Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Conundrum

At course run throughs this morning one of my agility friends left a nice bag of holiday treats for me in my car while I was out running the course. They look like Biscotti, or are they Biscuit0tti? She didn't leave a card and you never know with dog people. Guess I'll give one to my husband and see if he makes a face or not.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Barking Thru the Snow, Rudolph Ramble 5k

This was a spur of the moment thing, on Thurs. a coworker told me dogs were not only allowed at this race but they were having special awards for the first 5 dogs across the finish line. Not that I felt there was much hope for that, but you never know. I'd just set a goal for myself for less than 29 minutes at a doggie 5k next April so I thought it would be fun to see what my time would be today and how much I could improve by April. Plus I love any opportunity to race with Lola.

It was 9 degrees and cloudy/gloomy when I left the house, how stupid am I to trek all the way to Denver (45 minutes or so) so I can run on snow covered, icy streets in air that it hurts to breathe? On the other hand, what else have I got to do? Go to the mall? Uh, no thanks. I nearly got into it in the overcrowded yuppie whole foods megagrocery store yesterday with some arrogant yuppie jackass, what chance would I have for civility at a mall? It's gift certificates and shopping online for me I'm afraid.

My coworker showed up for the race with her little Jack Russell Terrier Ernie and another coworker's dog Max, a Golden Retriever she was dogsitting. Her friend showed up with a lovely black retriever mix so it was doggie chaos heading to the startline as Ernie's kind of cranky and Max was freaked out since he clearly doesn't get out of the house much. I was particularly proud of Lola, who can get cranky with certain dogs in her face but she did great, waiting patiently for me while I signed up & got my number/chip.

It was freezing, probably around 12-14 degrees, so I was VERY happy when the gun went off. Since I had a dog and still consider myself in recovery mode from my car crash injuries, I lined up at the very back but quickly found myself getting hauled by Lola towards the front. After a few minutes Lola started limping on 3 feet and I had to stop to wipe the salt off her paws, poor girl. After that I tried to keep her in the snow to the side of the road when there seemed to be salt on the road but it was a little hard since she's got a mind of her own. Almost the entire course was icy & snowpacked so I had to watch my footing. At one point Lola looked like she'd spotted a squirrel and I thought I was done for. If she took off after it I'd have no traction and go skijoring across the road/ice right behind her into the trees. Luckily it was a false alarm and we stayed the course.

Most of the race was a blur, it was cold, I was breathing hard and Lola was pulling me along like she had some important business to attend to and I was holding her back. With the finish line in sight, Lola came up limping with salt in her paw again and when I stopped to wipe it off 2 women and a pack of men that I'd passed a few minutes back repassed me. THEN Lola decides it's time to make snow angel puppies and lies on her back rolling in the snow. Normally I think it's very cute but not with the finish line in sight, especially when it looks like I'm going to make the time goal I set for April! I ended up crossing the finish line in 28:22 by my watch (28:32 official race time but I'd started at the back) and they announced 'Here comes another doggie winner!' and handed me a beautiful gift basket filled with fancy gourmet dog treats. We were one of the top 5 dogs! We weren't 5th either since a dog right behind up got announced for a prize too. It's not a great time or a PR but considering the icy conditions and the fact that I've been doing about 9 miles max. of running a week I was thrilled. I'm a little sore in the injured areas but nothing too terrible and it sure felt good to 'race' again.

In the end I was 2/11 for my age group, 12/44 overall women and 34/96 overall (there was a walking division scored seperately). They only gave awards to the top 10 women/men runners overall so no hardware and the 2 women that passed me toward the end during Lola's roll around put us out of the money (I was 15 secs. off 10th place) but that's o.k. We had a great time despite the cold, Lola was so well behaved and got herself some biscuitware, and it looks like I need a new goal for April.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I should probably just keep my mouth shut but I'm going to rant anyway. Nels posted a link to an article on the genetic nightmare humans have created in the breeding of purebred dogs. Now, I know all about this and the reality is even worse than the article makes out. I hate the AKC which is a very conservative, good old boys club that perpetuates the inbreeding of dogs to look a certain way, health and temperament concerns be damned. Many people think AKC papers are valuable but all they mean is that according to the AKC's records, both parents were the same breed of dog. By their own admission, the AKC is a record keeping organization, nothing more (though they do lobby Congress to keep any kind of animal welfare legislation from passing so they're a political organization too). Dogs can come from puppy mills (most puppies sold in pet stores are from puppy mills), have hideous health & temperament problems and still have AKC papers. So far I've resisted the urge to compete in AKC agility trials, even though they are the most common & popular around here. They don't allow mixed breeds (how snobby is that?) but Lola could likely pass for purebred and I could get an ILP for her to compete. Cody might even pass if I took the picture right. But so far, I can't bring myself to give them money and support their agility program. Anyway, it's a touchy subject, esp. amongst the dog people because they have fondness for their various breeds and for some of them speaking badly of a breed, or purebred dogs in general, is tantamount to insulting someone's religion.

Purebred dogs, esp. those that are bred by so called 'responsible' breeders for the breed ring, are seriously inbred and consequently can suffer terrible health & temperament problems. Epilepsy seems to be one of the most common diseases and plagues many breeds. Unfortunately even getting a mix doesn't guarantee a healthy dog because you can end up with the worse traits from two poorly bred purebreds, but in my mind you cut down on your chances of diseases common to certain breeds. The popularity of 'designer mixes' like Labradoodles (Lab + Poodle), Puggles (Pug + Beagle), BoJacks (Border Collie + Jack Russell Terrier) are more examples of humans playing mad scientist but at $1200 a pup they won't be going away any time soon (there are tons of mixes sitting in shelters at a fraction of this cost but they lack the trendy name). None of these is technically a breed and any halfwit can produce them but people are scooping them up nonetheless. And for the record, there is absolutely NO clinical proof that Labradoodles are hypoallergenic and in fact many of them are not.

There are also breeders out there breeding high drive versions of their chosen breed for agility and other dog sports. This is really a disaster because there are very few homes out there that want such a high energy, high maintenance dog so where do the unsold/returned pups end up? Do I need to spell it out? These dogs are awful pets for the average person and I speak from experience. Never mind the health and behavioral problems you start having when you start selecting for just one trait, like drive.

Now I know quite a few people who've bought designer agility dogs and they're very nice people, I don't mean to be dissing them or anyone else who chooses a purebred dog from a breeder. Personally I prefer mutts though Lola is possibly purebred and Strummer is for sure, no ifs and or buts about it. But I don't think I could ever support a breeder or spend that kind of money on a dog when there are so many great dogs sitting around in rescue. I can't control the mad scientists out there but I can try to be part of the solution.

One interesting thing to note, the article mentioned that humans 'tamed' dogs from wolves, an idea that is not so widely accepted anymore. Ray Coppinger, a Phd in Biology, and his wife Lorna (I forget her credentials at the moment) wrote a fascinating book on dog origins and the developments of the various types of dogs (herding, guarding, etc.) from a biologist's point of view. In short, he believes dogs are the result of natural selection. Wolves are typically shy of humans and the ones that were genetic anomolies hung close to human camps & villages, eating their leftover scraps & garbage. The less shy wolves started breeding amongst themselves, creating tamer and tamer versions that eventually led to dogs that humans could approach and take into their houses. Then humans started interfering, breeding for specific traits (behavioral and physical) creating the different dog breeds.

O.k., I'm done ranting. Not that I had much of a point other than that humanity sucks when it comes to the way they treat other species but, well, duh.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Set Your Goals

I'm finally feeling good enough about running to think about setting some race goals. Right now I can run almost 3 miles somewhat fairly comfortably and consistently. I'm thinking of shooting for the Canine Classic 5k at the Boulder Rez in April. I signed up for this last year and was taken out by my accident a week or two before so I thought it would be somewhat fitting. Also, it's become somewhat of a tradition for Lola & me to run it together. A 5k in April doesn't sound like such a lofty goal but I'm going to try to run it under 29:00 so I can get a qualifying time for a seeded wave in the Bolder Boulder 10k which I think might be my next goal race after that. I'm not really big on 5k's and I hate 10k's but I like doing the doggie races and every couple years I do the Bolder Boulder just because. Really what I'm shooting for is being able to do an Olympic distance tri by July/August and the running will be my limiting factor so having little goal races to keep me motivated will get me more organized and focused about my running. Maybe I'll even think about a fall half marathon but I'll just have to play that by ear.

Agility wise I really want to qualify for the USDAA Regionals which will be in Denver this year over July 4th weekend. This is very doable but I don't want to get too wound up about it and put too much pressure on the dogs. Even if we don't qualify for the tournament events we can still enter the regular classes and watch all the top handlers that will come from around the country to participate so I'm pretty excited about it one way or the other.

Strummer is finally settling in a bit though he's a handful. I think I'm suffering from some yet unnamed form of madness to take on a hyper 8 month old Border Collie as a third dog in the middle of winter. That said, I'm off to obedience class with him. Too bad he's smarter than me.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Gratuitous Puppy Pictures

No, I wasn't TRYING to take a picture of his butt. That's all that was left in the viewfinder by the time the shutter clicked. I'm still having trouble with my digital camera. Maybe if I actually bothered to read the manual... In my defense, 8 month old Border Collie puppies are not the most cooperative photo subjects.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

-4 degrees

It was -4 degrees this morning and my yard is full of snow. You know that tv show on Animal Planet-America's Funniest Animals' (or something like that) where people send in videos of their dogs chasing laser pens or their cats boxing w/ themselves in the mirror and they get $100? If I'd had the video camera out this a.m. and if they accepted multiple entries I could have made enough to retire. Or cover a nice extended stay at the mental institution of my choice, which is what I'm going to need if the temps. don't go up so I can take these crazed, hyper dogs out to really RUN.

I think Strummer really needs to live on a ranch w/ some sheep. Lola sez I ain't no steenkin' piece of mutton so quit trying to herd me and Cody will have none of his nonsense at all. I'm going to try to have him herd tested. Like I need another dog sport to aggravate myself with.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

No entries for a while, I've been busy with a new foster puppy we've named Strummer. He's an 8 month old smooth coated black & white Border Collie puppy and he has LOTS of energy. We got Lola when she was 8 weeks old and I must have mentally blocked the entire experience because I don't remember her being this crazy at 8 months. The BC rescue people are letting me foster him for up to a month to see if he gets along o.k. with the other dogs and to make sure we can handle 3 dogs. So far he's doing o.k. but occasionally he snaps at Cody or Lola when one of them have something he wants so we have to be careful about leaving toys lying around and doling out treats. The alarming thing is that he goes right for the face. I'm not sure if he's even making contact but I can't have him freaking out my dogs who already have fear issues. He also freaks out at other dogs when he's on leash and can't go up to greet them. He was a handful at obedience class and he only lasted a couple of minutes at the agility trial before I decided it was way over his head for now so he was exiled to the car. I'm willing to work through those issues if he can learn to be nice to my dogs. He's got a couple more weeks to settle in so we'll see how it goes.

The agility trial went great, we came home with 3 new titles and a huge stack of ribbons. Best of all, neither dog seemed stressed at all the entire weekend! Highlight of the weekend was that both dogs let me leadout for 3 jumps at the start line of the jumpers course, something I can't do if they're stressed out. Cody especially seemed to have his game face on and had one of his best trials ever. Lola and I had some communication problems, she missed quite a few weave pole entries and was stalling at the top of the A-frame but other than that did a great job.

It was a NADAC trial and Cody has his Elite (highest level) standard & jumpers titles so we're working on points toward his championship title (NATCH) in those classes. He picked up an Elite gamblers leg so only needs one more for his title. NADAC is constantly making sweeping rule changes which makes it a frustrating venue to compete in, esp. if you want a NATCH since the requirements are forever changing. As a result both dogs are way behind in the 'games' classes because I don't usually enter them all since I never imagined they would become a requirement for a NATCH. Cody finished up his Open (middle level) Tunnelers (course with only tunnels) title but has no points in Touch n Go (A-frame, teeter & dog walk plus tunnels) or Weavers (weave poles plus tunnels). I'm not sure I even want to pursue a NATCH with Cody since NADAC is starting to piss me off with their changes and I don't want to start over in Novice in those games classes. We may have our own private celebration if he gets all the points he needs according to the old pre-games requirements. Lola is younger so I'm planning on entering her in more of the games classes for now but if NADAC keeps this crap up I may just give it up altogether.

Lola finished up her Elite Jumpers title and picked up some standard points toward her NATCH and her first Elite Gamblers leg. She got her first Touch n Go leg and took third place in a huge Novice class of 33 dogs and finished up her Novice Tunnelers title, taking second place out of another huge class of 33. I don't think we had a single off course all weekend which must be a first. We had quite a few refusals though which is rare. She's finally starting to watch me more and is becoming unsure of herself and my cues. I need to make sure I don't move on to the next obstacle until she's committed to the current one. Before the trial I was working a little bit with precues, ie giving her a slight cue of what's to come while giving her a stronger cue for what she's meant to be doing first and it was hard for me to strike the balance just right and not confuse her. We just need more practice but that's easier to deal with than stress issues.

Overall, I was thrilled, esp. since they'd had a week of disruption due to the new pup and I couldn't practice all week for the same reason. I think those fun matches really made a difference. There's one this weekend that I'm going to try to get into.

Puppy training is going well too. Strummer already knew 'sit' when we got him and he's had one obedience class. We're working on eye contact/focus, down, leave it, and find it. He's so darn smart, he learns really quickly but he has the attention span of a fruit fly so it's exhausting trying to keep him interested for a whole hour in class. I've been keeping training sessions at home much shorter. I started working on recalls on a long line in the fields outside my work. We've been playing tug too which is good foundation work for agility. Now if only the little brat would learn some manners with my dogs.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Perfect Day

I was having trouble motivating myself on Friday despite the sunny 60 degree weather. I wasn’t feeling well and was tired from a hike the day before and agility practice in the morning. I somehow managed to force myself into a pair of bike shorts and haul my ass out to the Boulder Valley trail system, a network of novice level dirt trails near the Boulder Reservoir. I took my mp3 player for motivation, a first for me on the bike since I’m usually nervous about riding with one. But one of the glorious things about Boulder during the holidays is that noone is from here so it empties out and I knew the trails would be relatively quiet.

Biking’s been going o.k. for me but up until today I hadn’t been focusing on speed. It’s been enough to be able to just ride, especially on the trails & hills which had been hard for me up until a month or so ago. I’ve been doing a lot of one legged drills, ie pedalling with just my left leg and letting the right one sort of drag along. For a good while I could feel a huge strength discrepancy between the two legs but finally in the last week or so it felt like that left leg was finally catching up. Today I couldn’t feel any difference at all and was even able to dismount my bike on the left side to open all the cattle gates.

Even better though, I finally felt like I could speed things up a bit. Something about the combination of the music, sun, lack of pain and beautiful empty trails inspired some bursts of speed (well, relative to my normal pace anyway) as I tried to keep my cadence up with the beat of the music. It felt like when I first moved here and discovered the pure joy of riding on actual dirt trails, flying along with a stupid non-stop grin on my face and my tongue hanging out, prairie dogs flying out of my way and hawks swooping above, looking for lunch in the melee. Riding along I felt like just about the luckiest person in the world and took some time to give thanks for all I have (and of course feel bad/guilty for all the things many people in the world don’t have). Thanksgiving is a silly holiday to me, I’m always feeling thankful for being able to live and play in such an awesome place as well as everything else (great husband, job, dogs, etc.). Why restrict that kind of appreciation to one day a year?

The knowledge that winter’s coming and my days on the trails will soon come to an end makes those last few stolen rides of the season all the sweeter. There will be the occasional freakishly warm day but for the most part I’m resigned to the trainer for the next few months. I don’t mind running in the cold at all but biking is another story. I did some rides in miserable weather (14 degrees, light snow, etc.) as part of a duathlon race series last year but they weren’t pleasant and I’m not sure I’ll do them this year. It makes more sense to stick to snowshoeing and cross country skiing when the snow starts flying rather than be miserable on the bike.

Here’s the set list from my ride:

SUGAR-‘If I Can’t Change Your Mind’
THE CLASH-‘Train in Vain’
COOLIO-‘Gangsta’s Paradise’
GOLDFINGER-‘Here in Your Bedroom’
HOKU-‘Perfect Day’
ALKALINE TRIO-‘This Could Be Love’
AUTOPILOT OFF-‘Missing the Innocence’
THE METHADONES-‘Premature Mid-Life Crisis’
U2-‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS-‘Doesn’t Make It Alright’
ALKALINE TRIO-‘Time to Waste’
TV SMITH-‘High Society’
THE POSIES-‘O-o-h Child’
THE METHADONES-‘Say Goodbye to Your Generation’
THE METHADONES-‘Suddenly Cool’
ALKALINE TRIO-‘We’ve Had Enough’
ALKALINE TRIO-‘Back to Hell’
ALKALINE TRIO-‘Continental’

And speaking of music, I went to see ‘Walk the Line’ last night and it was great, I was grooving from start to finish. My mom used to play Johnny Cash for me when I was really little and I loved it though I have to admit that growing up I never followed his music much. I remedied that last night by downloading a bunch of his stuff, including a classic cover of NINE INCH NAIL’s ‘Hurt’ and DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Personal Jesus’. Time to freshen up the mp3 player for my next ride, even if it is on the trainer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Masters workout, Tues. Nov. 22, 2005

Warm up: 500 yards mix of free, non-free & kicking
Warm up set: 150 yards
25 yards x 4
Repeat 4 times
First and last 150 are all freestyle
Second 150 is 50 back, 50 free, 50 back
Third 150 is 50 breast, 50 free, 50 breast
Intervals are: 3:10, 3:20, 3:30 and 3:00 for the 150's
All the 25's are on 30 secs.

12 x 25 yards on 30 sec's as follows:
back kick, free kick, back swim, free swim
repeat 3 times, use fins

Main Set:
75 on 1:25
50 on :55
25 on :25
50 on 1:20 (recovery)

Repeat 4 times

Grand Finale:
5x100 yds pull on 1:50

3100 yards, 1 1/4 hours

It feels great to finally be getting some speed back in the pool. Still a ways to go but I can feel things getting easier and faster.

One of my long time lane mates was back after shoulder surgery. He was only kicking for now but I totally understood how he wanted to get back into things and come to the workout. He kept up pretty well considering how hard it must have been to kick for all those laps, even with fins.

Weekly Wrap Up

Tri training:
Totals for last week:
Walking: 2 1/2 miles
Running: 9 1/2 miles
Swimming: 4875 yards

No biking, didn't manage to fit it in.

Went for my longest run yet on Sunday with Lola, a 3 1/4 mile out and back on some nice trails and I added on about 1/2 mile to throw out some dog poop. I probably walked around 3/4 mile and ran 3 miles. Then right after that I went to agility practice at an agility friend's field which is on a pretty good slope. Lots of walking back & forth to the car to switch dogs between exercises and sprinting uphill. I was trashed when I got home then had to go to a friend's birthday party (it was fun but I hate going out on Sunday nights).

My right knee has been doing a wierd popping thing for the last couple of months. It feels like it's popping out of place and is worse on some days, barely noticeable on others. I'm trying to have 1-2 days in between runs but it's hard with needing to exercise the dogs. On rest days I take them to the dog park to chase tennis balls but I want them doing some lower impact trotting too which is what they do when they run with me. It doesn't exactly hurt but it does feel alarming, like the knee's not tracking at all correctly.

Wish I'd been keeping better track of this during the week. Sunday's practice at my friend's field was great, both dogs kept their focus and enthusiasm despite being in a strange place (they've only been there once before, last spring) with strange dogs and people, one of which Lola doesn't like. This was the best part for me because it means there's hope they're getting over their stress issues with being in strange places and might start being more consistent at trials. I also love to see them having fun because that's really the point of it all.

Highlights (other than above):

Perfect contacts (both dogs)

Tight turns on the jumping exercises which were very tight courses (both dogs, yay Cody!)

Cody didn't stress at all when an Aussie got loose from his owner and started chasing Cody while he was doing a jump sequence. I stepped in and shooed the Aussie away but it took a while and Cody didn't react at all then went on to continue the exercise like nothing happened. It's taken me SO long and so much work to get him to this point. He used to hate any dog anywhere near him.

Room for Improvement:

Weave entries (both dogs) Lola used to be so perfect with her entries and now she's started blasting past the poles and entering at the 3-5th pole. Cody always needs work on this but he was doing better than Lola.

Traps, esp. with the A-frame (both dogs but esp. Lola/A-frame)
Lola sucks to the A-frame anyway so if the course has her heading straight for it and I need to turn her away from it it almost always turns into a call off which is very demotivating. We worked on this a little yesterday. I set up 2 jumps in front of the A-frame then a 3rd jump to the left and perpendicular so she had to turn left away from the A-frame right in front of her to do the jump. It only took one or two tries and I had to stop and treat her right away at the turn the first time she got it right but then she followed me like a pro. We'll definitely need a lot more work though.

My timing is getting better but still needs work. One of my big problems right now is underestimating the dogs' commitment points and giving them the next cue or pulling myself away from the obstacle before they're committed to doing it. Or giving a quick, incomplete cue assuming they know what to do because it seems obvious that they'll do it. I need to keep my eyes on the dogs more and make sure they're committed to the right obstacle before I move on.

I'm getting excited about our next trial coming up in two weeks. I'm curious to see if the dogs will stay unstressed, motivated and focused.

Still feeling a bit sad about Kaylynn but I guess on the plus side it will mean more time for Lola & Cody. The USDAA Regionals are going to be in Denver this summer and it would be fun to qualify for the tournament events. If you win your class in the Grand Prix at a regional you automatically get into the finals at Nationals. Not that I have any hope of winning my class, but it means that some of the best handlers in the country will be in town trying to get those coveted spots so I get to see some awesome dogs & handlers and it would be so fun to compete on the same course.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Good News/Bad News

Well, the good news is that Shepler/Buddy is no longer on the humane society's website so hopefully he found a new home.

The bad news is that Kaylynn did not get along well with Cody & Lola. She and Lola especially didn't care for each other. They both have the same fearful/pushy temperament and I think this will be a bad combination. The foster mom didn't exactly talk me out of it but she said she thought it wasn't the best of all possible matches. She said it was possible the best I could hope for was that they'd all just ignore each other and one would leave the room when the other one came in. My house is just too small and my time too limited for these kinds of doggie politics.

I was heartbroken leaving her there, she's such a sweet, awesome little dog, perfect for agility. Jonny adored her too. I'm sure I'll be fighting back the tears when I go to take the empty crate out of the car later. I was really looking forward to training a new dog too! But deep down I think it's for the best.

As for tri training:

Thurs.-2200 yards at master's
Friday-2 1/2 mile run/1/2 mile walk
Sat.-Rest day. My left hip hurts from the 4 hours of driving and my right knee is playing up with the cold weather. I sound like such an old lady.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Panic Attack #789573674

I woke up at 4 am Monday having a full blown panic attack about how I was going to manage 3 high energy, too smart dogs. Never got back to sleep but by the light of day I decided I was being silly and that having a new dog to train would be fun. I'll work it all out right? Right?!!! I go down to Co. Springs area on Sat. morning to see if my dogs will get along with Courtney, aka Kaylin. Supposedly the rescue people renamed her Courtney but nobody including the foster mom is calling her that and they all call her by her original name, Kaylin. Had a good long talk with the foster mom once the rescue people cleared me to adopt her and it seems Kaylin's very people oriented but bossy with the other dogs (the foster mom has 10 of her own!). I'm not sure how Lola, who is the epitome of a bossy female, will take to this little girl. Lola's much bigger so hopefully Kaylin will let her be boss. Having two warring females in one house is about the worse thing you can have. I'm guessing Cody will be o.k. with her, he's already used to being bossed around by Lola.

Unfortunately Shepler was returned to the shelter the day after he was adopted. Supposedly he bit his new family's resident dog. It's going to be hard for him to find a home with that on his record. Poor guy, the shelter environment does not agree with him. I went to see him and he looked like a totally different dog, barely even looked at me at first when I went up to his run. I talked to him a bit and eventually got his tail wagging but the poor guy did not seem happy. They've renamed him Buddy and have him listed as a 'Goofball' under their temperament rating system but so far no luck finding him a new home.

I ran way too many days last week and was sore and gimping around by the weekend. Sat on my butt all day Sunday to rest and feel much better this week. Training so far this week:

Mon.-2 1/2 miles run/1/2 mile walk with dogs in the a.m., circuit training class in the pm

Tues.-Master's swim practice-2675 yards, I was trashed, wasn't sure how I was going to drive home but I made it.

Weds.-1 1/2 mile run, 1/2 mile walk in the a.m. with the dogs, 20 mins. circuit training (lunges, squats, push ups, sit ups) in the pm. Not very long but at least I forced myself to do something on my own in the strength training department.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I Triple Dog Dare You

Well, thankfully Shepler got adopted on Sunday and not by me (phew!). However, last Thursday I made the mistake of going down to see a Border Collie being rescued by a woman who runs Rocky Mountain Border Collie Rescue. She works in my office building and I avoid her like the plague but every once in a while my coworkers manage to lure me down there to check out a dog. I finally got suckered in by a sweet little BC named Courtney and sent in my adoption application last night. (And BTW, I think it would be easier adopting a kid, that application was LONG).

She was turned in to Denver Dumb Friends League who were going to put her down immediately because she was jumping her family's 6 foot fence. BC rescue stepped in and now hopefully she'll find a nice home. Her former owners were a family with 3 kids and they had no time for her (duh! Why oh why do these type of people get Border Collies? Just how clueless do you have to be?). Anyway, she's in a town 2 hours away just now being fostered by an agilty instructor for 2 weeks and the instructor will teach her some basic obedience and work on her socialization. She'll also be able to get a good idea about her temperament and possible issues. Now I just have to hope she doesn't adopt her out to one of her students and that Princess Lola will accept her.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Muffin Dog

Here's a picture of the big doofy lab I found last week. He's finally up for adoption at the Boulder Humane Society. I like how they strategically took his picture so you can't see how huge he is. They named him Shepler, I have no idea why. I'm sure someone will snatch him up, he's such a goof.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Alabama Ass Whuppin', Part Deux

I found out the Drive By Truckers are playing in Boulder at the awesome Fox Theater on Dec. 29, 30 and 31st. I'm ruling out New Year's Eve since I suspect the band will be drunk off their ass longer than normal before they take to the stage so the next question is do I go both of the other nights? Anybody ever seen 'em live? I'm pretty excited one way or the other but I'm easily amused these days.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tuesday Masters Workout

Here's tonight's masters workout:

Warm up
150 yards free & non-free

Warm up set
400 yards free
100 yds non-free
200 yds pull, alternate breathe
100 yards kick (I cheated & used fins)

3rd person rest after each change

6x50 on 1:20 as follows:
25 fly/25 back
25 back/25 breast
25 breast/25 free
repeat for 6 total

Freestyle drills:
We put a big rubber band around our ankles to work on our catch. The idea is that you have to start your catch as soon as you put your hand in the water and have a high turnover rate to keep your back end from dragging you down. Also helps you work on pushing down on your chest to keep your back end up. I was panicky at first with my legs dragging me down but soon got used to it.

100 yards free then
5x50 as follows:
2 50's were 25 breast stroke arms only, 25 free with band
3 50's were 25 breast stroke/25 free with no band

Main Set:
25 back on 40
100 free on 2:10
75 free alt. breathe on 1:30
25 free breathe to off side on 40

Repeat 4 times

Total: 2600 yards, 1 1/4 hours

This was my first complete masters workout since my accident and it felt great!

Finally some good runs

I had a grand total of one trick or treater last night despite the balmy weather. Why oh why did I buy candy that I like? Hopefully Jonny will scarf it down quickly before I get my paws into it.

Tri training
Running last week was much improved. Wednesday I FINALLY had a 1 1/2 mile run that felt like a real run and not a painful death hobble. I ran on Friday and Sunday and both those runs went well too. I think I may finally be nearing full recovery.

I only swam once last week, master's on Tuesday. I blew off Thursday's practice because I was too tired. The one workout went well though, I stayed until the end for the first time but I came a bit late and missed the first 450 yards so I still can't say I've endured a full master's workout yet.

I did a couple of mountain bike rides during my lunch hour on the rather tame Teller Farm/White Rocks trail. Definitely a novice level trail but hilly and fun. I'm going to stay off any hard trails until next spring. No point pushing it at this stage in the season.

Monday, Oct. 31
1 3/4 mile run &1 1/4 mile walk with both dogs 'round Wonderland Lake in the a.m. It was nice to be out in the daylight. This was an increase of almost a mile for me but only 1/4 mile increase of running. Everything felt fine and no hobbling afterwards-yeeha!

Circuit training class in the p.m., 40 mins. or so. I increased some of the weights and today I'm SORE.

Dog Agility
I didn't practice at all during the week. The weather was so nice that I decided to focus on biking and give the dogs a break until it cools down again. On Sunday I went to a fun match up at Power Pups in Windsor again. This time there were only about 6 of us there, probably because they'd had a match on Sat. as well and there was another match down near Denver. It was mostly people from my regular training place and they were practicing for USDAA Nationals next week. The course was a USDAA Grand Prix course so there was no table.

The dogs' behavior at the place was terrible, they were barking and whining the second I put them in their crates which is unusual for Lola but typical for Cody. I think the cloudy, cool weather had them all wound up. However they were both great on course, absolutely no signs of stress at all even with me leading out a bit at the start line! I was so thrilled. I made some handling mistakes and sent them off course but all mistakes were mine and they were focused and listening perfectly. And they were having a blast too! I have it all on tape too so I know I'm being objective. My handling, esp. my timing, needs yet more work and Cody is still doing some big loopy turns when I'm too late with my cues but we did have some tight turns as well so I know we can do it. Both dogs had perfect contacts and weaves, though Cody looked a bit hesitant toward the end of the weaves on the second round. Could have been because he was tired/sore or because I was tired and not encouraging him through.

Overall the dogs did great and I'm really pleased with the increase in their confidence.

Monday, Oct. 31
Took Lola to Biscuit Eaters at lunchtime to practice on a Grand Prix course left over from weekend run thru's. She was great again, no stress issues, no running off to chase bunnies, great contacts except for a small almost flyoff on the teeter. We need to work on that a bit, that's my fault because I've been letting her get off with it so she thinks it's o.k. I was having some trouble with handling again though. I think I 'm going to schedule a lesson with one of the Biscuit Eaters teachers so I can have a little tune up. Sometimes it helps to have someone watch you and telly you exactly what you're doing wrong.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

What Was I Thinking?

Going to Target at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, 2 days before Halloween was not my brightest move ever. In my defense, I was out running another errand and was trying to save gas/pollution by making a quick stop to get some shampoo & soap since I was passing by anyway. I had no idea the consumer frenzy surrounding Halloween has reached such a fever pitch though the mayhem in the parking lot should have been some clue and I should have put 2 and 2 together and kept right on driving. The most disturbing aspect of the whole experience, aside from the shoppers' frantic feeding frenzy of useless crap, was the amount of guys in the panty hose aisle and how discriminating they were in choosing their stockings.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Guilt Trip #780392838

I decided to hit some trails near my work for a lunch time ride yesterday since the weather's been so fantabulous lately (60-70's, sunny). While bending over to put on my shoes I suddenly found myself face to face with an enormous brown head, foaming at the mouth. Oh no, I'm being attacked by Cujo!-not. It was an enormous, blubbery chocolate lab, more like a huge chocolate muffin with legs and a frantically wagging tail who was simultaneously trying to slime me with his slobbery, frothing mouth and jump into my car. At first I was just annoyed and ignored him. It's an off leash trail and people often let their dogs run loose in the parking lot while they get ready which drives me crazy. However I soon realize noone else is in the parking lot and there's a certain franticness to the way the dog is seeking my attention. I manage to get my bike out without him getting in my car (he's so fat that he can't quite get by me but that's the only thing stopping him) and start on my ride with muffindog in tow. He's following my wheel like he's been my dog for life. Horses right up next to one side of the trail, a prarie dog town on the other with plenty of chirping residents teasing him and all he wants to do is stay with me. I'm flabbergasted, neither of my dogs despite all their training would do this, esp. Lola who would be off like a shot, barking her head off at the horses and chasing the prairie dogs. I'm worried though because he's so overweight and he'd obviously been running before he found me, I don't want the poor guy to overheat or have a coronary. While trying to remember my canine CPR class that I took from the Red Cross, I pick up the pace to try to lose him-and I can't! I'm so out of condition that I can't outpedal an overweight dog. Finally I hit a downhill stretch and blubber boy just can't keep up. Phew! Then the guilt sets in. I feel terrible but what can I do? I have my bike in the car, where could I put the dog? But more selfishly, I don't want to sacrifice my ride. I missed riding yesterday due to work obligations and I've been itching to get out on my bike all week. How many more nice days will I have? Surely someone else on this busy trail will pick him up.

I make try some steep hills for the first time since my accident and I manage them no problem. Part of me is really happy and part of me feels like a heel. Poor dog, he needs water at the very least. What will happen to him? I see a beautiful great blue heron take flight right near me, his wingspan is unbelievable and he's such a bright shade of blue in the sunlight, he looks unreal. But it's only a minor distraction from my guilt. Finally I decide I've had enough and turn around.

And waiting for me right where I lost him on the way out is muffindog. He looks lost and confused but when he sees me he wags his whole body for joy and he's right back on my wheel again. Obviously he can smell a sucker a mile away. I slow down a bit so he doesn't have to run so fast but I'm kind of in a hurry to get back to work. He manages to make it back to the parking lot without any major medical incidents and I dig around the car for a stray water bottle. I didn't have any fresh water with me since my ride was so short and my mtn. bike doesn't have bottle holders but I found an old bottle (weeks, months, who knows?) about 1/3 full of water and I give it to him in a spare dog dish. He's so thirsty he practically inhales it. That's it, I can't leave him out here, so I manage to find some bungees to secure my bike and make room for muffinman.

I take him to the shelter just in case he really is legitimately lost and not dumped though in my heart of hearts I know he's been dumped. The shelter staff ask me if I want to be notified if noone claims him, I can have first dibs at adopting him. I blurt out a hurried no because I think Jonny will have an immediate aneurism if we take in such a huge dog on top of the big, strong, high maintenance, high strung dogs we already have. However when I tell him the story he immediately tells me I should have told them yes. So now I'm faced with the prospect of a third dog who's got a wonderful temperament and would be a great companion but also a huge burden on top of the dogs we already have. Picking up poop from this dog alone would be bad enough let alone 2 more. I can barely manage 2 at once on a walk and this dog needs months of conditioning and weight loss before he can go running with us. Nonetheless the first thought I had when I woke up this morning was possible ways to fit 3 crates in the car and I'm on the verge of calling the shelter to tell them I'll take first dibs on him. He's such a great guy, I'm sure someone will snatch him up but I really liked having a no maintenance dog that immediately bonded with me and wanted nothing more than to follow me down the trail on a beautiful sunny afternoon, even if it was only for a few minutes.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A New Low

You know you've reached a disturbing place in your dog training obsession when you're out for a nice bike ride on a Sunday afternoon, spot a dead squirrel in the road and think, ' Wow, that little guy's in mint condition, no blood, not flattened, o.k. he's got an eyeball hanging out but otherwise the perfect reward for Lola during agility training. If I lash him to my backpack can I make it home without barfing and do I know anyone who can competently gut and clean a squirrel?' Then you spend the next 20 minutes debating whether you should have him stuffed or just use the skin. And the worse part is that you finally do realize that you've lost all grips on the real world and put the idea out of your head but by the time you turn around and pass the squirrel on the way home you're eyeing him up again.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Wrap it up, I'll take it

Lots of training this week on both the tri and agility fronts, so much in fact that I haven't been able to keep up with logging it.

Tri Training

Running is still going poorly so I cut down on it this week. Somehow though between Monday morning and Tuesday night I managed to squeeze in 5 workouts on top of the agility training.

1 1/2 mile run 1/2 mile walk in the a.m. with both dogs.
Bike ride at lunch time on the Teller Farm trail (about 40-45 minutes)
Circuit training class (first one)

2 mile walk around Wonderland Lake in the a.m. with both dogs.
Masters practice in the p.m. I managed almost the entire class with the exception of a final 100 yard kick. I was tired and don't like kicking anyway. Total yardage was around 2000-2100, time was 1:10 hours. We did some more butterfly drills but these weren't as helpful as last practice. I was able to keep up with the intervals though I had to pull (no paddles) on some of the sets to keep up but that's o.k. for now. I was pretty sore in the shoulders from the circuit training.

1 mile walk with both dogs. It was raining so I made it quick.

2 mile walk with a tiny bit of jogging around Wonderland Lake with both dogs in the a.m.
Masters in the pm. I only managed 45 minutes, approx. 1800-1900 yards because my back started hurting. This is from using my mouse at a bad angle at work. I'll have to get a new tray for my keyboard since my current one is broken and that's what's causing the problem.

1 mile run, 1 mile walk with Lola only in the a.m. (Wond. Lake again, yes I'm in a rut but it's such a beautiful trail. The deer were out again this morning)


Went to a fun match at Power Pups training center in Windsor last Sat. and had a great time all the way around. Fun matches, unlike trials, allow you to bring toys and treats into the ring so it's a wonderful training opportunity. On top of it, a guy who videotapes people's runs at trails (for a fee of course) was there to tape the runs and there was some kind of fancy software called Dartfish that he was using as well. It does a few things and I chose the option of having my runs side by side on one screen. I still haven't gotten my DVD yet and I'm interested in seeing how it'll turn out. All this taping and the facility were donated since all proceeds from the match went to a local group dealing with Katrina rescues animals. It was a bargain too, $20 for 3 runs which is good even without the taping. The facility was beautiful too, outdoors on grass, lots of room to crate and warm up and beautiful views of the Divide.

There were novice and masters (hardest level) courses to choose from and we went with the masters course. As luck would have it it started out with 3 jumps then a wrap to the teeter so we got to practice the moves we were working on last week in a sort of trial situation. Cody did great, not as tight of a wrap as he's capable of but much tighter than he'd done in his last trial where there was a wrap. In fact both Cody's runs (I opted to do only 2) were fantastic. He was a bit stressed at the start line as usual but once he realized he was getting treats he perked right up. I need to do more fun matches with him so I can reward that start line and try to destress it for him. Both runs were very focused, no missed contacts, one off course in the first run that was my fault and the second run was perfect. It'll be interesting to see the DVD to see if it looked as good as it felt. I ran into an agility friend who was at the match while on my bike ride on Tues. and she said Cody looked wonderful so I think he did as well as I thought.

Lola was still a bit stressed but she had only a few distracted moments, one at the wrap on the first run and again at the table on her second run but otherwise she was perfect, nice and focused no missed contacts, one off course at the same place I sent Cody off, again my fault. I was really pleased with both dogs.

I took Lola to Biscuit Eaters at lunch time. It was pretty warm, near 80 and sunny, so she really wasn't too keen. She ran off at first to look for bunnies along the fence line and it took me way too long to get her back interested in me. Joy (who teaches at B.E.) was setting up a course but she wasn't done yet so we just went over the dog walk and A-frame once (perfect contacts) and did some serpentines/threadles which Lola like and is very good at. I wanted to work more on her enthusiasm rather than skills since she wasn't into it at first. I got her barking and happy after a few serpentines/threadles and then we left.

Cody only at B.E. at lunch and after work. At lunch time I finally got to try to course Joy set up yesterday. It was tight and trappy so I was eager to see how Cody would do. I walked the course a few times, he ran it perfectly the first time through (with a few stops for rewards) and I ended the session while he was still excited and ready to do more.

We went back on the way home and ran the course again. This time he was a little more distracted since it was dusk and the bunnies were EVERYWHERE. But he still did a good job despite the distractions. We stopped after the one run.

I've yet to take Lola to agilty but we were working on heeling/not pulling on lead at lunch time. I'm teaching her to target (touch) my hand with her nose while in heel position. She seemed pretty excited by this game so I'm going to keep at it. We were doing this on our walk this a.m. too and she seemed to like it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Some Actual Training

I've finally recovered from being sick and the agility trial. Those stupid trials wipe me out for 3-4 days afterwards, esp. the ones that require me waking up at 4:30 a.m.

Tri Training

3/4 mile walk with Cody in the a.m.
1350 yards, 45 minutes swimming at masters (N. Bldr. Rec.) in the p.m. I didn't record the details of the workout, it didn't go well anyway. I couldn't keep up with the assigned intervals and had to improvise. Swimming always suffers the worst when I miss workouts.

1 3/4 - 2 mile run with Lola in the a.m.. My regular trail was too muddy so I had to make up a new route and I'm not sure of the mileage. The snow on the top of the mountains was magical. The pain I was in was not. Running is not coming along very well these days. I think it's because of the cold weather in the mornings. In any case I'm not seeing any improvement and feel like things are getting worse. I've not been writing too much about it because I don't want my blog to turn into a big oh woe is me bitchfest but it's effecting my training so I want to make some mention of it so I can keep track.

1 1/2 mile run in the a.m. around Wonderland Lake with both dogs. Surprisingly they behaved fairly well except for an outburst at a deer. Run was not great.

1 1/2 mile run in the a.m. around Wonderland Lake with Cody. Didn't go well, hobbling around for a few hours afterwards.

2050 yards swimming at masters (S. Bldr. Rec., Jane coaching)
This workout went much better than Monday's, primarily because we did a lot of drills so I had a lot of time to rest and recover in between sets. I was able to keep up with the intervals anyway. At the end of the butterfly drills I could really feel an improvement but my butterfly is so atrocious that just about anything is an improvement. I wasn't having as much luck with the freestyle drills. We were working on not letting the leading arm sink and having a quick powerful catch which is the main problem with my stroke so it was good to work on it but I didn't have much improvement.
150 yards warm up on my own
Warm Up Set:
200 yards freestyle as follows:
50 yards breathing every 5th stroke, 50 yards breathing every 3rd stroke, 50 yards breathing to the off side, 50 yards breathing a lot
then 50 yards non-free
then 50 yards kick
Do this set twice straight through, no rest

4x75 yards on 1:30

Then we did a bunch of free style and butterfly drills, around 400 yards total

4x150 yards on 2:45, pulling w/ paddles

Cody only, Wednesday, lunch time, Biscuit Eaters, sunny & 50's
This was an excellent practice all the way around. There was a course set up already, probably from a class, so I decided to give it a go. There were some tight turns with traps which is exactly the thing I need to work on with Cody. I had some treats in my hand and everytime he made a nice turn avoiding a trap I stopped, made a big fuss and gave him a treat. This worked out to be every 3-4 obstacles and he managed to get around the whole course perfectly so he got a lot of treats and was really excited. At the end I tossed his tennis ball for him and let him play for a bit. After a little rest I took the clicker in one hand and treats in another and ran around the field calling 'here'. Every time he came to my hand I clicked and gave him a treat. We ran around the whole field with him glued to my side and he didn't take a single obstacle unless I told him to. He was really excited about this game too. Then I set him up in front of a jump, sent him over and called 'here' while turning my shoulders the direction I wanted him to go and pointing my hand nearest to him. I had treats in this hand and the clicker in the other. When he turned towards me I clicked and he ran over to get his treat. The point was to get him to wrap the jump tightly. I have no idea if this is the best way to teach wraps but it seemed to be working and I was getting some tight turns though not as tight as I'd eventually like to see. It's going to take some time but I'm sure had can do it. Eventually I'll add in more jumps and see if I can get a tight turn when he's going full bore but we need to work up to that. First he needs to learn to respond to the 'here' cue and the turning of my shoulders. He does respond to this now, just not as quickly and tightly as I'd like and we get lots of off courses.

Some other good things from the session-a perfect 2 on/2 off on the A-frame and beautiful weave pole entries (2 sets of 6 poles split up on the course).

I stopped the session while he was still really excited. I was so pleased that he was paying attention the whole time and didn't shut down or look stressed once.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

15 years

First off, thanks for all the kind words about my dogs.

Today is my 15th wedding anniversary and I'm pretty freaked out by the idea of it. Getting married was never a huge part of my life's master plan, I figured maybe when I'm in my mid-30's and my life is practically over anyway I might think about it. But life doesn't always follow the master plan and I got married at 26. My wedding day was hilarious. We had some house guests from England and we got up on a Thursday morning and said to them, we're off to get married, would you like to come? They were a bit shocked but decided to go with the flow and came along. During the ceremony Jonny started laughing almost immediately and initially I was mad at him for being so childish then after about 7-8 minutes when the judge got to the part about 'not entering into marriage lightly' I got a full on case of the giggles and the two of us were in tears of laughter by the end of the ceremony. We apologized to the judge and she said our reaction was surprisingly common however I've NEVER been to a wedding where the bride and groom burst out laughing so I think she was humoring us. It was a bit of an untraditional start but 15 years later I'm just as happy as I was back then so I guess all worked out o.k.

As a somewhat bizarre coincidence I accidentally clicked on a link for an old interview (here's the link: with an old friend of mine from Chicago, Guy Aitchison. I had looked him up to post a link to his tattoo studio in a Taper Madness thread a couple of days ago and by some weird twist of fate I accidentally clicked on the search again today and found the interview. It had to do with the death of his girlfriend who choked to death on phlegm after taking heroin. She died on Oct. 9, 2000 (the interview says 2002 but that's wrong), two days before my wedding and just a few days after I'd left Chicago and moved to Boulder. Because she was turning into a poet/writer of note and her death occured after a party at Al Jourgenson's (singer for the band 'Ministry') apartment there were articles plastered all over the underground Chicago press and there was even an article about her in the Chicago Tribune. I still have the stack of clippings people sent to me. I met her a couple of times but never really knew her except for what she meant to Guy who spent a good hour one night in a bar going on about her to me right after he'd met her. I felt terrible for Guy at the time and if you read the interview you get a sense of how much she'd meant to him. I always respected him for not pointing fingers and blaming people, esp. since Al Jourgenson's a first class asshole and it would have been easy to string him up (and many people did anyway, even though it really didn't seem to have been his fault). It's probably only of interest to me since I knew them but maybe some would find it interesting. The weird thing was finding the interview right on my wedding anniversary, two days after the anniversary of her death. It was strange but somehow comforting reading that article and remembering my life from back then.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More Agility Photos

Here are some more photos. Sorry for the crappy layout, I'm having a bit of trouble dealing with the way blogger lays out photos. Sometimes it comes out fine but sometimes, as you can see, things don't work out quite as planned. I'm not sure why they're so dark, either. I spent some time last night making them lighter. Maybe it's just my monitor here at work that makes them look darker.

One interesting point, Lola is really overjumping the bars. I'd move her up to the 26" jump class in USDAA (she's in 22" just now) but I don't want her on the super high A-frame. And in NADAC she's S.O.L. since the highest any dog can go is 20" (don't even get me started). The only thing to do is work on her jumping skills.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Agility Photos

Here's some photos from the trial this weekend. Click on them for a bigger image. I have some more that I have to scan in, hopefully I'll get to it tonight.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Trials and Tribulations

The trial this weekend went pretty well, could have gone better but could have gone much worse and was a big improvement over last trial. Cody had a brilliant day on Saturday, only one Q (a beautiful, first place run in his standard class) but he was focused and really excited to be out there working with me. Sunday he was a bit flaky but still managed 2 Q's out of three classes, both good enough for second place. I was extremely pleased with him.

Lola didn't fair quite as well but was better than last trial. She had a very off day on Saturday but improved on Sunday, earning a Q, first place and her advanced title in her Jumpers class, the very last class of the day. So she's on to the masters ring in jumpers next trial, yikes!

Lola did have a good time at the trial in general. There was a lake there so I let her chase her ball in the water a lot and she loved that. She also got some head rubs and snuggling from agility great Olga Chaiko who isn't from around here but was at the trial nonetheless. She's an excellent competitor having won ESPN's Great Outdoor Games for several years and is almost always in contention at the various National agility championships. As it turns out she's a really nice person too and made a big fuss over Lola. She even asked me where she was from and I laughed and told her 'the shelter'.

The following are my detailed notes from the trial and will probably be very boring to the non-agility folks (and maybe even the agility folks). They're meant mainly for me so I can remember what went right/wrong and what we need to work on. However, I typed them out so I figure I'll make them public in case anyone is truly interested. I have some pictures I'll post later.

USDAA Trial, ACAT, Fountain Creek Regional Park, Fountain (Co. Springs), CO

Saturday, October 3, 2005
Sunny, hot, mid to upper 80’s, little to no cloud cover

Cody had an awesome day! He was very focused and excited all day, no stress issues at all except for being in his crate and having to wait his turn while I ran Lola.

Master Gamblers:
The opening went as planned. He missed an up contact on the dog walk because I called him to me coming out of a tunnel to avoid a jump but he came to close to me before I sent him back to the dogwalk. This caused him to approach too much from the side and he missed the contact. Otherwise he had beautiful dogwalk and A-frame contacts. We didn’t attempt the weaves. The gamble was too difficult so we didn’t get it. He had too wide of a turn on a jump that he needed to wrap tightly so that didn’t help.

Advanced Standard:
He had a flawless standard run-fast yet controlled, enthusiastic, focused and CLEAN! He didn’t go straight into a down on the table which was strange since he hasn’t been having table problems recently but that was the only place for improvement. Weaves and contacts were all perfect. He was great at the start line and let me lead out 2 jumps with no signs of stress. He even got first place on top of a Q, doesn’t get much better than that.

Grand Prix:
Another lovely run. I had a handling problem that combined with his big jumping style sent him into a wrong course tunnel but otherwise I think the run was clean. Again, perfect contacts and weaves. He had some big wide turns and run outs in a couple of places so that’s something we need to work on. That’s always been a problem for us and I think I need to start focusing on that.

Lola was another story. She was definitely having an off day and might have not been feeling well. Her poop was runny first thing in the morning so she was either stressed out right from the start or not feeling well or both. I think she wasn’t thrilled about being woken up at 4:30 a.m. either. She steadily improved throughout the day though.

Advanced Gamblers:
She was focused and not stressed at the start line but it all soon went to crazy. There was barking and leaping off contacts and basically running around not paying too much attention to me at all. She even popped out of her weave poles with about 4 poles left which she NEVER does. It was pure stressed out running amok. Funny thing is, she did the gamble no problem. Unfortunately because she was running so wild beforehand we weren’t in a good position to do the gamble when the buzzer went so we missed time by about a second or so and didn’t get credit for it. This is just as well because it would have been her title and we would have had to move up to masters next trial and I don’t feel she’s ready for that.

Advanced Standard:
She settled down a bit for her standard run but still seemed a bit rattled. She set up at the start line no problem and let me lead out 2 jumps but when I cued a turn after the 2 jumps she ignored me and ran right behind me to take the off course A-frame. This is her obstacle of choice when she’s stressed out. Good thing is she got her contact all 3 times she ended up doing the frame. I did manage to get her back on course and things went o.k. She ran past the table instead of going right on it then when I got her on she went right down but popped up too soon. Rather than make an issue of it I decided to keep going. The rest of the run wasn’t bad and she managed to focus back on me a bit .

Grand Prix:
This went even better though I made the same handling mistake with her that I made with Cody and sent her into the same off course tunnel. She also ran past an obstacle that was right in front of her because I was rattled and unclear and she wasn’t paying attention. Otherwise it was a pretty nice run on a tricky course.

Sunday, October 3, 2005
Sunny, hot, mid to upper 80’s, little to no cloud cover

Today felt even hotter than yesterday.

Cody had a better day yesterday but still put in a good showing. He had some big loopy turns and moments of distraction but he managed Q’s in 2/3 classes and had a beautiful jumpers run despite a bumpy start. I did a really bad thing with his crate though, he was crying in there as per usual so I ignored him and walked away which usually causes him to stop his annoying high pitched barking. It turns out that his crate pad was soaked right through with water and he’s a big priss about things like that. He refused to lie down on it and must have been very uncomfortable all day. I didn’t realize it was soaked until I packed up for the day, picked it up and streams of water ran down onto my feet. Poor guy, I felt terrible and this certainly didn’t help his dislike of being in his crate.

Advanced Standard:
He was a bit distracted, had a wide loopy turn and almost left the ring. I got him back on course but his heart wasn’t in it. He popped out of the weaves and I didn’t redo them, earning us an E (elimination). He leapt his A-frame contact which is another sign of stress. He was in the zone, but the leaping is a bad thing. By the end of the course I had him settled a bit and he stuck the dogwalk contact nicely. Not a terrible run but not stellar.

Advanced Snooker:
The snooker course was fun, a series of 3 tunnels in a circle formed the 7 point obstacle with the 3 reds arranged in a line facing the tunnel circle. The start of the closing was one of the tunnels so there was a bit of strategy to how you went ‘round the tunnel circle. In the end I opted for two 7’s then the 6 point obstacle, a 2 jump combo that flowed right into the start of the closing. He had some more big loopy turns around the red jumps but we made it to the 6th of 7 obstacles in the closing, earning a Q and second place. Not a bad run but could have been WAY tighter. We should have easily made it through the whole closing.

Advanced Jumpers:
Cody ran after Lola and I only had one dog in between so I had someone hold one dog while I ran the other so I didn’t have to run back to the tent. He was a bit rattled from being in the wet crate and the tent collapsing on the crates in the wind so he was completely unfocused on the start line. I couldn’t get him to look at me and some snotty lady was pressuring us to go so I left him at the line and hoped for the best. As soon as I released him he turned tail and ran the opposite direction to Lola. I called him to me and he came tearing back and started the course no problem. He had a beautiful, flawless run earning a Q and getting nudged out of first place by Lola by hundredths of a second. A perfect way to end the trial.

Lo seemed a bit better today though still not as focused as I was hoping for. She still seemed a bit ‘off’.

Advanced Standard:
For the first time this trial she resisted going up to the start line. I think this was due to the extreme heat and blazing sun. Before her other 2 runs I let her cool off in the lake first and didn’t have any problems getting her to the line. She had a better run than yesterday but was still a little stressed and distracted. She got her A-frame contact but leapt off the dogwalk for the bazillionth time. She had a beautiful, quick down on the table and held it the whole five seconds, a sign she was doing much better mentally. I was thrilled with this, it’s her toughest obstacle. We had an off course as she sucked to the dogwalk at a trap but otherwise on o.k. run and improvement over yesterday.

Advanced Snooker:
For some reason she dropped the first bar so my whole plan went down the tubes. I managed to get her to another red, through the 7 point tunnel combo, to another red and then I lost her and we were whistled off. It’s hard to think on your feet when things head south during snooker. She seemed a bit settled though, so I was pleased. The screw up was all me, baby.

Advanced Jumpers:
A beautiful, flawless fast run on a tricky course with some tempting traps. She got a Q and first place, what more can you ask for? This was also her Jumpers title so next trial we must move on to Masters-YIKES!!! The Masters course for this trial was ugly and I was glad I didn’t have to do it. Hopefully by our next USDAA trial in January we’ll be up to the challenge.

Things to work on:

Tighter turns! This has always been a problem for us. He loves to jump big and long just for the sheer joy of it. He’s perfectly capable of jumping tighter, I just need to teach him.

Continuing motivation. This will always be an issue and I need to stay on top of it.

Weaves. I don’t like to overdo the weaves because of his shoulder and I think the reason he pops them is stress and not because he doesn’t know what to do but nonetheless we need to work on our entries.

Traps, esp tunnels. The issue here is mainly that he needs to focus on me more and look to me for cues rather than taking whatever obstacle is in front of him.

She needs some more motivation work though I’m really pleased with her improvement over the last trial.

Traps, same issue as Cody.

Timing-this is my issue, not hers. I really need to work on my timing with her since she’s so freakin’ fast.

Contacts, contacts, contacts, esp. the table. This is ongoing. I think once she gets over her ring stress issues her contacts will improve but I always need to be working them.

No trials until first week in December which is a bummer but there’s a fun match coming up in 2 weeks that will be a wonderful training opportunity. Can’t wait!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

You Don't Wanna Know

I came down with some nasty bug on Monday the details of which nobody wants to know, believe me, so I'll spare you all. I did manage a quick agility practice Monday night with Lola and she did just awesome. We had a few stoppages at the top of the A-frame to sightsee but otherwise she had near perfect contacts and was listening to me perfectly on a tricky jumpers course. She didn't run off ONCE to check out the rabbits along the agility field's fence line which has been an ongoing problem. I think I was most pleased with that because it shows she was really focused on me and the agility stuff and thus not stressed out and looking for something else to do. The focus on motivation over the past couple of weeks finally seems to be paying off. Cody had an equally successful training session last Friday. Both dogs seem really keen and ready to go. If I can just get my health up, the trial this weekend has a good chance of going well, at least as far as their stress levels go.

That's a big if though. I've missed 2 days of work and though I'm back today, things seem a bit iffy. When my coworker saw me today she had a concerned look on her face and said, 'Geez, you look thin & sickly'. Not exactly the pep talk I needed to hear. I don't want to drive down to Colorado Springs (an hour and 45 minutes) and get stranded down there with 2 dogs and a ton of crap because I'm too dizzy & nauseous to drive home.

I really wanted to post some vacation pics., I've got some nice ones and I took some more over the weekend of the aspens changing color in the high country. Unfortunately I probably won't get to that until after the trial. For now, every moment not at work is going to be spent passed out on the couch so I can fight off this bug before Sat.

Obviously all tri training is on hold until I'm better. I cancelled my last apointment with my orthopedist because I'm feeling pretty good and I don't think there's much else she can do for me at this point. I think I'm going to have to find time to start back with the yoga and at least pick up the lunges, squats and core work the PT had me doing. It's SO boring though, I'd rather go play outside.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Won't You Come On Down To My Rescue?

I almost had Jonny talked into a third dog the other day. We stopped in at the shelter so I could sign up for the Doggie Dash and of course we had to go look at the dogs. The Boulder Humane Society has a very high adoption rate, they haven't euthanized an 'adoptable' dog in 9 years (though they do euthanize animals they deem 'unadoptable') so I don't have a problem anymore with going to the shelter and not coming home with somebody. The shelter was full of animals and people, probably because they had just gotten in a shipment of Hurricane Katrina victims. The dogs were out for people to meet but they could not be adopted out for another month so that their owners could get a chance to be reunited (though how someone relocated to Texas is supposed to find their dog in Boulder on top of everything else they have to deal with is beyond me). You could put a hold on a dog though and there was a lovely 3 month old rat terrier/chihauhau mix that we both really liked. I really want a small dog to add to the crew but Jonny thinks one more dog will be too much. He really really liked her though and if I'd pushed him I probably could have gotten him to agree. But on the way home he started getting panicky, claiming I would come home from work one day to find him curled up in a corner in the fetal position because all the dogs had ganged up on him. He was so freaked out and felt so bad about leaving the little one at the shelter that I thought it unfair to push the point.

On the plus side it seems that lots of people have been snatching up the shelter's 'regular' dogs which means the shelter has more room to take in Katrina evacuees and less dogs in the rescue system in general. One more disturbing facet of the whole Katrina fiasco was how well organized the animal rescue community was compared to the Feds. They were some of the first responders in New Orleans and had whole rescue shelters with crates, vets, supplies etc. set up in safe places well in advance of the storm. These groups receive no govt. funding and work soley on donations and volunteerism. Sad that our own government can't muster the same kind of compassion for it's own people.

Anyway, on a lighter note, I've started back with some semblance of a 'training' schedule for both triathlon and agility. My stupid stunt with the 5k notwithstanding, I'm up to running a mile comfortably and 1 1/2 miles not so comfortably. I spent the last week hiking in the mountains (Crested Butte, Ouray and Telluride) with hikes varying from 2-4 hours so I had a pretty strenuous week. Finishing it off with a 5k was not my brightest move ever but I really wanted to go out and support the shelter and feel like I had some kind of return to normalcy since Lola and I have done this race several years in a row now. I told myself I'd walk the last mile or so but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. We finished in 31:48 which has got to be a personal worst even for duathlon 5k's but I finished and I don't think I did any serious harm except for some weirdness with my right knee which was already brought on by the hiking.

I've got an agility trial in a week and a half so I'm back to training with both dogs. Last night I noticed I was running much better and was actually able to keep up a bit so I'm hopeful this trial will go much better than the others. Both dogs still seem to be having some stress issues, esp. at the start line so we're focusing on motivation more than handling or obstacle performance but I am throwing a little bit in here and there so we don't loose that in the process. I think much of the problem has to do with my poor timing and weird running so hopefully as I get better physically the dogs' emotional conditions will improve. Either that or I need to find a doggie sports shrink.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cause for Paws Doggie Dash 5k

I knew I was doing something special today when Chicken Boy gave me only part of my breakfast. Usually that means I'm going for a ride in the car to play with the jumps and tunnels in some big park somewhere or maybe up high in the mountains to chase tree rats. But early this morning Chicken Boy took Cody somewhere and left me with Tennis Ball Girl who was just lying around on her ass. I wasn't happy about this and started to mope. After a while I got really fed up and told Tennis Ball Girl to get a move on. Well, that lit a fire under her ass and suddenly she was running from room to room, throwing clothes around and looking for things in a very disorganzied manner. If only she'd calmed down and remembered to use her nose to find whatever she was looking for she would have been fine. Honestly, it's a good thing she doesn't have an important job like herding sheep or sniffing out bombs because she'd be a total disaster. Anyway, she continued in her chaos, running around with the foaming stick hanging out of her mouth, rubbing creamy stuff on her arms and gathering up piles of useless crap into a plastic bag. Finally she put on her special shoes which meant we were going for a run, though I couldn't understand why it was such a big fuss this morning.

We got in the car which probably meant we were going to chase tree rats in the mountains but pretty soon we were going the wrong way. I got out of the car and there were lots of other dogs but no jumps or tunnels so I was a little confused but finally I remembered where we were-the crazy race place. The last two times when the days started getting shorter and cooler we came to this place and ran a big race with lots of other dogs and humans. The other times we had a lot of waiting around before the race and I had plenty of time for the porta potties but this time we ran out of the car with Tennis Ball Girl in a near panic and started the race right away. It's o.k. for her, she has indoor plumbing. I just hoped I wouldn't have a code brown.

I'm pretty competitive and fast but Tennis Ball Girl doesn't quite understand the concept of a race. She lags behind me, taking her sweet time and letting all the slower, couch potato dogs get way in front of me. I pull as hard as I can but this boat just won't go any faster. Last time we weren't too far behind but today we're going even slower and we're way at the back. No PR for me today, that's for sure. We run up and down a bunch of streets that all look the same with big ugly buildings and not enough grass or tree rats. Finally we get to stop and I have a nice roll around on my back in the nice cool grass. Tennis Ball Girl has looked better and it's a slooooooow walk back to the car. I don't mind though since it gives me a chance for some more roll arounds and I can relive the race with the other dogs who just finished.

After some water at the car we go to the place where I first met Tennis Ball Girl but we don't go inside. There's lots of other tired dogs and humans there but I feel like I've only had a warm up and I'm pretty excited. There are rows of tables with humans behind them who will give you lots of treats if you look real cute and bat your eyes the right way. By now I really know how to work the crowd. Tennis Ball Girl goes into conniptions because some of the humans give me lots and lots of big cookies and I gobble them all down before she can do anything about it. Mmmm mmm, I love the post race grub. There are huge trays full of pancakes but Tennis Ball Girl takes only two. I swear, opposable thumbs are wasted on the wrong species. She gives me just one measly piece, how stingy can you get. But it's wonderful, full of greasy butter and sweet sticky syrup. I never get stuff like this at home.

One of the tables has a huge stack of tennis balls-lovely, fuzzy, bouncy tennis balls. The sight of them makes me crazy and I jump on the table spitting drool everywhere while trying to get at them. To be honest, I think I might have a problem. I thought I could stop anytime but after that display I'm starting to wonder. Tennis Ball Girl turns red, takes only ONE (a nice pink one though), and apologizes for me.

Next it's on to the massage tables for a bit of pampering but hey, I deserve it. I'm not too sure I trust this woman but Tennis Ball Girl assures me she's reputable and specializes in doggie sports massage so I relax and let her do her thing. Tennis Ball Girl tries to talk her into a massage but she shoos her away and calls the next dog over. She's so embarrassing, I can't take her anywhere.

After chatting with some of my neighbor friends and working the crowd for a few more treats I decide I've had enough and it's time to go. Tennis Ball Girl looks like she'll sleep well tonight and probably won't need a second walk. On the way to the car I spot one of those blonde airhead dogs lying in a doggie pool. How undignified and unhygenic! Somehow the humans think this is cute and he's getting lots of attention. I can't believe those stupid humans are so easily amused.

Once I got home I told Cody all about the great time he missed but he just ignored me and tried to suck up to Tennis Ball Girl. He's so whipped. I wasn't really all that tired but I thought a post race nap would be good for recovery.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Department of Homeland Security My Ass!!!

Where the fuck is FEMA?!!! Where the fuck is the president?!!! I've always felt the Dept. of Homeland Security was a sick sad joke who's sole purpose was to waste taxpayer's money while denying us our civil rights but doesn't anyone even want to try to prove me wrong? With all the money we spend on politicians is it too much too ask to have some competent, compassionate, intelligent leadership in this country? Why do we have the technology, money and resources to send useless shit into space, create high tech weapons and blow the crap out of third world countries but somehow we can't do something as simple as get food and water to dying, suffering people in our own country? Am I the only one, aside from all the stranded, suffering, dying people, who thinks this is Fucked Up with a capital F U??!!

Sorry, but after watching the horror of recent events unfold on t.v. last night I just can't stomach going on about my self-indulgent, pointless hobbies at the moment. Back to my regularly scheduled drivel next week.

Let the light in
Before we say goodbye
Give us something to believe in

We're not begging
For too much I don't think
Just one last salute before we sink
-Alkaline Trio

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fat Tire Tri-Beerware for the Gimp & Rookies

Had a blast at the tri, couldn't have asked for a more perfect day or race. The race took place in scenic Lory State Park, a beatiful area nestled in the foothills above Fort Collins. The swim was 750 yards (a bit short from the 825 yards last year since the water level was lower and we started further down the beach) in quiet Eltuck Bay off the larger Horsetooth Reservior. The bike was 12 miles on some tight, twisty singletrack and the run was 3 miles including a brutal 500 yard climb in 1/2 mile up a steep trail then a twisty descent down the other side of the hill with steep swithbacks every 4-6 steps or so in some places. I did the full Monty last year but for obvious reasons I only did the swim portion this year and left the hard work to my relay teammates, Jeanne and Leslie.

Last year the swim had a mass start with all 300 people in the water at once. Looking down on the narrow bay I couldn't believe we all fit in there and I felt like maybe my panic attack was justified. This year there were 4 waves and I was in the last wave which was perfect for me since it meant I wouldn't have to worry about fast people coming up behind me. For some bizarre reason everybody lined up spread out across the width of the bay rather than in a tighter pack nearer the buoys. I wasn't going to complain though since it meant I got a spot right next to the line of buoys with only 2-3 people in front of me. The water was beautiful, 70 degrees or so and I was plenty toasty in my full wetsuit. I warmed up a bit before the start and felt pretty good about things. The course was an out and back and my plan was to start off slow to avoid panicking, get into a rhythm on the way out then pick it up on the way back. This worked out great, I passed some people right at the start, found someone to draft off and relaxed into a nice pace without any major freak outs. After a few minutes I decided to pick it up and I had to weave a bit to pass people but it wasn't too crowded. I swam a fairly straight line right next to the buoys and the turnaround came up way quicker then I thought it would. On the way back I picked it up as much as I could, passing people from the previous wave and then the wave before that. By the time I was near the shore I could see about 15-20 people from the very first wave! For those of you that struggle with the swim as I did when I first started out you can imagine what a cool feeling that was. I went tearing up the beach while everyone else was struggling with their wetsuits or just catching their breath and passed even more people but that's the advantage of being in a relay. Still, I usually run into transition, I'm not sure why so many people were walking. Leslie ran the final stretch up the beach with me, urging me on and I passed the chip off to Jeanne, our cyclist. Final swim time was 16:46 and that included a run up the beach to the timing mat (time for the swim only was around 16:35 by my watch I think). This was good for 8/16 of all the relay people, including the men, and around 103/269 for the people doing the full tri. Not amazing but not terrible either, all things considered, and right about where felt I would be in a best case scenario (ie no panicking or getting kicked/blocked in).

This was the first time Jeanne had ever done a tri and I could tell she was a bit nervous about all the logistics of it. In fact, Jeanne had done a few mountain bike races some years ago but that was it for race experience so she wasn't sure at all what to expect and begged us not to be mad if she was slow. I told her we were all here for fun and not to worry about it. I passed the chip off to her in the transition area and yelled after her to 'have fun'. In her excitement she started riding her bike in the transition area, a big no no, but she caught herself right away and dismounted before exiting onto the course. Several other people were making the same mistake. Well, long story short, Jeanne was a madwoman on the bike. I missed taking her picture on the first loop because she was so much farther up in the crowd than I expected her to be. By the time she finished she'd worked her way up to around 20th woman overall, and that was with me starting in the last swim wave! She was totally amped up after her ride, excitedly telling me and her husband all the details of her allegiances and rivalries out on the trail and how she finally started getting aggressive about asking people to let her pass on the single track. Her final time was 1:06:09, good enough for 3/16 for the relay people (including men) and 15/119 for the women doing the full tri.

Our runner Leslie is a coworker of mine who decided to start getting in shape and training for triathlons last fall after she volunteered in her kyak for the swim portion of a tri and decided it looked like fun. She started with spin and weight training classes last fall with a bit of swimming thrown in. This spring she started up with running but was focusing most of her time on the bike. She did her first tri just a couple of weeks ago and had a great race. The run is only 3 miles but extremely challenging because of the steep trail portion and Leslie doesn't really do much trail running, certainly not on trails like that. I warned her ahead of time but she was still game. I didn't tell her about the 2 rattlesnakes and bear that a race employee saw while pre-running the course last year until after the race was over. I had convinced her to bring along Ernie, her Jack Russell Terrier because Ernie is always good for comic relief and the day is always so much better when there's a dog hanging around. Ernie is a bit of a momma's boy and he cried his head off the entire time Leslie was on the course. I found that if I rubbed a certain spot on his chest he would go quiet but as soon as I stopped he was crying again. I kept having to explain to people that he was missing his mommy who was on the race course so they wouldn't think I was torturing him. Leslie looked strong coming into the finish and as soon as she crossed the line little Ernie leapt into her arms and started licking her face much to the delight of the crowd. Leslie's time was 35:27, good for 11/16 of the relay people and excellent for someone who only started running a few months ago and doesn't really run all that often.

In the end we got 3rd place out of 16 relay teams and that included the men's only and co-ed teams! Not too bad for the gimp and rookies, never mind our ages (39, 41 and 45). Hardware was a bottle of Fat Tire beer with our placement on it but they only gave us one which I thought was pretty tacky. Jeanne let Leslie and I have it to display at work so I decided to make up an award for Jeanne and got a 3-d picture frame from Target. I'm going to make a little montage of all her photos and put the race/placement in there too.

I've never done a relay before and it was pretty fun though I was wishing I could have done the whole thing. I was still pretty tired when I got home, probably from being in the sun all day and I did do a lot of walking around. I fell asleep on the couch at 7:30 pm, a new PR for me.