Thursday, June 30, 2016

Black Sheep Boogie: Paige and Titan=s first 75, from their crew=s (Granny Jan) POV.

Paige has wanted to do a more challenging ride such as a 100 for a couple of years. Last year she attempted the Old Dominion 100, but luck was mischievous so that Titan had shoeing problems from the first VC onward. Had to pull at the second VC. But Paige got a taste of the magnitude of the longer distance and what it takes to tackle such a trail as Old Dominion.

So when Molly added a 75 miler to her BSB, she honed in on that one as a perfect stepping stone to the 100.  We wore out our phones checking the weather channel for that weekends forecast. Looked good and even I had hoped to get back to doing 50s and looked forward to doing it there. However, weather can be fickle and was to the degree that had everyone pouring sweat while we negotiated and slopped through the mud from the heavy rains that weren=t supposed to happen. Didn=t take me long after arriving and getting the horses settled in to decide to back off from the 50 and just do the 25. Debated pulling Paige and Titan back to the 50, as many did. But, she has been working really hard to get herself ready for the challenge, running 4 to 5 miles a day plus working out at the gym after work, and Titan was as ready as he could be. She has ridden him enough to know how to get him though a ride safely, however she can be very competitive so needed to keep herself in check on that count.

Paige usually comes with me, but had to work until 8PM Friday, so she grabbed her BFF, Maddie Hamlin, who has never seen an endurance ride although she knows and has worked around horses her whole life. Together they wandered around the dark countryside as lost as one can get until finally arriving at camp at midnight. They had been lost for two hours, so they were in tears and pumped with adrenalin, but as young people can do, instantly fell asleep once they crawled into bed.

I had checked both horses in earlier and both were good to go although Titan had a tight muscle in his rear that had me worried. We worked on that rear end for the whole of the ride the next day, as it would tighten up every time he stood still. Fortunately he would warm out of it once he started moving again.

I got up at 4 am and did the feeding letting Paige get a few minutes extra sleep before the day began. I went over the map and criteria and everything I could remember from the ride meeting the night before. She nodded and stuffed her ride card and map away and got herself and Titan ready. I could see she was pumped and had that determined look on her face. If you have ever seen her play basketball, you would know what that meant. :0

The 75s started off at 6 AM with the entries down to 14. A lot of 50's dropped down to the LD, (25 miles), so that that group was a whopping 49 riders! Our team, the Lucky Ducks had nearly all of us riding! Mary Kolb was attempting the 75 and rode with Paige the whole day. Paige was very thankful for the comfort of a riding partner as she was dreading riding in the dark alone. Myself, Vickie, Mary Lynn, Greg, Brenda and Mindy were in the LD. We only needed to do two loops, a 13 and a 12 mile. Both were muddy and in places a bit tricky. But, as I heard later, the long 25 mile loop that the 50's and 75 needed to do was a killer. Technical and muddy so as to slow down the going to a snails pace. The 75's got to do it twice!

Once I finished my ride, I prepared to spend the rest of the day crewing for Paige. Crewing this day was ~ water on, water off, water on, water off, over and over until the heart rate was down and steady. The criteria was 60 bpm...whoa a hard one to get down to on such a hot day with humidity as thick as pea soup. Needless to say, the crewing area was really wet and sloppy with mud, mud, mud... Crewing is a hurry up and wait game, and Maddie was getting the hang of it. While Paige and Mary were out enjoying the trails :), the rest of us sat at the trailer and told ride stories...:)

I didn=t get to see Paige at her first VC since we LDs started an hour later, and she was in and out before I got there, but was able to have everything ready when she got off of her second loop which was the 25 mile one. The heat was already taking it=s toll and horses were dropping out. Titan was a bit tired and his CRI wasn=t great, plus his guts were slow, so we worked to cool him and get him to eating and drinking. Strangely he is better at eating and drinking than Noways, but gets lower numbers. When she took him back for a recheck everything had improved so it was up to Paige as to weather to go on. She decided to go on, but slow down. Paige was able to get off and give Titan a rest on a lot of the climbs and did some jogging on the roads. So she was working hard to get them through the heat of the day. It was dark when they finally got that second 25 miles done and back to camp. They had a VC at the halfway point on that loop with plenty of food and water for both horses and human at that stop. Thank you Tom! But the time was running out. The RM, Molly (Thank you Mollie!) decided to redirect the last loop so as to keep them on drier ground ~ to an out and back. They were to ride to a bunch of balloons and count them, then head back to camp.  Paige said it was the longest loop she can ever remember. LOL, ridding in the dark gets really slow in the dark woods even though she had a head lamp on and a glow stick on Titan=s breast collar. Spent a lot of precious time looking for the ribbons in the trees.

The crews had dwindled, since many had dropped out, but there were a few of us still and we sat at the Vet and volunteer tents getting punchy and telling tall tales. Waiting, waiting. Now it was getting chilly, and we were hugging ourselves to keep warm..All that sweat on us was now chilling us. I had a rug ready for Titan=s rear end so that muscle wouldn=t get stiff and cause a pull at the very end...not a fun thing to happen I can tell you. Finally, finally they started to drift in with hoops and hollers from the volunteers and whoever had a voice left. Vicki and Maddie stuck it out with me until they arrived. Vickie even walked out to meet them on the way in. My goodness friends are the best!

Titan was done and knew it. All he wanted was food, food, food. They had walked much of this loop, so his pulse was down as soon as we pulled the saddle, she went ahead and did his final Vet check before he could stiffen up. And he did great...whew.  Titan is a very laid back sort, so it is sometimes difficult to tell if he is tired (which he definitely was) or if it is just him. I=ve had him go to sleep while his nose was in his feed tub at a VC. He learned early on with this Endurance thing, to take advantage of every opportunity to rest!
She and Mary (who also finished their first 75 miler) were 4th and 5th!

I am so in awe at what our horses do for us just because we ask them to. What great hearts they have. What great partners they are for riders who care for, and ask for so much. Thank you Titan for hanging in there for Paige, even though you (Titan) get the >Fuckits= at about mile 30...

Submitted by Granny Jan, since Paige doesn't not like to write...:)

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