Monday, January 27, 2014

Are You Faster than a Puggle? Yeti Chase 5K

The day started out a bit iffy with winds gusting so strongly my car was shaking.  But by race start the conditions were about as perfect as one could hope for - sunny, mostly calm, low to mid-40's.  I did my warm-up in tights and long sleeves but changed into shorts and short sleeves for the race.

White caps on Soda Lake

 A perfect bluebird sky day at Bear Creek Lake Park once the winds died down

I entered the race to get an idea of where my run fitness is at.  I also wanted to see how my heart rate zones are shaking out so I ran with my heart rate monitor.  I had a VO2 max test done back in approx. December of 2009 and back then my lactate threshold was 151 bpm.  It should have gone down roughly 1 bpm for every year so should now be around 147.  Max heart rate was 166 bpm so now should be around 162.  In reality these are rough guidelines.  Running by heart rate has its limitations and is not a perfect science.  I run most intervals at boot camp in the 147-153 range and a mile time trial at around 153-154.  My goal/expectation for the race was to keep my HR at 153-154, higher if I could go higher.  And oddly enough it's exactly what I did.  I did get it up to 155-157 towards the end of the race and I noticed that once I got to 155 and above I started the audible wheezing noise I do when I'm pushing at the end of a race.  I didn't have a sprint left in me for the end and I could feel breakfast thinking about coming up so I know I raced hard.

Nonetheless it was perhaps the slowest stand alone 5K I've ever done.  And I got my ass handed to me on a platter by a puggle in the first half mile of the race and an 8 year old at the end of the race. My final time was 31:43 mins. (10:14 min per mile) and I was expecting a sub 29/9:30 or so pace finish.  Oddly enough I placed 11/38 in the 45-49 age group and 164/477 overall so placement-wise I didn't do that badly.  And the winner of my age group had a time in the 25's which made me think the course was long but according to gmaps pedometer it's right at 3.1 miles. (Splits:  9:27, 10:59, 10:10, 1:07, there was a hill with elevation gain of around 90' in 3/4 mile at mile 2 and the downhill during mile 1).

I even wondered if running with the heart rate monitor had limited me.  Someone would pass me and instead of trying to keep up I'd look at my heart rate monitor, see that I was on target and hold my pace which is logically a good race strategy.  Except for the part about my finish time being so slow.  But I wanted to do this race to see where I'm at and it was a good wake up call.  I can see a lot more hill repeats and track workouts in my future.  Once a  week clearly is not enough.  May try using my Kangoo boots at first to add in another day of intervals and take the strain off my knee.

Otherwise it was a fun morning.  Had my picture taken with the Yeti, ate some awesome homemade chocolate chip banana bread at the finish and won a $185 pair of Rudy Project sunglasses in the raffle.  Sort of.  I won a form to mail in which allowed me to choose my glasses from some options but also required me to pay $30 shipping.  Still $30 for high quality sunglasses is a deal, I've never had such a nice pair.  But sucks they charge so much for something that is supposedly free.  $30 for shipping my ass, smacks a little of a scam.

Me and Yeti sharing a moment

Ironically I had an appointment with another Yeti later in the day in the form of a Yeti bicycle.  Or at least I thought I was going to have an appointment.  The bike was supposed to be in the shop by noon last Wednesday but never arrived in time for me to test ride it then it snowed Thursday and yesterday was the first day the trails would have been dry enough to test it.  So I showed up at the shop without calling first figuring that surely the bike had made it to the store by now.  But somehow it hadn't and I was there for a good 15 minutes or so before it became apparent that they didn't have the bike.  So the Yeti eluded me once again.  Will be a couple of weeks until I get another chance since we got more snow today.  Just a dusting, 2" or so but enough to keep the trails off limits until I leave for Sedona.  Kind of excited about going to Sedona but kind of not excited about the traveling part.  But more about that later.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wasting Time, Sitting Still

Feeling a bit antsy these days, so much stuff planned for the future and winter is dragging along.  And it's been in the 50's and 60's and sunny so it doesn't even feel like winter.  Not that I'm complaining.  Yet there's still a smattering of snow and ice on the trails so it doesn't exactly feel like spring.  So as a questionable solution to the winter blahs I entered a 5k this weekend on a whim.  Will give me a good baseline for my running and will hopefully get rid of some of the ants in my pants for racing.  The race is paved which is not good but it's in somewhat scenic Bear Creek Lake Park which is better than a lot of options for 5k's.  Not many trail runs this year so I have to suck it up on the pavement.  And it's supposed to be a high in the 60's so should be in the 40's or so when the gun goes off.  Perfect racing weather.  We'll see if the forecast holds.

On a completely irrelevant note, dogs eating rawhide bagels.  Just because.

The ray of sunshine almost makes him look angelic.  But I know better.

Lola cracks me up.  Do you see how green my grass is?  In JANUARY???!!!  It is freaking me out.  It's not even this green in summer.

I've decided to get a new mountain bike this year, happy early 50th birthday to me.  My current bike is 11 years old and though I love it dearly it's lacking in many of the technical advances like disk brakes and tubeless tires and to get those things and a new suspension fork on my old bike will require about a $2000 expenditure.  Because the bike industry is evil and does the best it can to make you spend money by making old frames and technology obsolete.  Like the music industry.  Forget your vinyl records, buy your entire record collection all over again on CD's.  Now buy it on mp3's.  Sucker.  Anyway, there are now 3 different wheel sizes available, 26" which is what I currently have and what is being phased out, 29"ers which are like the CD's and 27.5"ers which are the mp3's.  Maybe.  This is the first year that there will be an explosion of 27.5ers on the market so we'll see.  Plus you have the choice of hard tail (no rear suspension) or full suspension.  6 possible types of bike, well really 4 realistically since 26"ers are on the outs, then all the different manufacturers, frame geometries, women specific designs.  I kid you not, I actually made up a spread sheet so I could keep it all straight.  It's a frustrating and mind numbing process especially trying to separate the facts from the marketing hype.  I'll spare you the supposed pros and cons of it all.  And of course it's way too early for the shops to have the new models in, will be March or April until they start trickling in and having demo days where I can take the test bike on the trail.  Ants in my pants.  My prediction right now is that I'll end up with a Specialized Fate 29" hard tail.  It's not a very sexy looking bike, a plain boring black ugly boy looking bike but it's designed specifically for women and is very light weight, great for my Xterra races and just like dogs you can't pick a bike out for its color.  I just need to see if I can handle a 29er or if it will feel like a tractor trailer.  And if my back and old bones will be o.k. with the lack of rear suspension.  I wish I was more excited about this but the reality is that I wish someone would magically drop the perfect bike in my lap and I could just go out and ride.

Ah well, time for some agility practice to get rid of the ants in Strummer's pants.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy 13th to Lola

Mmmm, salmon cake.  I even bought one for Strummer this year.  It was gone in seconds.  Not much Mindful Eating going on here.

Her birthday was last month but I'm bad at dog birthdays and didn't get her cake until yesterday.  At least I don't make her wear a silly hat.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

More Agility Geek Out - USDAA Trial

A fun day today at USDAA and only 18 minutes from my house.  Course maps, geeky analysis, videos, I gots them, from today anyway.  I had some technical problems with the GoPro yesterday and I'll spare you the gory details of that but the end result is no video.  In short I'm still trying to work out the remote control.  Today I used the phone app and that worked no problem so I got all my runs.  No Q's but some really nice runs from the Strum man, just a little blip of a bar here or a contact there or a whoopsie wrong tunnel entrance that kept us out of Steeplechase Finals.  Ah well, Strummy was mostly a very good boy, got ALL his weave pole entrances and no pop outs!  I was over the moon about that.

I spent yesterday being very behind on course and today I was determined to stay ahead and I mostly was able to.

Masters Jumpers

Such an awesome run until the part where he dropped the last bar.  I had a front cross planned between 16 and 17 and probably could have pulled it off but I sort of forgot about it or maybe was further behind than I planned.  So I was stuck with a rear between 17 and 18 which caused a head check and put me behind for the last jump.  I was not the only one with that last bar down and it could have been that the ring gating was close enough to the last jump to cause some of the bigger strided dogs to balk.  But mostly I think it was due to handlers being behind.

I led out to between 2 and 3 but many people did not.  Another nice way to handle the start if you didn't lead out was to keep dog on the right and do a serpentine blind cross between 3 and 4.  Many people ran with their dog and did a front between 2 and 3 which also worked for most but some dogs ran parallel to 3 and had a refusal.

Lots of blinds between 7 and 8 including me.  Worked nicely for most.  I put a front between 12 and 13 then another front between 15 and 16.  Many people did a blind there and I thought about it.  Many people put either a blind or front between 14 and 15 and that worked nicely but put you behind if you wanted the front between 16 and 17.  I was hoping for that front but wasn't thinking quickly enough otherwise I think I could have made it.

You can watch in HD if you want by clicking on the little gear wheel at the bottom and choosing 1080 HD and watching full screen.  If you want.  GoPro did a great job of catching everything, I still had to zoom in with the editing software so it captured even more.  Not as good for sharing at small size but at least I can be guaranteed I'll get my runs taped.

Masters Jumpers

BTW how cute is that little mix in the stands?  One of my favorite dogs.  I told the woman I was going to steal him and stuff Strummy in his crate.


Ah Steeplechase.  Of course I saw the off course tunnel trap at 15 but I honestly thought calling and moving laterally would be enough.  Doh.  I should have at least decelerated and maybe even stopped.  Maybe could have tried for a front but it would have been ugly.  Everything else was fairly straightforward.  Very fast, very fun.  Was excited to have a decent tight turn on the rear between 7 and 8.  Lots of dogs went wide there and a few dogs took the #3 tunnel after the broad jump if the handlers were too far behind.


Grand Prix

The tricky part of this course for me anyway was the weave pole entry.  I debated putting a front cross in between tunnel and weaves then front crossing the weaves but I wanted a front between 13 and 14 and that would put me too far behind.  Some people did a sort of RFP, rotating into the dog to pull them in the turning forward to send them to the weaves.  Others did a front then a rear.  I simply picked him up out of the tunnel on my right and called him into the weaves.  It was a straight shot as long as the dog knew where he was going and it worked for many people.  I was still behind at 13 though and didn't get my front in.  Strummer turned left back towards me at 14 so I pulled him through the gap in the jumps to take the tunnel.  I planned to have him turn right after 14 but it worked out o.k. in the end.  A nice run except for the missed A-frame and dogwalk. 

Grand Prix

Masters Standard

The tricky part of this course for me was 15-18.  My plan was to be stopped a little past the first upright of the dogwalk when Strum got out of the tunnel so that he would find his own dogwalk entry and I could be ahead for a front cross after the dogwalk.  I'm such a dreamer.  I was nowhere close and in fact was still moving when he exited the tunnel and he followed my line perfectly, such a good boy, but it meant a refusal.  I did get him back on the walk but he went on at a funny angle and struggled a bit to hang on which helped him to hit his contact.  I ended up pulling to 17 then rear crossing.  Our only fault was the stupid refusal.  Ah well, I know for next time.

Master Standard

And last but not least, Master Challenge Standard from yesterday. 

Strummer had 20 faults on this course and still came in 3rd because only 3 of us didn't get an E.  The stinker broke his start line because I foolishly turned my back on him which I almost never do.  As I did it I thought, 'Hmmm, I'd better turn back around' and as I started to a flash of black and white flew past me.  I was planning a forced front cross at 3 which required me to be on the backside of 3 so that did not go well and we got a refusal right off the bat.  Most people simply pushed to the backside of 3 and did front cross on the landing side and it worked fine.  We could have tried that too but I wanted to try it the other way.  The couple few other people that I saw do it that way handled it nicely.  Can't remember where the other faults came from.  I know he got his weave entry.  I think we had a dropped bar at 18 and maybe another one somewhere else.  Maybe missed the dogwalk?  A refusal at 15?  It was messy over there at the dogwalk.  The dogwalk through the close was the hardest for most people.  Lots of dogs had off courses at the #17 tunnel.  I ended up pushing Strum to 17 and turning him left for a wrap to the #16 tunnel and that worked fine.  Got a front in between 16 and 17 and another front between 17 and 18.  Waited at the tunnel entrance and called him and he turned no  problem.  I think I rushed the 18 jump and took my eyes off him and that's why the bar came down.  Or maybe it was the last jump.  Yeah, it's been a long 2 days.  No video unfortunately.

Back tomorrow for Standard, Snooker and Master Challenge Jumpers which I'm looking forward to the most.  Probably won't have another big long post but maybe some quick video tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Crazy Off His Head

Was 25 degrees when I left my house for practice this a.m.  Don't know how cold it was in the arena, not Polar Vortex cold but Crazypants Dog Off His Head cold.  We started off with lots of extension, no collection, big wide crazy turns and it didn't help that I had the course wrong in my head for the first half.  Things went a lot smoother once Crazypants settled down a little and I ran the actual course which was way easier than my imagined course.  Course was from this month's Kathy Keats Free Training Exercise at Clean Run.  We only did Exercises 1 & 2 which was plenty given we have a 3 day USDAA trial this weekend.

Exercise #1 where I get to try a Serpentine Blind Cross (think I called it a Serpentine Rear Cross on the video, serves me right for multi-tasking but I can't be bothered to fix it now) which I think is what the One Mind folks call a 'German Turn'.  But don't quote me on that, I'm not entirely sure.  Comparing the wrap at the end of the last 2 runs you can see how much tighter of a turn I get with the Ketschker (Jaako, whatever) compared to the post turn.

2014-01-08-Handling Practice Ex 1 from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Exercise #2 went a lot better though still there's one section I could have made clearer.  There were no weaves in the original Kathy Keats exercise, we added those and in this exercise I tried both weave entries.  I had to manage them a lot but was pleased he was able to get them and stay in the poles.  For some reason he does really well with his weaves at this arena and with this particular set of poles.  Of course the best smoothest entry of all happened after I turned the video off and decided to try one last time.

2014-01-08-Handling Practice Ex 2 from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Feeling good about the trial this weekend, especially the Masters Challenge courses, looking forward to those  and Steeplechase most of all.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Crazy Dog Lady Goes to Home Depot

It was not a particularly nice day today, a rarity for Boulder but it does happen.

High of 14 degrees, don't even know what the wind chill was and at that point does it even matter?  And 7" of snow.  Jonny and I decided to finally start tackling some of the zillions of remodeling projects that need to be done around our circa 1980's decorated house.  And by that I mean we decided to go to Home Depot to pick out the raw materials like tile and shower heads and shower doors that other people will be installing for us because neither of us are particularly handy beyond basic household repairs.

We were there a long time and ended up getting none of those things.  Instead I got stuff for dog training.  Because dog training is so much more fun than bathroom renovation.  Why can't I just wave a magic wand and my bathroom is nice and modern and clean and not so gross I'd rather shower at the Rec Center?

Anyway, as long as we were there browsing in the area rug section I remembered that I was half considering starting Strummer over on the flat with his running dogwalk which involves me needing some kind of 12' long carpet or something similar for him to run on.  A nice Lady in Training made the dire mistake of asking if I needed help.  Now is there anything a Crazy Dog Lady loves more than explaining her convoluted dog training equipment needs to the poor Home Depot employees?  But this particular Trainee lady was very inventive and after I rejected her ideas of custom cutting the cheapo carpet runner because that was going to cost $36 she came up with the brilliant idea of astroturf.  Which just happens to come in 12' lengths and she can cut me whatever width I want.  And it's only $.65 a sqaure foot!  Music to the ears of Crazy Dog Lady on a Budget.  Unfortunately this required a second employee and a lot of effort.  In the meantime I attracted a crowd of elderly folks who were also trying to buy carpet runner and had lots of questions for my Trainee who was stuck in the big carpet cutting machine.  The old man asked me if I was putting in a putting green (now there is a grammatical oddity that I couldn't have come up with if I tried).  So I had to explain that no, it is for my dog, and that put him at a loss for words.  And poor Jonny stared very intently at the hardwood floor samples and pretended as hard as he could not to know me.

In the end I got my 12' by 2' piece of astroturf for a whopping $6.  Was probably supposed to be $12 but they undercharged me somehow.   Now if only fixing the bathroom was so easy.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

More Fun With GoPro in the Snow

Not sure how our predicted 2-4" turned into 7" and counting but I took advantage of being snowed in to play around some more with the GoPro.  I took the chest mount harness and put it on Strummer so that the camera was sitting upright on his back to give sort of a dog's eye view.  The harness is too big for him so I had to get a little creative with some clamps onto his dog coat but it stayed fairly stable considering.  I'll have to go to REI and pick up the kid version of the chest harness and see if that fits him better.  I saw someone on YouTube use their harness successfully but it was on an obese English Bulldog and fit was not a problem.

Anyway, here's the end result.  Jonny makes a cameo.  He's a bit dismayed at this latest level of Crazy Dog Lady but oh well.  It was more fun than shoveling the driveway.

2014-01-04-Strummervision in the Snow - Vimeo from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Agility Geek Out

Had a fun practice session yesterday with some agility friends.  We were working on parts of a course from a video from One Mind Dogs which I'd seen a few weeks ago.  Exercise 1 on the tape is something my training partner made up and Exercise 2 is from the video.  I'd never heard of One Mind until the Rosanne DeMascio Seminar in November which I now realize I never wrote about.  Of course I had heard of Jaako via the Jaako Turn but this latest agility sensation had largely flown over my radar.  But wow, after seeing the video of them running highly technical courses so easily and smoothly I'm kind of fascinated with their methods.  I found a DVD from them on Clean Run that describes some basic handling moves and I ended up watching almost the whole thing at 1/4 speed several times over.  I also picked up an old FCI World Championship DVD from a couple years back for only $5 as long as I was paying postage for the other DVD so I'll see if I can pick out the moves on it.

My mistakes are obvious.  For Strummer it's all about the shoulders.  And he needs motion to support going 'out' to take a jump. You can watch in HD by clicking on HD next to the volume meter at the bottom of the video.
  2014-01-02 Handling Practice from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Was surprised to see some things like using the opposite arm to cue a serpentine and running the dog across your feet on a rear cross on the flat.  I've worked so hard to get away from doing that.  And also the Flip move that went out of fashion.  They call it a Lap Turn and to be fair there are more cues involved than simply flipping the dog around with your hand but wow, was funny to see top world competitor championships handlers using that move and making it look so elegant.

I'm going to work on learning some of the moves and I'll put some video up though there's plenty over at YouTube and Janita's YouTube channel.  I entered the Masters Challenge courses at a USDAA trial next week, I'll see what I can learn in a week and more importantly if I can figure out where to apply it on course.

On a completely unrelated note I'm on something of a hiatus from Facebook.  Such a big noise to signal ratio on Facebook.  I'll try to remember to check my messages over there but wow my brain feels so much less cluttered with not having to deal with the tedium of Facebook.