Friday, June 30, 2006

America's Funniest Home Videos

Is that show still going and how much do you get if you win? Last night at course run thrus I found out that they're taping the Grand Prix finals for television. Who 'they' are and what show they're taping it for remain a mystery but the fact that Lola running amok may appear in somebody's living room somewhere is not the least bit unnerving. Oh, and apparently there's a dress code for the finals. Polo shirts and maybe black shorts (premium didn't mention the shorts but some people at practice thought they might be required). Somebody offered to lend me a polo shirt and I have black shorts, they're just not the best for running but I suppose they'll be fine for 40 seconds or so in the ring. This seems utterly ridiculous but then again some of the outfits I had to wear in the show ring when I competed in equestrian events were really over the top so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Cool as a cucumber, oh yes I am.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shoulda Known

I did a little research to see where Elicia Calhoun is located in case I'm ever there with my dogs I'd try to schedule another lesson. Turns out she was an engineer in a former life and from her website, '...she utilizes her analytical engineering skills and positive training techniques to design and develop a training program that pinpoints each team’s needs in an enthusiastic and effective manner.' I wish there were more people with engineer brains out there teaching skill specific sports. I'm convinced I could improve my swim stroke if only someone could explain what to do in more analytical terms. Or maybe I just suck and there's not much any coach can do about it.

In any case, I left masters early last night because they started in to a sprint workout (25 yard laps on a 20 second interval-yeah right!) and I figured my body didn't need that kind of torture. Besides, I was eager to get home to start working with the dogs.

We're starting off simple, teaching a verbal release word. Now the dogs already have a verbal release word ('O.k.') but they only understand it in certain contexts, eg when they're waiting for their dinner at their foodbowls or waiting to go out a door/gate. If I lead out from the startline of an agility course and say 'O.k.' to Cody he just sits there. I think the problem is that every pet obedience class I've ever taken has told me not to reinforce the release. So you put the dog in a sit, click/treat, then say 'O.k.' and make them move out of the sit using body movements while saying the release word. But absolutely no click/treat when they release because supposedly you don't want to encourage them to self release or some such nonsense. It's never made sense to me but I've always heeded the advice because what do I know? However, if you think about it, the dog is rewarded when you release them to their food bowl. The instructor will say they're being rewarded for holding their sit/stay but really they're also being rewarded for the release whether you intend it or not. So my dogs understand the concept of 'release' when there's something they want but they don't understand it in general. If I put the dogs in a sit and reward for a while then say 'o.k.' they just sit there waiting for more rewards. Cody's 8 years old and still does this.

Elicia gave me a way to train the release without using body language and with actually rewarding the release. I put the dog in a sit by my side then just click and treat for a while, moving my hand quickly to her head to feed a treat then quickly away. After a bit I put my hand in her collar and gently pull her out of the sit while saying 'o.k.' and clicking and treating. My feet stay planted on the ground and I don't let her see my hand sneaking around to take her collar. I thought Lola in particular would be freaked out by this but in fact she was fine. It turned into a pretty fun game and with very little reptitions I was able to fade holding her collar and use just the word. It was like magic! Very cool. All 3 dogs did great with it.

I'll probably work on this for a week or so then progress to the start of contact training.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pressure Drop

I promised myself I wouldn't look at the running order for Regionals so I wouldn't be freaked out by whoever else might be in my Grand Prix class. How long did it take to break that promise? Oh, about 3 or 4 hours after it arrived. And I only waited that long because I wanted to wait for my lunch hour so I could have a good look. 'I need to see the running order so I can tell if I'll have conflicts' I told myself. It is a 3 ring trial after all, and I've never competed in a 3 ring trial. However, the very first thing I looked at was the Grand Prix entry for finals and I was unnerved by the absence of the one dog most likely to win the class. There are some other great dogs and some that I don't know from out of town but it does mean it's that much more feasible that Lola and I could have a long shot of a chance if enough people screw up. But this is no way to think, first of all because it's unsporting. Do I really want to stand in line hoping my instructors and training companions, people who've helped me immeasurably with my training, will make a mistake? Uh, heck no. Even if they do screw up and I don't does it really prove anything? They're still more experienced and better handlers with faster dogs, they just happened to make a mistake on a day that I didn't, doesn't mean I'm better than them at agility because obviously I'm not.

The other issue here is that I want to go to the ring calm, collected and focused on the course and what we need to do to do our best and not on stupid things I can't control or what the outcome of our run may mean. I'm over the moon just to be qualified let alone running at least one dog in the final round, I really want to enjoy the experience and not have any pressure on me. If I go to the ring stressed out, both dogs will be shut down before they ever leave the start line and it won't be any fun for anybody.

So the theme for the weekend is going to be keeping my cool and enjoying the day. This is probably the largest agility trial ever held in Colorado, even bigger than the AKC Nationals held here a few years ago and certainly bigger than NADAC Nationals. There are so many incredible dog/handler teams coming from all over the U.S./Canada and even one prominent handler from Belgium. Former Olympic diver Greg Louganis will be there running his Border collie & Jack Russell Terrier. Don't know how good he is, will be interesting to see. It will be exciting enough to be able to watch all these great teams and walk the courses with them, I need to put aside any of my silly delusions of grandeur. Instead I'm going to put my energy into obsessing over the weather. Doesn't help that we have a meteorologist in our midst who's already started posting weather predictions for the weekend. This is far worse than the taper madness I've ever had for any marathon or triathlon.

Yesterday I had a private lesson with Elicia Calhoun who's in town for Regionals. She's one of the best in the country and has competed internationally on the world team. She's got a laundry list of wins at national competitions. More importantly though it turns out she's an excellent teacher and she spent around 45 minutes going over a very detailed training plan for me to retrain Lola's contacts (and I can use it to train Strummer too). It uses only shaping, no targets or special props and I don't need stairs. It's very intensive and time consuming but I like it and it's exactly what I was looking for for Strummer. She was extremely thorough and detail oriented in explaining everything which appealed to my engineer brains and she answered all my goofy questions. I wish there'd been time for her to help me with Lola's table issues but I think I can try expanding on the general concepts she taught me for the contacts. Can't wait to get started! Hopefully tonight if I'm not too tired after masters.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Senility Now

Getting old is fun, I get to blame all my idiot moments on my age induced memory disability. And the knock on the head from the car crash isn't helping matters either. Tonight I left a fancy organic ice cream bar sitting out for a bit cuz I like 'em melty. After a while I had to use the facilities and food in the bathroom grosses me out so I placed it somewhere up high so it wouldn't be hijacked by one of the fuzzy beasts (yes Lola, I'm talking about you). By the time I came out, I'd forgotten where I'd stashed it. I checked all possible options, which aren't many because my house is pretty small but no dice. I check them all again, then again once more and after much frustration decide to swallow my pride and enlist my husband in the search because I can't just leave it to melt. I call to him from the other room, 'I need your help in a matter of some importance'. And he emerges all buggle eyed from watching the world cup in his mole hole-holding an ice cream bar. 'Is that yours?' I ask, because it's quite a coincidence...'No', he tells me, 'it's yours, I'm just playing with you. Now what did you want?'. Let's just say he's lucky he's not on a cattle boat back to Scotland. I'm still flummoxed as to how he managed to tear himself away from the green screen long enough to play that little joke on me.

Lots going on this weekend. Friday night we met up for a fun dinner with Ariel & Dave who were in town for Ride the Rockies. Much unfortunate weirdness for them with Ride the Rockies but hopefully there were some bright spots too.

Big deal for me on the bike as I rode the entire employee bike race course for the first time in over a year. I wasn't planning on riding the whole thing but when I reached Lee Hill where I'd planned to walk I couldn't manage to bring myself to do it. Not that I found any shame in walking, I was in a rhythm with the bike and the hill and didn't want to stop. It was a bit foolish but I seem to be fine so far. I was the slowest I've ever been-1:25 or so compared to 1:15 previous slowest practice ride and 56-57 mins. for my best race time. The race isn't going to be pretty but at least I know I can finish the course.

On Saturday I ended up going to the agility fun match at the same place where Regionals will be. However, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The dogs were flaky and stressy and I'm not sure why. I was very relaxed and I was able to bring treats in the ring to reward them. There was a tricky weave pole entry and Cody kept missing it and I kept having him redo it until he got it right because that's the whole point of a fun match. Lola refused to even get on the table, let alone lie down. Even after I rewarded her on the first run when she finally did it, she was still reluctant on the 2nd run. There were some good things though, nice dogwalk contacts, though Lo was way slow. She blew the A-frame and I had her redo it. All it took was once and she was perfect, even came down a bit faster than expected.

Part of the problem on her second run was the woman running the fun match. I had only one dog running between my 2 so I had to run back to the crates, switch out the dogs, run back to the startline, and somehow catch my breath. I was still at the crates when the other dog finished and she yelled at me to hurry up. Sheesh lady, this is a freakin' fun match and I've paid way more money than any normal match would cost. Secondly, there's hardly anybody there so what's the hurry? Thirdly, if anyone ever tried to rush this woman to the startline like that she'd blow a gasket. I've had judges at busy trials who were more understanding, telling me to wait until I catch my breath, etc. So Lo didn't get any warm up to speak of and was probably stressed a bit due to me being out of breath and stressed. Her whole run was flaky and we never even made it to the A-frame to see if she'd stick it a second time, one of the main things we need to work on! They had the nerve to whistle me off the course at 75 seconds even though I was nearly done with the course (most fun matches allow 90 seconds and cost half what they were charging). If I was thinking straight I'd have ignored the whistle and just kept going, what could they have done anyway? But it's that darn senility thing, wasn't thinking straight.

Anyway, it wasn't the vibe I wanted the dogs to have just a week before Regionals. However, today was another day and we went down to Penrose (2 1/4 hours drive, just outside Canon City) for the NADAC trial. This one was inside and it was deliciously cool in the morning. Why oh why couldn't Regionals have been this weekend? Cloudy & cool(er) yesterday and today for much of the day. I just know next weekend will be a Betty Crocker bake fest. O.k., let's not worry about that now.

The dogs didn't twitch so much as a whisker when the alarm went off at 4 am and normally they're up right away hoping for some breakfast as soon as one of us gets up. When it was time to leave at 4:30 Cody just stood in the hallway with a blank look on his face-'You want me to go where now? Uh, no thanks, I'll hang out with Jonny this a.m. if it's all the same to you'. Of course he eventually obliged me after I went behind him and shooed him down the hallway. Not a peep from them in the car the whole way down but by the time we got to the trial they were full of themselves and ready for action. The threat of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere 10 miles from the trial site had gotten my adrenaline going (made it with at least 1 1/2 gallons to spare, stupid gas gage/low fuel light).

I decided that one of my mistakes at the fun match was not using toys more to rile them up and as a reward. Lola lives for tennis balls, why didn't I take one in the ring when I had the chance? I've done it before at lots of matches. Senility now. So before their first run I pulled out a fleecy/squeeky tug toy and teased Cody with it until he was tugging & growling. Then we proceeded with our regular warm up of tricks, warm up jump, and attention exercises with treats for rewards. This routine worked great, I had his attention on me the whole time and no stressiness at the start line. He had a beautiful clean run but had a wide turn and missed qualifying by .26 seconds. Those stupid Elite jumpers times are really tight for the big dogs. No matter, I was thrilled. I did the same w/ Lola and though her run was a comedy routine due to some miscommunication at the start, she was focused & happy which is all I was really hoping for. Afterwards I took them outside for a grand game of chase the tennis ball until tongues were hanging out and big doggy grins ensued.

And so it went for all our runs. I didn't have a single stressed, unfocused moment all day with the exception of Lola's creeping down the dogwalk but we still have lots to work on there. Cody had beautiful standard runs but popped out of the darn weave poles both times. I think he hit the entry wrong and couldn't get his rhythm so had to pop out. He redid them perfectly each time and had otherwise fast, clean runs with beautiful contacts. Lola's 1st standard run was wonderful (though a bit pokey for her) but she blew that stupid dogwalk contact, 2nd to last obstacle too. The gamble line was at the dogwalk so I was too far away from her which causes her to leap. I should have said screw the Q and crossed the line to support her but I was sure she'd do it properly and I was also curious to see if the distance training we've been doing has been effective. That would be a no.

Her final standard run was perfect though slow on the A-frame and dogwalk again but she hit those contacts. She ended up with a Q and first place. Perfect way to end the trial and head into Regionals.

The 'Chances' or gamblers runs were nq's for both dogs as it was a tough gamble but they were fast and happy and today that's all that mattered.

Next week we have a private lesson with Elicia Calhoun and whatever else I decided to throw at them. I think we're going to work only on little things-weave entries in the backyard for Cody and A-frame/dogwalk/table for Lola. I don't want to overdo it and burn them out this week. Hopefully they won't get taper madness. I make no guarantees about myself.

postscript: A link to an article in the Denver Post about a local agility dog and a blurb about Regionals at the end:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Can Ewe Herd Me Now?

I took Strummer to his first herding lesson, which actually ended up to be more like another instinct test but since it was a new instructor she wanted to evaluate him herself. After Lola's disastrous attempt at herding I'd pretty much given up on the idea but Strummer apparently has all the instinct for it so I guess I've got a new doggie activity to pursue. He was pretty crazy though, running circles around the sheep non-stop and at top speed. The instructor went in the pen without me (phew! My knees were happy for that) and used a long horse whip as an extension of her arm to stop Strum from circling (she never hit him with the whip, just used it to guide him). The idea was to get him to come up behind the sheep nice and easy rather than running around in circles like a crazy man. He has drive and speed through the roof but very little self control at the moment. Typical teenage boy.

His behavior since his lesson yesterday has been awesome, no crazy pacing around the house looking for something to do. He still had plenty of energy but didn't feel the need to expend it at every possible moment. I doubt I'll pursue competition with him because of the time and expense involved but I'm going to keep up with lessons because I think it's a good way to teach him self control and it seems to have a great effect on his mental well being.

The only downside is that he tore one of his pads. The instructor warned me it would likely happen, she's been having the same problem with her own dogs because of the extreme heat and the ground being so hot & dry. Pads usually heal quickly though so for now it's some vet wrap and a sock with some duct tape to keep it clean. Keeping him from tearing around on it is another story.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, there was a pretty cool bull snake tooling around the farm freaking out just about everybody but me. I have a certain respect for bull snakes because they kill rattlesnakes but they're fairly harmless to people.

I also managed for the first time post surgery to make it to the top of Olde Stage, a very steep road that's part of the course of our employee bike race. It took me the longest it's ever taken me (26:40 vs 18-19 minutes at my best) and it was hard but I made it and without any trouble with my knee. My hip was another matter but we'll not dwell on that for now. I think I'll be o.k. to do the race but I certainly won't be competitive. It still beats working.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Bad Naked

Sorry for the duplicate photos. I'm having trouble with blogger's photo feature. The one of the dogs goes with the post below anyway.

Went up to Winter Park today for some fun on the mountain bike trails. Jonny had a race up at the ski resort and I tagged along so I could hit the trails. I rode up to Fraser, around 15-20 minutes on the bike path, and cruised around on some of the novice trails and dirt roads. I stayed off of one of my favorite trails, Tipperary Creek, because it’s a long, steep climb and I’m not up for that yet. It was hard, but I restrained myself. I had a blast on the Flume trail, another one of my favorites that’s not as challenging but very wonderful single track nonetheless. The photo is a view of Byer’s Peak taken from a rest stop on the Flume trail. You’ll have to imagine the sound of the river flowing and the birds chirping on your own. When I pulled over for a snack and a photo at that rest stop, a couple were leaving and the guy said, ‘Am I the only guy on the trail today?’. I explained that all the guys were racing up at the ski mountain and we both agreed that our leisurely ride through the woods was much more fun. ‘This view is hypnotic’ the guy said before riding off and I agreed.

Jonny ends up winning his age group in the Sport class and is only one second behind first place in the Expert class which is one below the Pro level! A bunch of the guys/women that he regularly rides with win their age groups and divisions too.

On the drive back to Boulder Jonny convinced me that the fun match next weekend was the way to go. He didn’t even hesitate when I explained it all to him and I trust his judgment even though he doesn’t train or run the dogs in agility. Sometimes it helps to have a knowledgeable outsider’s opinion and he confirmed what I secretly wanted to do anyway.

I remembered something about a deadline for applications for the fun match so I checked when I got home and sure enough the deadline is Tuesday. I don’t have a printer at home and I didn’t want to wait until Monday because the mail is always iffy so at 4:05 I drove to the Boulder Library to use their printer. I figured the post office closed at 5:00 and I was worried about making the deadline since it seems the computers at the library are always busy and parking in downtown Boulder on a Saturday is oh so joyous. But luck was on my side, I got a parking space right outside the library door and there were 2 free computers in the lobby. Or so I thought. I went up to one of the computers and a guy on a bench in the lobby yells, ‘Excuse me miss, we’re WAITING in line’. I shrugged my shoulders at him, thinking to myself ‘Then why are you warming the bench and not using the empty machines dumbasses’ but I wasn’t going to argue. I went into the main library and there was an empty machine, no problem. Printed out the apps, wrote my check, got a parking space with 3 minutes on the meter right outside the post office door It turned out the post office shut at 4:30 and I just made it in at 4:25. Could things get any more perfect?

Of course the cosmos must always balance itself out. I turned the corner from the post office and was greeted by much screaming and commotion coming from the Pearl Street Mall which is the main pedestrian mall downtown. I was on the street that marks the start of the mall so I had crazy, yelling crowds on one side and the vehicular side of Pearl St. on the other. I had a green light and figured they were yelling at some street performer or something so I drove at a crawl past the scene lest some drunken college student or touroid end up under my wheels. When I hit Pearl St. though I realized that the commotion was over a huge parade of naked people on bikes heading straight for the Pearl St. Mall and my car. Horrified, I tried to drive away as quickly as I safely could but I got stuck waiting for pedestrians at a crosswalk so they ended up passing right next to my car. The lead guy had ‘No Blood For Oil’ painted on his ass and many of the others were carrying signs & banners. Now I agree 100% with your cause but dude I do NOT want to see your package. Seriously, it’s going to take a loooong time and maybe another serious blow to the head to erase that lovely image. To add insult to injury there was a photographer right at the crosswalk taking pictures so it’ll be just my luck I’ll end up on the front page of the Sunday Daily Camera with a naked guy next to me and a mortified expression on my face. Just the thing to proudly send home to grandma. Well, she’s been asking me for photos.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Make up your mind crazy person

I fixed that link to the Pueblo agility pictures below. Too many http's.

The next couple weeks are crazy busy as I get ready for Regionals on 4th of July weekend. I have a NADAC trial down in Penrose (Canon City, about 2 1/4 hours away) next weekend but just found out about a fun match that same weekend to be held at the same place Regionals will take place. This is an incredible opportunity to build of a reward history at that venue since I can take treats & toys into the ring (obviously can't do that at a real trial). How much would it help? Hard to say. It might help with the table issues I've been having since both Cody & Lola have lovely tables at practice where they know they get rewarded. If I could reward in a different location in a trial like setting it would help a lot. But there's no table in the Grand Prix so it's not a priority at the moment. Plenty of time to deal with it after Regionals. Logically, it would be more helpful to my Regionals performance than the NADAC trial but often logic flies right out the window when dealing with dogs.

NADAC is a low priority for me at the moment, I signed up for the trial as a tune up for Regionals but still I hate eating those expensive entry fees (they're non-refundable at this point). I could go to the fun match Sat. morning, it's on the way, then drive to Penrose and do my afternoon runs. I'd probably miss my standard runs. On the plus side, I wouldn't have to wake up at 4 am. The downside is that this sounds like an awfully hectic day for both me and the dogs. Or I could blow off the whole day, save the $72 hotel room fee and just do Sunday. I'd still have to wake up at 4 am and I'd have the long drive there & back in the same day but still less burnout for all involved a week before Regionals. At the moment I'm leaning toward just doing the whole NADAC trial as originally planned because that seems the easiest solution but I need to change my mind 12 more times before reaching a final decision.

On the tri front, I'm almost to the point of being able to make it through a whole master's workout. Wednesday's workout was around 1 hour, 1900 yards and I was swimming my 50's at around an average of 55 seconds (not including rest), slow but not awful.

The employee bike race will be on July 14 so I've started back on the bike. I went on my first steepy steep hills last weekend and my knee was great. The ride was around 1 1/2 hours up Boulder Canyon to Poorman then over the Sunshine Canyon and back home. Poorman is a very steep dirt road but it's not a long climb, took me around 1/2 hour to creep up it. Went out for my 15 mile loop on my lunch hour in the 98 degree heat on Tuesday-NOT FUN. It took me 1:11 and it used to take me around 57 minutes or so. Wasn't sure if it was because of the heat, my lack of fitness or both. After several weeks of mid 90's the weather finally broke on Thursday (low 80's, woohoo!) and I did the same ride in 1:02 so I guess the heat was a pretty significant factor.

The bike race will be on very steep roads so I'm hoping my knee will be able to handle it in 4 weeks. I'm going to Winter Park tomorrow for some biking fun so I'll be able to see how much I can push it on the hills.

I've been going easy on the running since that doesn't feel so great. The knee is o.k. but I'm still having problems with that stupid soft tissue damage from the accident. It's in such a weird place, I'm not even sure what muscles these are, I just know they hurt in an icky, sharp pain sort of way. Biking and swimming freestyle don't seem to bother them but running and swimming backstroke-yowch. So I'm focusing on biking, swimming and my stupid strength exercises until my bike race.

Finally this Sunday I'm taking Strummer to his first proper herding lesson. He went for an instinct test and did really well but I didn't like the trainer because she was using a choke collar on him and, um, no thanks, I don't train that way. And besides, the woman was a little bats, even for a dog lady. I'm going back to the teacher that gave Lola her infamous instinct test (you know, the one where she was scared of the sheep). She doesn't use violent training methods and she's a better teacher anyway. Now if only I can convince myself that I'M not scared of the sheep.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mountain Biking on the Agility Course

First off, here's a link to some photos from the USDAA trial down in Pueblo:
The big thing for me to note is how high both dogs are overjumping. This is hardly headline news but it's low on my list of training priorities at the moment even though teaching them to jump more efficiently would certainly make us faster. Our big time suck right now is the A-frame and dogwalk for Lola so that's where I'm concentrating my efforts in the next month. She's easily losing a whopping 5-10 seconds on these obstacles and her contacts still aren't anywhere near solid.

I've started taking handling lessons with Sandy at Biscuit Eaters and she's been a huge help. She's a cyclist and knows I ride too so she's been using cycling metaphors to help me. Turns out I have many of the same problems with mountain biking that I have with agility, mainly staying smooth and relaxed through the technical parts of the course/trail. When I'm not sure how to handle something I tend to tense up and start handling the bike/dog in a jerky manner, focusing on the rock I don't want to run into or the off course tunnel I don't want to take rather than focusing on where I really want to go and what I need to do to get there. I can handle things smoothly when I'm confident with what I'm doing so I do have it in me, I just need to learn how to keep my head and transfer it over to the difficult parts. This holds true for both sports. I think the only way to get through it is more practice. There are a couple of excellent teachers/world team members (Elicia Calhoun & Steve Frick) coming through town and I've signed up for lessons with both of them. They're not cheap but it's not often that such great instructors come through town offering private lessons. It's usually all day seminars and I've found that I don't learn as much that way.

I finally managed to get some rare pictures of all 3 dogs together. Strummer seems so grown up now compared to the picures we took when we first got him.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Blog Envy

I found a few cool agility blogs and added them to my list. Agility Vision is a great place to go to see actual agility runs if you've never seen it. Elite Forces of Fuzzy Destruction has video too. I like it all but where do these people get the time? Well, the 'Elite..' person doesn't work as far as I can tell which probably helps, but still. I guess I'm just jealous, I wish I didn't have to work yet had all the money I wanted to do what I want. And I've been trying forever to figure out how to put music to video of my agility runs, how did she do that? Well, o.k., I haven't actually been trying to figure it out, I spent about a 1/2 hour going through manuals one day, gave it up as impossible yet at the same time convinced myself I'd figure it out one day. And how to actually post video? I have no idea how they do that but I imagine it involves paying for your own website as opposed to slumming it over here on Blogger. Heck, I barely have time for lame ass posts let alone jacking around with video and soundtracks. I can't even seem to get the pictures I take uploaded off the freakin' camera let alone entered into the blog. And my complete incompetence with using the camera, let's not even go there.

I did find time to make it to the pool. Started at master's last Friday, a whopping 800 meters before I cried Uncle. Went back on my own on Sunday for an easy 1000 meter straight swim with some backstroke thrown in. Then masters again on Wednesday-1700 meters, 45 minutes or so of the workout and it felt great. My times on the 50 m intervals we were doing weren't bad either considering I haven't been to the pool since Feb. I hate the outdoor 50 m pool, it's really shallow (around 5' at it's deepest in the center) so there's lots of drag. Next week the 25 yard, regular pool opens so I can go there, yay.

I'm doing 8 minute of total running with 2 mins. running/2 mins. walking as part of my morning dog walks. It's not going well and I think part of the reason is the chaos of running with 2 dogs. I'm going to have to figure something else out.

Haven't been biking much, no good reason other than the blast furnace heat we've been having. Days and days of hot, sunny record breaking 90's, yuck. It's too early. It's not even officially summer and I'm already sick of it. I guess I shouldn't whine, at least it's not humid.

I started working Strummy on the weaves poles. I'm trying Susan Garrett's 2 x 2 weave pole method. I've never used it before so it's an experiment. First step, stand parallel to 2 weave poles and wait Strummy out until he looks at the poles, then click and treat by turning and running forward so he goes through the 'gate' to get his cookie. Also trying to reward while he's facing & moving forward so he doesn't start pausing and looking up at me for his cookie. That's the hardest part so far. He caught on pretty quickly after 2 sessions and now he runs right through the gate, no problem.

I've also been working on hand signals-mostly 'turn away from me' for rear crosses and 'get out' for distance work. I've started sending him around jump standards with no bars up and he's doing great, such a clever boy. I need to make a decision about how I want to train contacts-2 on 2 off or 1 rear toe on. Running contacts are out of the question, his stride is too long.

I have no plans this weekend and I'm staring at those 2 days like a deer in the headlights. So much to do, where do I start?