Thursday, May 31, 2012

Epic or Apocalyptic?

'You should get a will made out before you do that race', Jonny says to me on the drive back home from Wyoming where we've been checking out the bike course for the Xterra Curt Gowdy triathlon.  I've been looking forward to this race since last December or so when I signed up for it.  IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) gives the trails at Curt Gowdy an 'Epic' rating.  After riding them today I realize that by 'Epic' they mean 'Apocalyptic'.  Jonny rates them 'Crazy Technical'.

Though the trails are mostly rated Intermediate level and I'd heard nothing but good things about them I became concerned when people on the Facebook page for the race started posting things like,

Time for some input on Xterra Curt Gowdy bike course.
OK...I agree that it's not mountain biking unless there's blood, but . . .  I rode the course last week and all I can say, prepare for carnage. There's "IMBA advanced" and there's "Xterra advanced" and that is one major difficult, technical and long course. Beginners are gonna freak. 


Checked out the course this morning, there is going to be carnage on race day.


  Anyone who doesn't pre-ride and has less than advanced skills is going to do a lot of hike-a-bike.

and so forth and so on.  I figured these people were being over-dramatic but started to think I'd better get my butt up there to pre-ride the course sooner than I was planning.  So Jonny and  I took a vacation day for a little road trip up to Wyoming.  It's only a 1 hour, 50 minute drive and somehow we (and by we I mean I) had to stop twice and drag it out.  One stop was to fuel up on coffee.  The other stop was to deposit said coffee.  In other words, I needed a rest stop and what better place than a welcome center with a cool bucking bronco statue?

We got there eventually after driving forever down a lonely road full of antelope and wind farms.

The trails started off innocently enough with some challenging but ride-able hills.  This trail is a lot steeper than it looks.

To be fair there were some nice smooth parts.

But just beyond the smooth single track was a rocky drop-off that no way was I riding it.

And this was the problem for me.  Nice smooth trail then some unrideable obstacle that I had to get off for for maybe 2-3 steps then back on the bike for 30 seconds then back off then back on for maybe a minute if I'm lucky and so on.  I must have gotten off at least 50-60 times and that's probably an underestimate.  So frustrating and exhausting.  And that was on the 'Intermediate' trails.

The Advanced trails were practically impassable even on foot.  Here are some photos from the Mo Rocka trail.

Looking downhill.  Hard to convey how steep that is and you can't see the drop-offs.

Here's the same trail looking uphill.  Now you can see the drop-offs.

Even Jonny wouldn't ride down it and he's got some serious skills.  I could barely walk down it in my bike shoes with my bike.

Here's another crazy hill.  You're supposed to go over the top of the rock coming downhill, not to the side where the branches are blocking off the dirt trail.

I couldn't figure out how I was supposed to walk down that so I cheated and came down the dirt part that was blocked off.  I know, naughty, but I didn't want to end up like this guy.

There were some nice views if you could get over your exhaustion and frustration enough to enjoy them.

By the 5-6 mile point I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into and by the 9 mile mark I'd had enough.  The total bike portion is 14 miles but when we got back to the car my cyclometer said 11.7 miles.  This took me 2 hours 5 minutes and I was mentally spent by the end.  To add insult to injury on the drive home I took another look at the map and realized we'd left out a 2.4 mile loop at the end, half of which was Advanced trails with a climb that the race director describes as 'a real kicker'.

Then after all that I have to go back on the same trails and run 5.3 miles.  Never mind the swim which is listed as 1200 meters/1312 yards on the website and 1500 meters/1640 yards on the course map.  Either way, not a trivial swim by any means.

Granite Reservoir though this isn't the bank that we swim off of.

So I have some soul searching to do.  That bike course is hard enough on its own, not sure I want to endure that again plus 2.4 more hard miles.  Let alone as part of a race.  The bike could take 2 1/2 hours, the swim 26-33 mins. depending on the actual distance, the run?  Who knows, could be over an hour if I'm spent after the bike.  Could be a 4 hour race, maybe even 4 1/2.  This is not tempting.  I could eat my entry fee and spend another day down at the USDAA trial that weekend instead.  Or I could plan on a DNF and only do the swim and bike.  Or maybe do the run if I feel o.k.  I should probably go up there one more time to check out the part of the course that I missed and to give it another go but the thought of doing that course 2 more times let alone just the once on race day makes me want to crawl into the fetal position.  I'm not one to take on things that are hard just for the sake of them being hard, they also have to be fun and for me this course is definitely not fun.  I don't mind working hard at something for work or something that will make the world a better place but I'm not willing to torture myself just for the sake of some stupid hobby.  On the other hand all my other races will seem easy peasy by comparison so maybe I should just gut it out.  If only this was later in the season and I had more time to work on my skills and strength.  It's going to take longer than 3 weeks to be in the kind of shape to do that course justice.  In the meantime all I keep thinking to myself is, 'Mo Rocka My Ass!'.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wildlife Wednesday

Found these cute little stinkers near the agility field on our cool down walk.  Unfortunately all I had was my camera phone.  And I'm not really sure how it works.  Probably there was a way to get better photos, should figure that out ahead of time before I run into random baby skunks.

So adorable.  I could have scooped them up into my pockets.  But I thought that might end badly.

There was also a big turtle in the road that Open Space Rangers were taking photos of but by the time I came back with my phone he was gone.  Ah well, maybe I'll see them again and remember my real camera next time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Secret Ned

Took Strummer up to the hills above Nederland for his first high country hike of the season.  It was another perfect blue sky Colorado day.

Was also a great day for Pine Cone Fetch.

Or for regular old Stick Fetch if you were lucky enough to persuade an aging human type to bend their aching back over to pick up your stick.  For the millionth time.

You can show your appreciation by pinning your ears back and tearing down the trail.

We didn't see a single soul on our secret unmarked trail, so quiet and peaceful.  Except for the crazy dog running around in fits of joy and crazy.  Wish I had gotten that on video.  But maybe you get the general idea.

Always remember to take time to chew the sticks.

A rare photo of both of us, thanks to the pine cone Jonny was distracting him with.  He always looks so pissed off when you make him pose for photos.  I feel his pain, I'm the same way.

View from the trails at Mud Lake which had some people on them but were also pretty quiet.

Long, steep bike ride up the School Bus trail in West Mag yesterday.  I normally don't attempt that until mid-summer but I grunted up it o.k.  The trail is outside the closure zone for West Mag and there is a secret back way in but the Forest Service could decide to close it at any time so I wanted to get one last ride in before they close it for the summer on Friday.  I took a few 'before' pictures of the West Mag trailheads.  They aren't terribly interesting now but it'll be nice to have them to compare to the 'after' photos, ie after the Forest 'Service' clear cuts the area.  Many sad/angry people on the trail yesterday, a mother with several kids joking about chaining herself to a tree and the like.  Somehow I feel like we should have been kicking up a fuss about this but it's too late now.  Ah well, will have to explore some other areas this summer, maybe even drive somewhere.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flowers at Hall

Finally got in a good bike ride today up at Hall Ranch.  Felt wonderful to be back on the bike.

Cacti are blooming.

And here are a couple of Yuccas thinking about it.

Trail was relatively quiet for a Saturday thanks to the holiday.  Lots of Boulderites skip town during holidays so it's nice and peaceful for those who stay behind.

I was only about 4-5 minutes faster over 12.4 miles than I was on the same trail 2 months ago but I felt more confident and was able to ride more stuff both on the way up and down.  Still, wish I could see more improvement on my time.

Was hoping to go up to Wyoming tomorrow to pre-ride the Curt Gowdy course for my upcoming triathlon but they're predicting 30 mph winds and I don't want to ride in that nor drive up on the Interstate in that wind.  That highway is already terrifying enough with the semi's on a good day.  So I'll have to wait 2 more weeks unless I go up  mid-week on my own or deal with holiday traffic on Monday, neither of which is tempting.  On the other hand the 40 mph winds that were predicted for Boulder today never materialized.  Hopefully they'll stay away tomorrow as well and I can get one ride in up at West Mag before they close it after Memorial Day.  Forest Service is hacking down huge portions of the forest supposedly in the name of fire mitigation and getting ahead of the pine beetles.  But I don't understand the logic of chopping down all the healthy trees just so the beetles don't get them.  Then again I'm not a government bureaucrat.  Sadly  no-one can ride there all summer and when it finally does re-open it will look and feel totally different.  Don't know where I'm going to ride on a regular basis this summer, not many/any comparable trails only 40 minutes from my house.  Have to get up there sometime this weekend for one last hurrah.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Any Facebook experts out there?

It's not just the internet that is forever.  An old punk rocker friend from England from way back in the day found me on Facebook and posted a photo I took and apparently sent him.  Way back in the day.  At least 25 years ago.  And somehow this photo that he scanned and posted comes up on my Facebook page.  Now he's a nice guy and I'm glad he found me and I'm already feeling bad because I'm so crap at Facebook that it took me months to realize he'd sent me a message asking if it was me and he thought he was doing a nice thing posting the photo so I don't want to ask him to take it down.  But I really don't want to see a photo of a bunch of dorky kids wearing 'Chicago Straight Edge' varsity letter jackets every time I open my Facebook nor do I really want to be associated with it.  I took the photo to show the irony of so-called 'punk rockers' wearing the uniform of the conformist football jocks.  The strict rules, rigid dress codes and thuggery/violence of many in the straight edge crowd in Chicago annoyed me and I certainly never identified with them either back then or now so to see that photo on my Facebook home page is both ironic and irritating.  But I can't figure out how to get rid of it.  Help??!!

Wordless Wednesday a Day Late

Wordless Wednesday on a Thursday is brought to you this week by Ken Gee Photography and the ever off his head Strummer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Neoprene Season Starts Today and I'd Better Start Hitting My Bike

Open water season at the Rez started this morning and it was a perfect day - unseasonably warm air temperature for this time of year and the Rez was in the low 60's which is also warm for this time of year but not warm in general.  I did one 1000 meter loop and called it a day.  I was to the point where I couldn't tell if I was cold or not and figured that was a bad sign for doing another loop.  Probably should have manned up and at least done the shorter 500 meter loop but I had a good swim workout yesterday and I need to get on my bike today.  When I got home I noticed a pinkie finger was white so it was probably a good decision.

I'm feeling a renewed urgency to hit the bike because I haven't ridden in ages and someone posted the following to the Facebook page of the group that puts on the Curt Gowdy Xterra:

Time for some input on Xterra Curt Gowdy bike course.
OK...I agree that it's not mountain biking unless there's blood, but . . .  I rode the course last week and all I can say, prepare for carnage. There's "IMBA advanced" and there's "Xterra advanced" and that is one major difficult, technical and long course. Beginners are gonna freak. 

I'm not a beginner but I don't like super technical trails, especially when I've also got to swim and run and do it all under race conditions.  I can't get up to Wyoming to pre-ride the course until 2 weekends before the race unless I go up on my own during the week which I'm not tempted to do. I'm not to the point of panic, I would consider the trails I ride up at West Mag to be Intermediate level trails and those trails at Curt Gowdy are labeled Intermediate.  There are a few short sections on the course labeled Advanced and the race director did warn there would be a few short technical sections that some folks would have to get off for.  But I wasn't expecting a super crazy hard course with extra carnage.  The only thing for it is to bike bike bike and keep calm until I can get up there to check it out for myself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chipping Away

Another USDAA trial this past weekend.  Two in a row is unusual for me but I'm determined to qualify for Nationals and get out of Starters before it's time for the Vet class.  I also haven't been down to this trial site in Fountain, just south of Colorado Springs, for years.  On the one hand it's really nice, lots of shady parking so if it isn't broasting outside you can crate out of your car right next to the rings.  There's also a nice big field away from the rings for warming up and almost nobody seemed to go back there so I could do my goofy warm-up routine that I learned in boot camp without worrying about putting on a show for all the other crazy dog ladies and men though could be there were some folks in their RV's having a good laugh.

Strummer rocking the broad jump in Steeplechase.  Photo by the awesome Ken Gee.

On the other hand the site has many challenges including a freight train that rolled past very near the rings throughout the day, a nearby munitions area where military grade explosions were going off, the occasional military jet flying overhead and thunder on Saturday afternoon.  Normally any one of those things would send Strummer into a shaking, panting, panicking ball of mess let alone several of them happening simultaneously but somehow when there are agility toys nearby he can handle thunder, trains and bombs going off with nary a bat of the eye.  I'm not complaining but sheesh, what a weirdo dog.  I was surprised at the small entry given USDAA Nat's. coming to town but maybe there are others whose dogs can't cope quite as well and they decided to find other activities for the weekend.  Sites are hard to come by though and I'm glad I didn't have to drive the extra 25 minutes to Pueblo where they normally hold this trial.  Already it was a 1 hour, 50 minute drive and I went home on Saturday night to avoid catching bedbugs or something worse and a poor night's sleep in whatever unsavory hotel I might have ended up in.

Overall it was a good trial, we're slowly chipping away at our bid to qualify for Nationals and get out of Starters.  We picked up a 2nd Steeplechase Q on Saturday with a 2nd place finish, only .24 secs. behind 1st, very fun run and I really really wanted to qualify in Steeplechase for Nat's.  So now we only need 1 Grand Prix Q to be qualified in everything.  There are 4 more chances, 3 if the site of one trial is not going to work for Strummer, and I figure if we don't get it then it's not worth shelling out the zillions of $$$ to enter it at Nationals anyway.  We also had 3/3 perfect dogwalks on Saturday and picked up a Gamblers Q that we didn't really need but it was fun anyway.  Also picked up a Starters Snooker Q on Sunday so now all we need is 1 Jumpers and 1 Standard Q to get out of Starters. 

We didn't get the Grand Prix Q we needed but at least the course was more reasonable than some of the others we've seen.  Strum missed a weave entry right off the bat and then later I eased up in my handling and got a back jump towards the end but he had a beautiful dogwalk and I was happy with how I handled everything else, including many more rear crosses than I'm used to doing.  Weave entries were a huge problem this weekend, I'm going to have to go back to basics I think.

Aside from our nice Snooker run Sunday did not go nearly as well.  A huge miss on the dogwalk in Standard thought to be fair it was a difficult scenario with the dogwalk going into nowhere and then a sharp turn off into the weaves.  The rest of the run was a mess, a dropped bar and some other fault too I think.  Steeplechase Finals was also a mess, 2 missed weave entries, a dropped bar, a big miss on the broad jump and then he ran off to the score table for his treats rather than following me to the last jump which was not at all obvious to be fair.  But still.  I got him back eventually but all the wasted time getting him back plus re-doing 2 sets of weaves and 10 faults put us all the way in 7th place.  Ah well, at least we had our fun and got our Nationals Q in the first round.  Though that was the last run of the trial and I wish we could have ended on a better note.

Next trial isn't for over a month and I'm only signing up for 1 day/3 runs since I have my first triathlon of the season up in Wyoming on the Sunday.  That trial is also a 1 hour, 50 minute drive so I don't want to be stuck there too late or exhaust myself with too many runs though I'm feeling pretty good after this weekend despite the driving and 4 runs on Saturday.  Still, no point in spending the $$ on Steeplechase and 3 runs should be plenty.  Part of me wishes I could trial more.  I know we could get more consistent if I did.  But the other part of me doesn't want to spend the time, money and driving so we'll stick with once a month for now, maybe twice in August for practice as we get closer to Nat's. but we'll see.

Trial Stats

Steeplechase Q, 2nd place Round 1 (.24 seconds off of 1st), 7th place Round 2

Starters Snooker Q, 1st place

Starters Gamblers Q, 2nd place

Dogwalks:  3/4 (75%) 

A-frames:  10/12 or 11/12, not sure if 1 was called, might have been up contact on one or both (83%  or 92%)

Weave entries:  1/7 (14%)   didn't pop out at all, weave entries were challenging even for Starters but sheesh

Knocked bars:  3 (1 each in 2 rounds of Standard and Steeplechase Finals)

Teeters:  4/4 (100%)

Table: 2/2 (100%)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Horror Show

No, I didn't go see 'Dark Shadows'.  Maybe I'll have a free weekend before it leaves the theaters.

In the meantime, I've been working my way through HBO's new documentary, 'Weight of the Nation', which examines America's obesity epidemic.  You don't need to subscribe to HBO to see it, you can watch it for free with no commercials here.  It's in 4 parts and for me the most horrifying was Part 3 which addresses childhood obesity and parts of Part 1 which also had segments on kids.  I can't stand when politicians and special interest groups use kids to manipulate but it was hard for me to watch the school nurse doing health checks of the students and crying over the obesity and high blood pressure present in over 50% of the kids at her middle school in Louisiana.  12 years old with high blood pressure.  Lots of them. 

There are lots of unnerving statistics in this documentary, so many your head can't even begin to hold them all.  I found the following to be particularly disturbing:

Ideal factors of cardiovascular health:

1.  Optimal levels of total cholesterol
2.  Normal blood pressure
3.  Not having diabetes
4.  Having a lean body mass index (ie not obese or overweight)
5.  Not being a smoker
6.  Participating in recommended physical activity
7.  Healthy diet

Less than 1% of Americans meet this criteria.  Less than 1%.

It costs $1400 more per year to care for an obese person than to care for someone who's not obese.  Someone with diabetes costs $6600 more per year to care for.  Collectively obesity costs $150 billion per year.  About half of these costs are paid for by public funds, ie medicare and medicaid.

18% of children are obese.  2/3 of adults are either obese or overweight.  Or put another way only 1/3 of adults are at a healthy weight.

It seems to me that we're already well beyond a reasonable tipping point and yet all indications point to things getting exponentially worse.

The documentary examines all aspects of the problem including farm subsidies for corn and soy and lack of government (Republicans) intervention with respect to predatory marketing to children due to power of the corporations and gives a surprising voice to small/family farmers groups.  They could have gone deeper into these issues (if there is a corporation more evil than Monsanto walking the planet I surely don't know what it is) but at least they were addressed, surprising considering it was HBO doing the series.  I have to give them props for doing it and allowing people to view for free.  They're also allowing/encouraging educational institutions to show it for free.

The show wasn't all doom and gloom and there were some examples of people taking control of things on a local and personal level but overall I was not getting a huge sense of hope.  My initial interest in the show was to help me get more insight into my weight loss clients.  I watch all kinds of shows and read all kinds of books related to diet and weight loss so that I can better help my clients.  But this show was beyond disturbing and I'm not really a 'sky is falling' sort of person.  But living in Boulder I've clearly been shielded from the severity of what's going on outside the 'bubble', especially when it comes to kids.  There's an elementary school that I walk past all the time and the majority of kids seem to be a healthy weight but clearly this is the exception and not the rule.  Food is one thing that kids truly have little to no control over, they depend on the adults in their life to provide them with healthy food and to teach them how to make healthy choices.  These kids are going to struggle physically and emotionally their whole lives because of the failings of the adults in their lives be it parents, schools, government/corporations.

I could on about this for a lot longer but I won't.  I don't like to be a food/lifestyle nag.  I've always figured people make their choices and it's up to them to deal with the consequences.  If people come to me for help as a client or even a friend that's another matter but I don't judge people about their lifestyle choices or try to intervene.  But wow, things are really getting out of hand and I'm thinking it's time for somebody somewhere to start shouting about it or that Wall-e movie is going to be a reality sooner than we realize.  I think Robert Lustig and Jamie Oliver are my new heroes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

USDAA in the Grey

Strum and I had a very fun weekend of USDAA.  The predicted rain never came during the day and we were treated to cool, cloudy conditions - perfect for agility.  Strummer was one happy pup and this photo about sums it up.  In fact he looks so happy and focused on me in all his photos, such a good boy.

We ended up getting a coveted Steeplechase Q as well as Standard and Gamblers Q's.  We had nice runs going in Snooker and Jumpers but I did something stupid in Snooker and rotated too far out of a front cross in jumpers causing myself to become momentarily lost and sent him over a wrong jump.  So we still need a Standard, Snooker and Jumpers Q to get out of Starters.  Didn't enter Jumpers at the trial next week and can't enter it at the trial in June because I have a triathlon on the day they offer Jumpers so it will be at least August until we can try again.

We even won a small bit of money in Steeplechase Finals, enough to pay for my coffee and breakfast burrito anyway.  We had a bar down then the bar setter took so long to re-set it that she was still there futzing with it by the time we came back around the course so we lost some time because Strummer didn't want to jump with her in the way.  So 5th place in the end.  But it was a fun, fast course, unlike the first round which was fairly technical for Steeplechase.

Steeplechase Round 1

I kept Strum on my right from 3 to 4 and rear crossed between 4 and 5 which set a nice line to 6.  Some dogs jumped big at 5 and ended up taking the wrong side of 6.  This was more often the case with those who front crossed between 3 and 4.  The other problem with that front cross was that if you were late and still facing your dog as it approached 3 you got too much collection and the dog couldn't handle the broad jump.  But many people opted for the FC so they could get another FC in between 6 and 7.  I did a blind at the bottom of the A-frame and had plenty of time though did have a missed A-frame contact, not sure if it was the up or down.  The rest of the course was clean though we had a slight bobble between 17 and 18 as I overhandled to make sure he collected and didn't take 9.  We ended up in 3rd even with the fault, very fun.

Grand Prix was another story.  Very technical, only 1 22" dog and 1 12" dog qualified in all of the Championship class.  I think Performance had 4 qualifiers.

The number 6 jump was set more to the south so it was more of a straight on entry to the weaves and the turn from 5 to 6 was at a worse angle.  I did a FC between 4 and 5 and pushed to 6 and though I was well ahead of Strum when he came out of the tunnel I set a poor line and he had that bar down.  Most people kept their dog on their left through 6 but many had wide turns at 4 or off courses.  One person did a nice Ketschker turn at 4 and had a nice tight turn and plenty of time to get to 6.  Some who kept the dog on their left still had a bar down at 6.  I only saw one other person do what I did and she had a nice run through that section.

The next problem was the weave pole entry which many many dogs missed, including mine.  That's a very challenging entry for Strummer, we practice it over and over and he can't even really get it in practice so I was hardly expecting him to do it at a trial.  It didn't help that the dog was coming off the A-frame and over the jump in full extension and no way to shape the entry because of the #7 jump.

I ended up with an off course because I didn't support 16 very well, Strum ran past it and rather than correct it I just kept going.

So far that's the second very technical Grand Prix course with a very low Q rate that we've had.  You would think the judges would want to cut the locals a break so we can go to Nationals.  We get another shot next week and I saw that one of the clubs is adding a Tournament only trial on the 4th of July in Denver so we'll have yet another chance.  That makes 5 more possible opportunities and we only need one Q in each tournament so hopefully we'll qualify in at least one more event.  I was thinking how fun it would be to run under the lights in Steeplechase Finals.  Yeah, I know, but a girl can dream.  Strum is certainly fast enough.  Maybe we should focus on that idea and to heck with working on the dogwalk.  No matter how much work I do with it it doesn't seem to matter.  He was 2/3 this weekend which is average for him.

Trial Stats

 Steeplechase Q, 3rd place Round 1 (missed A-frame), 5th place Round 2 (bar down and interference from bar setter)

Starters Standard Q, 1st place

Gamblers Q, 2nd place

Dogwalks:  2/3 (67%) 

A-frames:  7/8 (88%)

Weave entries:  5/7 (71%)  Missed difficult entries in Grand Prix and Standard, didn't pop out at all

Knocked bars:  1 in Grand Prix, 1 in Steeplechase Finals

Teeters:  3/3 (100%)

Table: 2/2 (100%) 

There was one standard fault in his first Standard run that I can't account for so somewhere there should be a lower percentage.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Field of Stuff

Finally getting around to posting the rest of the pictures from our little stop in Masonville.  Across the street from the Masonville Mercantile is a big field of Stuff.

You can walk around and take photos and admire the stuff but leave your dog in the car.

Except for this guy, he's allowed.

The site is a memorial to the owner's mother and sister.

It's a puzzling collection of stuff and there was even more than what's shown in these photos but I had to draw the line somewhere.

Cowboys and cannons and Bighorn Sheep and a church all in one.

I probably should have posed as the cowboy, a much more accurate portrayal of my regular garb.

Supposedly this is the tractor used in the old Green Acres t.v. show.

Jonny happened to spot this faint claim to fame on the left rear fender.  Don't know how he ever noticed it.

It doesn't seem to match the tractor used in clips from the show but it does look like the one used in the opening credits.

Now you can enjoy that fantastic earworm for the rest of the day.  I always thought Eva Gabor should move back to NYC, get a job and tell bumbling old Eddie Albert where to shove it but I guess those were different times.  Also if it was me I'd much rather live in the country than NYC though not with Eddie Albert.  I wonder how much influence this show had on my long held life goal to be self sufficient and never have to rely on a man?

Until next time.

I'm supposed to go to an agility trial tomorrow, a long anticipated chance to get some more Q's for USDAA Nationals but of course after maybe 1 or 2 days of rain in the past 3 months and sunshine and temperatures 20-30 degrees above normal it's supposed to be in the 50's and rain tomorrow.  All day.  50 degrees plus rain is a good recipe for hypothermia and injured dogs so we'll see how tomorrow pans out.  Could be a better day for warm cups of tea on the couch and brunch w/ Jonny.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Puzzle

Set dog up in a sit in front of entrance to U-shaped tunnel.  Stand next to dog, release verbally, say 'tunnel', take a step toward tunnel entrance, indicate tunnel entrance with inside arm, shoulders and feet are pointed to tunnel entrance, eyes are on tunnel entrance.  Dog flies across your feet and sails into opposite tunnel entrance.  Repeatedly.  This is what happened at my lesson with Joy yesterday.  Repeatedly.  Even Joy couldn't figure it out and she's pretty clever.  Has a first place trophy from the FCI World Championships.  Been teaching for a billion zillion years.  Has a pretty good eye for this stuff.

I'm an enigma.

Thinking about it, it's not the first time he's dashed across my feet to the less obvious tunnel entrance.  I do not send my dog across my feet.  Ever.  I have no video from my lesson, will have to set it up at the practice field and get some video.

I was so very happy to have a lesson with Joy, it's been years.  She's overcome a multitude of tough health issues and it's amazing to see her out there again, running her dogs and teaching.  It's the only lesson I've had all year other than the seminar last February so it was long overdue.  I split the lesson with my training partner and I'm hoping we can do it once a month or so, at least until USDAA Nationals.  I have USDAA trials the next 2 weekends and would love to finish qualifying for Nationals so the timing for a lesson was perfect.

I had a few other issues - rushing the weave pole entry, spectating at places where I should have been moving, moving at places where I should have been holding up to cue collection, using a lateral send where I really needed a wrap (ie lots of collection) and not recognizing the scenario as a wrap on the initial walk through.

I did get some good practice with rear crosses and pulled off some nice front crosses.  Got a nice blind cross in too.  Some serps, a back side of a jump/serp thingy - fun and challenging stuff.  Was so good to have a savvy eye on me.  Not that my training partner isn't savvy or incredibly helpful but it's good to have a lesson now and again.

Strum was sky as a kite, excited to see all his dog and human friends and to be practicing in a brand new place.  He was so fast, seemed even crazy faster than normal, I had to run hard and we started at 7:30 a.m. and no caffeine.  I had to miss boot camp for my lesson but I felt like it was plenty of intervals so I took the rest of the day off of training despite the trial this weekend.

Went to Hills & Drills this morning to make up for it, stair intervals then a couple of 400's on the track then went to masters swimming and swam in the fastest lane because my normal lane was too crowded.  Don't ask me how I survived that.  Lots of food and caffeine after that busy morning so I can maybe get some work done the rest of the day.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Week in Training

A good, hard week with lots of variety.  Weight training, running intervals, and the longest bike ride to date with a long run the day after. Plus the Kangoo Jumps of course.  An 11+ hour week with less than 2 hours being low impact swimming is just what I needed.

The long bike ride was on a mixture of pavement and dirt roads up to the mountain town of Gold Hill.  I went up via Four Mile Canyon so I was able to see the damage from the fire up close and personal.  The trip up was a bit upsetting and the trip down was even worse because I went down Sunshine Canyon which seemed to have even more damage and destruction.  I felt that sick, nauseous feeling turning over in my stomach again at the sight of the cleared hillsides and missing houses.  At many points on the descent I didn't know where I was, the scenery had changed so dramatically.

It was a hard climb physically too.  It's been a zillion years since I've done this ride and while I used to do the climb up Sunshine all the time I decided to go up Four Mile because it's not as steep.  But at some points it's still pretty darn steep.  I was fine for the first 1 1/2 hours but that last hour of steep climbing up to Gold Hill was brutal.  The elevation gain from town is about 3000 ft. and 1500 of it is done in the last 3.7 miles or so on steep, dirt, switch back-y roads.  I wasn't doing a good job of eating and got shaky and bonky at some points plus my butt hurt, my foot hurt, wahwahwah.  I remember now why I stopped doing these long rides.  It took me 2 1/2 hours to get up there then another 7 minutes or so to climb out of town to Sunshine Canyon then an hour to get back home.  I stopped at the top to put on a fleece and snapped a couple photos of the Continental Divide.

There's a nicer, unobstructed view on the way up the hill but I was too tired and sore to stop for a photo.  Didn't take any photos of the fire damage on the way up or down, I'm still finding it too upsetting and it was such a long, tiring ride, I just wanted to get home.

I managed a 1 hour, 20 minute trail run with some good hills the next day.  I was expecting some miraculous improvement in my long runs because of all the intervals, strength training, boot camp stuff I've been doing so I was somewhat disappointed at first when I finished the run at much that same pace I've doing for the past few weeks.  Then I realized what tired legs I'd done that run on and that at this time last year I had to do a walk/run combo for a fraction of the distance/time so I could hardly complain.  So thankful to even be able to run such a distance.

I've got an agility trial next weekend and the weekend after that so the challenge will be to get in enough training but still be able to run at the trials.  First race is Xterra Curt Gowdy up in Wyoming in 7 weeks so it's time to start ramping up the training.


Swim: 4,200 yards/1 hour, 50 mins.

Mountain Bike: 39.48 miles/5 hours, 23 mins.

Run: 7.56 miles/2 hours, 21 mins.

Other (Kangoo Jumps, strength training, boot camp):  1 hour, 40 mins.

Total Training Hours: 11 hours, 15 mins.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Jump, Jive and No Wail

Jonny and I took another mental health day off of work to go riding up at Blue Sky but before that I dutifully went to boot camp.  Actually I went more out of curiosity than duty because Friday is Kangoo Jump Day at boot camp and I wanted to see what it was about.  And this is what it's about:

Kangoo Jump Boots

Apparently they were developed in Switzerland so that people with bad knees and hips could run and are popular in Europe.  They do in fact provide a good low impact workout for your knees though I was a little concerned about knee cap tracking issues since I had no sense of stride and felt a little out of control when I first started running in them.  I had no idea what these things looked like before I showed up to class and at first I wondered it I'd even be able to walk in them but after a few initial shaky moments I was o.k. 

We ran about 1/2 mile to a local track where we did exercises similar to the ones in the video except I looked nothing like my instructor and the other blond skinny Boulder chicks in the video.  Once I figured out to leave out the dancy arm movements and focus on the rhythm of what my legs were doing I finally started to get it by the end of class.  Despite the low impact on the knees it was a hard workout.  Those boots are heavy and clumsy at first and hard to run in until you get the hang of it.  There's also the embarrassment of running through town in a group wearing these things but then again this is Boulder so people are used to weirdness.

After boot camp it was off to the coffee shop to fuel up then up to Fort Collins to the Blue Sky trail.  And since both of us were tired and not chomping at the bit to hit the trail we finally stopped in Masonville to check out the Masonville Mercantile.

I finally got some pictures of the murals that aren't blurry from being taken from a moving car.

There was even an old timey prison and wanted posters.

Jonny was afraid to go inside at first but I had to go in and he quickly got over it.  The people inside were really nice so there was nothing to fear.  And the stuff inside - I don't even know where to begin.  All kinds of high end vintage stuff - fancy clothes, knick knacks, jewelry, memorabilia.  If you're looking for a cow skull with a portrait of Jonny Cash painted on it or a taxidermied mountain lion this is the place for you.  I could have spent the day taking pictures of all the stuff inside but I felt kind of funny doing it so I only took 2.  If you go to their Facebook page you can see more.

Old School Mickey Mouse anyone?

I loved Audrey Hepburn and you almost felt like you were in Breakfast at Tiffanys with the way this display sparkled.

And if my brain wasn't already exploding from the awesomeness of it all, there was a field of Stuff across the street but I'll save that for a separate post because this one is already getting out of hand.

Oh yeah, and there were once again blue skies on the Blue Sky.  Temps. in the mid-80's, felt like a summer day.  Freaky but no point in complaining, may as well enjoy it before the apocalypse comes.

We were planning on going to Denver to see the Nuns of Brixton but when I got home from riding I found out they weren't planning to hit the stage until 11:00 ish so that was out of the question.  I almost never went to shows that late back in the day, there was no way I was staying up that late after the full day I'd had.  Plus I don't think my brain could have held any more awesomeness.  Maybe one of these days they'll come up to Boulder and play at a reasonable hour.  In the meantime, I always have YouTube.  I think the band needs some Kangoo boots as well as the crowd.  Gives a whole new meaning to pogo dancing.