Saturday, May 28, 2005

Wall of Snow Posted by Hello

Wall of Snow Posted by Hello

View from Trail Ridge Road Posted by Hello

View from Trail Ridge Road Posted by Hello

View from Trail Ridge Road Posted by Hello

View of Long's Peak from Peak to Peak Highway Posted by Hello

Trail Ridge Road

Last weekend we played tourists and took a drive up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The only other time I've ever done this in the nearly 16 years I've lived here is when my grandparents were visiting and I wanted them to enjoy the park without having to hike too much. We had to turn around before reaching the top because my grandmother was freaking out and having trouble breathing. Trail Ridge is the highest paved road in the U.S. going up to over 11,000 feet. I've been down it on my bike after riding up a different dirt road that links up with it but I've never driven up it the whole way and normally I wouldn't dream of it but for now it's a way for me to get out and enjoy the mountains. During the summer it's crawling with tourists but it's the weekend before Memorial Day and even though it's unseasonably warm (80's in Estes Park, 90's down in Boulder) it's still not terribly crowded. The road has only just opened for the year and road crews had to move 15' high walls of snow to clear the road for Memorial Day weekend.

I don't remember having any fear issues when I road my bike down but driving up I have to confess I was starting to freak out once we got above treeline. The road is paved the whole way and though it's not super wide it's wide enough but still there are some tight, steep switchbacks with huge steep drop offs and no guard rails. I've been on way worse dirt roads before but still this was a bit hair raising in some places. I just can't imagine driving the snow 'plows' that cleared the road, having only tall poles sticking out of the snow to tell you where the road is beneath and not much margin for error.

It was a strange feeling being able to enjoy the beautiful views from the various overlooks without being exhausted from some big hike or bike ride. It's certainly not as satisfying of a feeling but it was nice for a change and I was so grateful to get out of the house. Once I'm better I certainly won't be making a habit of it though. You just can't fully enjoy nature from a car.

I've finally pretty much ditched the gimp sticks but I still don't feel too confident walking. I managed a 10 minute walk the other day but it wasn't pretty and I haven't tried again. I have good days and bad days and today's a good day. I tried riding on my bike trainer for the first time and it went o.k. Sitting on the saddle didn't really hurt though the doctor did warn it might start to hurt if I try to ride for long periods. I lasted about 13 minutes then noticed some pain when I stopped to fiddle with my MP3 player. It wasn't terrible but I didn't want to push it. I went pool walking a couple more times. I'm up to 50 minutes, 500 yards. It's kind of soothing at the start but after 1/2 an hour I start getting bored. I'm going to put my MP3 player in a ziploc bag and stuff it under my swim cap next time. I started wearing my old shortie wetsuit to keep me warm and it works a bit. I'm still a little cold but at least not to the point of shivering. I have a full wetsuit but I only bought it last year and it's too expensive to ruin in the chlorine. I've decided not to start swimming again until my neck/shoulder are better. I tried swimming backstroke but I was all over the pool and it was just too frustrating.

I've been keeping up with the distance work in the yard with the dogs. Still working on 2 jump sends and weave pole sends. Hopefully a friend will come over tomorrow to help move the A-frame so I can start working on that. Next week I'll start going back to the agility field so I work on the dog walk and other exercises that I can't really set up in my yard. I just ordered another distance DVD, the next in the series just came out, perfect timing. The stuff on the one I have is pretty basic. I'm going to work on having other people run the dogs too.

Tomorrow it's off to the mountains for a party. Lola will get to see her buddy Maggie so I'm sure there'll be plenty of shenanigans. Hope everyone out there is enjoying the holiday weekend.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Two Feet on the Ground

I've been neglecting my blog lately, in part because I don't have much training to report but also because I've been kind of crabby. Went to the doctor last Tuesday hoping she'd tell me I could ditch the crutches and I'd start walking again no problem. Well, she told me I could start weaning myself off the crutches and that it would take 1-2 weeks. I thought she was crazy, I'll be walking with no problem right away but it turns out walking is harder than I thought it would be. I had to start out putting partial weight on the bad leg while still using the crutches. I could stand no problem with 50% weight on the left leg but I couldn't put full weight on that leg for about 3-4 days. Even now at 6 days I can only walk short stretches and it's more of a lurching hobble than a walk. It's great to have a bit more independence but it feels like it'll be a very long time until everything feels somewhat normal again. I think I was a bit deluded about how bad the injuries really were. She told me no agility trials/running until August at the earliest and that would be pushing it. She took new x-rays of the fractures and I was expecting them to be healed but they barely looked any different. It'll take 12 more weeks for the bone to completely fill in.

The good news is I can go to the pool. The bad news is my neck is so messed up that I can't turn my head properly to breathe. I can pool walk (no pool running even) but I get so cold so fast. I'll probably have to sacrifice one of my wetsuits to the chlorine gods because I can't last more than 30 minutes total swimming and pool walking without starting to shiver.

I reviewed a DVD I have on teaching dogs to work at a distance from you in agility and there are plenty of exercises to do that don't require running. I started yesterday with a simple send over 2 jumps in a row (sent Lola ahead of me over the jumps while I stayed standing behind the jumps). Lola took a few times to catch on but once she did there was no stopping her. I also sent her to the weave poles from all kinds of crazy distances but she already knows how to do that. Cody caught on to the jump exercise right away but the more times I asked him to do it, the worse he got. I know he hates repitition, what was I thinking? I always need to quit while I'm ahead with him.. I have to remember I need to train both dogs differently. He did pretty well with the sends to the weaves too but I opened the channel on the entrance to make it easier for him and didn't send from such far distances as Lola. He's not quite up to her level in the weaves department.

Once I'm totally independent from the crutches I can start biking on my trainer though the doctor warned me this will be painful since the fracture location is right where the bones are that sit on the saddle. Hopefully she's just exaggerating but she's been right so far. I can also start taking 20 minute walks with the dogs once I'm crutch free but walking for that long seems a lifetime away at this point. I go to a physical therapist tomorrow so maybe that'll help speed things along.

Took a drive up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park over the weekend. Got some great pictures that I'll post later.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Boulder Criterium Posted by Hello

Boulder Criterium Posted by Hello

My Favorite Things

I had a whole weekend of activities involving my favorite things. Unfortunately I had to be a spectator for all of them. With the exception of agility I hate watching sports, even ones I'm interested in. The Tour Day France on t.v. bores me to tears. The Hawaii Ironman is only interesting because there's always the possiblity that someone may end up crawling to the finish line on their hands and knees. Otherwise it's a real snoozer. I don't even know who most of the pros are in triathlon. Jonny and I went to lunch today and he happened to recognize the woman sitting next to us as some pro triathlete he's seen on t.v. I never even noticed her when we walked in but sure enough upon closer inspection it was Joanna Zeiger, who I think went to the Olympics in the triathlon. The guy sitting with her sure looked like a pro too though in Boulder I guess it's not unusual to see guys with shaved legs. I have no idea who he was.

Saturday an agility friend who's dog is injured offered to take me up to Fort Collins for an agility fun match. Fun matches are different from regular competition in that you don't get points toward titles or awards of any kind. They're meant purely for practice and you can take toys & treats in the ring and train for whatever you want. Liz offered to run my dogs for me and I thought it would be a great experience for them to be able to learn to run more confidently for other people. Liz took treats and toys in the ring and whenever either dog made a run for me I turned my back on them and she called them back to her in the ring, rewarding them for returning to her and then continuing on with the course. It'll take some time but if I let more people run them at practice I think they'll eventually learn to do it. Overall I think this will help a lot with their general confidence in the ring.

The fun match was held concurrent with a 5k doggie run so there were lots of runners about. I couldn't see the race from where I was sitting but I got to share in the pre-race excitement and heard them announcing the race on the loudspeaker. I thought this was a great idea to get people interested in agility. Lots of runners and their dogs came over to check out the action in the agility ring.

Sunday there was a criterium bike race circling North Boulder Park which is just a mile or so from my house. Jonny and I figured what else did we have to do and it was a beautiful day so we decided to check it out. It's the last stage of a 3 day stage race so there's both the excitement of who will win the criterium and who will win the overall race with the scores of all the races combined. The course is 1k (around .68 mile) loops around North Boulder Park which butts right up to the foothills. It's great for spectators because you can see the racers for almost the entire loop. They race for a set amount of time plus a certain number of laps (eg pro men went 55 minutes then 5 laps). This doesn't sound too exciting but it actually kind of was. There's some strategy involved since some laps have 'premiums' attached to them, ie if you win you get a certain number of seconds taken off your time however you have to sprint hard to win, maybe ruining the rest of your race. Ann Trombley, who went to the Olympics in mountain biking and rides with my husband's mountain biking group sometimes and another woman from his group were both in the pro race. Ann was 33 seconds in the lead of the overall race and for a time it looked like the second place rider might overtake her lead because she had a nice big fancy team helping her out but the announcer was an idiot and said she'd earned 15 seconds off her time for winning a lap when really it was only 5 secs. Ann did end up winning the race and Jonny's other friend did well too. My boss' son was riding in the men's pro race but I wasn't sure what team he was riding for and it was nearly impossible to spot anyone in the big blur of wheels and jerseys that went flying by. The pack reaches speeds of 35 mph, exceeding the local speed limits and causing a huge rush of wind as they ride past you. It was actually dizzying to watch them ride by they were flying so fast.

One of my agility friends showed up to watch and it turned out the guy in the lead toward the end of the pro race was one of her former students in her cycling class (I suppose Colorado must be one of the only places that offers cycling for high school p.e. classes). Ironically he nearly flunked her class because he was always out training for real. She was screaming her head off every time he flew by and he was WAY ahead for about 4 laps but on the 5th and final lap the pack caught him up and swallowed him whole.

It wasn't nearly as much fun as riding my own bike but I have to admit I sort of had a good time though I enjoyed watching the dogs & puppies in the park much more than the racing. It was kind of cool to see the speed those guys/women went up close and personal. It's hard to really appreciate it until you can hear and feel the power of the pack flying by.

As a wierd aside I ran into my orthopedist as I was leaving the park. I didn't recognize her when she first came up to me and I was baffled about who this wierd woman was who came up to me so concerned about how I was doing. I finally figure it out and hoped she wouldn't scold me for being out and about but she didn't seem worried about it. I'll see her on Tuesday and hopefully I'll be able to get rid of the gimp sticks if all has healed well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Day in the Park

I finally got out this weekend for the first time in forever. There was a NADAC agility trial just 35 minutes from my house and I couldn't get my pre-paid entry fees back so I recruited a couple very wonderful people to run my dogs for me. Lydia and Michelle were already running their own multiple dogs plus dogs for other people so adding my two to the mix made for a busy weekend for them. Both of them had over 20 runs per day which is a LOT. My quads are usually trashed with just 10-12 runs per day. My dogs have never run in a trial for anybody else before and L & M had only one day of practice with them so I wasn't sure how they'd do.

The trial was in a really nice park in Golden, lots of space and lovely green grass for the dogs to roll in. The weather was perfect too and to be honest I was a bit bummed first thing in the morning because I really REALLY wanted to run my dogs. But I convinced myself it wouldn't be too much longer until I'd be back on my feet and I'd only appreciate it all the more.

The dogs had some great runs and some where they took 3 jumps and ran out of the ring looking for me. Lola seemed especially unhinged but she eventually came around a little and actually completed a full standard course with no faults by the end of the second day. Cody even had a few Q's and a first place as well as some other nice runs. I was happy they stayed in the ring as much as they did and was really pleased with Cody who had all kinds of stress issues when we started trialling years ago. Overall it was great to see them out there running and having fun. Lola was so tired Sunday night that she refused to go more than 3 blocks when Jonny tried to walk her. Some other folks are taking me and my dogs up to a fun match this weekend and have agreed to run the dogs for me so they can get some more ring practice with other people. It's a fun match so they can take toys and treats into the ring with them and reward the dogs for staying in the ring. I'm not sure how often I'll have occasion for other people to run my dogs but I think having them learn to work for other people will build their confidence in the ring and I'm going to try more of it at practice if it seems to help. I'm also eager to get out of the house again. It was great to be outside in the beautiful weather over the weekend, even if I couldn't do much but sit on my ass and hobble around a little.

One more week until I go back to the doc and she takes x-rays to see if I can get off my crutches. The PT I've been seeing thinks that an agility trial in late June seems reasonable so now I'm hoping maybe I can go to one in early June, depending what the x-rays and doc says. I fell over the weekend and accidentally put weight on my left leg and fell on my left side and it wasn't terrible so maybe things are healing up. I feel better and more mobile so I think there's some light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Don't Care About History

"I don't care about history
'Cause that's not where I want to be"
-The Ramones (duh)

I've never been much for nostalgia or dwelling on the past. I never went to a single high school reunion or made any attempt to locate old friends or acquaintances I'd fallen out of touch with. I can barely force myself to live in the present as it is. I always seem to be setting some faraway goal-marathon, triathlon or whatever-then spending every waking moment working toward it and thinking about it. Who has the time or energy for the past?

But since I've been grounded I've rediscovered my record collection and with it a part of my past I haven't thought about for a very long time. It's been a long time goal of mine to get at least some of my favorite music copied off of vinyl and onto CD's. Ever since we bought our last car that didn't come with a cassette deck many years ago, my old music has pretty much gone out of my life. I'm almost never home to listen to records. The regular radio is unlistenable. The new car we just got has XM satellite radio which is incredible but I still miss lots of my old music. I have over 1000 LP's and hundreds of singles/7" ers, most of them 10-20 years old. Putting them all on CD is never going to happen and even copying my favorite stuff is a mind boggling endeavor. I spent several hours over the weekend and managed only 1 1/4 disks. Part of the problem is that I kept ending up in long winded discussion/arguments with Jonny over my choice of music to copy (eg he loves Dag Nasty's second album and I think it's just an overproduced, castrated version of their first album. We have to listen to both, argue some more and finally he agrees. Remember, he's injured too and almost as bored. It's a contest who can drive who crazy first). Going through all those albums, most of them some type of punk rock, brought me back to a part of my life I left behind a long time ago when I moved away from Chicago. Well, next thing I know much to my horror I'm on the internet looking up some of the old bands & people I knew way back when, curious to see what they're up to now. Can I possibly sink any lower? We'll see, I have at least 2 more weeks on these stupid crutches and you know what they say about idle hands.

I start out with the obvious and that would be Ben Weasel, outspoken singer for a band called Screeching Weasel. I know he's still calling himself that because I saw a book he wrote in a store sometime within the last 3 years or so and if anybody's going to have a stream of digital diarrhea following him around the internet it's Ben. Sure enough it doesn't take much to find his website and blog. Screeching Weasel were an o.k., somewhat generic pop punk (in their later days) band from Chicago that experienced way more fame than they probably deserved for reasons I've never quite fathomed but figured must have to do with Ben's sometimes larger than life personality that came through in a column he wrote for a punk rock magazine. However Dan, one of his band members, had a great band of his own called Sludgeworth that were one of the best bands to ever come out of Chicago. They were so much more original than Screeching Weasel, I was sad when I found out they'd broken up and always felt Dan's talents were wasted on Screeching Weasel . However a little more snooping leads me to find that Dan had started a 'new' band called the Methadones in 1993. The fact that it's taken me 12 years to discover this is both a testament to the complete lack of attention bands from Chicago typically get and my own preoccupation with other things. A quick trip to emusic and I soon have all 3 albums downloaded for my listening pleasure. I can't remember the last time I really got excited about a band (which is kind of sad in itself considering how much I love music) and I'm sorry it took a car crash to help me rediscover what's out there but this band is awesome. I've been listening to their albums non-stop and I 'm so happy to have some great new music back in my life. I guess every once in a while it pays off to remember where you came from and try to bring back bits of your former life that got lost along the way. I've already added the Methadones to my mp3 player so I'll have some great music to take out on the trails with me when I can finally get off these stupid crutches and start running again. Maybe this will even inspire me to run a little faster. O.k. o.k., I know that's wishful thinking but at the very least it should make those long climbs in the mountains seem just a little less steep..

If you like the Ramones you should definitely pick up some Methadones for yourself. And you lucky Chicagoans can see them play locally, check out for dates & locations and/or to pick a CD or two up for yourself. You won't be sorry.