Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from the worst band ever

I love Halloween.  And who doesn't love the The Shaggs?  They're often referred to as the worst band of all time.  My college roommate actually had their album and after way too many listens it begins to grow on you.  Whether you want it to or not.  But any band that has a Halloween song is cool in my books.  Unfortunately there's no video but you can enjoy the not so melodious mayhem of the music.  And when you're done go listen to 'My Pal Foot Foot'.  Or something more soothing to get the ringing out of your ears, whichever.

And here are some tips on how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse using science (not be confused with the CDC version).  Because you never know.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October DOCNA Trial

I'm a bit behind on posting a report for this trial.  Was in Chicago last week with no internet except for phone internet and do not even get me started on the frustrations of phone internet.  How do people stand it?  I could barely answer the emails I had to answer, took me half an hour to type 2 sentences.  Anyway all the blogging I had planned went right out the window.

Highlight of the trial for me was Sunday's Standard run.  Got called on the dogwalk but still it was fun, 5.32 yps, fastest run in the entire class.  And also the North America Challenge at the end of the day, got a Q and took 1st place.  I had to do a double take at the yps though since it seemed slow at 4.56 yps but when I watched the video I realized I had some wasted time at an A-frame/tunnel turn and a wide turn somewhere else.  Still was a fun run and we're qualified for DOCNA Champs in 2012 in Golden if Xterra Nationals doesn't work out.  Nice to have that to fall back on and would be a good warm-up for USDAA Nat's. so I was pleased to get those Q's.  We also had a clean run in Saturday's NAC so we've even got an extra Q and it was some kind of NAC title.

NAC and Standard runs

Was happy to discover some new music yesterday, a new album by a band called Banner Pilot.  Song on the video is Spanish Reds.  Finally some new music for me even if it sounds like Jawbreaker circa the mid-90's.  At least I've stepped out of the 80's.

I fell down hard in Saturday's Jumpers at a pinwheel to serpentine section that was identical to something we had in the Finals at Champs that I blundered a little there as well.  It's mostly due to not trusting Strum on a lateral send and being too far behind for the serpentine.  This time around my timing was worse than at Champs and the poor dog took me out at the knees then he got scared when I fell and started running out of the ring.  I called him back though and we finished the course though way over time.  I thought we'd had a great run for the second Jumpers run then saw my score and people told me Strum had run past a jump.  How did I not notice that?  I was so sure I was watching him.  Oh well, was otherwise really nice.

Missed dogwalks caused 2 NQ's (one standard, one Snakes and Ladders).  Still too many missed weave pole entries.  No bars down though, I'm starting to think that footing plays a big part.  Teeters were mostly looking good.  A-frames were perfect.  This is starting to sound like a broken record.

Overall a fun trial.  Still a bit bored with DOCNA courses though.  I've got DOCNA trials in Dec. and Feb. because they're only 20 mins. from my house and nothing else is going on either month but after Feb. I might not do any DOCNA until the end of next year.  Going to focus on qualifying for USDAA Nationals and give myself a break from the pinwheels and serpentines.

Final Stats

Specialist North American Challenge Saturday Q-2nd place (clean run)

Specialist North American Challenge Sunday Q-1st place (clean run)

Specialist Strategic Time Gamble Q - 7th place

Trigility Q - 3rd place

Specialist Gamblers Title

Specialist North America Challenge Title

Qualified for 2012 Champs.

3/5(60%)  Though I think we got a gift on one of them

100%, not sure how many we did, at least 6 or 7

7/7 - 100%, though some were close

Weave pole entries
4/8 (50%)  Approx.  Can't remember exactly.

Bars down
No bars down, yee ha.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

USDAA Nationals 2012 Site in Colorado

I was driving home from the airport on Tuesday just before the snow storm hit and decided to check out the USDAA Nationals site since it was right on my way home.  I have a photo album set up here on my Facebook account so I won't re-post all the photos here.  The album is public so you shouldn't have to join Facebook or be my friend to see it.  You can see an overhead site map here.  USDAA is reserving fields 7-12 which are the middle set of fields south of the main stadium. 

Looking west from the south-eastern edge of the fields.  You can see the storm blowing in.

Looking north from the south edge of the fields

Looking southwest from the north end of the fancy turf fields.

Looking north from the fancy turf field shown above.  There are restrooms in this building as well as a water spigot/hose/drinking fountain (but I wouldn't use it, see why below).

Bar adjacent to the main stadium.  Looking north at main stadium (main stadium field is behind the building).

Overall the site is really nice.  It was built 4 years ago for Denver's professional soccer team.  There are lots of little parking lots surrounding the fields as well as bigger lots that are farther away.  Not sure how USDAA will make use of those lots.  Lots G and H were a fairly good hike from the site, probably not practical to crate in the car if you run multiple dogs.  I didn't see RV hookups but I didn't drive into every single parking lot.  The grass is beautiful-lush and green and there are 2 fields of fancy short turf that felt natural (Edited to add:  According to the site's website these fields are artificial turf.  The turf in the main stadium is grass though).  All the footing looked really good in general though I didn't go out into the middle of the fields for a detailed look.

If you look on Mapquest you can see that the site is fairly isolated.  The Rocky Mountain Arsenal 'Wildlife Refuge' is to the north and west and my advice to you is to stay the heck out of it.  It was a chemical weapons plant and then a pesticide manufacturing plant in a previous life and was one of the largest, most contaminated Superfund sites in the country.  Supposedly it was cleaned up but some years ago there was some controversy about that with toxic muck showing up in loose topsoil.  Parts of the arsenal are open to visitors for hiking and Dick's Sporting Goods Park is constructed on land that was previously part of the Arsenal.    Personally I won't go hiking on the arsenal land or drink any water on the site (there was also controversy about the toxic waste leaking into the groundwater).  But I'm particular like that.  I'm not trying to scare people and I am planning to go to Nationals but I do think it's important to be aware of these things.

Commerce City itself is largely industrial and economically depressed.  I drove around the residential neighborhood to the northwest of the site and it's run down.  There were some interesting characters wandering around.  This doesn't bother me but I wouldn't send tourists there for a wander in their down time.  There are some hotels/motels along Hwy. 2 between 64th and 72nd and unless you're a fan of dives I would avoid them.  The Denver Renaissance Hotel is on Quebec just south of I-70 and it's a nice place that I believe allows dogs though I don't know their particular policies/fees.  I've never been in the rooms but I've been there for my professional engineering group's meetings and it's very nice.  There are some other hotels in that area too and I'd guess it's a 10-15 minute drive from the site.  USDAA is reserving rooms but I have no idea where.  I'm not familiar with anything else about the surrounding area.  I didn't notice many restaurants when I was driving around but I didn't explore the entire area, just got a general idea.

One other thing to keep in mind when booking hotels is the oil refinery.  It's at the Vasquez/Hwy 2 exit of Hwy. 270 which is also the exit for the site.  The smell from that place is something special so I'd avoid any hotels downwind of that area.

Again I'm not trying to scare anybody or put them off of going to Nationals but these are things I'd want to know ahead of time so I could avoid them.  Commerce City is very small, drive for 5-10 minutes and you're out of it.  Downtown Denver is about 15-20 minutes away.  Nice hiking areas in the foothills outside of Golden or Lakewood are 30-40 minutes away.  Boulder is 40-45 minutes away, lots of nice off leash open space trails up here if you're done with your runs at 10 a.m. and looking for something to do.

If anybody local has more useful info. about the site or area please feel free to post to the comments.  I'm not from around that area and I've shared all I know though if anything else occurs to me I'll leave it in the comments.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weather for USDAA Nationals 2012 in Colorado

I thought I'd keep a week's long journal of the weather we had this past week since it's the same week as USDAA Nationals next year to give people an idea of what the weather is like.

In general the weather is incredibly nice this time of year.  A snapshot of a day in October is sunny, blue skies, 70's, low humidity.  It's a fairly dry month as far as snow/rain goes, more or less tied with Sept. as the 6th driest month.  However Oct. 15 is the average day for our first snowfall.  Denver is not desert like Scottsdale, it's semi-arid so while we do enjoy low humidity most days, we also have occasional snow or rain in October.  USDAA is definitely playing a game of Russian Roulette with the weather.  Now I'm not complaining, I've long wished we could have more outdoor trials in October.  If it does snow or rain it's only likely to do so for a day or even half a day.  Multiple days of bad weather are possible but not likely.  It's only rained once so far this month and maybe once or twice last month but it's not at impossibility that the rare bad day of weather could come during Nationals.  And after a week of perfect weather today is cloudy and damp, 53 degrees and 49% humidity in Commerce City at 2:00 p.m.  I didn't check the temps/humidity this morning but it wasn't a pleasant day to be hanging around outside.  On the other hand the sun is coming out as I type.  Bad weather doesn't typically last all that long here.

One thing to bear in mind when reading these temperatures is that sun, wind and humidity levels have a big effect on comfort.  If the sun is shining and humidity is down in the 20's and winds are calm then it can feel up to 10 degrees warmer than it actually is.  When I go home to Chicago I always have to remember to dress for 5-10 degrees colder than what the temperature is or I'm too cold.  Another thing to keep in mind is that we are having a La Nina weather pattern this year so in general it's been warmer and drier than usual (though not this past week).  Who knows what next year brings?  If Nationals had been here this year the conditions would have been perfect all week except maybe even too hot on Saturday, let's hope for the same in 2012.

Weather conditions for Commerce City, October 10-16, 2011

Oct. 10, Monday

7:00 a.m.:  39 degrees, sun coming up, clear, light

8:45 a.m.:  sporadic patches of frost on ground in shady places, no frost in sunny places

9:15 a.m.:  47 degrees, sunny, clear

10:00 a.m.:  51 degrees, sunny, clear

12:30 p.m.:  60 degrees, sunny, clear

2:00 p.m.:  63 degrees, sunny, clear, 23% humidity (compare to Scottsdale, 84 degrees/13%

4:00 p.m.:  64 degrees, sunny, clear, 21% humidity

5:00 p.m.:  65 degrees, sunny, clear, 21% humidity

7:00 p.m.:  51 degrees, dark, 54% humidity

Oct. 11, Tuesday

7:00 a.m.:  55 degrees, cloudy, 34% humidity, light

Was at the agility training field at 7:30 a.m. for a practice session.  Started out in cotton/poly running pants and a t-shirt under a medium weight long sleeved technical running top under a fleece pullover.  Also had a fleece hat.  Gradually peeled off the layers and was down to a t-shirt by around 8:45 a.m., maybe earlier.  Dogs were hot by the end of practice.

9:00 a.m.:  55 degrees, 40% humidity, clear

10:30 a.m.:  61 degrees, 27% humidity, winds 10 mph gusting to 19 mph, clear

Noon:  65 degrees, 28% humidity, winds 5-10 mph, clear

1:30 p.m.:  67 degrees, 24% humidity, partly cloudy

Out walking dogs at 3:30 p.m. in shorts and t-shirt, warm in sun, cool when sun went behind clouds, slight wind

4:00 p.m.:  68 degrees, 24% humidity, partly cloudy

6:35 p.m.:  62 degrees, 30% humidity, cloudy, 14 mph winds, starting to get dark

7:00 p.m.:  61 degrees, 30% humidity, winds 10-15 mph, dark

Oct. 12, Wednesday

7:15 a.m.:  48 degrees, 48% humidity, sunny, clear, light

8:05 a.m.:  47 degrees, 46% humidity, sunny, clear

8:30 a.m., running with dogs, lycra tights with medium weight long sleeved running top, sunny and
                 clear, breezy, feels warm in sun, good in shade, no frost on ground.

1:00 p.m.:  61 degrees, 23% humidity, sunny, clear blue skies, glorious day (compare to Scottsdale,
                   91 degrees, 17% humidity)

2:25 pm.m:  65 degrees, 20% humidity, sunny, clear

4:05 p.m.:  67 degrees, 17% humidity, sunny, clear

6:25 p.m.:  59 degrees, 28% humidity, clear

6:40 p.m.:  Getting dark

Oct. 13, Thursday

6:45 a.m.:  38 degrees, 68% humidity, clear (mostly light by 6:50 a.m.)

7:25 a.m.:  40 degrees, 59% humidity, sunny, clear

8:05 a.m.:  42 degrees, 58% humidity, sunny, clear

8:35 a.m.:  44 degrees, 55% humidity, sunny, clear

9:05 a.m.:  51 degrees, 40% humidity, sunny clear

10:25 a.m.:  60 degrees, 23% humidity, sunny, clear

12:45 p.m.:  74 degrees, 13% humidity, sunny, clear (compare to Scottsdale, AZ at 93 degrees,
                     10% humidity)

2:45 p.m.:  76 degrees, 12% humidity, sunny, clear, 21 mph winds

6:05 p.m.:  67 degrees, 23% humidity, sunny, clear

Oct. 14, Friday

7:05 a.m.:  39 degrees, 68% humidity, sunny, partly cloudy

7:45 a.m.:  38 degrees, 73% humidity, sunny, partly cloudy

8:25 a.m.:  43 degrees, 63% humidity, sunny, clear

9:05 a.m.:  47 degrees, 49% humidity, sunny, clear

9:45 a.m.:  53 degrees, 39% humidity, sunny, clear

10:45 a.m.:  57 degrees, 32% humidity, sunny, clear

11:45 a.m.:  62 degrees, 29% humidity, sunny, clear

12:45 p.m.:  66 degrees, 26% humidity, sunny, clear

2:05 p.m.:  69 degrees, 23% humidity, sunny, clear (compare to Scottsdale at 93 degrees, 12%

4:05 p.m.:  71 degrees, 23% humidity, sunny, clear

5:25 p.m.:  67 degrees, 27% humidity, sunny, clear

6:05 p.m.:  63 degrees, 33% humidity, sunny, clear

7:25 p.m.:  57 degrees, 43% humidity, dark

Oct. 15, Saturday

5:25 p.m.:  79 degrees, 11% humidity, sunny, clear

I was at a trial all day (indoors) so only one measurement but at about 2:00 or so I noticed it was pretty freakin' hot outside.  Too hot for Oct., probably 80's, probably record breaking heat, and where I was was probably a few degrees cooler than Commerce City.

Oct. 16, Sunday

I was at the trial again today but was outside a lot throughout the day and it was gorgeous, typical blue skies, probably got up to the 70's, sunny, similar to the past week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crazy Dog Lady Takes a Dive

Or 'How to overcome your fears to learn a totally useless life skill'.  Or maybe learning to overcome your fears isn't such a totally useless life skill.

The masters coach for the beginners/skills & drills workouts has decided to have a swim meet for us.  I wasn't planning to participate because swim meets involve many swimming skills that I don't have-flip turns, swimming fast and diving off the blocks.  You could probably get away with missing out one of those skills but if you're missing all 3 it's probably not going to be a good day for you.  So I've never done a swim meet and I had no plans to do this one.

The workout today was focusing on preparing for the swim meet and this involved flip turns and diving off the blocks.  I've been working on flip turns, in fact I even asked the coach if we could work on them last spring so I could do them at a summer pool triathlon.  I never did work on them enough to be able to do them for my race but I did learn the basics of them so that most of the time I don't get too much water up my nose and we started back up with them at the indoor workouts this fall.  Today I finally pulled off a good one, so pleased with myself.  Then the next one I ended up in the lane next door.  I'll bet most of you couldn't do that if you tried.  I'm sure I couldn't do it if I was trying.  Maybe I should aim for the next lane over all the time and I'll end up in my own lane.  Anyway, I gave up on flip turns for the day since it was a crowded workout and I got lucky that I didn't crash into anyone.

Next it was time to practice diving off the blocks.  Yeah, sure, just send my 47 year old ass plunging off the blocks to my doom for no compelling reason, this sounds like a fine plan for the day.  Last year I refused to even try, those blocks looked awfully scary high above the water.  Plus I have no idea how to dive.  The coach says she'll help me but she doesn't give me a whole lot of instruction.  But sometimes you just have to do it so you can see what part you don't know how to do.  Another guy also in my shoes suggests diving off the edge of the pool for starters.  Baby steps is what he says.  I'm all for baby steps.  But maybe the blocks would be easier?  But they're still looking kind of high so I go for the edge of the pool.  The first dive goes o.k., I land pointing downward into the pool rather than belly flopping which is good but I feel like I'm going more downward than forward and I don't think this will help in a race.  So next dive I try to shoot more forward but I land too flat.  Not quite belly flopping but not terribly comfortable either.  Third dive is much like the first.  The coach tells me I need something in between and as she's discussing it with me a guy from the next lane offers up a bunch of advice.  And next thing I know he's giving me and some other 40-50 something ladies a diving lesson.  He takes us all back to the deep end of the pool with the blocks and shows us how it's done complete with a detailed explanation.  He only learned himself a year or two ago so he knows what to tell us.  He goes off the blocks a couple of times and then it's our turn.

Last year I would have been scared standing up on the block, like I said I refused to even try last year.  But I've been working on overcoming fears this past year, and I'll write more about that later, and I'm oddly calm as I climb up and say, 'O.k., I'm going to do this thing.'  I get in the position he describes which involves bending over and looking at the wall behind me, chin pressed into chest, and not looking out at the water in front of me, which is very counter-intuitive but I understand the why of it so I do it.  I'm not entirely sure what to do to get into the water without incident but I do something and again I go in pointing down and not belly flopping which is good but I'm still not going forward enough.  He explains what I did wrong and how to fix it and the next dive is pretty darn awesome, for me anyway.  I can feel myself propelling forward in the water after I hit the water just like I imagine you're supposed to.  I come up to the surface and hear the coach cheering and the guy says it was great.  I decide to quit while I'm ahead.  Hooray for learning totally useless life skills and overcoming fears.  Maybe I'll do the swim meet after all.  Just have to learn how to flip turn back into my own lane.

Friday, October 07, 2011

2012 Goals: USDAA Nationals & Xterra Nationals

Maybe this is biting off more than I can chew but what the heck.  I certainly can't pass up USDAA Nationals with it only 43 minutes from my house.  And it looks like Xterra Nationals will be back in Utah next year and the course looked so nice this year, this is hard to pass up again.  I'm surprised it's back for a third year, it'll almost certainly move the following year so 2012 is my chance.  Strummer will be 7 in March so I'm cutting back on his training time anyway.  The trials are the main thing that will interfere with triathlon training and not even so much the trials as the recovery from them.  We have 6 local trials left that don't require an overnight stay (1 hour or less away) and another 3 that are just over or under 2 hours.  If we can't qualify in 6-9 trials we probably don't belong at Nationals anyway no matter how close it is.   Regionals is in New Mexico, about a 7 1/2 hour drive and I figure it would cost around $500 between hotels, gas and entry fees so I probably won't go.  That one trial would pay for all my triathlon entries for the summer.

Qualifying for Xterra Nationals will be challenging.  I'll need to make huge improvements to my run and modest improvements to my bike.  Swim is o.k. but I'd like to improve anyway.  You qualify by earning points in races according to your placement and you can count points from up to 4 races.  We only have 3 races in CO so I'll have to go out of state for one of them and I'm considering the Wild Horse Creek Xterra in Montana.  A fellow Coloradoan did it last year and has pictures of the course on her blog and it looks so beautiful.  We could make a trip of it, take the dogs and come home through Yellowstone and maybe see the Tetons as well.  Been a long time since we traveled anywhere outside of Colorado aside from trips home to Chicago.  The only trouble with this is that I'll have only 2 weeks to recovery between 3 of my races and 3 weeks of recovery before the 4th.  I could maybe have pulled this off in my 30's but I'll be nearly 48 and I'm not sure how well my body will tolerate all that racing so close together and I certainly won't be able to train very hard in between.  So for now the race plans are tentative and I'll see what sort of shape I'm in closer to summer.

Now I have to figure out the really hard part-how I'm going to pay for all of this.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


It's that time of year in the high country.

I wish it was fall forever though today felt like summer again, shorts weather even up in the mountains.

Today's hike was up at the Caribou Ranch Open Space, about 40-45 minutes from Boulder, and everybody and their granny who wasn't at Kenosha Pass was up here today.  And the reason why is obvious.

I took a lot of pictures.  Thankfully Jonny was tired and o.k. with all the stopping.  The trail is only 3 miles and very easy, mostly flat and smooth but it took us 1 hour 45 minutes with a stop for a snack by the creek and all the picture taking.

Still hoping to get up to Kenosha Pass in time.  Supposedly it's the best colors in like 15 years.  Though I have to say the Nederland area is looking pretty good.  We've been having unseasonably warm temps. that have made for a most excellent leaf season this year.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Aspen Alley

I'm still a bit tired from DOCNA Champs and a week of sleeping poorly and back issues and wah wah wah but I had to get at least one more bike ride in up at West Mag, especially with the leaves at their peak up there.

Aspen Alley

Though the skies look grey it was actually as warm as a summer's day, shorts and short sleeves weather, with blue skies in some places.  We had a little sprinkle of rain but it never came to anything.

Shoshone Meadows

The trails were even more quiet than normal, I think everyone and their granny was up at Kenosha Pass.  I'm hoping to get up there sometime while the leaves are still good but we'll see.  In the meantime it was a beautiful, quiet day on West Mag and half the driving time.