Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cheery thought for a Sunday morning

'Soon we won't have any music by people who are alive' said Jonny this a.m. as he played a J. Church record (singer died of some autoimmune disease or something). This made me feel old and sad.

On a lighter note, Strum redeemed himself at the NADAC trial yesterday. 2/2 for Q's in Novice Weavers and Jumpers with a 3rd and 1st place respectively. Best of all he was so well behaved and relaxed and excited (but not crazy foaming at the mouth excited). Totally focused for his runs and flying full tilt around the courses and feeling a little bit less like a baby dog. I'll post a full report later. We go back this afternoon for Tunnelers and another round of Jumpers. I'm so hoping he'll be as well behaved today.

Who was zee sexiest collie at zee agility trial?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Tuesday

(click on the photo to start the animation)

If you can't get the animation to work by clicking try this link. Not sure how to get the one in my blog to work.

Anyway, this could equally apply to Strummer's run through last night. I'd tell you about it but wow I so don't want to relive that catastrophe. Let's just say I took my $7, scratched him from his second run, and he's lucky I drove him home and not up to Wyoming to return him to the rescue lady. And I'm such a sucker that 1/2 hour after I got home and cooled down the little bastard was snuggled up next to me on the couch acting all cute. Whatever happened to my quiet life with cats?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fun Match and more running dogwalk

Fun Match
Took Strum and Lola up to Powerpups again for another fun match. This time the weather was cooperating so we were able to run a course and there was a fair bit of a crowd to provide the necessary distractions.

Strum did mostly well while waiting ringside. Had a few outbursts and ran off of the practice jump as the dog in the ring zipped past. Luckily the arena is fenced and once he figured out he wasn't going to get in he came back and worked nicely with me. Usually I won't let him off leash at the practice jump unless I know the distraction level is such that he won't leave me but since we were at a practice match and I knew he couldn't cause any trouble I wanted to push him a little. Both his runs were a bit crazy from a handling perspective, he was running wild, not collecting, knocking bars, running past obstacles and several times I had to stop and call him back to me to remind him uh, hey buddy, remember me? I had him repeat small sections of the course until he was focused on me and collecting and then we'd move on. I'm glad I chose to run him on the masters level course, I can't imagine the carnage we would have had on the novice course. I also stopped to reward dogwalk, weaves, teeter and table so that caused some break in the momentum of the runs as well. The good news is that he was something like 80-90% (8 or 9 hits out of 10 or so reps) with his dogwalk and I was thrilled about that. Teeter and table were nice too though he didn't get his elbows down right away on the table, he was so excited to get moving. That's the first time I've seen that so we'll have to go back to including more tables in sequences. The weaves were after a slight turn after the dogwalk and I stopped to reward all dogwalks so getting him back and lined up for the weaves was a bit awkward and he missed a few entries. Once I got him in they were beautiful though except the last set of the last run where he popped out about midway through because frankly I think by that point his poor brain was melting. 90 seconds is a long time to be running full tilt. Tonight I take him to Boulder County Fairgrounds for the last run through of the season and my plan is to work small sequences, maybe even put him in a sit in between sequences to settle him a bit and keep things from getting too crazy out of control. Also I'm going to go back to using more control type focus exercises to warm him up. I tried using a tug toy during his warm up at the fun match to see if he was ready for that and I'd say the answer to that is not. He sure had fun out there though and as I came out of the ring a friend who's never seen him run before said I'd better put my running shoes on, he's so darned fast.

I brought Lola along to work on her table issues. I've been working on this away from agility and even away from the table and on the one hand I wasn't quite ready to be putting her on a table during a course but on the other hand fun matches are so few and far between that I wanted to take advantage of being able to reward her on the table. Luckily the table was in a central location so I was able to redo it several times in a row then carry on with the course then come back to it again and redo it some more. The first run I rewarded her for the first time she got on the table then withheld reward the second time then rewarded the third time. She was hesitant to get on the third time but she did it. For the second run I didn't reward her the first time and she put up a bit of a fuss getting on the second time. I pulled her off the table because I didn't want to reward her for balking if she did eventually go down. Then I gave her another chance and she went down, got lots of treats and was fine for all other reps. I wish USDAA would do away with the table, what a stupid obstacle. Sucks all the fun and flow right out of the run.

She did a great job on everything else for both her runs-perfect contacts and weaves, followed my handling beautifully, lots of sassy barking. I'd say she was having some big fun as well. She's a dream to handle compared to crazy wild man Strummer, I'll tell you that. I didn't realize how good she was until I had to go back to novice with a crazy wild green dog.

Running Dogwalk
Strum had his first perfect practice (10/10, 100%) on the full height dogwalk out at the practice field on Saturday. Of course I'll need to see it a million more times before I'll believe it's for reals but I was so happy for that one good practice. Then his good showing at the fun match gives me even more confidence that we're going to pull this one off. I'm going to see how solid he is this week and if things go well I'll reintroduce the A-frame next week. I think (hope) my mistake was introducing it too soon before the dogwalk behavior was solid enough. My yard's a bit muddy right now but once it dries out I'll go back to working on turns on the plank/table set-up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Running Dogwalk

I've got some video of one of Strummer's practice sessions on the full dogwalk. The heading on the video is wrong, it says 9/12 hits and that not all runs are shown. Those were the stats for an earlier practice session, this one was 5/7 hits and all runs are shown in the video. The quality is not great and the background is distracting but there was nothing I could do since the fence was too close to the other side of the dogwalk so I couldn't shoot facing the other way. This is more of a documentation for myself of where we're at in the training process but maybe it's helpful to someone who doesn't mind crappy video so I'll share it.

Had another practice session yesterday after a little break for the weekend trial and recovery thereof. Results were 7/11, not so great. The pattern seems to be that he misses the early reps then realizes, huh, that's not working for me and he goes back to doing it right which to me means he's still very much in the learning process. He did have one of the worst leaps ever though from the top 3rd of the downside plank. Usually when he misses he still gets a back leg in or he just misses the top of the yellow with his front feet, he doesn't usually deliberately launch from the top of the plank (that's Cody's specialty). My guess is that something distracted him though hard to say. So far it's an anomoly so I'm not going to worry about it too much unless I see it cropping up again.

We're going to a fun match up at Power Pups again this weekend and since he was 100% on the dogwalk up there last time we went I'm going to try doing it in a sequence. I'll also take Lola up there to work on her table. Should be fun, it's supposed to be 60 degrees, hopefully I can get some biking in too. Crazy weather for February.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


A great weekend all around-fun trial, great judge (Ann McQuillen, same as we had at DOCNA Champs), nice fast fun courses with some good challenges, all the dogs did great and had fun as well.

Strum did awesome for his second trial. He was well behaved, no lunging or barking fits, was good in his crate except for barking when I'd leave him behind, especially when I left to run another dog. He only ran in Traditional Gamblers, 2 rounds of Jumpers and the Strategic Time Gamble which I'm still getting the hang of. His jumpers runs are on the video, both were nice but with little glitches that cost us a Q but wow, I thought he did a nice job for his second trial. The first run fell victim to some poor handling on my part and the second run shoulda been but he got distracted by something outside the ring, maybe the next dog stepping in the ring to the line, and pulled off a jump for just long enough to cause a run-by then a back jump. His jumping at the end of that second run was awful, jumping WAY too early and I'm sure it's because he spotted the next dog stepping to the line. You can see his ears and tail go up for the last 2-3 jumps. We'll have to work on those distractions for sure and some jumping exercises. I've been focusing so much on contacts and weaves that I've been neglecting the jumping.

I knew his Traditional Gamblers run would be a no Q since the A-frame was in the gamble so I didn't worry about timing it to hit the gamble and picked a course to work on weaves, teeter and some handling. Again, he did a nice job, only got 2/4 of his weaves (popped out once and missed an entry I think), had a nice teeter, was listening for the most part but seemed a little distracted at some points. It went by so quickly, I can barely remember what happened. He did a send to the tunnel for the gamble then I called him to me and we bypassed the frame on our way out of the ring.

He saved the best run for last with the Strategic Time Gamble. I picked a course with a million tunnels and I'm not sure why I thought sending him through all those particle accelerators was a good plan but somehow I managed to keep up without having to break out the defibrillator. He hit all his weaves, beautiful teeters, so fast, 9 zillion points, at one point I said to the judge 'will the whistle ever blow?' because he finished all the stuff I had planned and I had to keep adding more so I wouldn't finish too early. You have a 30 second opening then a 15 second closing and you have to leave the ring in a certain window of time, 2.5 seconds I think? We got out in time so he got his first DOCNA Q. Even though we had the most points we finished quite low in the rankings (6th or 7th I think) because what's most important is how close you finish to 45 seconds, then points count next. Or something, I don't quite understand the scoring. The winners were all 44:xx and we were 43:xx because I ran out of obstacles too soon. I didn't care though, what a gorgeous run and lots of people telling us how amazing afterward, even people I didn't know.

This was a welcome change from all the zillions of people, including the judge, telling me how much fun Cody was having during his Traditional Gamblers run. Uh, yeah, not so much fun for me. Probably the less said the better. He redeemed himself with 2 nice standard runs though, both Q's. I've got the second one on the video, could end up being his last run in a trial. Yeah, I know, lots of big loopy turns but I was pleased with him anyway. I thought he looked good for 10 1/2 years old but still I think maybe it's time. He looked so slow compared to how he used to run and I worry about him.

Lola had a blast in her runs on Sunday. The courses were perfect for her and she had a chance to stretch out those long legs and RUN. She ended up with Q's in Strategic Time Gamble and one of her Standard runs and missed a Q in the second Standard run with a missed A-frame contact but otherwise such a nice run and she looked so happy. Love it when my girl is kicking up her heels and barking at me with joy, couldn't ask for anything more.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fun match photos and best biking video ever

I was surprised to see there was a photographer at the fun match last weekend. The best was one of me doing some kinda crazy Rocka Hula dance aka really really late front cross while poor Strum tries to negotiate a double jump while figuring what the heck I want him to do: Strummer Jumping

Lola cracks me up: Lola Jumping

Here are the rest:

Lola Tire

Strummer Tire

Strummer Jumping

Strummer Jumping

Also, thanks to Kathy for posting this biking video on my facebook. I'm putting it here so I don't lose the link and so you can have some Friday fun. Hell-arious!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Time to celebrate Lola's Gotcha Day and what better way than with a bunch of her puppy photos. Funny to think I didn't have a digital camera back then. Also funny to think that the pudgy little sausage roll I took home from the Boulder Humane Society turned 8 in December and is graying around the muzzle. She was the Cutest Puppy Ever and hilarious, seemed like everything she did was a comedy routine. What a handful though, I can't remember the specifics but I'm sure she regularly had me on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She's calmed down a lot but she's still a loud mouthed diva and I wouldn't want her any other way.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Permission to drown my masters lanemate?

We did another hard sprint workout at masters last night, I'm sure my coach is trying to do me in. We were supposed to predict our time for the various distances we were sprinting and for various reasons my first two sprints got screwed up and I'm not sure what my time was but for the final sprint of 75 yards I predicted a time of 1:10 based on my typical 75 swim time of 1:16-1:20 for regular non-sprint sets. I swam hard and came in at 1:05, hurray for me, I was thrilled. Until my lanemate called me an underachiever. To my face. Uh, lessee here, I woke up at 5 something, strapped on my headlamp and took the dogs for a walk/run, got home and cleaned up the poop in the yard so I could train a bit, got some running dogwalk practice in with Strummer, showered etc., drove to work listening to apocalyptic doom on NPR, was at my desk by 8:00 and had a full day at work which is a job that is often stressful, requires lots of mental concentration, and has lots of liability to the point where people can die if I screw up, spent most of my lunch break training/playing with Lola, worried if I will even have a job next month, next week, next year, came up with a million excuses at around 4:00 for skipping masters the most compelling of which was a storm blowing in, talked myself into going to practice anyway, just, hung around work for an extra 20 mins. so I wouldn't be too early, drove to the opposite end of town in rush hour traffic, stuffed my pale ass into a swimsuit, jumped into a freezing cold swimming pool and swam my butt off for an hour only to be told what an underachiever I am. Then I drove in the snowstorm to the opposite end of town again to get home. By the time I had dinner and sat my ass on the couch it was nearly 8:00. I know, I'm such a slacker.

I've been swimming with this lanemate for maybe 8 years now, maybe more, and no he wasn't joking and yes I'm sure he thought he was helping me but frankly I was ready to tell him where to go. At the heart of the issue is the fact that he's extremely competitive, overcompetitive, and for him it's all about being fast and beating someone and how good you are. And for me it's about swimming and relaxing and feeling good afterwards and swimming and being healthy and swimming. I let him lead the lane most of the time for a lot of reasons none of which have to do with lack of confidence in my abilities and mostly so I don't have to deal with him. I'm faster than him on some strokes, slower on others and it's easier to give him an extra head start and swim my own workout behind him than to deal with him trying to race me all the time. Also at the heart of the matter is that I don't care about beating him or anybody else. Of course I want to be the best I can be but I don't get off on racing other people in my lane and no I'm not going to push myself to the point of puking if I can help it. Noone's paying me to do triathlons, it's a fun hobby and a good way to relax after work and stay healthy but that's about as far as it goes for me, I don't need the sport as a vehicle to prove something or to get validation from other people. Same goes for agility. Winning is fun when it happens but I do the sport because I love it for itself, not for the opportunity to win something. The better I am at something the more fun it will be so I do get obsessed with training and improving but it's more so I can enjoy myself more, not so I can beat somebody else.

I'm not sure what happened to the notion of doing something for the pure love of it or why we always need to be chasing titles and trophies and validation and whatnot and if we're not then we're most certainly underachievers. I especially don't get it when it gets to the point that the chasing sucks every last bit of fun out of it. None of my hobbies pays my bills and until they do I'm not turning them into a second job.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Strummer's last winter class

Mr. 'I Was Born Ready' at your service

Strum had his last class for the winter at Boulder County Fairgrounds last night and it went better than expected. After his craziness at the fun match which was also at BCF I decided to break out his Gentle Leader. It's been a year or 2 since he's used it and it felt like a bit of a backslide having to use it since he's been doing so well without it but his barking and lunging at dogs in the ring have been on the increase despite my best efforts so I needed to do something. This turned out to be a great decision-he was a completely different dog. Oh he tried to lunge but as soon as he figured out he couldn't get anywhere he knocked it off for the most part and tried other things like lying down and offering his tricks to get attention when he felt himself getting out of control. Hurray for that, I was much more relaxed in class and able to focus on the lesson plus I had a lot more instances where I could reward him for watching the other dogs calmly. Hopefully this will turn him around and send his behavior back in the right direction. I'm going to bring the Gentle Leader with to his trial this weekend just in case but I won't use it unless I think he absolutely needs it. I think the distractions at the trial won't be nearly as bad as what he endures in class and he was fine without it at his first trial.

His jumping was much improved, he was collecting at long last though not as much as I would have liked in some places. He had trouble collecting for one handling manuever that he was doing no problem on Sat. and I believe it was mostly because he was distracted by the other dogs and the other ring and a dog even wandered onto our course right where he landed after a jump at one point. But I had him keep trying until he finally got it right. The distractions are Strum's biggest challenge right now so I was happy for the opportunity to work through them. He even did weaves consistently and got his entries at speed for me in class which was a first though the entries were easy.

Our instructor promised us a surprise for the last half of class and when I saw the Snooker flags come out I got all excited. I love Snooker, I know, it's not right but I do. I was the only one happy to see them though. Only one other person even knew how to play and she wasn't all that excited by the prospect though she's amazing at it. The only bad part was that just like regular Snooker we got whistled off the course at the first screw up and of course Strummy's very first ever Snooker run turned out to be a zero as he took a colored jump on the way to the first red. We got another shot at it after a rotation through the class and that time he made it through to the end though it wasn't pretty and I wished I could have gone back and worked through the rough patches. Technically we should have been whistled off about halfway through when Strum ran through the middle of the weave poles but my instructor must have felt bad for me and let me finish. He's going to be a USDAA judge and our class course will be one of his Snooker courses. If you happen to show under him and you get this course, woe to you because it was hard, one of the hardest I've seen for a while. We tried to convince him to make it easier by making the #7 threadle bidirectional in the opening but he didn't seem for it.

Dogwalk Practice
This morning I started working Strum on turns on the backyard set-up (4' table w/ plank). Silvia Trkman has a section on her website on turns but unfortunately I can't link directly to it. You can go here then click on 'our training' then click on the running contacts link then sift through the article. Anyway, she uses a jump and rotates it around the clock at the end of the dogwalk like you would for weave pole entries. She also puts a vertical piece of PVC pipe at the side of the end of the dogwalk so the dog has something to turn around. I don't have room in my yard for a jump so instead I moved the treat gizmo in an arc around the end of the dogwalk. Also I couldn't get a piece of PVC into the solid ground so I used a piece of 4x4 I had laying around and propped it up with a flower pot. This is probably harder to fade than the PVC but it's the best compromise at the moment. I hate using props in general but in this case I thought I'd give it a try because I don't want to lose the running contact. He ended up 10/10, no problem. The farthest I moved the gizmo was maybe 2:00 along the arc and it was 10' or so off the end of the plank so the worst case turn was not extreme at all. In the next few days I'll step it up a bit. Trouble is that my yard is too small, I'm going to have to get creative with the set-up and maybe only practice turns in one direction for a few days then move the set-up and switch directions. Once he's more solid on the full dogwalk at the practice field I'll start with turns out there and use a jump. I'm also going to start with distractions in the yard and fading the gizmo. Fun fun fun.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

We're having much more fun

I took Strummer to his first ever fun match this weekend and he had a great time playing in the obedience ring. Which would have been great had we actually been entered in the obedience part of the show. Unfortunately when I signed up for the agility fun match I did not realize we would be sharing the indoor arena with 4 rings of obedience right up next to the agility ring with nothing but a few flimsy bits of surveying tape to divide them. There's no way I would have signed Strummer up for this had I known but when I arrived and saw the setup I figured that he'd been doing so well in class as far as not leaving me to join the dogs in the other agility ring right next door that he'd be fine with obedience which didn't seem nearly as enticing. Thing is I don't know much about obedience and as it turns out one of the exercises they do involves throwing a plastic barbell thingy and it was just my luck that they happened to throw it right at the exact moment that Strum was driving out of the weave poles into a nearly empty corner of the ring that had only the table. It's possible he thought the flying toy was his reward for a job well done in the weaves or more likely he wasn't thinking much of anything at all and in his sky as a kite state was attracted by the motion of the flying toy. I saw this coming a mile away and called him. He ignored his first recall, ran up to the toy then decided to heed my second recall and came flying back to me, thankfully without picking up the toy. On the plus side he's so fast he was in and out of there in the blink of an eye though it felt like an eternity to me. I'm not sure if the obedience people found this amusing or were horrified by the wild crazy coyote dog flying into their ring. I don't recall hearing any great peals of laughter and given how stuffy the AKC agility trials are around here and how the obedience folk seem way more uptight than the agility people I'm supposing it was the latter. This is what I get for naming my dog after a punk rock icon. There's a big AKC show next weekend, one of those huge deals where they combine conformation, obedience, agility and who knows what else. Big huge crowds come out to watch and for those that like that kind of thing it's a great opportunity to show off for the crowd. But it also puts people preparing for it on edge and because AKC trials aren't on my radar I had no idea this fun match, put on by a breed club, was meant to be practice for this big fancy trial and not so much practice for the baby dogs. Oh well, next time I'll know.

I altered the course to avoid the dog walk and A-frame and instead got extra practice on the weaves and table, both of which were good. Teeter was good too. Jumping/handling however had gone right down the crapper. He was so wound up he wouldn't collect for anything and he had one eye on those other rings so he was distracted and not following my direction as well as he should have. On the plus side he was way more focused on his second run, stayed out of the obedience ring and had 4 beautiful runs through a full set of poles. He even squeezed between the judge and the first pole to get his entry because she was standing right at the entrance since the next obstacle was supposed to be the A-frame I was avoiding and she was in position to judge that. He still wasn't collecting properly on his jumps on his second run though it's possible I cued him too late. I ran the same course with Lola and she read the front crosses no problem but she's not nearly as fast as Strum. Either way I'll be paying close attention to that at class tomorrow night and I'll break out the portable jumps on my lunch hour for a little refresher course. He was even having problems collecting on the practice jump so I think we need to review a bit and I need to rile him up a bit more in practice.

I took Lola to the match as well so I could work on her table. I've been working on her 'down' cue off the table and that's been an adventure that I'll write about eventually but not tonight. I wasn't quite ready to put her on a table in a new place but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be able to reward her right there on the table if she managed to do it. On her first run she balked at the table at first but she got on and went into a down. Yeeha, lots of treats for that. I ran her back and forth on the A-frame then back on the table and she did it no problem. On her second run through I waited a bit to reward her and she popped up after 3 seconds. I did get her back down though without a fight and she once again gots lots of treats. I put her on and off the table about 4-5 more times really quickly before my time ran out and she did great. There may be hope for a Standard Q after all. The trick with her has been to avoid turning it into a battle of wills because that makes her freeze right away. One of these days I'll remember to write about what we've been doing. The rest of her run for both runs was perfect, good weaves and contacts, no problems with the course though we were running a novice/open level course. She was even moving at a decent speed without me pushing her. She must have been feeling good and her feet not bothering her.


After I got home from the match I shot some photos of Strum on the dogwalk plank in the backyard. Table is at 4' high. He was 10/10 so I didn't get any photos of his gait for a miss and I certainly wasn't going to try to get him to miss in order to get a photo. As it turns out he is doing a rotary gallop, at least in the photos. I'll try to get some video this week as well.

He had a successful week of training on the dogwalk, I was beyond pleased. His sessions have been a combo of backchaining the full length 4' high dogwalk (6 reps or so) and running the full dogwalk (4 reps). He's been 100% over 3 sessions for the full dogwalk reps though 50-70% on the backchained reps. Best part though was that I took him up to Powerpups which is an outdoor facility where he's never practiced before and he was 100% on all his dogwalk reps even with the wind howling. He had nice weaves, teeter and table there too. There was supposed to be a course set up for run throughs but when I arrived the wind was blowing so badly that the field was a mess of collapsed jumps. It wasn't blowing that badly in Boulder when I left so I didn't even think to call to see if it was bad up there. I'd driven an hour to get there so Alan generously offered to let me put Strum on whatever equipment I liked since there was no way the jumps were going to stay up for me to run a course. This was more the sort of practice Strum needed anyway and I knew we had the fun match the following day so the drive wasn't a total waste.

Today was a relaxing day of hiking on the Mesa Trail/Skunk Canyon for Strummer and Cody. The dogs were off leash for a good bit of the trail but there were warnings of mountain lion sightings so we kept them on leash for the iffy parts of the trail. This was the steepest, longest hike I've been on (just under 2 hours) since foot surgery and the resulting knee problems I've been having. Aside from a bad knee twist on a rocky part of the trail I managed o.k. and I felt o.k. for the rest of the day after icing the knee a couple of times. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. Would be good if I could get back to regular hiking. I started back up with running this week too, one minute run/one minute walk for about 1/2 an hour. I had worked my way up to 3 mins. run/1 min. walk a month or so ago but then my knee flared up again and I had to back off until now. Hopefully this will be it and I can finally return to normal running. I miss it a lot and keep having dreams where I'm running long races and flying along effortlessly then I wake up from them with my knee all sore and feeling gimpy. Not fun and I've had enough of it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thursday Night Masters

Last night's workout was a bastard, I felt like puking and lost feeling in my right pinkie toe. Yeah, I don't know, I have no explanation for the toe thing so don't ask me. Last time I felt like puking during a workout was probably when I was on the high school track team. I'm not really a 'push until you puke' sort of person. I'm a firm believer in the notion that one's stomach contents should remain in their rightful place. The intervals were tight though and I was leading the lane and trying to hang on and next thing I knew I was pushing too hard.

Here's the workout if you'd like to play along. The idea in the main set is that you should have 2 seconds rest on the 100 yards and the recovery 25 (or 50 or 75) is done on the same interval no matter your skill level. In other words, if you're faster than me, and chances are you are, you should adjust the time interval on the 100 so you have 2 seconds rest, then adjust the 75, 50 and 25 accordingly but the recovery 25 is done on 50 seconds (50 on 1:20 and 75 on 1:50).

South Boulder Recreation Center
Coach: Jane

Distances are in yards, time is in mins:secs.

200 free
25 non-free
25 kick

150 free
25 non-free
25 kick

100 free
25 non-free
25 kick

Swim the above continuously. Then:
4x75 on 2:00 (1st 25 is kick, 2nd 25 is non-free, 3rd 25 is free)

Main Set
100 on 1:40
25 on :50
75 on 1:20
25 on :50
50 on :50
25 on :50
25 on :30
25 on :50

Repeat patten above but with 50's for recovery, ie
100 on 1:40
50 on 1:20

Repeat patten above but with 75's for recovery, ie
100 on 1:40
75 on 1:50

Please try not to lose contents of stomach.

Grand Finale
To add insult to injury-a timed 100 of kicking using a kickboard. Predict your fastest possible time and try to make it. No sand bagging. When the coach asked me my predicted time I said 'oh 10 minutes'. She said 'Nice try but I'm giving you 2:30'. I suck at kicking especially with a kickboard but I surprised myself and finished before they turned off the lights in the pool and shut down the rec. center. Time was 2:39, not so bad for me especially after the killer set that had come before.

I made all the intervals on the main set except for the last 100. First 100 was 1:38 (perfect), second 100 was 1:40, third was 1:45. On the first 2 I swam with short, fast strokes which is what my coach has told me to do on sprint workouts like this. For the last I thought I'd try swimming with longer, more relaxed strokes like I normally swim because I was not up for puking in the pool so of course I missed the interval. Still, those times are fast for me and the woeful shape I'm in right now. I've been swimming mostly 1:46-1:48 for 100's on non-sprint sets so I was pleased. I was leading the lane too so there was no drafting.

I signed up for a Butterfly clinic next week, woe to my poor masters coach. We'll see how many grey hairs I can give her, my Butterfly is hilarious.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Spring Chicken

Don't hate me but it's been in the 50's and 60's for the past few days and will continue to do so on into the weekend. Today I had Cody out for an off leash jaunt on a trail near my work during my lunch hour and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. So nice and warm in the bright afternoon sun, ahh. Cody's such a good boy on the trail, doesn't bother the cows, prairie dogs, bikes or runners. I even called him off of a coyote at close range once on this trail. It wasn't always so though, I've had my share of frustration with him on this trail and lots and lots of training and bashing my head against the wall.

Poor guy, 2 miles of run/walk this morning then 2 miles off leash on the trail at lunch, he's out cold now. He would much rather sprint and play games that involve chasing or sniff the same spot for 1/2 an hour, he's never been into endurance training. But it's good for him and I'm determined to keep him fit and feisty on into his golden years.

I've been thinking that the upcoming DOCNA trial next weekend may be his last. There's not another DOCNA trial until the end of May and I'm not sure yet if I'm going to go because it requires travel and I'm trying to cut down on agility expenditures what with the economy being in the crapper and all. I think the next one after that is August and who knows what state he'll be in. I thought I might make a nice retirement cake for him and bring it to the trial but then I thought what if I change my mind? He looks fabulous, if you could see him you'd wonder why the heck am I even thinking about retiring him. But he's old and he can't tell me if something's sore nor would he until it gets really bad. I'd rather stop running him while he's still full of himself rather than wait for something to go wrong and he can't enjoy his other activities. If he gets laid up who will tell Lola and Strummer to behave or bark at the deer in the yard or tell off the UPS woman or give what for to the vacuum cleaner. He's a busy guy and I know I don't have time to take on his tasks if he gets injured. Nothing to do but keep an eye on him and see how he goes.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cool Horse Video

I found this pretty amazing. Well, except for the part where she gets the horse going a million miles an hour then screeches it to a halt-that part made me cringe. But the rest of it, wow, even if you don't ride horses surely you can appreciate how difficult that must be to train.

If you watch it on the actual YouTube site there are some other videos available including some footage of her on the Ellen Degeneres show where she explains that she spent 2 years training, an hour a days five days a week, just to get to the point where she could ride the horse with no saddle or bridle then another year to be ready for competition. Makes my running contact practice seem ridiculous by comparison.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Will I never get this dog in the ring?

After much heated debate between the many loud and varied voices in my head I decided to pull Strummer from his Standard runs in the DOCNA trial that is coming up in just 2 weeks. Part of me feels like 'don't be such a chicken, he's going to be crazy in his first few trials no matter how hard you prepare. Suck it up and get it over with'. The other part of me is still nervous about his dogwalk and A-frame and doesn't want to overface him. Both will be perfect by the April USDAA trial, I promise, and then he can have his big Standard debut. I wanted his Standard debut to be in DOCNA and at this particular trial for a number of reasons but none were good enough to override the fact that I don't feel his contacts are well trained enough for trialing. I hate going to the line feeling unprepared. Sure he's probably going to have his share of baby dog craziness but that's different from not being reasonably proficient on an obstacle. This is the first time I've had such a disparity between levels of training between the different obstacles. Strum's well ahead of the game with handling/jumping, can run masters level courses. Weaves, table, teeter are good, at least good enough for Novice, but those contacts are lagging behind because I switched horses mid-stream. I don't regret the decision but I have to live with the consequences. I'll still run him in Gamblers and Jumpers and hey now I have $40 extra to go towards the April entry.

The major factor driving this decision is the A-frame. I've been taking it for granted that the A-frame will come along with the dog walk, don't need to train that separately. That's what Sylvia says, anyway. Well, Strum is hardly one to follow the crowd and as it happens the A-frame is turning out to not be such a gimmee. Sylvia recommends running them over the low frame for just a short time then raising it up fairly quickly because the lower heights supposedly encourage jumping. Strum did fine with the lowered frame (nearly flat) but when I raised it to a decent height his chosen method of performance was to leap over the apex of the A-frame and then off the frame from the top third. After I recovered from my heart attack I thought, 'Oh, that was just a fluke' so brains here had him do it again and of course he gleefully leapt off the top of the A-frame again. So that was the end of that and that was on Friday so you can see why I'm skeptical that I'll have a decent A-frame in 2 weeks. On Sunday I lowered the frame again to flat and after a few repeat performances of leaping as far as he could he finally settled back to running. But who knows how long this will take. That A-frame isn't light either, I nearly put my back out and gave myself a hernia trying to lift it while it was flat.

The good news is that I'm finally seeing a bit of success on the 4', full length dogwalk at the practice field. On Sunday I back-chained it a bit then set him up at one end and let him run the full thing. It was a thing of beauty and a nice solid hit. Gave him boatloads of treats and ended there, no need pressing my luck. Thought I'd at least enjoy a couple of days of thinking I'm a dog training genius before that fantasy gets shattered by another session. I'll try again tomorrow, hopefully something will have stuck in his fuzzy little brain and we'll have nothing but perfection from now on.

Class last night was something else. Poor Strum was crawling out of his skin with excitement and poor me had to deal with him for an hour and a half. It's important for him to learn to work in a class situation with all the distractions but an hour and a half is way too long for him to have to be exposed to other dogs running. Or rather it's too long for me to have to deal with him. I'm thinking the strong winds last night had set him more on edge than usual because he seemed to be backsliding in his ability to control himself from previous classes. He was great during our runs though but 3 runs in 1 1/2 hours is not enough for a dog like Strummer. We had to wait 40 minutes in between 2 of our turns and at this point in his training that's way too long. We have one more class and then there aren't any more offered anyway so I'll be on my own until Joy gets back and starts lessons up again. When you figure out how much instruction in minutes I get per dollar for regular classes with 8 teams per class vs privates with Joy there is no comparison, those regular classes are a false economy plus all that standing around trying to entertain an overstimulated Border Collie drives me crazy. Then there is the issue of handling systems/consistency which did come up last night. This teacher is easy going and lets me do what I want but who knows how another might respond when I say I don't want to do something a certain way. Will be interesting to see how this pans out in the agility world in general but I suppose that's a topic for another day.