Wednesday, May 23, 2007

LBL Express

by April, Nashville Tennessee

April's Blog

Wednesday afternoon, Daniel and I arrived at Land Between the Lakes'
Wranglers Campground in Kentucky. Daniel set up Tanna's metal corral
around the high line area while I busied myself getting other stuff
settled. Then we headed to the restaurant for a yummy supper (that I
didn't have to cook or clean up after!).

The weather was absolutely beautiful and the forecast called for high
70s and NO RAIN. What a nice weekend was ahead of us! That night was a
little chilly. I had neglected to cover Tanna so he got his cooler on
in the morning as soon as I woke up. He seemed to be doing fine, but I
left the cooler on him until the sun got higher up and the day got a
little warmer.

Daniel disappeared to scout out places to take pictures on Friday and
I took a nice warm shower in the nearby showerhouse. I hung out with
the cat until Daniel returned, taking full advantage of our extra
vacation day. We headed for breakfast at the restaurant and then to
visit Teddy of Running Bear. I couldn't think of a single thing I
needed from Teddy, but it was fun looking around and talking.

Back to the trailer to start getting my stuff ready for the vet
checks. LBL has a 4 loop 50 with 2 away checks (in the same place) and
then another check back near camp. I gathered water buckets, hay,
apples and carrots for both checks. I decided to leave my saddle rack
and a folding chair at the check near camp as well. I took stuff out
of my large vet check bag and placed it into a smaller duffle bag that
I would send out on the crewless truck.

I spent at least a half hour working on my hand-held heart rate
monitor trying to get it to work. I had purchased a handle from Roger
Rittenhouse ( at Trace Tribute, but hadn't gotten it
set up yet. I had a CardioSport Fusion HRM transmitter and watch. The
transmitter worked nicely (could verify with my Garmin Forerunner
301), but I couldn't get the Fusion watch to pick up the signal. The
watch battery was fine. Finally, after some frustration, I discovered
the exact button I had to push and HOLD in order to get the watch to
listen to the transmitter. I immediately lept up and went to play with
it on my horse.

Daniel had been helping me and also showed me where to take Tanna's
pulse manually on his jaw. Since I had the HRM working, I wanted to
figure out how to use that and exactly where to place it on Tanna. I'm
quite familiar with on-board HRM, but the handhelds I have no
experience with. After several more minutes, I decided I had it down
enough and stopped.

Back to the restaurant for lunch (boy, was I getting spoiled!) and
then over to register. We got a nice thick entry pack with flyers and
catalogs and a nice small sweat scraper. I really like small sweat
scrapers! Easy to throw in a pack.

Daniel and I had brought two trucks. We had the big 3500 that pulled
the horse trailer and has our camper on it. But we also brought my
new-to-me Toyota commuting truck so that Daniel could easily get
around while he was taking pictures on ride day. I took that truck and
went to set up my vet check areas.

By the time I was done with that, it was time to vet in. I usually
don't put my horse's number on him until the morning of a ride. But
this time, I decided to go ahead and put his number on. I put 102 in
big bold blue numbers on both sides of his rump. When I got to the vet
in, I was faced with Debra LaComette's Rev, also with a nice 102
painted on him! Oops! I said I'd go get a new number when I got done
vetting in. Tanna vetted in nicely with all As. His heart rate was a
little elevated for him at 50. He's normally 42 or 44 on vet in.
Everything else was a go, though.

When I got done vetting in, Nancy Gooch, our honored timer, arrived
with the SERA scales. So I hung around while that was put together.
Tanna weighed in at 794. Very respectable weight for him.

Before I left, a volunteer from the vet check told me my new number
was 101. She had very nicely gone back to the registration desk and
gotten my new number for me! How sweet was that? :-)

I took Tanna back to his pen and I continued getting everything ready
for the big ride day. Finally I was done and spent some more time just
hanging out and relaxing while waiting for the ride meeting.

The ride meeting went well and as expected. Forty minute holds, 64
pulse (except 60 for the LD finish per the rules), tack on at the
first check due to chilly weather and a wind. Dr. Otis was the head
vet, assisted by three other vets. 50 milers (19 of them) were to
start at 6:30 AM CDT. 25 milers (26 of those) were to start at 7:30
AM. The 50 milers would take a combination of trail (including the
knee-knocker -- KK -- trail!) and gravel road to the vet check. Then
out for a loop and back into the vet check. Back to camp for the 3rd
vet check. And a final loop back into camp for the finish. The 25
milers would do the first and third loops of the 50s.

After the ride meeting, I made supper, did a few last minute things
and off to bed.

4:30 came very early and I stumbled out of bed to give Tanna his
breakfast. I was cold, but fortunately, the camper warmed up while I
made breakfast. The pre-ride routine went smoothly and I was mounted
and ready for warm-up at 6:15. Tanna was being fairly good with no
signs of being totally stupid, but he was alert and ready to go.

After the controlled start across the pavement and down a creek bed,
the horses separated into 3 main groups. Front pack, mid-pack and back
pack. I stayed with the mid-pack and when the mid-pack separated a bit
into those that wanted to take the KK trail fast and those that wanted
to go a little slower, I stayed with the faster riders. We flew along
together, me trying to keep Tanna off the horse in front of him. The
KK trail was just beautiful. Good footing, lots of fun and along the
lake with the sun glinting off the water. Breathtaking! There was some
very nice grass through this section, so I periodically pulled Tanna
up and pointed him at a clump of grass. He would grab a big mouthful
and take off after the other horses again.

Too soon, the KK trail ended and we were dumped out onto a gravel
road. It was about an hour into the ride, so I pulled up and tried to
electrolyte from the saddle. We can do this, but not, I discovered, in
the middle of the first loop yet! Not with horses that left us and
another group coming from behind. So I wasted some of my electrolytes
before I got frustrated and jumped off. The riders were nice and asked
if I needed them to stop. I waved them on and proceeded with dosing. I
decided it was time to ditch my sweatshirt, roll up Tanna's rump rug
and generally took a few minutes before we got going again.

I was frustrated at first because I got a bit of race brain myself. I
had wanted to top ten at this ride, but I tend to waste too much time
and was irritated that I was doing it again. It was good, though. It
broke us away from a herd mentality. Me mostly!! After getting back
on, I was content to just enjoy the day with my horse and come in
wherever I happened to. I re-adjusted my ride plan to ride negative
splits instead of having a placing as my goal and as such, the break
brought our average speed down, which is good when you're wanting to
take subsequent loops faster than the first loop!

We were happily trotting through the loop when we came on Daniel
taking pictures. He informed me that I was the 14th horse to come to
him. So I was running in 13th place (one of the horses ahead was
running in the 2-day 100, not the 50). I was about a mile and a
quarter from the vet check. When I was close, I jumped off and walked
in. Tanna was interested in the activity, but pulsed right down. I
headed to the pulse takers and the vets. I got through and found my
duffle bag that management had brought for me. No crew for me. Daniel
jokes that he started taking pictures to avoid crewing for me!

Tanna would not eat. Not really a big surprise for him. He rarely eats
at the first check. He ate hay on the way to the vet, but afterwards,
he wouldn't eat. He got a B on guts; also normal for him. The rest
were As. I took him into the sun and grass and he nibbled some, but
eventually just hung out. I got him ready for the next loop and off we
went by ourselves.

We headed back out the same way we'd come in until I saw Daniel again.
Then we continued past the turn and out on the loop. We saw the front
5 horses all in a row coming up a hill as we trotted down it. I
believe they were Bud Davidson, Karen and Steve Cummings, Debra
LaComette, and Ron Chapman. No idea what order they were running, but
they were all together and looked like they were having a blast. Tanna
was interested in them, but by now he knows he has to keep going the
way he's going and not try to turn around and follow the other horses.

Tanna continued to trot and canter during that loop. Coming back up
the same hill after making a keyhole shaped loop, we walked and he ate
every step of the way. I just had the reins loose and my feet out of
the stirrups as he weaved back and forth to get the best grass. Coming
up out of the hill, we picked up a trot again as we headed back to the
vet check.

Tanna got all As at this check, including guts. He had eaten and drunk
really well during that loop. As a result, he didn't eat a lot in this
vet check again. I took a bucket of water and cleaned him up.
Unfortunately, I got him chilled, so quickly resaddled him, put his
rump rug on, put an extra blanket over his shoulders and kept him in
the sun as much as possible. I gathered up all our gear and dragged it
over to the gravel road to be taken back to camp.

Then off down the trail behind the buffalo pens back toward camp. I
left the rump rug on for about a mile. Then I checked to be sure he'd
stopped shivering. He had and seemed fine with plenty of pep and
power. So the rump rug was rolled up and off we went again.

The turtle 25 miler had left the vet check about 10 minutes before us.
She had asked me not to come up on her horse too fast so I didn't
scare him to death. I assured her we would be careful and try not to
startle them. We chased them the entire loop and finally caught sight
of them as we came into camp. I dismounted and walked through the camp
to the vet check. There is no running allowed in the camp, so I might
as well walk on my own two feet.

I quickly unsaddled and took Tanna to the vet. Mostly As again with an
expected B for guts. He hadn't eaten as much on this loop, although he
was still eating and drinking well. But he ate and ate and ate and ate
at this vet check. He ate until I begin to resaddle and decided it was
time to think about working again.

Off we went on our last loop. Tanna seemed to be confused about this.
He was not sure we should be going out again and not in this
direction! I patiently told him this was the way and we continued on.
We caught up with Trish Harrop. She was entered in the 2-day 100. We
played leap frog with her for awhile while Tanna would stop to drink
and they would catch up. Finally, we just kept going and moved off.
Tanna was reluctant to leave the other horse, but I was insistent that
we keep moving. I wanted to keep to a certain average MPH and I knew
he had the gas, he was just having a brain moment. It was actually
good training for him.

I was having a blast on the last bit of the loop going up and down the
roller coaster hills. When we crossed the last creek crossing, we were
quite close. Tanna cantered in to the finish line. We even turned on
the speed for the last 100 yards to a good hand gallop. He had plenty
of gas left in him and I was thrilled. I pulled him up, jumped off and
walked into the vet check. Our average speed was lower for this loop
than my goal, but I was still pleased with Tanna's overall

I unsaddled and cleaned Tanna up some before I took him to the vet. He
pulsed in around 50. I was pleased! He got mostly As on his completion
(another B on guts) and trotted out nicely. The vet commented he
looked like he could go again and I replied that was the idea! Even
though we weren't going again, I like him to look bright-eyed and
happy at the end of a ride instead of used up and exhausted. At the
finish he weighed 760 pounds. He lost 34 pounds. About normal for him.

We ended up in 12th place with around 6 hours 50 minutes ride time.
Another horse had the bad luck of stepping in a hole during the vet
check at the out check and had to pull.

I hung around the vet check letting Tanna eat for the next hour or so.
He ate lots of grass, some more grain, some hay and drank. I think he
might have thought we were going out again!

Thanks to Diane and Jerry Fruth for putting on this ride one more
time. I had a blast!! I wish they would keep putting this ride on, but
I know it's a lot of work putting on a ride and I know it's time for
them to RIDE! Thanks to the vets and the volunteers and all the other
riders. I really enjoy endurance and this was a stellar ride with
perfect weather!

Nashville, TN

Monday, May 21, 2007

US: Patriots Day 100 Ride

Well Sinatra and I completed our 3rd 100 at the Patriot's Day 100 this last Saturday. What a great ride! They are hoping to host the National Championship from this location and it would be a fabulous spot. The ride camp is hosted by a summer youth camp (Coppercreek Ranch) that has horses, arenas, a pool, showers, flush toilets, and a big meadow for all of the riders to park in. Unfortunately, since camp hasn't happened yet this year, we only had 1/2 the meadow as opposed to the full length like is normally offered for their fall 2-day ride, so I ended up tucked in the trees across from the goat pen. Sinatra looked warily at the goats at first and then forgot about them. They were actually pretty cute and would bleat hopefully at me every time I fed Sinatra all weekend. This was a first time 100-mile ride, run by the very capable team of Kassandra DiMaggio (manager), Centella Tucker (secretary), and Dr. Rob Lydon (head vet). One thing that I really liked about this ride, is the vets had us riders "rate" our horses on a scale of 1-10 at each check point with how we thought they were doing. This seemed like a really neat tool and it would be cool to get some parameters established so people have a better idea of what to say.

I drove up Friday afternoon with no issues, arrived a little later than I had planned but still had plenty of time to set-up camp, etc. My friend who had planned on coming to crew was not feeling very well so she elected to stay home. So it was tent time for me once again. I have been pretty spoiled lately and been able to sleep in my mom's RV at most of my last few rides, it had been a while since I had to break the tent out. Unfortunately, my air bed finally died on me this weekend after 2 years of use. I was really glad I had brought an extra sleeping bag as that served as my padding to lay on. There were 2 vets at this ride that had not seen Sinatra before, so I was asked questions about him and how he does on rides. I think the guy vet was impressed when Sinatra P&R'd at 36 during vet-in ("Yawn," he says "Where's the food?"). =) He's not what you would call an "excitable" horse.

The start was at 5:30 and I overestimated how long it would take me to get ready so I was up a little too early (4) and had time to kill. I was still one of the first one's on my horse and just walked Sinatra up and down the road to where the start would be. We were actually camped a little ways from the main vetting, entrance/exit areas. Sinatra was so riled up (NOT) he was chowing down on grass while the other horses paced back and forth waiting for the start (good boy). We don't really have fresh grass at home for him so it was a treat that he just couldn't pass up. Once we started on the controlled start though, wahoo look out! He was so strong, just pulling my arms out and flying along. He did keep it to a trot as asked but MAN was he strong. I had to have my friend get in front of me so I could use her horse as a "brake" somewhat. Luckily for me they put in a great big climb right at the start so it was up, and up, and up for us for 1,000 feet or so. That helped to adjust the attitude a little and I started to have my more normal horse back. We crested the mountain and started down the backside. Pretty soon came to the first water stop, Sinatra said no to the water but ate some hay. On down the dirt road, through another number check, through a boggy cow meadow, along the resevouir and into the first away vet check at 18 miles. My friend's horse just wasn't herself so she pulled here. We pretty much trotted in, walked the last few 100 yards, hoped off and Sinatra was below criteria as soon as I could get a P&R on him. This was only supposed to be a 15 min hold but the line for the vet was a little long. There was only 1 vet at this stop and lots of horses. I let Sinatra eat wet hay for a while and then stood in line. He was at 40 =), same vet who had checked us in. He kept taking his pulse twice because he just could not believe it! I rated him a 9 since he was mostly still pulling on me and felt GREAT! I slurped down some fruit and then headed out on our own. Pretty soon two riders caught us and we rode with them for a while and then I decided they were going faster than I wanted to so I got off and walked for a while with Sinatra back down the mountain on our way back into camp.

Back into camp at 30 miles for a 1/2 hour hold. It was about 9 am or so at this point, honestly I hardly paid attention to the time all day, I knew I was going to make any "limits" so just rode to my horse and tried to leave the checks fairly on time. Came in, poured some water on him, took him over, 56. Cool, he's doing awesome! Sinatra got to meet the lady vet this time (I'm horrible with names), he was at 44 this time. She laughed when I said that was the highest he's been so far! I still gave him a 9 at this point, he was so strong coming back in on that loop. Looking good, back to our campsite to eat. I fed Sinatra and restocked my saddle bags with carrots, filled my bottles, checked on my friend and her horse, and then it was time to go. Grabbed a teeny bit for me to eat and we left about 10 minutes late. This is where I screwed up big time.

I have a sensitive stomach that does not do "well" during rides. I haven't ever puked (yet) but often wish I would so I could just get it over with. At this point, I was still feeling good and felt like eating, but I did not take the time to eat. I didn't really have anything quick and easy I felt like having (#1), I am extremelly picky about what sounds good to me during a ride (#2), I was feeling somewhat rushed (#3), and I was just trying to get further down the trail before it started getting warm (#4). My stomach shut down on me during this loop and I just could not really make myself eat the rest of the day. Actually, it's taken me about two days to recover. I hardly ate yesterday (Sunday) either.

So we left out on the 20-mile loop that comes back into camp. Sinatra and I were riding by ourselves and our motivation started to lag a little on this loop. It was starting to get warm, we were going uphill, it had been a while since the last water stop, and I was feeling pretty pukey. So we kind of just putzed along and I tried to keep myself "up" and focused on moving down the trail. Sinatra usually hits a lull around ~35-40 miles so I wasn't too concerned or worried. At the water stop, a group of 4 riders caught up to me. It was Connie Creech, Dave Rabe, Tom Sherwood, and Cynthia (who's last name escapes me right now... Le something). Cynthia is super nice and a lot of fun, we met at the Washoe ride last year and have seen each other at rides off and on since then. So she and I rode back towards camp together, chatting and having a great time. Unfortunately, about 2 miles out of camp, there was this huge black horse-eating log buried in the backside of a manzanita bush and when Cosmo saw it he did this huge sideways teleport jump and Cynthia came off. Cosmo, being an efficient endurance horse, took off down the hill through the brush, taking the shortest way back toward camp. After checking on Cynthia, Sinatra and I started trotting down the trail, around the switch back, and hoped to find Cosmo somewhere on the way back to camp. She told me to find him and tie him up or try to pony him back. Well I got all the way in to the out timers, I checked and no Cosmo. Cynthia's daughter was crewing and came running to go back to her mom. I gave her a water bottle to take, I had thought about that after I left Cynthia, and took Sinatra over to the P&R people. I hosed him off and he came down quickly. We vetted through, looking great still, I gave Sinatra a 7 this time since it was getting warmer and he wasn't as perky, starting to slow a little. Just as we were walking out of the vet area, Cosmo came into camp! He had looped around and came in the way we had come in during the morning (from the opposite side). I nice volunteer took him over to be reunited with Cynthia, who was still walking in. I didn't see her again but she got back on and did finish the ride I was told. Great job!!!

We had an hour hold at this point. Sinatra chowed down and I made myself eat some tuna and crackers. I drank a juice and then got all ready to go back out. We would not be coming into camp again until the finish, having a single away check that we would see at 65 and 85 miles on a figure-8 loop. I checked with Connie and she said I could ride with her, Dave, and Tom. I went ahead and put my glowbars on so I wouldn't have to do it at one of the 30-min away holds. It was weird putting them on around 1 pm! I mean, it's the middle of the day! The four of us left camp and headed back out on the same trail as the 20-mile loop we had just ridden. Went out to the water trough where they caught up with me last time. It was a great checkpoint. Lot of cool water for the horses, they even had a hose hooked up to the tank, and cool drinks for the riders. From there it was "5 miles" to the vet check. Unfortunately it felt more like 10 miles! Lots of uphill on that section and it was getting warm (I think the highs were low 80's so never really bad). Tom's little horse Blackie really loved to move out and be in front and well ahead of the group. Sinatra did not get along with Connie and Dave's horses, they all kept making faces at each other so I put him in front of those two or well behind and that seemed to work out well. He actually did best being in the "middle" in a little gap by himself in that group.

We made it to the vet check and everyone vetted through well. I still gave Sinatra a 7, he was doing well and holding up great. The meadow where the check was had wild spearmint growing amongst the grass so it smelled absolutely fabulous around there. Sinatra happily settled himself in front of some left over mash, ignored his own and ate for the hold. I was hoping he would eat some more grass or hay but he liked the mash too much, so oh well. I personally was not faring so well. I wanted to barf but didn't want to make myself. My stomach just felt "full" and I kept burping liquid up. I was also pretty tired feeling, not surprising since I hadn't really fueled myself all day. I took a caffinienated Gu and washed it down with some water. That seemed to help. The next 20 mile loop was the best one all day! Lot of gradual and steady climbing up, up, up the mountain, and then looped around and came down, down, down the backside with views of Lake Almanor and Mt. Shasta. It was fabulous. Kassandra had already been out hanging up glowbars, but everyone was riding so "fast" that all of the riders were through most of that loop before dark. It started to cool off and Sinatra really perked back up. Mister go, go, go came back and he was feeling great. I had switched after 50 miles and was just riding him in his rope halter, which he does respect so we had a really nice loop. I took another Gu on this loop and was feeling marginally better myself.

Back to the minty-fresh meadow and vet check right as dusk was falling. We were glad we got in before dark as it allowed us to find our stuff without having to pull out the flashlights to hunt through our crew bags. Sinatra pulsed down quickly, he was pretty high at first but came down in a minute or two of standing there. I didn't want to wet him at this point as it was getting cool and I didn't want him chilled. I gave him an 8 at this check since he was feeling more energized and really very forward. I tired to make myself eat a tuna sandwich, but think I only had about 4 or 5 bites. I just kept chewing it until I would wash it down with some water.

Soon it was time to go. I had taped on some battery-powered LED glowsticks (from WalMart) on my breast collar. I thought I had used these before, but turns out I had used ONE before, right between his front legs. The one's on his shoulders were longer and I could see the ends sticking up. They were so bright my eyes could not adjust to the dark since I had two bright spots glowing up at me from point blank range. Yay for me as I was in the back and Tom, Dave, and Connie took off and were FLYING along in the dark! Eeek! I was loving it and hating it at the same time. =) I just held on to Sinatra and prayed he wasn't as blinded by the glowbars as I was. I couldn't see a damn thing except Dave's white shirt in front of me now and then. We were booking down the trail, I just prayed Sinatra didn't trip and go splat. I didn't want to be a whimp though and ask them to slow down or stop. Eventually we slowed down and Connie asked how I was doing. When I explained my problem she stopped with me long enough for me to reach over and turn off the two glowbars on his shoulders. Unfortunately I didn't realize the one between his legs was already off before we took off again to catch up to the guys. So no glowbars at all this time, weeeee!!! Hang on! =) It was actually better but still a little unnerving. When we got back to my favorite water spot (on the 20-mile loop), I was able to reach down and turn on the between the legs glowbar. Aahhh. Much better.

The last 10 miles or so back to camp went quickly. I got a bloody nose at one point and was thankful I had some tissue with me. I just pinched it shut and didn't really say anything, just kept trotting a long. Going through the "knee-knockers" was a lot of fun. Connie was in front, I was second, and Dave and Tom were behind me. I could see this faint glow from the bars on Connie's mare but it was really fun having Sinatra bend and turn and weave around the trees and catch the 180-degree turns from having done this trail earlier in the day. Pretty soon we were at the last little creek crossing and then only a short bit back to camp. He felt so good, I was not concerned at all. Yay Sinatra, good boy! We came in and Dr. Lydon vetted us through. He was getting a little tight in the rear but overall looked good and we were done. I got back to my camp and could hardly believe when I looked at my watch, 11 pm!!!! WOW! That was super fast for us! I never would have expected! I was hoping to be done around 1 or 2 am but 11! I never would have guessed. It was a good course, could really be deceiving with all the elevation changes but mostly lots of long gradual ups and downs, those Nevada horses' fortes. =) Actually, all of the riders were in by 1 am or so (I think). Congratulations to Jr. Colton Medieros on his first 100!!!

I took care of my boy and collapsed into bed. I had to leave before they did awards at 11:30 or noon the next day (my son had a B-day party to attend) so I don't really know much about how things turned out. I think they started 35 or so and it was a 100-miler only. It was excellent training for Tevis and I'd say at least 1/2 of the riders/horses there are planning on Tevis for this year. So this ride is a fabulous addition to the West region calendar in this May time spot. Great ride, I certainly hope they do it again. We will be back!

~ Crysta & Sinatra