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.