Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Rez

Edited to add:
I'm pretty sure those birds are American Avocets. I found this online bird identifier, ah technology.

Finally remembered to bring the camera down to the Rez and had some fun playing around with it. No, I still don't know what I'm doing with my camera. But it was fun. Except for the part where I had to take Mr. Wet and Stinky into the office afterwards.

No herons today but these guys were pretty cool. I don't know what they are, sorry, and my bird book is at home.

Mystery birds w/ Haystack Mountain

Long's Peak trying to peek through some early morning fog

The fog burned off quickly and we had a beautiful walk.

What's that? You want to see a million pictures of my Border Collie soaking wet and covered in sand at the beach? Maybe with a tennis ball? I think that can be arranged.

Friday, April 24, 2009

He's lucky he's cute

I was going to take the camera to the Rez this morning to try to get some nice pictures of Strummer and maybe the Great Blue Heron that was there the other day but we had a little 'incident' this morning after which all thoughts of photography fled my brain. I let Lola run up Strummer's dogwalk plank/table combo thingy which is up at a height of 4' and instead of running back down it like she's been taught she decided to jump from the top of the 4' table. Then about 2 seconds into my heart attack Strummer, who's been doing so well with his self control exercises and only yesterday managed a sit stay while Lole flew through the weaves right next to him, came flying through the screen in the bedroom window. He is lucky I know about the calming deep yoga breaths is all I have to say. Then to add insult to injury once I got to work the little stinker ate part of my breakfast.

Who me?

You could forgive me if he was dog #1 but he is dog #3, he's supposed to be perfect, impeccably trained. Ironically dog #1 (Cody) would never dream of flying through a window screen or stealing food even if you left a plate of steaming hot pizza on the floor while you went in the other room and I know this because I've done it. And I never trained him either it's just something he never would do.

Of course not, I'm a good boy. I say we send Strummer away and I get all his food.

Lola might put on her pirate hat and raid the cabinets on occasion when we leave her home alone and she's feeling naughty but she'd never steal food off my desk if I left her alone in my office.

Anyway, I've spent the past couple of weeks trying to figure out where Strummer's lovely dogwalk has gone. After much experimenting and way too many misses I've determined that I didn't do a good job of fading the treat gizmo. After many sessions in the 50-75% success range without the gizmo I finally had a perfect 6/6 hit this a.m. when I brought the gizmo back out. I tried fading it by randomly throwing a toy in his path for reward but he'd run right over it and head for the gizmo. I think he'd much rather have a toy than kibble out of the gizmo but he's so conditioned to going to the gizmo that I'm not sure he even noticed the toy.

The other problem is that I've been using a toy to rile him up before his practice sessions as a form of proofing him for excitement but I don't think he's ready. This morning I realized I could barely get him to heel by my side he was so overexcited before we'd even started so I didn't let him onto the plank until he'd calmed enough to do some heels, sits and downs which is how I was warming him up previously. I think the key will be to fade the gizmo more slowly and then gradually increase the excitement level. He needs to be able to run and think while excited to be sure but we need to work up to it more gradually. Or maybe he needs some Valium. Or maybe I need some Valium.

Day of Speed I'd say

You know triathlon season is kicking into gear when you have 3 showers in one day. First one was after a morning run with da boyz. I finally made it a full 1/2 hour of 5 mins. run/1 min. walk with only a few twinges of knee pain going up a hill. This was not the speed part of the day by any means but felt faster than I've been going, almost like a run as opposed to a penguin shuffle. Cody was not thrilled, he hates running on leash and Strummer kept trying to stop every 10 yards to sniff and mark but it's good exercise for them so I make them go with me.

Shower #2 was after Tabata sprints on my lunch hour. I'm up to the full 8 reps and wow it is a hard workout for only 2 minutes. My quads have felt like jello all week and about an hour before lunch time I start dreading them but I feel good the rest of the afternoon and my knee's been tolerating them so I've been trying to gut it out.

Shower #3 was after masters swimming workout which was a sprint workout. Lucky me. To be honest I hate sprinting and I'm bad at it and it hurts and wah wah wah but I made it through the whole workout and the coach even said my last sprint of the night looked like a good effort, good form, etc.-Shocking! It was not the normal coach though so I guess I had her fooled. Jane, my normal coach, has given me some good basic pointers for sprinting in the pool and once I remembered to use them I guess was able to fake my way through. I'll post the workout below for my own benefit so I have a benchmark for where I am with my swim times right now. I feel like I'm oh so close to being able to move up a lane but not quite there yet. In the showers I asked someone from the next lane up what their prescribed interval times were and there was no way I could have held them but she said no one in her lane held them either and they ended up swimming the 100's continuously with no rest. Even so, I couldn't have swum at that pace continuously so I've got to keep plugging away for a while longer. The woman from the other lane suggested I move up anyway and sit out for a 50 here and there and draft wherever I can and I'll get better faster swimming in that faster lane but I'm not sure I agree. I think it's better to do the workout you're capable of, get enough rest per interval and put more effort into each swim rather than missing all the intervals and swimming at a continuous pace with no rest the whole workout. I know at least one of the coaches agrees with that, not sure what the research or general consensus is but speaking from personal experience I seem to get more benefit from doing proper intervals.

Today is a rest day except for maybe more Tabata sprints. The protocol calls for 5 days per week but they're so exhausting on top of all the other training that I may have to phase them in. So far I've only done 3 days this week and I think 3 last week. If it wasn't for my knee issues I'd push through today's fatigue but I'm thinking maybe it's best not to push my luck and have a nice solid rest day. Plus I'm not into that whole self-flagellation thing and I'm tired today.

I've got to decide if I want to spend money on races this year and if so which ones. Decisions, decisions.


Masters Workout April 24, 2009
South Boulder Rec.
Coach: Eenie
All distances in yards

200 on my own pre-workout, mix of free/non-free

8x50 on 1:20 (start slow and build up to fast by 4th interval then slow back down)
[my times started at :50 and went down to :45 then back up to :48)
50 easy

Main Set:
All distances on 2:15
As the distance gets shorter, pace gets faster
Work on pacing for the 100's, try to keep them all the same pace
8x100 [my time ranged from 1:42-1:44, mostly at 1:43]
6x75 [these were the hardest, times were 1:14, 1:12, 1:06, 1:07, 1:07, 1:09
big jump in time from 1:12 to 1:06 was because I remembered to use quick
short strokes]
4x50 [times were :44, :42, :44, :43]
2x25 [times were :20, :20 we cheated and took a shorter interval because 2:15 is
too long to sit around for a 25]

Grand Finale:
3x75 on 2nd person rest
Wear fins for all
first 75 is kick with 25 easy, 25 medium, 25 fast
second 75 is kick with 25 fast, 25 medium, 25 easy
third 75 is free, fast

75 cool down

Total: 2450 yards

Not a lot of yardage but a hard set.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parkour on a bike?

Last time I saw trials biking many years ago on t.v. it was a buncha guys farting around on picnic tables and logs. Wow, the sport has come a long way and this video filmed in and around Edinburgh, Scotland is an amazing display, I've never seen anything like it. I know, you're thinking '5 minutes of this? Really?!' but trust me it's worth it with some of the most spectacular footage coming at around the 3:00 minute mark.

Me, I'm happy if I keep the rubber side down on my simple little trail rides and come home with the minimum of bruises and scratches.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Primer is a good color for trim, right?

And the blue painter's tape? That makes a fabulous accent color. When we moved into this house 10 years ago it was in dire need of painting. Unfortunately we did one bedroom and never got any further and now 10 years, 2 cats and 3 dogs later the place is not looking so fabulous. Finally even we couldn't live with the grimy walls and since it rained all last weekend and snowed/rained/sleeted all this weekend we decided to take on the task. We've managed to get the laundry room done and the walls of the hallway but we still have to do the trim on 5 doorways leading into the hallway and the bathroom is all primer and sadly looks a lot better than it did before we started since I'm pretty sure there was mold growing on the ceiling.

There was the added fun of me being a somewhat messy worker (primer in my hair-it's how I do my highlights now for the recession) and Jonny going apoplectic over every tiny splatter of paint and then I'm a complete freak about doing things properly and everything looking perfect and Jonny is into the half assed approach. There have been some colorful exchanges over the past 2 weekends-at one point I had my fingers in my ears and was singing 'la la la, I can't hear you' for real-but by this evening we were both so tired and broken down that we gave up on our various neuroses and peace prevailed. Except for Strummer barking his head off at every single life form passing by the window and we couldn't banish him from the living room because of the paint. And you knew we weren't getting to the end of this story without Strummer getting covered in paint. Despite our best efforts at containment he's got a nice splash of primer on his shoulder which is not so bad compared to what I have in my hair. Or maybe this is the weekend where I finally start going grey, I didn't check all that closely.

We should get the hallway trim and bathroom done next weekend but I fear I may be living with the horrible minty green walls in the living room for another 10 years and I don't even want to think about the nightmare that is the kitchen.

Poor dogs, nothing but walks for them this weekend. Everywhere was covered with wet slushy snow and then mud. The weather is supposed to be hot and dry next week so hopefully things will dry out and we can get back to training. I signed up for 3 trials next month. Not every day of every trial and only a few runs each trial but still it will be kind of crazy and hopefully better than painting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The AKC Can Get Bent

Yeah, suuuurrre I'll give you my money so I can go play in the 'special' class with my mix. Sorry but I think we all know how 'separate but equal' turned out. And the clubs don't even have to offer the mixed breed class if they don't want to so you could potentially pay your $35 license fee to AKC and never get to play anyway or maybe only a couple of times a year if most of the clubs in your area opt not to offer the class. I'll take my money elsewhere. Oh wait, I already was taking it elsewhere, never mind.

The truly scary thing about this is how bad the economy must be that the AKC is hurting so severely that they're willing to hold their nose and let us riff raff in even if it is without full use of the clubhouse.

5 Tabata sprints today and my knee seems o.k. After 2 I wasn't sure I could carry on and I know I slowed down for #3 but I think I sped up for #5. Hard to say if it was because I'd warmed up a bit or because I knew I was done or because maybe I started slacking on #4. It's hard to maintain a consistent pace because I'm not a sprinter and I don't have a good sense of pace. Tomorrow I'll shoot for 6 and spend more time warming up to see if that helps.

My regular run with the dogs this morning was not so fabulous after 15 minutes but the same thing happened on Monday before this nonsense took hold of my brain and it feels like an overuse issue so I'll have to keep plugging along slowly and not blame the Tabata spritns. I found that if I took a longer walk break I was able to run again without pain so I think I'll shoot for 15 minutes of my regular walk/run pattern then take a 10 minute walk break then try to complete the other 15 minutes. Ugh, getting old sucks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tabata Sprints or Have I Taken All Leave of My Senses?

I've been intrigued with the idea of Tabata Sprints for some time now but my knee, oh what a tale of woe that has been and it's been bad enough living through it I didn't feel like reliving it by writing about it and I know you all have your own tales of woe about your own knees and whatnot so I've been staying off that topic. But finally after 3 rounds of physical therapy and many months of dealing with bursitis, the cure for which seems to be doing nothing to aggravate it, and other issues going on in my knee I'm finally able to start running again. I'm about 5-6 weeks into a back to running program and I'm going about 4-5 minutes run/1 minute walk for 1/2 an hour with warm-up and cool-down walking of course. Today I finally felt confident enough about my knee to give the Tabata Sprints a go. I'm hoping this will help me build some speed for agility (gotta keep up with Strummy and that running dogwalk somehow) as well as some strength for mountain biking and triathlon.

The complete protocol calls for 20 seconds of run like hell (pretend you're chasing Strummer down that dogwalk) then 10 seconds of rest. You repeat for 8 reps which is a total of 4 minutes. Do this 5 times a week and the proponents of this method promise you all kinds of fabulous things like speed and fitness and weight loss and the solution to your bad hair and fashion issues. O.k., maybe that last one is wishful thinking on my part. There are videos all over YouTube showing you how to do this but do you really need a video showing you how to do this? They are about as interesting as watching paint dry which coincidentally is how I spent my weekend-painting my laundry room which is maybe another story for another day but maybe not much more exciting than those videos. The one thing to note from these videos is how the people collapse in a puddle of their former selves at the end. Though I'll admit my idea of fun is perhaps a bit twisted this is not exactly my idea of fun.

Nonetheless, I gave it a go today and it was hard but I survived. I started out with only 4 reps because I read somewhere that you shouldn't start out trying to do the whole protocol. Also I'm worried about how my knee will tolerate this type of intense running so I wanted to start out conservatively. I had no knee problems while doing it and after icing and sitting at my desk for a bit my knee is still fine. At one point I thought my heart was going to explode and it took me a while to get back to breathing normally after I was done but my knee seems to be down with the program so far and that's the main thing. Tomorrow I think I'll go for 5 reps.

Also, I found this cool blog that has mp3 uploads timed for Tabata Sprints. It looks like the first 2 are the theme from Rocky which would drive me well out of my mind but one is just beeps which is perfect. I may have to make my own mp3's one of these days. The one fussy part about this workout was messing with the timer on my stopwatch. Not a huge issue but would be much easier to have beeps/music on an ipod.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Trial Pictures & Video

Here's a link to some photos from the weekend. This one of Strum is my favorite, well, except for the blurry part with me in the background. I don't mind if I'm in the photo if I happen to look fabulous but, uh, yeah, I'm not likely to be looking fabulous, especially when I'm about to employ the Run Like Hell method of running contact handling. But Strum has such a sweet, happy look on his face, I may have to buy it. The one of him going over the jump is nice too. I also love the one of Lola coming out of the chute. Good to see she can do it properly, ie not rearing up on her hind legs and getting tangled before she exits. If it wasn't blurry I'd buy it for sure.

Here's the Starters Standard course map and thanks to Greg and Katrina we have video! And way nicer video than I normally shoot. My camera is old and bottom of the line and on the outs but I'm in a mindframe of let's not spend any money on anything that isn't food or mortgage or maybe the occasional dog agility trial. But it's starting to malfunction and if it croaks I may have to splurge because I do so much training on my own these days.

Anyway, while it would have been nice to have video of Strum's nice smooth standard run from Sat. if I had to pick I'm glad I have video of the one with the mistakes because I spotted at least 11 things we need to work on from that video. I'm also glad for video of that Jumpers run. Poor Strum, I cued that turn right while he was going over the bar, no wonder it came down. Also it looks like I'm doing a weird RFP right before the rear cross but what happened was I was planning on a front and after I raised my hand to cue it I realized it would be ugly so I changed horses and went for the rear. Worked out o.k. but caused some hesitation and a wide turn. I could have led out to the tunnel but I wanted to try running with him to see if he would send to the tunnel since that's been an issue and we've been working it and he did it no problem so I was pleased with that. The Standard run had a million things go wrong but Strum looked happy and was so focused on me so I can't feel too bad about it. He didn't collect for his recall to heel at the start which is a sign that his brain has left the building so all the chaos was no surprise in retrospect. Lots of things contributed to this-being crated next to the ring, I had him out walking around too much I think, 2 days in a row of trialing-that sort of thing but he needs to get used to it. His next trials are DOCNA at the end of May and I only signed up for 1 day but 2 weekends in a row, only 3 runs per day for both him and Lola. Lots of time to work on our training, hopefully we'll be much improved by then.

I added some slow mo footage of the A-frame at the end so the music would end at the right place and also to point out how ugly it looks. While I was running I thought he'd gotten 2 strides in on the downside but it was only 1 which is not what I want.

Monday, April 06, 2009

2-Ring Circus

I made it to both days of the USDAA trial this past weekend despite the blizzard. It was weird, some places got slammed hard but the roads were mostly dry for me both days. 50 mph winds but not much blowing snow and I made it to and fro both days without incident. Conditions at the trial site Sat. morning were terrible though and as I stood throwing a filthy tennis ball for dogs in a full on blizzard at some ungodly hour when normal folks were tucked up all warm in their beds I had a full on soul searching questioning of my sanity. Because people who spend their precious weekend mornings pleading with dogs to poop while the 50 mph winds are blowing stinging snow sideways in your face are simply not right in the head. I know this and yet somehow I'm powerless to stop myself from signing up for these things.

The other side effect of the weather was that both dogs were off their heads with energy and excitement and while I thought this might work to Lola's advantage I surely didn't need Strummer to be any higher than he normally is. In the end though both dogs had a good weekend overall. Lola picked up her first ever Masters Standard Q and second place (she's only been in Masters what, nearly 3 years?) and had beautiful tables for both her Standard runs. I was nearly in tears with those tables and she was amply rewarded with sardines for both runs. Her second run was already an NQ by the time we got to the table so I rushed her out of the ring right after the table for her vile treats. Judge looked at me like I was crazy when I excused myself but it was worth it, Lola was so happy to get her stinky fishies. Jonny complained of her sardine breath and the scary thing is that I didn't even notice it. I think I'm turning into the equivalent of those parents who walk around smelling of baby barf and don't even realize it anymore.

Strum's Standard run on Sat. went much better in that there was no running amok and he finished up with no off courses. The downside was that he blew both his A-frame and dogwalk contacts, or so the judge said. During the run I was sure he got them both which is worrying because maybe in practice I'm rewarding misses. I've been getting lazy with using the video to keep myself honest so I'll have to be better about that but from the video I had shot lately I was 100% with my rewarding correctly for quite a few practices. Could be the judge made incorrect calls but that tells me I need to make his performances more obvious so there is no room for doubt. His weaves and table were perfect and his teeter was iffy and not at all what I wanted. He went flying to the end, slammed it down and went sailing off of his own accord. It's possible he didn't realize it was the teeter until it tipped or maybe he was too excited. The run went so quickly, I felt like I'd barely blinked and it was done. I checked his time against the rest of the class just for laughs and he was second fastest and within .09 of the fastest dog who was being run by a top handler. That team also had faults though so maybe they had some wide turns/refusals.

He had a nice Gamblers run too, got both his A-frames that time and his weaves. I did a really bad thing and inadvertently pulled him out of the weave poles the second time when the whistle blew. I got impatient and ran ahead of him without thinking about what I was doing and he popped out. At some point I plan to have him proofed for that so the weaves are totally independent but he's certainly not there yet. We didn't get the gamble and it was a tricky one for baby dogs I thought. I've not been training distance skills at all with him because that's not a priority right now and because of the whole handling system thing I'm not sure how much I will end up teaching him.

Snooker was a crazy course for baby dogs, even for masters dogs and I wasn't the only one who thought so. I managed to come up with as flowing a plan as I could but Strum was a bit wound up and we were off course after the second red. It was probably for the best.

Sunday's Standard was a bit more crazy. The weave pole entry was too challenging for him and the weaves had a wall on 2 sides which I'm supposing is the reason he popped out near the end. Lola completely freaked out at the weaves during her Standard run and I didn't even bother trying to make her do them. I've tried a little bit of weaving into walls in practice with Strummer but he's not ready for that yet so I didn't try to make him redo them when he popped out. He really blew the dogwalk this time. He got his A-frame but had a little leap over the apex which I wasn't thrilled about. He hit o.k. on the other side but I'd prefer no leap at all since that could ugly quickly especially in a trial situation. His teeter was better but still not quite what I wanted. Table was great. There was a bit of running amok but that could have due to some poor handling on my part. It wasn't a horrible disaster, certainly better than anything he's done at the fun matches, but not as nice at Sat's. run.

Sunday's Jumpers run was nice though especially considering he'd had no warm up. Somehow after sitting around for 3 hours I managed to need to defy the laws of physics and be in the 2 jumpers rings at exactly the same time. To make matters worse I had to crate Strummer in the car because the little stinker had figured out how to undo the zipper on his soft crate. I took Lola out of her crate and was on my way outside to take her for a walk when who do I see strut by but Mr. Guaranteed Personality off to sign autographs for his adoring crowd (he loves mugging everyone for attention) or maybe to join the dog in the ring. Thankfully when I called him he came right away, a big stupid grin on his face. I put him back in his crate, clipped the zippers together and he immediately starts clawing at the mesh door. So that was that, into the car he went and we were parked roughly in Zimbabwe so I had a good workout running Lola out to the car and getting Strummer back to the ring. They had to hold the ring up for me because they'd run out of dogs. I came to the line all red faced and no proper warm up for Strummer other than the jog from the car but he did great. I had the same handling mistake I had at the NADAC trial-sending him to a jump then rushing somewhere else to get in position for a front cross and the bar came down. I noticed that during the walk-through too (oh and they had both Jumpers walk-throughs going at the same time which might have gone o.k. if I wasn't going half senile but you try being my age and memorizing 2 Jumpers courses at the end of the weekend) and made note to be careful but got caught up in the moment during the run. Rather than worry about handling around that I think we should train it better. I've worked on it a little but obviously not enough. Again he had the second fastest time in the whole class, all heights.

I managed to remember Lola's Jumpers course as well and she had a nice run and a Q. She didn't get her Gamblers Q which she needed more than jumpers. It was an easy gamble if you have independent weave poles but it was too much for Miss Lola. She now needs 4 Gamblers and 4 Standard Q's for her championship. We'll keep plugging away and hopefully one day we'll get there. I feel a lot better now that I seem to have her table problem solved. I'll need to see it in a few more trials and different conditions, especially outside when it's hot, but I feel like we're on the right track and I'm going to continue on with what I'm doing. Phew, what a relief that is, I hate watching her stress out over things and she's such a little drama queen.

One last highlight of the trial was that Strummer measured 20 3/4". I was thrilled with that, it means there's a chance he can run in Championship if I can get 2 more measurements. I'd been working with him for weeks, shaping him to stand still under whatever straight object I could find. I used a whole bunch of different things hoping he would eventually generalize it to the wicket since obviously I don't have my own wicket. Is it unprofessional to ask your coworkers to play at dog agility judge? I know, crazy dog lady in the office workplace strikes again. It worked though, he was so good for the judge and stood still for his measurement no problemo. One down, 2 to go. Would be fun to be able to compete in the really competitive 22" class. I don't care all that much about beating other people but it would be fun nonetheless to be able to compete in Championship for once.

No more USDAA for Strummer for awhile, we'll have some DOCNA in May if I can get off my butt and get my entry in before the trials close. Gonna spend the next few weeks on those contacts, I will have a successful running dogwalk darn it!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Who me? Nervous?

I've got the Trouble Twins entered in a USDAA trial this weekend. It's Strummer's USDAA debut as well as his first time in Standard and the first time we get to see how his running contacts hold up in a trial. I was 12 ways to nauseous when the running order came out and I saw his name in all those classes but after a few more practices I'm feeling better about things. Both his A-frame and dogwalk have been looking great in sequences, the challenge will be for me to keep up, especially with the dogwalk. How am I handling the running dogwalk you ask? I'm using a special method I like to call Run Like Hell. Those of you locals who will be at the trial can witness the efficacy of this first hand, for the rest of you maybe I'll have video which will no doubt be better than anything you'll ever see on Comedy Central. Strummy's going to be a good boy and hit all his contacts, right Strummy?

But of course.

Even more importantly he's going to be a good boy and no shenanigans, right Strummy?

Who me? Always.

Lola's table practice has been going really well, last fun match she hit all her tables no problem with no balking or stress. I'm not convinced she's quite ready to show that enthusiasm in a trial but we'll give it a go. I'm even going to bring the stinky sardines.

Did somebody say 'Stinky Sardines'??!!

Hopefully the predicted snowstorm will not keep us from going up on Saturday, I'd hate to eat a whole day's worth of entry fees but it's 50 minutes/40 miles mostly on roads and highways that are the last place you want to be in a blizzard. I got stuck driving home in another snowstorm yesterday, not a bad one but still I'm getting sick of the winter driving conditions. And my poor yard is turning into a perfect venue for doggy mud wrestling. Was I really babbling on about fire danger last week?

Good luck to all entered in trials this weekend. We'll see if I make it through to the other side of this weekend with my mental faculties intact or if Strummer finally fulfills his lifelong dream of sending me to the funny farm.