Monday, April 30, 2007

Catching Up

Yes, I know, it's been awhile since I've had a chance to post. Busy weekends and some tight deadlines at work have kept me away from my blog.

I spent the entire weekend before last at an agility seminar with Swiss judge and former world team member Marco Mouwen. I've been trying to write something up about it but haven't gotten very far. I should be getting video from the seminar at some point and I think it'll be easier to wait for it and post all at once. It was an intense weekend but fun and I learned a lot. However focusing on agility for 7-8 hours a day for both days of the weekend, yikes, that feels like a job. It was worth it but still I felt envious of the cyclists I saw out riding as I drove home Sunday night.

This weekend was freakishly warm with temps. in the 70's-80's so I took full advantage and rode 3 hours on Sat. and 2 on Sun. Still managed to fit in agility practice both mornings before my rides but was cashed in by the end of both days. Add in a friend's 40th birthday party on Sat. night and yeah it was a full weekend.

Legs are well done today so it's a rest/recovery day for me. If it doesn't storm this evening I'll go to masters and treat it like a recovery workout. The reason the weather is important is that Monday night workouts are outside. In order to save money, Boulder masters is holding some workouts outdoors at the Elks pool which means I don't have to wait until Memorial day to swim outside. I love swimming outdoors as long as the pool water is warm and so far it's been fine, warmer than the water at the indoor rec. centers. However I don't do pools+lightning so if it's stormy I'll have a full blown rest day today.

Lola's rehab is coming along. I've started jumping her on short sequences with a couple of turns and she's doing all obstacles except weave poles which I'll add in this week. She's got one run of tunnelers in a NADAC trial this weekend then the next 2 weekends are USDAA trials with 2-3 runs per day. I'll watch her like a hawk and pull her if she seems the least bit off. I'm keeping her out of pairs, speed jumping and jumpers for now. She looked stiff last week after the race so I was worried for a while but I was stiff too and after resting her a bit she seems fine now.

Cody did great at the seminar last weekend. Someone asked me how old he was and couldn't believe he was nearly 9. He stayed excited and focused (well, as focused as he gets anyway) the whole time and caught on quickly to some of the new handling moves we learned. No missed contacts and popped only one set of weaves the whole weekend. I tried out some of our new moves at practice Sat. morning and it took a couple tries but he finally caught on. I took some video but haven't had time to download it yet.

Strummer is moving along with his jump foundation training. We're ready for the next step of Linda Mecklenburg's program which involves adding verbal cues and hand signals. His tire is getting better but he still runs under it if he gets overexcited. He's got a beautiful table so far and now we're working on stay on the table so I can eventually have a leadout-what a concept. His biggest challenge at the moment is not completely losing his head when another dog is working. I thought we'd been making some good progress but he completely lost it on Sunday when a friend was running her dog. You could have banged him on the head with a 2x4 and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference. I'll have to back up a bit and work with him more away from the agility field. I refuse to deal with a screaming maniac dog and there's no way he can trial if he's going to behave that way. This is going to be the biggest challenge as far as his training goes.

My bike rides this weekend went well but my butt hurts and my legs are dead. Sat. I rode the mountain bike up Sunshine Canyon towards Gold Hill. It's a steep climb up Sunshine Canyon on a paved road that turns to dirt. I made it just over 8 miles up (the mountain town of Gold Hill is about 9.4 miles) and decided that was enough. It took 2 hours to get up and about 25 minutes to get down so yeah it's steep. Sunday I rode the trails at Heil Ranch which is normally one of my favorite trail rides in the area. However the trail has become so heavily eroded that I doubt I'll be going back anytime soon. It's a steady climb up a steepish trail through the woods to a loop at the top with a nice overlook and views of the Continental Divide at roughly the midpoint of the loop. It used to be wonderful smooth singletrack with some rocky bits and now it's nothing but rocks with a few stretches of smooth dirt trail. It's not even that it was all that technical to ride but it was so bumpy and uncomfortable. It's so close to town that it gets a lot of use and the soil there doesn't hold up to weather very well so there's erosion from use and nature. Despite the rough trail conditions it was great to be riding in the mountains again and I did o.k., no major freak outs and I was able to ride 95% of it. Hopefully next week I'll get up to Buffalo Creek to ride some of the course from my June triathlon provided the 2 feet of snow they got up there last week has melted.

I'm considering a little sprint tri up in Windsor at the end of May as a tune up practice race. I'll have to see how much the entry is and whether it's filled yet and whether I feel like doing anything after 3 straight weekends of agility trials. I seriously need to win the lottery so I can have some down time between my weekends.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Running With a Kenyan or Are You Faster Than a 5th Grader?

Beautiful weather for the Canine Classic 5k out at the Boulder Reservoir this morning, 50's and sunny with occasional cloud cover. The predicted monster snow storm on Friday came to nothing so the trails were bone dry.

The start of the race was pure chaos with too many dogs & people crammed into much too small an area. This is one of the only races where I'll line up at the front because people who have no intention of running a single step will line up near the front and it's too hard to weave past them with all the dogs. If you've got a bunch of little kids and your dogs are wearing t-shirts you really shouldn't seed yourself up at the front. I stood off to the side with Lola until the start of the race to avoid the fray but once the race started I had to jump in at some point and for a minute or two it was a big jumble of legs, leashes and barking. The crowd quickly spread out though and we were on our way with few other issues.

This year the race was an out and back starting along a dirt trail along the south side of the Boulder Rez then heading back on another trail that lies just below the first trail so you didn't have dogs going in 2 directions on the same trail, a nice switch from years past.

I had no goal for this race, it was mainly to see where I was at, but I couldn't help wondering if there was a chance I could break 30 minutes. This was my first race since knee surgery a year ago last Feb. and my second since the car crash almost exactly 2 years ago so to be honest I was thankful just to be able to be out there with a number on my shirt. Still, I was trying to run it like a real race but had no idea how to pace myself or how hard I was capable of going. I'm tired of being injured and didn't want to end up sidelined because of overdoing it at a stupid 5k. First mile came up at 9:30 and I was happy enough with that but wasn't sure if I could keep up the pace.

When I turned onto the return trail I had to head downhill a bit and took advantage, picking up the pace and catching up to a Kenyan who was obviously out for a training run and found himself caught up in a mess of dogs and weekend warriors. Despite the warm temps. and hot sun melting the cloud cover away he was wearing a wooly hat, heavy long nylon workout pants and a nylon jacket on top of who know how many layers. Probably training for some crazy race in the desert somewhere. Anyway, I somehow found myself running side by side in perfect rhythm with him, probably the only time in my life I'll ever find myself running next to a Kenyan. Now mind you I was holding onto my pace for dear life and this man was probably 2 hours into a 6 hour run and taking it nice & easy. This second mile came up at 10:00 so even with the benefit of being paced by a Kenyan I was still falling off a bit.

The last quarter mile or so is when things got interesting. Behind me a man running with his 10 year old daughter being hauled at the end of a leash by an overly energetic Pointer pointed out an even younger boy ahead of us and bellowed out to her that she should try to beat him. My first thought (and I still stand by it) was that this father was pretty obnoxious, teaching his daughter the fine art of being snotty & overcompetitive at such a tender age. My second thought was hmmm, I wonder if I can take them both. Yes that's me, duking it out with the grade school kids. Unfortunately the girl took off and once the Pointer got that extra burst of speed I don't think she could have stopped him if she'd wanted to. She was soon out of sight but I did eventually catch the younger boy who looked, oh, about 7 or so. Mile 3 came in at 9:30 which put me at 29:00 total for the 3 miles. Could I run .1 mile in less than a minute to break 30:00? I was too tired & oxygen deprived to do the math but it seemed iffy. I turned a corner to find the finish line with the clock reading 29:40 when I crossed. A couple seconds later I clicked my own watch off and saw it said 30:06. Rats, that could easily have been the amount of time it took me to get over the start plus shut my watch off at the end but oh well, unless my official race time comes up 29:40 (it's possible I misunderstood where the start was and I had started my watch a bit early anyway) I'm putting it down as 30:06. In any case I was pretty close to guessing where I was at.

Lola's favorite part is the post race expo where she works all the people at the booths for treats and snugs. The little vixen is pretty darn good at it too, people were feeding and fussing over her right and left. She was so good during the race that I thought she deserved it and indulged her. She's been on such a restricitve diet the past few months so I figured it was o.k. for her to overindulge just a little. Then I took her down to the water to let her cool off and play a little. She had no interest in the free frisbee we got so I found her a stick and she went crazy, diving into the shallows after it.

I got an impressive haul of swag myself-a good sized bag of quality dog food, a large stainless steel travel mug, a mini Swiss army knife type thing, lots of treat and dog food samples, a water bottle, a $10 gift certificate to the snooty doggie boutique in Boulder's new shopping mall, and free organic ice cream. I also had some oreos for the first time in years. Normally I would never eat something so toxic but I was hungry after the race and they looked oh so inviting. They were yummy but it'll probably be years before I'll have another.

Even though my time was slow I do feel confident now that I can get back into racing. My legs feel like lead but in a normal, good, post race sort of way. Nothing feels injured though the car crash injuries surfaced ever so briefly as I was walking Lo down to the beach but quickly subsided. I suppose those will haunt me for evermore but it was no big deal really and didn't hamper me while I was racing. Next race will hopefully be the Buffalo Creek Triathlon Short Course in June. Now I just need to get my ass on that bike.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

You'd Think I'd Signed Up for a Marathon or Something

A couple of months ago I decided I wanted to run the Canine Classic 5k out at the Boulder Rez as a sort of goal to shoot for. Typically I pay my entry fee right when I pick a race because then I can't back out and it gives me something to aim for. However, I wanted to be sure I could at least finish the distance comfortably with no injury issues before signing up. The race doesn't typically fill and if it did, heck, 5k's are a dime a dozen. Race day is this Sunday and somehow it crept up on me. I can easily knock off 3.1 miles but not very quickly so I've been hemming and hawing about entering. On the one hand it would be nice to see where I'm at with my running but on the other hand I have a good guess where I'm at (sucksville) so do I really need to pay $30, a princely sum for a measly 5k, just to finish back of the pack and confirm my suspicions? On the other hand I like doing this race with Lola. On the other hand I can run at the Rez with Lola for free any day of the week. On the other hand (this went on for many hands), oh for crying out loud it's a stupid 5k just register already. So I did and now I've gone from dreading the thought of it to kind of looking forward to it.

There's a huge snowstorm predicted for tomorrow, 5"-10" supposedly. The ground is so warm though and predictions are for 50's-60's on Sat. & Sun. so it should be melted and dried out in time. Or maybe we'll have a mudfest, who knows? One year I did this race and sleet was blowing sideways across the Rez and into my face. Another year it was in the 70's. Such is springtime in Colorado.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Well, Maybe Work Isn't So Bad

I was leaving for work this morning as Jonny came back from an early romp with Strummer on the nearby open space. He warned me, 'Oh Elayne, he's rolled in something'. Being the supportive spouse that I am I headed for the safety of my car squealing 'Gettim away from me' and headed off for work. Really, there was no use in the both of us getting stinky and I was already running late. Later in the morning I got an email telling me that Strummer's cologne was most likely rabbit innards. Yeah, it was a good day at work.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I Get Tomorrow Off, Right?

Had a USDAA trial this weekend and I'm very very tired. Had my last run on Sat. at 7:00 pm and I was pretty tired & crabby but we Q'ed in Snooker so I guess it was worth waiting around though had I known it would be so late I would have left after my standard run finished at 3:30. Sunday was much better (done by just after 3:00) but I really wish I had the day off tomorrow. From now on I think I'm only going to enter 4 runs per day, 5 is too much for both me and Cody.

It was fun though and Cody did pretty well for Cody, picking up his (and my) first ever Standard Q in masters as well as Q's in Snooker, Gamblers and the Grand Prix. We had 2nd places in Standard & Gamblers, the rest I don't remember. I think the only off courses we had all weekend were the very last jump of Speed Jumping (argh!) and Jumpers. He had some crazy, lack of focus moments in particular in our first Gamblers run which should have been easy peasy but he ran a little wild and ended up at the opposite end of the arena when the whistle blew. He did the gamble but was .17 sec over time. Same thing happened the last time this judge was in town. That's 2 easy gamble Q's lost because we were out of position. Oh well, I'm sure we'll get the remaining 2 we need for his championship long before we'll get those remaining standard runs.

Most of the mistakes we had this weekend were with the weaves, either popping out or missing an entry. Unfortunately it's the one obstacle I don't like to drill because of his shoulder. On the good side he didn't miss a single contact all weekend, even on the gamble which had an A-frame. Best of all was that he wasn't the slightest bit stressed at all-no start line stress, perfect downs on the table, no flying off the contacts, yay. Our NQ's were all little mistakes, no major meltdowns. Our last trial was exactly 3 months ago so I wasn't holding out much hope we'd do well, esp. considering how I'd been running in classes and at practice lately so I was pretty pleased with Mr. Baloneypants. I'm finally starting to feel a bit more confident with those masters classes too.

I missed having Lola there, she would have liked some of those courses. She's entered in some trials next month though so we'll see how she does. Jonny came up to watch for a bit and brought Strummer who is doing much better but is still a bit too unhinged by the dogs running in the ring. At least I was able to get him to focus on me fairly easily but it would be nice if he didn't lose control in the first place. Oh well, baby steps.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

There's Something About Josh

Josh Gottheil
July 14, 1969-April 4, 1989

Makes you wanna feel
Makes you wanna try
Makes you wanna blow the stars from the sky

-The Jesus and Mary Chain

Today is the 18th anniversary of the death of my friend Josh so I thought I’d share some pictures and a few memories.

I met Josh when he was 15 and I was 20. I was a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and it was the start of the fall semester, 1984. It was a crisp fall day, blue sky, the Midwestern leaves in full color and I was at some kind of outdoor concert at Urbana High School with my roommate and her boyfriend Dave who were on the lookout for a drummer to complete a band they were forming. I can’t remember if we were there specifically because they had heard about Josh and were thinking of recruiting him or if we just happened to go because when you live in a small Midwestern town where the main sources of entertainment are frat parties and football games you take just about any opportunity you can get to hear live music. In any case, Josh was playing drums in one of the bands that day and something about him struck my friends and they invited him to join their band. He agreed and the Dead Relatives were formed.

Josh was so polite and a bit shy around us at first but that soon wore off and he fit right in. Early on Dave decided he wanted to include Josh more so he planned practices so there was time to hang out afterwards rather than taking him straight home. I would tag along, doing my homework while they practiced (yes, I know, very rock n roll) then hanging out when they were done. Josh came along to parties, shows and road trips to see bands. I spent the better part of my junior & senior years tripping over Josh’s drum kit which resided in our dining room.

Dave started promoting punk rock shows and brought some great bands to town but he fell ill and had to give it up temporarily so I reluctantly ended up inheriting the task. I didn’t really like this job but I loved the music and it was the only way to get the bands I loved so much to come to town. Josh on the other hand took right to it. He was a huge help and whenever I had a problem he was there, calmly offering up solutions. Josh saw only what was possible and worked his way toward it never bothering too much about the hurdles along the way. The fact that by age 17 he was bringing major independent acts like the Pixies and Throwing Muses to such a small town was no surprise to me.

Though impressive, Josh’s concert promoting skills were only a small part of what made him such an awesome guy. Above all he was a great friend, funny, smart and a joy to be around. When he came along with me on flyer hanging expeditions, a tedious chore, the time would fly by. We were having breakfast in a Chicago restaurant the day after some show we had come up to see and Josh had me laughing about the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life-tears streaming down my eyes, stomach cramping up, the whole bit. I can’t remember what we were joking about but I was having such a good time, it was one of those rare moments where you can’t imagine wanting to be any other place or with any other people than right where you are at that moment in time. Josh was a big part of the fun parts of my college years and I’m so thankful that I knew him.

When I was a teenager I fell off a fast moving horse and had the wind knocked out of me when I hit the ground. This was the exact same feeling I had when a friend called and told me that Josh had died of Lymphoma. I was incapable of speaking and had to hang up the phone. When I graduated and moved back home to Chicago in 1986 I fell out of touch with most of my college friends as I focused on finding a job, apartment, etc. At some point a couple of years later Josh moved up to Chicago and I found out and gave him a call, trying to meet up with him. By then I knew he was seriously ill but I had no details. He sounded so tired on the phone and I didn’t want to pressure him to go out. We made loose plans to meet a few days later outside a club for a show. I told him I’d be there but I’d understand if he didn’t make it. He never showed up and I’m pretty sure that was the last time I talked to him. Unfortunately the friend who informed me of Josh’s death told me 3 weeks after the fact so I missed the funeral. I heard that people were lined up outside for blocks. To this day I’m furious with myself for falling so out of touch and not being there for him.

I don’t think you ever truly get over losing a friend like that at such a young age. I can’t even begin to fathom the pain his family went through. Josh’s parents set up a memorial fund in Josh’s name to provide money for continuing education for nurses working with Lymphoma patients. Josh’s dad is an economics professor at the University of Illinois and so popular with his students (he’s often voted best professor on campus) that they organize fundraisers for Josh’s fund. I found one fraternity that’s been sponsoring an annual 5k run (Jog for Josh) for 5 years or so now. I’d also like to add that Josh’s dad was incredibly supportive of Josh. How many parents let their 15 year olds hang out with college kids or endure a night of noisy punk rock to see their kid’s band play? Josh packed a lot of life experiences into the short time that he had and it was in large part thanks to the freedom and support that his family gave him. His sister Lisa was (and probably still is) just as sweet and full of life as Josh was. Josh and Lisa seemed more like best friends than siblings which I think is a testament to the wonderful family they had supporting them.

20 years later I still think of Josh and shed the occasional tear over his death. I’ll always carry around my wonderful memories of him-his sweet smile & infectious laugh, the devilish look he’d get in his eye when he was planning some kind of good natured mischief, the many many times he made me laugh, his boundless enthusiasm & energy. If anybody who knew Josh is reading this and wants to post something please feel free to put it in the comments. I’ll post any photos anybody has too, just email me (colliebrains at juno dot com).

I apologize for the quality of the photos I have. My only camera back in the day was a crappy Kodak 110 Instamatic that required flash cubes for indoor shots. Some of the photos were cropped from the background of a shot of the other band members. Unfortunately drummers often get left in the shadows in band photos. Josh always looked so nonchalant when he played. I’d have to tease & cajole to get him to smile for the camera. He looks so impossibly small compared to his drum kit in those early shots.

I’ll also provide some links to other info. about Josh I’ve found. If anyone wants to add a link feel free to do it in the comments and I can add it here.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hills Baby

I passed up a trip to the mountain biking mecca of Moab, UT last weekend because I haven't been riding enough hills to feel confident on the trails out there. Jonny went with some friends leaving me to fend for myself with the 3 dogs. He gave me a stern lecture about not wanting to come home to find more dogs than when he left. After leaving me to take care of those 3 on my own for 3 days his real worry should have been coming home to at least 3 dogs. In fact after trying to do my taxes with 3 stir crazy border collies bouncing off the walls while it rained solidly all day Saturday he was lucky to return to find any dogs at all. And actually if he'd had the situation properly sussed his real worry should have been whether I was going to burn the kitchen down. In the end the kitchen and I survived, just.

Saturday I took all 3 out for a 50 minute walk with some off leash running in the park in the pouring rain in the morning. Then I took Lola & Strum for a 2 mile run in the late afternoon. Wussy Boulderites didn't want to get their widdle feet muddy so I had the whole Wonderland Trail to myself. Sunday I took Lola & Strummer to the Rez for an hour long romp in the a.m. then drove 45 minutes up to Windsor for an agility fun match with Cody & Strummer. Went for a 1 3/4 hours bike ride when I got home then took Lola out to Biscuit Eaters for some agility. Got home at 7:45 pm and decided 3 dogs and 4 sports is a bit over the top.

I've been gradually phasing the hills back into my running and cycling. Yesterday I hit the Foothills trail by my house for about 52 minutes, my longest run in 2 years. The best part though was the hill at the halfway point. It's not all that big but it's a wee bit technical and it is a hill. It felt pretty cool to be picking my way up & down a rocky trail again no matter how slowly.

Today Jonny took me on a little biking adventure on the roads just out our back door. We went up an area called Bow Mountain which is a nice quiet road off the more popular Olde Stage/Lee Hill route. The roads turned to dirt soon enough then back to pavement then back to dirt again as we cruised around the various little mountain subdivisions. Best part though was the super steep dirt roads with pretty much no traffic on them. Heart pounding, legs burning. lungs ready to explode, beautiful views of the plains and the Continental Divide-whew it feels good to be alive! I can't believe I've had all this great riding out my backdoor all these years and didn't know about it. It's so easy to fall into a rut and ride the same old routes all the time. The only bad part is that it was over much too quickly, 1:50 or so, fine for today when I'm not in such great shape but a bit short for an epic summer ride.

I've got an agility trial next weekend but I think if I can keep up with the hills over the next 2 weeks I'll be ready for the 2 hour grindfest up to the mountain town of Gold Hill the following weekend. Then maybe I'll feel more confident taking to the trails.