at a good pace, so I just stuck with Gina.  

Look, guys, if you can ever swing riding a ride with the co-ride manager, I highly recommend it.  You never even have to think about whether you've seen a ribbon lately!  Very peaceful :)

Fire Mt. Destiny is one of those horses that just takes my breath away.  He's got 98 starts and 97 finishes.  He's a full Arab, but he's a tank who just chews up the miles at a moderate pace forever.  When I first started conditioning Dixie, I thought we'd never be able to keep up with him, so I thought he'd smoke us on Ophir and we'd see them at camp.  But Dixie just walked steadily up the entire hill with him, started drinking with him, and never let him out of her sight for the rest of the day.  

After you're up, there's nothing to do but go down.  There's two valleys/hills (they say it's three, but the third one is so small in comparison it hardly seems to matter) called the SOBs, and they almost killed me.  

I got off and walked down the first one and thought I'd tail up.  Bad idea.  It's at +6000' and while I can jog downhill or flat for miles, I just CANNOT climb at altitude anymore.  Dixie let me tail her, and Nicole passed us again and let me tail off of Knight for a bit, but I felt like I was dying (and I was really ready to just DIE already and get it over with!)  Cold chills, heart palpitations, legs made of lead.  Everybody, mounted and tailing, passed us and Dixie spazzed out and I kept having to sit down on rocks and gasp for breath and it sucked.  I rode along the top of the hill, got off and slithered down the next one, and made Dixie carry my fat ass up the second SOB.  

(Gina told me that Virginia City 100 used to be run as a giant hundred-mile loop around VC, and that you'd hit the SOBs at Mile 92, and people would just give up and sit down and wait to be picked up the next morning.  I totally believe it.)

But after the SOBs, it's literally all downhill to camp.  I got off and ran a little more, because my new saddle was causing unexpected excruciating pains riding downhill, and before I knew it, we were back in camp.  

Dixie ate a bit, and I ate a bit and inspected my bruises.  I'd let myself slide forward and bang my thighs into the pommel early on, and I had a palm-sized bruise forming on my left thigh.  But I had tons of horse left and it didn't really hurt that bad, so I hopped back on and we headed out on time.  

The second loop goes north of the park, up Jumbo Grade on the north, to a little meadow of heaven.  I stuck with Gina til we really started to climb, when a little grey Arab came trotting past and Dixie wanted to follow him, so away we went again.  The grey was trotting the steep bits and recovering on the flatter bits, but I know that's the best way to tire out my horse so I made Dixie walk the whole thing.  She powerwalked all the way up Jumbo with a few breaks to pant and refuse to eat the nice green grass, then we trotted about a mile of flat into the meadow.  

The meadow has grass, hay, carrots, and water for the horses, plus a number-taker and beer-dispenser for the humans.  We'd lost Gina somewhere in the climb, but I knew her pace was better for Dixie than the grey's pace, so I decided to wait til she showed up.  Plus, there was beer.  Nevada rides RULE!


Gina made it in about ten minutes behind me.  She was a little worried that maybe Destiny was in trouble, or maybe he just wanted to turn for home instead of going on down the trail, but I told her if she didn't mind I'd really rather ride at her pace than go on alone.  We headed out at an easy pace and finished the last big climb, then dropped down lovely Bobcat Canyon back to the park.  

The clouds were coming in, and we spent a lot of time looking at them and saying stuff like "They sure are getting bigger, aren't they?"  The last time I'd checked the weather, on like Wednesday or Thursday, there was a 20% chance of showers on Sunday, but man, those clouds sure were getting bigger.  Gina was worried it'd rain on the awards dinner, but I was still pretty incredulous.  It never rains in Nevada!  In two years there I got rained on like five times total.  Pffft.

The second check was a 10-minute hold, so I just refilled my water and hit the toilet and we were out again.  We had one more five-mile loop around the park and we'd be done.  It's maybe a mile along the lake in deep sand and the rest of the loop is flat hardpacked sand roads.  I love the "classic" split of 25/20/5 - when I'm tired and just done with it, at the second hold, I know I've only got another hour in the saddle.  It's harder for me mentally to head out a third time knowing it'll be two or three or four more hours.  

We finished the ride at 4:02, for a ride time of 8:22 if I'm doing the math right.  My "goal time" has always been 8-9 hours, so I was really pleasantly surprised.  Dixie vetted out with a 52 or 56 CRI, I can't really remember, but it was perfect for her - she's never got a low base heart rate.  

It did rain, just a bit, at the awards dinner.  We got First TWH (out of two, but it's such a sweet gesture to give breed awards and I totally cried and it's a beautiful photo) and a beautiful handmade pottery plate/dish for completion.  There was pulled pork and sweet cole slaw and potatoes and I ate til I hurt, but the food sure perked me up.  

My bruise grew to the size of my hand.  

I made sure Dixie was eating and crashed out pretty early, under cloudy skies.  

Coming up:  Sunday Funday!

Meet my new multiday horse

This is Dixie, before and after doing back-to-back 50s at Washoe Valley this weekend.  I have so many words about the weekend!  Two big posts are coming, but I wanted to give you a little teaser first.