It's coming too fast, yet not fast enough, this first 50-mile race.
The summer's Limited Distance races have been a thrill, but for years I've looked forward to the real deal:
Endurance...50 miles or more in 12 hours or less. We're going to give it a go at the 2008 Old Selam Endurance Ride on August 31.
Aaruba and I enjoyed our final conditioning ride last Sunday -- 15.5 miles at 7 mph, which is within my intended speed range for Old Selam. Twelve days into his treatment for gastric ulcers, Aaruba demonstrated marked improvement in attitude and energy. Full of enthusiasm, he bounded along the roadside, enjoying a couple long hand gallops before looping back toward home. Remedial training on the return journey slowed our overall time, but he clearly remembered my expectations and responded readily to correction. This may come in handy early in Sunday's race, though we will take care to start several minutes after the trail opens.
Between now and Sunday, I'll keep Aaruba loose and sane with a some brief workouts in the round corral. I had originally planned on two short, easy rides this week, but one of Aaruba's hind heels seemed a bit bruised last weekend, so we're taking it easy and staying on soft ground. No matter; no conditioning benefit can be gained between now and the race, and rest is far more important.
Our plan is to drive the 80 miles to ridecamp outside Idaho City on Saturday morning, arriving around noon. Travis will help me set up, then head back to In the Night Farm to hold down the fort while I stay to compete (or rather, complete, if all goes well). I was a bit nervous about the prospect of crewing myself at my first 50 until a good friend stepped forward to offer her assistance.
Jennifer will drop by ridecamp Saturday afternoon to get a feel for the layout, equipment, and tasks involved with crewing. She'll go back to Boise to be mom to her one-year-old daughter, then return early Sunday with camera in hand. She's quite a good portrait photographer -- you check out some of her work on her blog (scroll down to see my favorites from Mother's Day and Easter) -- and Old Selam will offer a smorgasbord of fresh victims...er, subjects.
I'll spend the rest of Saturday vetting in, taking Aaruba for a short ride to check out the trails, laying out everything I'll need Sunday morning so I don't waste time on desperate searches for hoofpicks and breastcollars in the pre-dawn darkness, and attending the ride meeting.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. There's still a great deal of packing and preparation to be done before we can load the horse and head for the hills. One of the biggest jobs is already finished: in an effort to make Aaruba more comfortable with his travel arrangements, Travis removed the solid window cover at the front of the trailer and welded in some steel bars instead. Hopefully, the view will help Aaruba, who isn't the world's best hauler, relax a bit en route.
Last night, I washed Aaruba's saddle pad, interference boots, and Easyboot Bares. (I think we'll be doing this ride with boots in front and bare hooves behind, but I won't know for sure until after the ride meeting.) I've re-read the AERC rules so I'm clear on the differences between LD and endurance, printed driving directions, double-checked the contents of my vet kit, laundered my favorite riding clothes, kept an eye on the weather forecast (partly sunny, breezy, and 65 degrees), and crushed Tums to add to Aaruba's electrolytes so they're less likely to exacerbate his ulcers.
Speaking of ulcers, my heart sank when I checked AERC's banned substances list and discovered that it includes omeprezol, that is, GastroGard! I called Aaruba's vet immediately to ask about my options. Thankfully, she said he'd do fine switching to sucralfate, which AERC specifically lists as a permitted substance, for the duration of the ride. I'll just need to be sure that at least 24 hours go by between Aaruba's last dose of GastroGard and our pre-ride vetting on Saturday.
Tonight, I'll pack my camping gear and Aaruba's tack and feed. Friday evening, I'll enlist Travis' help to load the truck, then prepare meals to fill the ice chest. As usual, I'm surrounded by piles of nerdy spreadsheets and lists. With luck, I won't forget anything...
Once Upon a Horse: The Story of Old Selam
Off to the Races
It's Official: We Do Endurance!
The First of Many! 50 Miles at Old Selam
Shot in the Dark: Friendship
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