Sunday, December 14, 2008

SwimLabs session and arctic agility

I'll go out in most weather because I fancy myself a tough Chicago native and most of the weather here in Boulder is so mild by comparison. I'm fine as long as I'm moving. But I don't think it got much above 6 degrees today with a -12 degree wind chill. For our non-American readers 6 degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius translates to freakin' cold. Too cold for skijoring despite 5 inches or so of fresh snow. Yes, you Canadians can laugh at the wimpy Chicago native but I wasn't going out in that. O.k., I went out in it for a bit when the sun came out-shoveled the driveway and a good portion of my backyard so we could continue running dogwalk practice and took a short 30 minute walk with the dogs but that was it. I swear it took more time to get the dogs in their coats & booties and waxy stuff on the feetsies of those who won't wear booties and all my jackets and fleeces and heavy boots and Yax Trax than it took to take the walk.

I decided to work up to a 4' height plank/table in the backyard which meant another trip to Home Depot yesterday for more PVC and more sawing and PVC shavings everywhere. Good thing I never cleaned up the first batch, I'll wait until Strum's dogwalk is perfect then clean up the mess. I'm going in 6" increments rather than 4" from 2' to 4' because he's doing so well in the backyard and I think he can handle it. Sure enough he was 10/10 yesterday afternoon for his first time at 2'-6" and was again 10/10 today. I haven't had time to cut the 3'-0" legs so he'll have to stay at 2'-6" for a few more days. Plus it's such a hassle to change the legs out. I put grease on them each time but even so they get jammed in so tight it takes 2 people to pull them out. This will be even more fun with temps in the 10's-20's at night this week when I get home from work.

I'm still having trouble with him at the practice field. Some days he's 90-100% and I feel like a super training genius and other days it all falls apart and I want to tear my hair out. He's not been able to progress past the top part of the down plank of the 2' lowered dogwalk. As soon as the place he hits the down ramp changes he can't/won't adjust his stride to hit the bottom. I do think he understands he's getting rewarded for something about the bottom because he'll get lazy and run halfway up the plank then turn around and run back down. Or maybe he thinks the treat gizmo is randomly rewarding him and he's in a hurry to get back to the gizmo in hopes it'll spit kibble at him. And don't get me going about the gizmo. It's started not working again, especially at a distance. I changed out the batteries in the remote and the gizmo but still it refuses to dispense sometimes. It's o.k. if I stand right next to it but that defeats the purpose.

At least we can still practice in the yard. There's a bit of snow still on the ground where I shoveled but not enough to be a problem. Only trouble is that the plank gets slippery with snow that Strum tracks back on it if I do too many reps so I have to brush it off or stick to 10 reps. This will be the only sort of agility I can do all week with any of the dogs since the practice field will be snowed in. No indoor drop in or classes at Boulder County Fairgrounds this week either so I'm stuck. Poor Cody and Lola have a trial in 3 weeks and have had practically no practice in how many weeks? Lola has had nothing and Cody went to course run thru's at Boulder County Fairgrounds on Monday for a special treat but I couldn't do a whole lot of training. Oh well, no point fretting over it, not much I can do short of going out to Biscuit Eaters with a couple of hair dryers and an extension chord. Hmmm, maybe that's not a bad idea.

I was supposed to go up to Stacy Peardot's place for a 1/2 day seminar but thankfully she canceled. The highways were terrible and the steep dirt road up to her place is no fun when it's icy. Plus the cold people. If it was 6 degrees down here who knows how cold it was up at 1000 ft. or so higher and her arena is indoors but not heated save a few space heaters. I was SO happy she canceled, I can't imagine that would have been much fun. Plus it probably would have taken me at least 3 hours each way. I think we're rescheduled for next Saturday and hopefully the weather will be better.

Since it was too cold to do much of anything we spent the day cleaning the house since we'll be having people here for x-mas. What a nightmare, Morticia Adams would be jealous of all the dust, cobwebs and assorted grime. The worst part is once you start cleaning you start noticing dirt you didn't even know existed and it all seems so hopeless. Every year we clean the house for holiday guests and every year we can't believe what pigs we are and we're going to be better and every year it doesn't happen. Would be nice to hire a cleaning service. Not going to happen unless we win the lottery but I can dream. Surely someone can design a vacuum that a dog can push. I have all this boundless energy bouncing around my house, there must be some way to put it to good use.

Yesterday I went down to the south suburbs of Denver for a training session at SwimLabs. My masters group arranged a group session so for $25 I got a 20 minute evaluation in their fancy pants endless pool with mirrors on the bottom and sides and underwater video cameras. They film you, play the video back on a big screen, give you suggestions on improving your stroke then let you try them out and film you again. In the end you get a DVD with Dartfish analysis to take home so you can remember everything from the lesson.

I know, every 44 year old woman's dream to be videotaped from all angles in a swimsuit. But it was a real eye opener for me. The instructor didn't tell me anything that my masters coach hasn't already told me over the past few years but it was something else to see myself swimming and see all the mistakes right there. Every once in a while the instructor would switch over the video to footage of a top swimmer as comparison and the first time he did it I didn't realize and thought 'wow, I improved so much with that one little tip and hey I don't look so bad in a swimsuit after all.' Then I realized the real reason my stroke was so perfect and I had suddenly lost 10 lbs. I knew my stroke needed work but I had no idea what a complete and utter spaz I am in the water. I need to practice more drills and he gave me some good ones. I'm going to try to get to masters a little bit early so I can work on them before practice. I'm happy to have the DVD too, it's so much easier to remember things when you have a visual. Maybe I'll take my video camera to Stacy's seminar next week and beg someone to tape me. It makes such a difference when you can see what you're doing.

We should get temps. at least back into the 30's next week, hopefully won't be too bad in the morning so I can at least walk everybody. I hate messing with the booties and Cody is a pain in the ass about them sometimes flat out refusing to walk but it's the only way we can go any distance without their feet getting too cold from the snow or sore from the deicer on the streets & sidewalks. I'm glad we don't have this weather all the time, I'd go crazy with all the hassle. Hew many weeks until spring?


  1. I've been coveting a Roomba. A couple of dog friends have them and love them.

  2. Do they do a good job on the dog hair?

    I'd have to put Cody & Strummer outside or the Roomba would last exactly 30 seconds.

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  4. Ok you had me curious there so thank goodness for online temperature converters. And hey, no heckling from me. We hit a balmy high of 8 degrees - or 46 in American - today. Minus 12 windchill is not sounding particularly nice right now.

    Laughed out loud (really) at the bit about housecleaning. Bits of dirt are like spiders. If you look for one, you're bound to find one, so just keep your head low and your eyes shut and you'll be just fine.

    Sounds like a very cool swimming session and at a great price too.

  5. I sent you email separately with details about the Roomba.

  6. Oooh, 46 sounds tropical.

  7. Video taping does help tremendously! For swimming, I suppose (I'm not a swimmer), and definitely for agility!