Saturday, July 30, 2005

Shake It Like a Polaroid

O.k., so maybe I didn't do TOO much shaking (and maybe that's a good thing considering my complete and utter lack of rhythm) and stayed off the dance floor like a good girl but I had a blast at the Alkaline Trio concert. And to think I nearly sold my tickets to someone standing outside! They were just awesome live, even the craporific stuff off their new album was wonderful. They've been together for 8 years now but played with the energy and enthusiasm of a band just starting out and trying to prove themselves. Sheesh, I wish I had that kind of energy these days, and they played for over and hour plus a 10-15 minute encore. And they were TIGHT! They played a lot of their old stuff much to my delight and the crowd was so crazy into the whole thing it really added to the energy.

The Fox Theater in Boulder is an awesome venue, aside from great sound and lights there's a section of floor that's raised about 3' above the main dance floor on both sides. It's railed off too so I had a perfect, unobstructed view of the stage from about 20' away and I was protected from the mosh pit by the railing. I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera and/or video recorder, I had such a great view of the stage. The trouble is I get so obsessed with trying to get that perfect shot that I forget to enjoy the band so I stopped taking my camera a long time ago.

I think that between the powerful performance, great venue, enthusiastic crowd and overall fantastic atmosphere this ranks up there with one of the best shows I've been to, ever (and I've been to a LOT of shows). I wish we had more good bands come to Boulder, I'd forgotten just how much fun live music is. Hopefully I won't wait another 4-5 years until my next concert.

I managed a 23 mile bike ride on my mountain bike in the heat of the day this afternoon. It went really well considering all the standing I did last night and how sore I was when I got home. I did have a bit of a rest at around the half way point since I ran into someone I knew on the trail and stopped to chat for a bit. I also stopped for a bit at some point to give someone directions. I'm still more in rehab mode as far as my legs are concerned so I'm not too worried about how fast I'm going or how much rest I'm taking. I managed 2 master's swim workouts this week and it turns out I'm not as slow as I feared I would be. It's going to take a bit of work to get back to where I was but I don't think it'll be as bad as I thought. I'm only doing partial workouts of around 45 minutes and 1600 yards or so and gradually going to add more time & mileage. My right shoulder was hurting after Wednesday's workout so I had to back off on Friday but I think there's no good way around these aches & pains, I'm just going to have to push myself a bit and back off when I have to until I have a better idea of what my limits are.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Spending Warm Summer Days OUTdoors

Well, on the good news front it looks like I'll be able to do a race this year. I've signed up for an off-road tri at the end of August as part of a relay. I'll do the swim portion and it's only 1/2 a mile so should be a piece of cake. I did the race last year and had the worst panic attack I've ever had during a race on that swim but I made it through and it was a wonderful swim in the end. The race is in a beatiful state park in Fort Collins and the swim in particular is in a bay surrounded by red cliffs on two sides, very scenic. I remember noticing the cliffs last time every time I lifted my head to breathe or sight. We're called Team 3 Non-Jocks so as you can imagine we're not expecting any hardware but it should be fun.

I also signed up for an agility trial the week before the tri and will probably sign up for another a week before that. I took Lola out to the practice field on Tuesday since it was a lovely cool & cloudy day and had a bit of a hard time. I only ran the full course twice and repeated a few sections of the course I had trouble with but was limping by the time I got home. I was also really late with all my cues and Lola's so fast I can't really afford to do that. Poor girl was so frustrated with me and she sure let me know it by barking non-stop. Not a happy hey ho let's go type bark but a frustrated get your freakin' act together dumbass type bark. But I went back tonight with both dogs to practice on a jumpers course which requires more running than a normal standard course and I did fine, no limping when I got home and I actually managed to get my timing down a bit better. Funny what a difference it makes when the dogs have some clue where they're meant to go before they get there. I went to the field just before dusk to avoid the heat and take advantage of the dogs heightened prey drive at that time. The only trouble with that is the reason their prey drive goes up at dusk is because the prey comes out at dusk. Lola nearly took me out when a bunny ran right in front of us and Cody had to join in with a barking/lunging fit. The area is infested with rabbits and other critters (we even had a rattlesnake out at the field once but thankfully I wasn't there) and they're used to humans & dogs which makes cooling the dogs down somewhat of a challenge. I'm surprised I can even get them to do agility with the wildlife and livestock parade that goes on around the field, considering Lola's current obsessions with anything small, furry and moving. Anyway, I felt much better running and was hardly sore at all afterwards so I think in a few weeks I'll be able to handle a trial. And maybe with a few more practices I'll actually remember what I'm supposed to be doing.

So I'm going to see some bands tomorrow (Alkaline Trio from Chicago and some others I've never heard of) for the first time in several years and was pretty excited about it until I finally downloaded a copy of Alkaline Trio's latest album and it blows. I mean it is truly awful. Well, maybe one sort of good song and a few tolerable ones mixed in with the godawful. I really need to pay more attention as it seems the album I like is several years old. I also didn't realize just how popular this band is. They're playing 2 shows, one in Boulder & one in Denver, and both sold out fairly quickly. It turns out their last lp was in the top 40 and they've been on Leno, etc. Usually by the time a band gets to this point they really suck and had I known I would have thought twice. But I'm going to go anyway, you never know. Some bands are terrible on record but great live so maybe I'll get lucky. I suspect I'll be the oldest person there, even older than the sound guy and promoter so it should be amusing. I'll make sure to sigh, shake my head and say 'those kids today' a lot.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Adventures in Camping

Friday Night

Husband starts loading gear into car around 8:00 p.m. Go out at around 8:30 to 'supervise'. Completely HORRIFIED by amount of crap piled in car for one night. Convince husband he really doesn't need espresso machine and bbq grill, though concede on the coffee maker. Convince myself we really don't need huge duffel bag full of aluminet shade clothes we usually take to agility trials to keep tent cool.

11:00 p.m., gear is finally packed and there is actually room for dogs.

Saturday Morning

Friends we're supposed to camp with call to tell us campground is a living nightmare (they went up Friday). Huge church group with generators and flood lights up all night being totally obnoxious-yelling, screaming, running through everyone's campsites, gunshots at 3:00 a.m., etc. being everything but church-like. They can't take it another night and call to warn us/cancel. Thoroughly relieved to be spared this nightmare, we regroup. Car is already packed with crap so we have to go somewhere.

Consult book entitled 'Best in Tent Camping for People who Hate RV's, Concrete Slabs and Loud Portable Stereos' with some skepticism since said book gave rave review to campsite our friends were at last night. Settle on place near Guanella Pass and the Mount Evans Wilderness area. Supposedly campsite never fills even on busy holidays and there is hiking nearby.

Spend another hour or so adding to pile of crap in car. Go to small local grocery store for last minute necessities so we don't have to stand in long line at huge megaplex grocery store while dogs wait in hot car. Rush around store like idiots. All cash registers in store crash at same time right as our order is almost rung up. Go outside to open all doors & windows for dogs (luckily we're parked in shade). Finally husband emerges with final load of crap to squish into car. Somehow we can still see out rear window. On the road by 11:30 a.m.

Stop in Golden at noon for gas/bathroom break. Leave searing 100 degree heat of town and head up Highway 285 into foothills. Watch the sunny blue skies disappear into cloud cover. Closer we get to our destination, worse it gets. 6 miles up dirt road that heads over Guanella Pass then 1/2 mile up another dirt road and there by 1:30. Drive around campground. All campsites taken. Decide to throw book out window over Guanella Pass on way home. Spot people leaving campsite just as we're about to leave. Wait around for freaking ever while these people pack up enormous pile of crap into even more enormous SUV. Marvel at amount of stuff these people have, they cannot see out rear window and barely get rear door shut. Gloat at being positively spartan by comparison.

Finally claim campsite, start unpacking tent, huge claps of thunder break out and large drops of rain start falling. Oh and there's lightning. And it's freezing. Sit in car waiting for downpour to end. Break cardinal rule of camping and set up brand new tent for first time ever. Luckily no parts missing. Rain starts up again just as last tent stake goes in. Not one, but two obnoxiously enormous SUV's pull into campsite right next to us and two equally obnoxiously enormous families from hell disembark. Dogs and loud screeching children running loose everywhere. Din from these brats is truly amazing and reaches special pitch of fingernails on blackboard. Can't believe I was worried about dogs misbehaving and disturbing people. Quiet looking childless couple in Subaru drive by looking for campsite. Curse them loudly for not showing up 10 minutes sooner.

Try to let dogs out to pee after another break in rain. Cody jumps out no problem, Lola refuses to budge, she's terrified of thunder. Convince ourselves storm will just blow over and we'll try to hike later. Eat sandwiches in car while drowning out screeching hell brats with Jello Biafra ranting on about 'Yuppie Cadillacs' (SUV's) on XM radio (satellite radio has got to be the single most amazing invention of the 21'st century thus far). Finish sandwiches at 2:30. Realize storm has only gotten worse and is not clearing up anytime today and Lola is going nowhere outside the car. Look at each other and wonder what, outside of hunting down children and duct taping mouths shut, to do for next 7-8 hours. Decide we've had enough peace and quiet for one day and pack up soaking wet tent. Enjoy lovely meal at Mexican restaurant back in Boulder and wake up Sunday morning thoroughly rested on luxurious Tempurpedic bed. Forget why it was we were ever talked into camping in the first place.

Friday, July 22, 2005


O.k., no more depressing subjects for a while. We've been having some record breaking, 105 degree weather this week but it's not been bothering me all that much. Of course it helps that I work in an air conditioned office all day. I went for a few lunch time bike rides this week and it wasn't too bad. I must be a lizard. It's 77.5 degrees in my office right now and I'm perfectly comfortable. The only problem is the dogs, it's way too hot for them to do anything other than in the early morning or late evening. I set up my agility equipment in the yard but the yard is so small all we can practice is individual obstacles. Because we don't have room to build up any speed it's hard to practice handling moves though I've been working on front and rear crosses on the A-frame, teeter and weave poles. But since the dogs aren't going full speed it's just not quite the same as what happens when you're running a full course. The practice field is only 12 minutes away and I could realistically go back out there once it cools down at night but I've been too lazy. It's so hard to move once I'm home and that butt hits the couch.

I've been backing off of things a bit, trying to keep my exercise down to my 2 mile morning dog walk then one other activity, either 1/2 hour swim or 30-60 minute bike with a 2-2 1/2 hour ride on the weekends (no more climbing up the canyon either). This seems to be working since I haven't had much pain walking lately and my short bits of running for agility are getting better.

I'm gearing up for a camping trip with some friends this weekend. It's the first time camping for the dogs and I'm not sure how that will go. We may end up driving home at 3 a.m. if the beasties can't behave. I can't believe all the crap we're hauling up for one night. When did we get so high maintenance? Somehow at one point in our lives we managed to hike over the Continental Divide with a 112 pound Akita and everything we needed on our backs. Now I'm wondering how all the crap is going to fit in the car. Yes, this is only car camping, not backpacking, and it seems like it'll be worse than trying to coordinate all the gear you would need for an Ironman. It's going to be fun though, hiking and Xtreme badminton and who knows what else. It'll be nice to escape the heat too. And if you don't hear from me on Monday, send in the search and rescue tapirs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Spending Warm Summer Days Indoors

Well, I'm a week behind somehow. Don't know where the time went. The following is from last week. And it goes pretty far off the topic of triathlon and agility so consider yourself warned.

The week was kind of crappy because I was sore right on into the weekend. I backed off everything and I think the bike ride up the canyon on top of everything else was a bit much. I went out to the agility field for the first time on Thurs. to try a jumpers course with Cody and I just couldn't run, only shuffle/run a few steps then have to stop. I took a class focusing on distance skills on Sunday with Lola and was still having problems. I talked to my physical therapist about it all on Monday and he said it was normal, I'd have periods of improvement then plateau then improvement so I stopped feeling too bad about it. He did say climbing on the bike for so long is really hard on the particular soft tissue damage I have so I'm going to lay off of that for a while.

A party on Friday night led me to sleep in on Sat. and by the time I was awake and coherent it was too hot and I had no motivation to head out into the baking sun. So I turned my energies into cleaning up my much neglected house and decided to go for a nice cool swim later in the day. Well, after 4-5 hours of obsessive/compulsive cleaning I was too trashed for swimming and couldn't bear to turn the t.v. on so I turned to the good old internet for entertainment. I found a website of photos of Chicago punk shows from the 80's and was hooked for the afternoon. Many of the shows I'd been to and still have boxes of similar photos but there were many from a few years before my time and it was pretty cool to see.

Looking through those old photos I was reminded of my old friend Eric B., who sang & played guitar in a band called Life Sentence. There were photos of his band as well as zillions of pictures of him dancing & jumping around in the crowd. He was always at shows and seemed to know everyone. He was one of those friendly, outgoing guys that instantly befriended everyone he met. I first met him in 1984 when I went into a record store near my aunt's house in the Chicago 'burbs. Eric was working there and when he saw the punk records I was buying he struck up a conversation and next thing I knew he'd invited me to see his band play at a party somewhere. I was just some dorky teenager from the 'burbs buying a Misfits record, many of the other long time scenesters from the city would have turned their noses up at me instantly but Eric didn't care and was more than willing to welcome me in. When I started going to shows in the city I would sometimes catch him watching out for me (not that I needed it) now and then and I know he did the same for other people as well.

Life Sentence received a bit of attention sometime around 1986 or so when their record received a rave review on MTV's 120 minutes show and a member of Metallica wore a Life Sentence t-shirt in a photo on the cover of some metal magazine. I don't recall exactly what this publicity did for them but I remember it was significant for such a small unknown band. A few years later the band split and Eric ended up in a legal battle with one of his bandmates over rights to the name. Now really, this was Eric's band and the other guy was a jackass to kick up a fuss and apparently the judge & jury agreed with me because Eric eventually won the rights to the name. He put out another record with different members but it didn't go anywhere. In fact I forgot it even existed and that I 'd bought a copy until I went to pull out the first record the other day and found it. Unfortunately, the general public had the same reaction I did and that was the end of Life Sentence. Tragically, I suppose it was also a contributing factor to the end of Eric as I knew him.

Now I'll be honest here, Eric was no saint. He was into drugs for the 7 years I knew him and most certainly before that. Though his drug use was obvious it wasn't a part of his life he shared with me and for that I was thankful. Don't ask, don't tell. And to be fair, he seemed to handle it o.k. He had a nice house in the 'burbs (I think it was his anyway, I never saw any parents or signs of parents there), a relatively successful band as far as punk bands went back then, and more friends than most people have a right too. There were a few times I'd see him at shows where he was stumbling around like an Ironman participant losing control of his body a hundred yards from the finish line but those instances were rare. I'm not saying he wasn't wasted a lot, I'm just saying he handled it o.k. for the most part and had a pretty decent life all things considered.

Unfortunately, curiosity got the better of me that Saturday afternoon and I went snooping on the internet again to see what he was up to these days. I've found that people in bands are pretty easy to track on the internet and I figured that through Life Sentence I'd find a link to some current band he was in, or at least news about him but the trail was disturbingly cold. After a bit of digging I found an old post from last February on a Chicago punk rock discussion board. Someone was asking if anyone knew what Eric was up to and someone else said they'd run into him in the city and he was panhandling and living in transient housing. There was a lot of response to this news on the thread-disbelief, sadness, and even someone offering to organize a benefit for him. Many people had stories about Eric similar to mine. A bit more digging and I found a more recent post in someone's blog saying Eric had turned to herion in the late 90's and had pretty much quit music.

All of this news affected me badly. I know it sounds incredibly stupid and I can't explain it but there you go. Somehow the thought of him living on the street like that really upset me, even typing this I can feel my stomach turning over. I felt incredibly helpless too. How do you help a 45 year old with a 25-30 year drug habit when you live in another state and haven't seen him in 15 years? I know where he was last seen and approx. where he was living and it's on the way to a friend's place that I plan on visiting when I go to Chicago in August so I'll drive around a little to try and find him but I'm not hopeful. I'm going home to visit friends & family and attend my cousin's wedding, I can't spare much time running around questioning junkies about the location of my long lost friend. I don't even know for sure that he's still alive. And if I find him then what? Somebody mentioned that they thought Eric just wanted to die. Do I think I have the words in me that will magically make him suddenly care about life enough to get some help? I'm not that deluded. But at the same time I can't shrug my shoulders and let it go. I need to at least try, hopeless as it is. I really want to tell him how much he meant to me and so many other people, how worried we are and that we still care and want to help him. And if that doesn't get through to him, well, I guess at least I want the opportunity see him one more time and say goodbye.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hey Baby, It's the 4th of July

Had a great trip to the doctor, she cleared me for all activities except running. Even agility is o.k. as long as I don't get too crazy and keep the running to a minimum. Before she told me August before I could start up with that so I'm pretty happy. There are a number of trials in August that I want to do so I'll have a full month to prepare and see if we'll be ready.

I'm also toying with the idea of an off road sprint triathlon at the end of August. I did it last year so I know what's involved. The trail run is only a 5k and it was so freakin' steep it was more of a hike really so it almost seems doable. Probably a stupid idea though, lots of opportunities to slip and fall on the steep rocky trail. But the swim and bike should be no problem. The trail's not too technical unless you go bombing down it but I suppose there are a few tight switchbacks that are iffy and there's always the rattlesnakes. I'll wait 'til the last possible moment to sign up and if it fills, oh well. I've tried running for short distance, like running across a street, and it's a little painful like it was when I started walking but I'm sure once I use those muscles a little more I'll be fine.

Haven't started back at agility yet but I will this week. I want to ease the dogs in slowly, they're in good physical shape but haven't been using those specific jumping and weave pole muscles.

Had a great 3 day weekend but maybe I'm overdoing it a bit. The PT said best thing was to push myself a little then back off if it's too much. Doctor says let pain be my guide so I'm trying to balance them all out.

Saturday, July 2
Rode my mountain bike up 4 Mile Canyon in Boulder. This is mostly a paved road that turns into smooth dirt. It's mostly a steady climb but there are a few good steep spots to get your heart rate going but nothing my granny gear can't handle. It never gets so bad that I'm out of the saddle or grinding on my quads. I climbed for about 13 miles then decided enough was enough. It's a beautiful ride but gets a bit monotonous, especially since it's all on roads. I was just happy to be able to get out in the mountains to be honest.

I was pretty trashed afterwards, spent the rest of the day on the couch. Absolutely pathetic but I'm going to have to be patient.

26 miles, 2:50 hours

Sunday, July 3
Hike up to Isabelle Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. This is one of my favorite hikes and I like to take visitors there since it's got breathtaking views and doesn't require a huge physical effort. It's about 1 1/2 miles one way, we tacked on about another 1/2 mile or so. Like my bike ride yesterday, it's mostly a gradual climb with a few steep, challenging bits to keep it interesting. The last bit before the lake is pretty steep and rocky. We took the dogs and it was a little challenging to keep Lola from pulling me over, especially during the small stream crossing, but I've been working on an 'easy' command with her and for the most part she listened to me. We had to cross a snow bank and Cody lost his freakin' mind, running around and having fits like a crazed puppy. Snow in summer makes him crazy with joy for some bizarre reason. Lola had a few digging fits too, excavating holes then shoving her head right in them, then lying down and sliding upside down down the snowbank. Those two are a regular comedy team. Lots of other hikers were admiring them, asking what breed they were. I love telling people they're mutts from the pound.

We stopped at the lake to take in the views and have an energy bar then both dogs and husband got ants in their pants and we had to move on. At around the halfway point on the trip back I felt like I'd had enough but what could I do, I had to get back. Normally this hike is something I'd do during a rest day or a taper, I'd barely even count it for anything so I didn't think I was really pushing myself all that much. I guess it was a bit much on top of yesterday. Rest and an ice pack for the rest of the day.

4 miles/1:50 hours hiking

Monday, July 4
Woke up with some stiff calves but the fracture area that was sore yesterday felt fine. Decided to take it easy on my legs today. Rode by bike 20 minutes (ez pace) to the Boulder Rez for a swim. It's my first open water swim which is usually a little nerve wracking but it's also my first swim using my legs to kick. Up 'til now I've been pulling with a pull buoy. I wore my full wetsuit to help a little and decided to swim parallel to shore in water that wasn't above my head. I got fed up with that pretty quickly as I had to dodge beach balls and little kids so I got up the nerve to head to deeper water. There are a number of rafts around the swimming area so I swam back and forth between raft and shore. I only stopped to rest at the raft once but mentally it was nice to know I could rest. I stopped everytime I hit shallow water to rest a little. After 1/2 an hour I'd had enough. I'm going to go back to masters this week, I just can't stand swimming for very long on my own.

Riding back with a wet towel and wetsuit was interesting. Somehow my back survived.

Spent about 1 1 /2 hours doing yard work (clearing up old piles of leaves and weeding). I don't think my back survived that.

Boulder's 4th of July fireworks are pretty lame so we don't put too much effort into going to see them. The neighbors gather on a sidewalk at the top of a hill with a perfect view and this is good enough for us. It's about 1 1/2 miles of walking round trip. And yes, the display was very lame this year. At least the city's not wasting our tax dollars.

1/2 hour swimming
40 minutes biking
1 1/2 miles walking