Friday, November 30, 2012

Helpful Tips

Here are a few lessons from this morning's Kangoo boot camp class.

1.  Don't wear your 12 year old sports bra that you normally reserve for dog walking and lawn mowing to Kangoo class.

2.  If you insist on wearing the 12 year old sports bra, don't put it on inside out.

3.  It's best to get up early enough for some pre-workout caffeine (see above).

4.  If it's cold out and you're the only one who shows up and you didn't have time for breakfast and the instructor informs you that she's feeling especially energetic it might end up being a challenging workout.

5.  'Now let's go do some intervals' is not exactly what you're hoping to hear after the Kangoo calisthenic/dance session where your main goal was not to puke on the fancy pants tennis courts.

6.  'One more interval and we're done', are the sweetest words in the English language.

5.  Ooooh my abs.  Because after the dancing/jumping and intervals there's a mile cool down run in regular shoes and an ab workout.

6.  This is maybe not the best idea when you have an agility trial the following day.

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not.  It was great to have a hard, 1 1/2 hour workout and I love the Kangoo boots and there's no way I would have pushed myself that hard on my own.  Not because I'm unmotivated but because I have a strong sense of self-preservation and don't like to push myself to the edge of puking.  But something about the hyper sped up dance versions of 'Billie Jean' and 'My Sharona' makes you want to keep going, fast as you can.

The best part though is that I'm finally starting to have some rhythm and coordination.  Even the instructor noticed and commented that I'm doing much better than when I first started so it wasn't just in my head.  Though I did have a chat with myself before going to class about acting like I knew what I was doing and not thinking too much about it and that helped a lot.  I'm doing yet another sports hypnotist training right now, can't ever have too many techniques and this instructor has some innovative stuff, and it reminds me that I can do this stuff for myself as well as my clients.

This weekend is a DOCNA trial and sore abs and quads aside, I'm looking forward to it.  I've been practicing regularly twice a week after pretty much taking the entire summer off and I'm starting to see some good results, especially with the weave poles.  So much awesome with the weave poles at both practices this week.  Seemed like we'd turned a corner after a practice session last week.  Probably still a bit of work to be done before I see the improvements in a trial but I'm hopeful for tomorrow.

No ambitious goals for tomorrow, just run and have fun and pretty up those weave pole entries and nice smooth handling.  Haven't been practicing dogwalks, those will be what they will be.  Trial is less than 20 minutes away so I can sleep in but still I'll have to wake up in enough time to get some caffeine.  And I'm throwing out that 12 year old sports bra just to be on the safe side.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

USDAA Weekend

The big suspense for this weekend was whether or not we'd get our final Starters leg for our AD title and our ticket out of Starters.  I've been unwilling to spend too much money on Starters games classes, hoping to get our minimum in the games but those Standard legs have been stubborn - a missed dogwalk here, a knocked bar there, so many 5 fault Standard runs.  We had titled out of Gamblers and needed one more Snooker leg so I entered those classes but I didn't want to blow the money on Starters Pairs and Jumpers so only entered 1 class - Standard - on Sunday in case we didn't get the Q on Saturday.  Kind of putting  all our eggs in the Standard basket.  But I was about in tears at the thought of hanging around until the end of the day for Starters Jumpers.

Saturday's Standard course, well, it wasn't looking good for the dogwalk.

The dogwalk and weave poles are our 2 worst obstacles so of course the main challenge to the course is a difficult weave entry off of the dogwalk.  The masters and advanced courses had this same challenge and most everybody struggled with it.  Even many dogs that made the entry struggled to hang on and popped out.  It looked like the kiss of death for a running dogwalk.

Thankfully the Gamblers course had the chute through the weaves set-up so I was able to practice the sequence ahead of time.  And Strummer missed both the dogwalk contact and the weave entry.  I was behind and he curled to the left and nearly took the chute, a fate that several dogs suffered in all the classes.

So for Standard my plan was to be way ahead.  I thought about a blind or front cross at the end of the dogwalk but thought I'd likely end up blocking his view of the poles.  In the end I stayed near the end of the up ramp as he exited the tunnel, stayed still and kept eye contact just long enough to make sure he made it onto the up ramp and then ran like hell, thankfully making it to the weaves before him with him on my right.  He still missed the entry but got his dogwalk contact and I was able to quickly bring him around and send him back in to the weaves.  No refusals in Starters so we were o.k.  I managed to keep my head for the rest of the course, even got some nice collection and a tight turn into the tunnel at Jump 11.  A front cross between 13 and 14 and we were out of there.  And out of Starters at 7 1/2 years old.  SO happy.  I was tempted to ask the judge if I could have a victory lap.  1st place as well, icing on the cake.

And as if my cake needed any more icing, the club offered next day move-ups so I was able to enter Advanced Standard on Sunday.  And the little stinker got another Q and 1st place, putting me into diabetic shock.  Maybe we'll even make it to masters before it's time to retire.

The course was fun, very similar to masters, just a couple of angles tweaked on a few jumps but otherwise the same course.

Strum missed the teeter to weaves entry but no refusals in advanced.  I don't often practice contact to weaves and this is the second trial I've seen a challenging dogwalk to weaves entry in Starters (the other one was even worse) so it's a good reminder that I need to practice that sort of thing.  There was also a challenging dogwalk to weaves challenge in Grand Prix Semis at Nationals this year.  Not something that typically occurs to me to practice.  Most dogs got this entry o.k. though some were lost to the tunnel.

The judge's counting at the table startled Strummer a bit.  I told him he was a good boy and he seemed o.k. but that's another thing to practice.  Might have to start going to my club's course run-throughs to practice that.

In all a fun but short weekend for me since I had only 1 class on Sunday morning.  The trial had a very small entry, only 16 dogs in master standard and 11 in P3 standard.  Can't ever remember such a small masters class.  There was an AKC trial going on so maybe that was part of it.  The trial was done before 4:00 on Saturday and I was done just after 9:00 a.m. with my one run on Sunday.  Don't know if Strummer has ever Q'ed both Standard runs in a weekend so I was very very happy and so ecstatic to be out of Starters.  Not too much difference typically between masters and advanced so we'll finally be able to enjoy some more challenging courses.  I really enjoyed the judge and her courses this weekend.  She was awesome with the nesting so the course changes moved quickly and she had some fun, creative challenges.

The only downside was that the club didn't turn on the heat.  It was warm enough outside, 50's and sunny, but freezing inside the arena, even at mid-afternoon.  It was fine while you were running but the rest of the day . . . brrrr.  And I jump set for 4 classes on Saturday but was still cold.  Thankfully only had the one run on Sunday.  I'm hoping enough people will say something that they'll put the heat on for the Dec.-Jan.-Feb. trials.  I know the club is trying to save money but this is a false economy if everybody is miserable all day long.  I'll bet most people, myself included, would happily have paid and extra $2 per day to put the heat on and if Dec. is bad as well I may pull my entry for Jan. and skip Feb.  Hard to pass up trials that are just 20 mins. away but agility is not worth being cold like that all day long.

Nonetheless looking forward to DOCNA at the same venue in 2 weeks.  Maybe we're on a roll with this dogwalk thing.

 Trial Stats

Starters Standard  Q, 1st place

Advanced Standard Q, 1st place

Titles:  Starters Standard

Dogwalks:  2/3 (67%) 

A-frames:  4/4 (100%)

Weave entries:  0/3 (0%)   didn't pop out at all

Knocked bars:  None

Teeters:  3/3 (100%)

Table: 2/2 (100%) fast, perfect table, worried with judge's count though

Off courses:  1 in Snooker, 1 in the opening of Gamblers

No refusals or run-bys except at the weave poles.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Found this old file folder and it's from right about the time we got Lola at 8 weeks old.  As you can see by her little puppy prints she was 'helping' me with my taxes.

She turns 12 next month and is still as 'helpful' as ever.

Sassy Lassie

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Fun Day In the Dirt

Started the day off with an early morning agility practice.  I've got two people to practice with now and this morning's practice was at an indoor barn on dirt.  Half my trials are indoors on dirt and I almost always train outdoors so this is a nice opportunity.  Plus my training partner is very focused on the details.  Getting around the course isn't enough, she wants to tighten up every turn, get the lines right, fractions of a second matter.  Normally I'm mostly focused on merely getting around the course so this will sharpen up my handling for sure.  Plus it's so important to have precise handling for Strummer.

I love practice.  You get all the do overs you want plus you can try it this way then try it that way.  Fun.  We worked on a course courtesy of Agility Nerd.  We didn't do the big course but rather the 4 small exercises at the bottom of the page.  Very challenging and lots of fun plus the bonus of we only had to set up 5 jumps and a tunnel.  Because the equipment has to be pulled out and put away every time so the horses can play when we're through.  Lots of great stuff over at Agility Nerd but duh, I'm sure I didn't have to tell you that.

I didn't have any clients this afternoon so I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather we've been having and hit the Boulder Valley trails on my bike.  It was shorts and t-shirt weather, high 60's I think and plenty of lovely warm sunshine and blue skies.

I tried to get a photo of this coyote but he had moved quite a distance away by the time I got my camera out.  It looks like he's trapped in suburbia but really he's on a big field of open space.  He went towards the houses to avoid me and a woman with a dog who had stopped to watch.

That's it for the photos, too busy enjoying my ride to stop.  I've got a backlog of photos from some hikes but I'll get to them eventually.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Okay, OKAY, I voted already

Sheesh.  You would think voting in a swing state would make you feel good, like for once your vote actually counted for something.  But the barrage of attack ads we've been drowning in since last spring has me numb.  I didn't do early voting this time around for no good reason other than I did the math and figured it would be easiest to wait until election day and simply go to the polling place that's a short walk from my house.  In theory this was a good plan.  I had a nice walk on a beautiful, sunny fall morning and there was no line at all when I got there.  Much easier than driving somewhere.  The problem is that the Democrats have been hounding my house for days to make sure I vote, yesterday they even came twice, and the dogs go off their heads every time they knock on the door.  They even came to my house today after I'd already voted.  Now I get it, and really I should be thankful that they're out there pounding the pavement, fighting the good fight, making sure, among other things, that we don't roll the country back to the 50's and I can continue to get birth control pills through my husband's employee health insurance.  Because endometriosis is a bitch people, and birth control pills aren't cheap.  But I'm oh so weary.  And so is Lola.

I beg of you, please to let it be over.

As for the dogs, Strummer is an anarchist and doesn't vote because, 'it only encourages them'.

Lola votes but always writes in her own name.

And good luck getting Cody to move.

I'm tempted to plaster signs all over the house that say, 'YES, I voted, please for the love of my sanity and my eardrums do not set my dogs off.'  Or I could take advantage of all the door knocking and actually do some training but probably I'll just stuff earplugs in and hunker down for one more day. 

I'd almost be relieved with less than a day to go but now I have to make it through the hell of Christmas which not so mercifully has started already.  Is it January yet?

Monday, November 05, 2012

You Know You've Hit Rock Bottom

when you're pilloried on South Park.  I haven't laughed this hard at t.v. in a long time - South Park takes on Lance Armstrong and hits everything right on the head in hilarious fashion.  This episode has everything - Jesus on HGH, Dr. Seuss, the farmers in Belarus - pure genius.  A welcome relief from all the grating election coverage/commercials/cajoling, etc.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ride That Pony

Friday at boot camp is Kangoo Jump Day and this is my very favorite day of boot camp because the Kangoo boots are all sorts of bouncy fun.  But it's also my most challenging day of boot camp because it involves learning dance moves and having rhythm and these are not strong points for me.  However these days I'm all about challenging those self-limiting beliefs and I would like to have dance moves and rhythm or at least a little bit of coordination and motor skills.

However this is a process and Kangoo class is outside in a place for all the world to see and I live in fear that someone will break out a camcorder and next thing I know the horror of me trying to figure out Hip Hop Dance Moves in bouncy boots will be going viral on Youtube.  Because how could something like that not go viral on Youtube?

And speaking of viral on Youtube, this week the instructor said she had a special surprise for us, something about Gangdom something and I figured it was more Hip Hop moves.  But it was not Hip Hop moves and I actually had a lot better time with this funny dance and after class she explained it to me again, this time slowly and spelling it out - Gangnam Style - and it's all the rage, go Google it on Youtube.

Turns out it's some kind of Korean techno dance music, sort of.  Probably many of you have heard of it and you're laughing at how out of the loop I am but I'll bet I'm not the only one.

Holy Earworms Batman.  This is one of the most powerful earworms ever, someone should alert Oliver Sachs.  And it's not even like you get the song stuck in your head.  I ended up with, 'Ehhhhhhhh, Sexy Lady, Whoop Whoop Whoop Whoop Whoop Whoopa Gangnam Style'  stuck in my head for 6 straight hours yesterday.  Over and over and over.  And I'm pretty good at getting rid of earworms but somehow my brain didn't want to get rid of this one.  It sunk its teeth in and wouldn't let go.

Then this Xterra version appeared on my Facebook.

And I now I do not feel so bad about my lack of rhythm. 

I suppose it's only a matter of time before we see a dog agility version.  Not from me though, I'm not a wacky, show off my complete lack of rhythm for the internets sort of person. 

And this is what it looks like on Kangoos from a guy who has some rhythm and is not shy about sharing.