Sunday, July 31, 2016

More Ruby and Waspmageddon

I'll get some better pictures of her but we have Waspmageddon going on in the back yard so these will have to do for now.

She's turned out to be a dream of a dog, such a good girl.  I can't find any fault with her.  She has a super high prey drive so training a recall around prey will prove challenging but otherwise she's super sweet, good temperament around other dogs though she is starting to get excited when she's on leash and she's other dogs posturing at her or behaving out of control.  Mostly though she ignores them and/or throws off some calming signals.  Gets along with Lola no problem.

And even at 15 3/4 years old, Lola suffers no fools.

She's 2 months out from her knee surgery, had her final x-rays and they looked good.  One more month of building up strength and she's good to start jumping on the furniture again and doing more strenuous things.  It's so hot right now that it's not like anybody wants to be running around doing anything crazy anyway.  We're having a typical summer but it feels hot compared to the past couple few summers which were so much milder.

Ruby loves her roll arounds.

I've not been doing much training with her, partly because she doesn't need much, partly because of the heat and partly because of her surgery recovery.  I've been working on having her circling a cone because this was part of her surgery rehab exercises anyway.  I borrowed Silvia Trkman's 'Cik and Cap' video from a friend but we're still stuck on circling the cone.  I started off luring this because she had to do this for rehab and no way was she going to offer it but now I'm working on shaping, waiting for her to offer it.  This is going slowly, she doesn't understand the concept.  I've been working on other shaping tricks as well, having her circle the legs of a chair, interacting with a very small box, high five.  She's happy and eager to train, she just doesn't get it yet.  Could be my shaping skills as well.  Aside from being rusty it was never one of my strengths anyway.  Once the weather cools off I'll start working on shaping her to tug and play with toys.  Right now she'll grab a toy and tug only when she's in the mood and this is mostly right before or after meal times and before we go for walks.  She LOVES walks, gets so excited when she knows she's going out.  She's going to be a great running partner because she seldom stops to sniff or mark, just keeps trotting for the whole walk, nose to the ground but moving all the time.

So thankful for her, she's just what we need right now.

Now I'm off to continue my battle with the wasps.  Spent two hours this morning driving around Boulder and Louisville try to get sticky wasp traps.  Two Home Depots, one Lowe's, and two hardware stores later and we still came up empty.  Apparently everyone else in Boulder County is also having Waspmageddon and those sticky traps are the only thing that work.  Came home and ordered them on Amazon with a few mouse clicks.  Duh.  Though we were hoping to buy some to have right away.  At least Ruby got to come and walk around all the hardware stores.  She even got snugs and a cookie from a worker at McGuckin's, Boulder's expensive but has everything hardware store.  Well everything but sticky wasp traps anyway.  Jonny said there were loads the other day when he bought the one trap we have but all gone by today.  Too Many People.  Not enough sticky wasp traps.

The wasps are getting in between the siding and the foundation wall right near the corner of the house shown in the photo above as well as to the right of the door.  This makes getting the dogs in and out problematic and I was stung again as well just trying to leave the house for a dog walk.  So I caulked up the cracks and then we had a traffic jam of wasps on either side of the door because they could still get in but not as easily.  They are not happy about this situation and now it's even harder to get out the door and they're getting in the house when we open the door.  So we put a trap near the traffic jam and this killed a LOT of wasps.

But they're still getting in and out so I need to add a bunch more caulk which is hard to do because they're angry as a horde of swarming wasps.  And even if I do manage to get a good seal there's still the problem of the wasps that are locked out and my current trap is obviously very full.  So Waspmageddon continues, at least until Tuesday when my new traps arrive.  Poor dogs, they can't enjoy their yard.  Ah well, snow will be here soon, right?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Xterra Mountain Champs (Beaver Creek)

I don't know why I keep signing up for this.  I did a pre-ride of the course 2 weeks before and had registered the day before the pre-ride.  After the pre-ride I joked that it's a good thing I'd registered already.  The bike is hard and long and steep and hard and up at a high elevation (high point of 9184') and when you're done you get to do a super hard run that's also steep and up at a high elevation (high point of 8872').

I had a good swim this year, water was supposedly 66 degrees but felt warmer, didn't even need swim socks.  I managed the crowds o.k., found some feet to draft off of early on.  Pace was 1:51/100 yds. this year compared to 1:48/100 yds. which added up to a difference of 19 seconds.

Bike went well, better than the pre-ride which always seems to be the case.  The race was super competitive this year because Xterra cancelled 2 of the 4 Regionals in the U.S. that qualify you for Worlds so lots of super fast, super competitive people showed up to Mountain Champs this year.  Normally I end up riding with somebody but this year I was on my own from just past the first aid station.  It was a very strange feeling.  My bike time was approximately 2 mins. slower than last year.  Can't tell exactly because I'd had some issue with pushing the wrong buttons on the Garmin last year.

The run did not go well and that is an understatement.  It was much hotter this year - high 70's to low 80's, maybe hotter - and the heat combined with the elevation left me dizzy and nauseous right from the start.  The first climb is steep and long and to call what I was doing 'hiking' or even 'walking' would be an exaggeration.  I'm not sure what to call it.  But it was slow and hard and after a mile and a half or so I wondered if I should turn around and find my way back.  But that would be 3 miles total and the run was 6 and I'd already come so far so I figured I may as well gut it out.  And gut it out I did.  One hour and 44 minutes to complete 5.5 miles for a whopping pace of 18:53 min./mile which is probably the slowest I've ever run a race.  Last year was 1:27:31 or 16:16 min./mile and I know I was struggling then as well.  But as I recall the dizzy, nauseous, I'm maybe going to pass out feeling didn't come until the second climb.  It was cooler though, a storm front blew through and it was cloudy and cool and I think even a few raindrops came here and there for the first half of the run but then the sun came out for the second part and I think that's when I started feeling really bad.  My guess is that the heat and altitude combined with the length and difficulty of the race and my issues with low blood pressure don't make for a great race for me.  Not sure if I'll go next year.

I did have fun though for most of the race and for the first time I drove up on Friday and spent the night.  Some women invited me to share their condo and it was so fancy and a couple minutes walk to the start line.  They turned out to be really nice and it was fun to meet some new people, especially fellow Xterra women.  There aren't many of us out there, especially in the 45-49 and 50-54 age group.

And the trails were beautiful.  Still so lush and green up there though the trails were dry and dusty compared to when I did my pre-ride a couple of weeks previous.

Not many T2's are as beautiful as this.

And the finish line.

Next race is Xterra Winter Park in 2 weeks and I get to go up there tomorrow to pre-ride.  Let's hope I have enough legs left.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


RIP Strummer, March 2005 - June 24, 2016

Had to say goodbye to my bestest buddy a week and a half ago.  Came up limping on 3 legs the Sunday morning after Xterra Lory, diagnosed with an inoperable tumor Monday night and gone on Friday.  There was a slim chance the tumor was an abscess so we'd been giving him antibiotics and pain killers since the vet assured us he was in pain though aside from not wanting to bear weight on the bad leg he seemed his perfectly normal self.  Tearing around the house and yard, barking, playing with his toys and the garden hose, full of himself, pure Strummer.  Then Thursday night his leg looked bigger and by Friday morning his leg started to explode in size, a big new lump around his hock, obviously not an abscess.  Still his crazy self though.  We'd been torturing ourselves all week over what to do.  He didn't seem in pain despite what the vet said but who can say with a dog like Strummer.  But after his leg blew up so quickly on Friday the decision was obvious.  Difficult, heart breaking but obvious.

Could not even bring myself to write about it until now.  Not that this is easy.

This photo came up as a memory to share on my Facebook the other day.

I hate Facebook.  Been avoiding it more than usual partly for this very reason.  Had to tell people about Strummer though, did not want to explain it over and over.  Not even really happy about writing about it now but I have to put something here.

What to say, what photos to post?  The task is overwhelming.  The whole story of his life with me is in this blog.  How to whittle it down to a single post?  Impossible.

The very last photo I took of him is in the post below, having his morning nap in the sun with Ruby on May 25, a crappy cell phone picture.  This photo below was taken 2 days prior with my point and shoot.  Not very interesting but I can't bring myself to pour through all the zillions of photos, not right now anyway.

He was such a force of nature, we were sure he'd live to 15, the only questions was whether he'd live to 16 or 17.  As such he'd been a bit neglected with Lola approaching 16 and having a noticeable decline in mobility and Ruby being a new dog and then having surgery, Strummer was being pushed to the background a bit and I'd been making efforts here and there to have time for him.  I'd been making plans for stuff to do with him this summer post agility career.  It turned out we never even had a final trip to the Rez for swimming, one of his favorite things aside from agility.  At least he was his crazy self right up until the end.  I suppose that's something.  But I'll never again name a dog after a punk rock icon who passed away suddenly, tragically and way too early while he was still putting out some of his best work.