Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Xterra Worlds and Red Chiweenies Can Jump

Opened up my email this morning to the surprise of an invitation to Xterra Worlds in Maui in October.  A couple of weeks ago my coach asked me if I planned on going if I qualified and I told her I wasn't sure I'd qualify and I'd almost certainly not go if I did.  I've been struggling with the heat this summer and Maui has humidity on top of heat, something we don't have here.  It would be fun to swim in the ocean but nothing else about the race seems fun other than that it's WORLDS and shouldn't I be excited about going to WORLDS?  While I would like the experience of it, the logistics and $$$ involved are daunting.  It's a whopping $525 just to enter!  Then there's Lola.  Jonny would have to stay home with Lola and I'd feel bad going to Hawaii without him.  It's a long, hard race in race conditions that don't suit me but there is a perverse side of me that likes a challenge.  I have until Sept. 14 to decide. 

I introduced Ruby to jumping the other day and while she doesn't immediately scream Agility Dog, it doesn't look so bad on video.

It's been 10 years since I've taught a dog to jump so my training skills could be better as well.  I pulled out Linda Mecklenberg's 'Developing Jumping Skills' book last night to give myself a refresher.  Her writing can be a bit tedious because she's trying to give precise instructions but I followed her methods for Strummer and was pleased with his jumping.  I think One Mind offers a free trial period and I might try that out.  I love the DVD I have from them but there's no foundation stuff on it.  Not sure if their website/online program offers foundation training.  Ruby's not a fan of shaping, she sits down and stares at me rather than offering behaviors so we're going to continue to work on that.

I also bought Silvia Trkman's Foundation DVD and I'm borrowing her Cik and Cap DVD from my training partner and she has a lot of good stuff.  I'm not a fan of the constant chatter she provides her dog on course but I think I went too far the other way with Strummer and didn't provide enough verbal cues.  So this time around I'm going to work a bit more with training verbals.  Don't think I'll ever get to the point of yelling, 'Tunnel!  Tunnel!  Tunnel!' a million times before the tunnel but I think using more verbals will be an interesting experiment.  I also borrowed her 'Ready Steady Go' DVD from the agility club library and there was some good stuff in there too.  Ruby is getting more excited about playing but she still needs to be in the right mood.  She actually pulled the stuffing out of a toy the other day!  Never thought I'd be so happy to see that.  I even took photos but somehow I can't find them now.

In other good news I'm tentatively declaring victory over the wasps.  I still see them in my yard and vegetable garden but it's been a couple of days since I've seen any coming and going from the wall.  I found out it would have cost $135 to have someone come out and exterminate them, a fee I gladly would paid, but they would use pesticides, some kind of foam or something sprayed at the gap between the foundation wall and siding.  The wasps going in would carry the pesticide inside the wall to kill of the hive which is fine but what about the wasps coming out?  I worried about having chemical laden wasps lying dead in my yard and Ruby eating them or having them get in my vegetable garden which is right next to the wasp infested wall.  So I was glad not to have to resort to that.  At least I have my yard back and the dogs can come and go freely.  Horrible bastard wasps.  This fall I'm going to seal every crack and gap I can find and in the spring I'm going to be more vigilant for possible hives forming.

If we are even here in the spring.  Every day the San Juans beckon more and more.  A house/ranch that looked almost perfect to us came on the market some weeks ago and quickly went under contract.  Which was weird because the house is small (1340 s.f.) for most Americans and kinda weird looking from the outside.  But there are outbuildings for animals, a guest house, fenced fields, even a fenced arena.  In a beautiful location right next to Mesa Verde but only 2.8 miles from town on a straight country road (no mountain driving).  And senior water rights!  I figured that was maybe why it was snatched up so quickly, most houses sit on the market for months out there.  But something happened and it's back on the market.  And of course we can't get down there to look at it because of Lola plus there's the concern of why did the deal fall through?  So we'll see. 

Miss Lola.  Totally worth all the travel restrictions.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Xterra Winter Park - Snow Mountain Ranch

This race was supposed to take place 2 weeks ago but was postponed due to heavy rain/flooded trails.  But this new race day turned out to be perfect.  Started out a bit cloudy like last year.

The drive over Berthoud Pass was spectacular as low clouds hung in the valley below the pass.  It's always a weird feeling driving above the clouds.  Have some video on my dashboard cam, maybe I'll get around to downloading it before I erase it.

Anyway the swim went well for me despite the cool cloudy conditions and cold-ish water temps.  I never heard an official temperature but 2 weeks ago it was 63 degrees so I'm guessing somewhere between 61-63.  According to Garmin, air temp. was 36 degrees which I seriously doubt.  I think my phone said 42 degrees when I arrived at around 6:35 a.m.  Felt more like mid to upper 40's by race start at 8:00.  But who knows.  All I can say for sure is that I was fine, no worry or hypothermia or terrible head rush of my brain is freezing when I put my head in the water though it was for sure cold.

Swim was short this year at 767 yards (supposed to be 1100), even shorter than last year, but nobody was complaining including me.  I swam harder this year, wasn't so concerned about panic or the altitude, but not as hard as I can.  Pace was 2:05/100 yd. compared to my typical triathlon pace of 1:50 or so but this included a run out of the water, across a short bit of beach and back in again for the second lap and I took a few seconds on the beach to catch my breath a bit before starting the second lap.  Last year's pace was 2:15/100 yd. so that was a big improvement.

T1 was pretty fast despite wearing swim socks and neoprene cap.  Those regular shoes for flat pedals are so much faster to put on than bike shoes w/ cleats.

Bike went well but was slower this year, 7.0 mph compared to 7.3 mph.  My knee was bothering me a bit on the steeper climbs and I felt my mind wandering a bit.  I didn't have as many people to ride with this year somehow so I found myself losing focus more easily.  Course was a half mile shorter than last year and descended Coyote Tooth on a different trail that I walked in a few places so that may account in part for the slower time but the sections were so short I can imagine it was a huge factor.  I did ride down the steep section into the gully that I walked last year, just made sure to control my speed going into it and it was no problem.  Some guys at the front of the race spotted a couple of moose but I never saw them.  And a woman was held up for 20 minutes by a bear on the trail.  You never know what might happen during an Xterra.  Though I do remember the one year that a woman hit a bear on her bike during the Boulder Peak Triathlon.  No wildlife sightings for me this time, darn it.

Run went really well, over 2 minutes faster than last year and my knee didn't bother me too much.  And I held off someone coming from behind at the finish line which is always a mental challenge for me so I was happy about that.  Sun came out for the run but it was still plenty cool.  So much better than Mountain Champs. where it was so hot.

Overall a great race day for me, had fun and some improvements over last year.  Finished in 3:06:56 compared to 3:14:10 last year though swim and bike were a bit shorter this year.

And you gotta love the finish area.

Plus some unexpected bling for me.

There was someone in my age group who finished ahead of me but she finished in the top 3 women overall so I got bumped up a spot for 1st in the age group.  Sort of a weird thing but that's how most races do it.


Swim:   767 yards (861 yards last year) (per Garmin), 15:57 (19:30 mins.) 2:05/100 yards (2:15/100 yards) 26 strokes/min.

T1:  2:32 (3:42 last year)

Mountain Bike:  13.4 miles (13.9 miles last year), 1834' elevation gain (1788'),  1:56:07, 7.0 mph (1:56:28, 7.3 mph)

T2:  0:51 secs. (54 secs. last year)

Trail Run:  4.0 miles, 500' elevation gain, 51:21 (53:36 last year), 12:57 min./mile (13:28 min/mile)

Finish:  3:06:56, (3:14:10 last year)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Take Back the Power

What's your plan for tomorrow?
Are you a leader or will you follow?
Are you a fighter or will you cower?
It's our time to take back the power

The Interrupters, 'Take Back the Power'


Have been feeling sort of sluggish this summer.  Maybe the heat, maybe the hormonal adjustments, maybe the losing Strummer, probably a combination of them all plus who knows what.  My race from 2 weeks ago (Xterra Winter Park) was postponed to this weekend due to some freak rain and flooded trails and 40 degrees and cloudy on race morning.  I was so thankful the race director postponed.  Apparently one person was giving him a load of hassle, sending loads of texts with pictures of the trail in places where it was o.k. on race morning.  But the area just out from transition was mud so goopy that you'd sink in it and standing water on other parts of the trail and did I mention the 40 degrees and cloudy for race start?  The race starts at just under 9000' which means the water is cold.  63 degrees or so which is not crazy horrible but still cold enough and add that to 40 degree air temp. and he would have been pulling people out of the water with panic and hypothermia.  I think those conditions would cross my line and I might have skipped the swim.  So I'm very happy to be racing this weekend where conditions look just about perfect.  Some afternoon rain storms predicted for a few afternoons previous to get the trails nice and tacky and sunny with a high of 71 degrees for race day.  Will still be cold for the swim (probably low 50's air temp. and colder water temp. than 2 weeks ago) but with the sun out it should be do-able.  Then perfect conditions for the bike and run.  I can't wait.

Except for the sluggish.  Dragging my ass swimming at the Rez on Tuesday and this morning was even worse.  But Jonny showed me an Interrupters video and now finally I've found a new theme song and hopefully some new found energy to go along with it.  Add in 2 more days of rest, some cooler temps. and the beauty of the race venue in the mountains and I should be good to go.

Another contributing factor to the malaise could be that I'm still battling the wasps.  I see these crazy people on YouTube with their various methods of wasp extermination and they seem like they've lost it, a bit touched in the head or something.  But now I understand.  It becomes an obsession.  You think you've finally won and then you see they've found another way in or are building a nest around the corner or have learned to avoid your Shop Vac nozzle.  Crafty little bastards.  So far I've been through:

6 bottles of dish soap/water solution
5 wasp traps
2 sandbags
2 rolls of duct tape
2 tubes of caulk (about to buy tube #3)
2 ladders
1 plastic rain poncho
zillions of rags
1 Shop Vac

And still they persist.  But I'm getting upper hand, definitely a lot less of them around and they're active for less hours of the day now that we have more darkness and cooler mornings.  But still, this is what my house currently looks like:

I know, I'm like the other crazy internet people.  But I will prevail.

In happier news my garden is doing well.  Zucchini plant is going crazy.  One in particular got way too big because I couldn't get in there to pick it due to wasps.

Big as a Chiwowow

Or maybe she's small as a zucchini.

She's doing great these days.  Took her on another 20 min. run this week and she loved it.  One more week and she's cleared for any and all activities including jumping.  I think she likes her new home.

She looks gigantic in that picture somehow.  Cameras are funny things, I wasn't trying to have an optical illusion.

Ah well, time to fret over my race gear and check out the wasp situation.  Take Back the Power!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Are You Faster Than a Chihuahua?

How about smarter than a wasp?  Because apparently I'm neither.  Took Ruby running with me for the first time a few mornings ago and she was hauling ass.  She was all business and pulling me the whole way.  We only went 20 minutes because it was warm and it was her first time.  But she's ready for more once it cools down some.  I think she may even be ready for some real hiking by fall.  So calm in the house but such a scrappy little thing outside.

Still battling the wasps.  Turns out the little bastards have teeth and can chew duct tape.  So I no sooner block off a hole with more duct tape than they chew another one or actually pull the tape back.  This morning I saw one gnawing on a piece of foam I'd stuck in one crack.  Chewed big chunks of it away and got in.  Home Depot man was wrong about the caulk being strong enough to keep them out and even worse they sell caulk type stuff specifically for wasps/bees/insects:  No idea if it works or why the Home Depot guy didn't suggest it and of course the Boulder store doesn't have any.  Would have to drive the 20 minutes to Louisville and hope the one remaining can is still there.  Or maybe it's time to admit defeat and call in the professionals.  Because those professional guys in the videos are wearing special suits that cover their heads and faces and I'm out there in shorts and a tank top and flip flops if I even bother with shoes.  I did start off with a heavy winter coat, pants and hat but that gets old super quick in 90 degree temps.  And all I'm armed with is a piece of duct tape that I slap down quick as I can then run like hell.  I have one more idea to try and then it may be time to call in somebody who knows what the hell they're doing.  And at the bare minimum I should probably buy some Benadryl just in case.

My race last weekend was postponed due to flooded conditions on the trails.  We've been have a super hot, super dry summer except for when I have a race in the mountains.  Oh well, lost a week of training to tapering because the storm didn't come through until the day before the race so didn't know it was postponed until late afternoon on Friday.  On the other hand maybe a little bit of extra rest isn't the worst thing in the world.

Sunday morning at around 10:15 I heard sirens heading for the general direction of the Ironman bike course.  LOTS of sirens.  I knew it wasn't good.  A woman swerved into traffic and was hit by a car and did not survive.  Terrible tragedy.  Lots of blame and finger pointing going around, especially at the race director but really it's just a terrible accident and a risk of competing on a 60 mph highway that's open to traffic.  The bike lane was separated from traffic by traffic cones and the woman swerved out of the cones and into a car.  Impossible to know exactly why but a likely scenario is that she was trying to pass some riders and another rider in front of her pulled out in front of her also trying to pass someone and cut her off so she swerved into traffic.  Though this is pure speculation.  Terrible tragedy and the fourth cyclist killed in Boulder County since late May.  Another one of those deaths was on a road I also travel very frequently both in the car and on my bike.  I've ridden that stretch of US 36 where the Ironman cyclist was killed a zillion times as well since it connects my house to some Open Space trails.  I long ago stopped doing long rides on my road bike and this past winter I stopped riding on US 36 to get to dirt roads on my mountain bike choosing instead to drive to a trailhead and pick up the dirt roads from there.  Traffic on that road has increased significantly as well as the number of distracted drivers.  I see cars drifting in and out of the bike lane all the time and all over town, not just US 36.  I rode 2 miles to my office and was nearly taken out by a school bus that drifted into the bike lane.  I've come to the conclusion that bikes and cars in the same roadway are incompatible and it's just not worth it, especially with the Too Many People thing we have going on as well as all the cell phone zombies.

I think today is meant to be our last day in the 90's, should be cooling off to the 80's but I'll believe it when I see it.  Looking forward to fall and runs/hikes with Ruby and maybe even starting some agility training with her.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

You Knew It Was Going to Come Down to Duct Tape

Yeah I know, you're sick of the freaking wasps.  Believe me, so am I.  But I think victory is finally mine!  And all thanks to duct tape.  This morning there were more wasps in the trap and still some hovering around the access point so I wondered if they'd found a way in.  So I added more duct tape to the t-shirt/duct tape combo and after an inital swarm I seem to finally have peace at my door.

No gasoline or explosives or toxic chemicals or hippy dippy concoctions, just good old fashioned duct tape.  And a sticky wasp trap for the stragglers.  I've seen a few random wasps buzzing around the yard but so far nobody coming or going from the access point.  Hopefully by tomorrow they'll be totally gone.

In the meantime I put up a little barrier so no birds or dogs end up with sticky wasp trap stuck to them.  Because if I still had Strummer he'd totally end up with sticky wasp trap stuck to him.  In fact no way this would be enough barrier to keep Strummer out but for my current pack of Good Dogs this is fine.

Now, the question of the day is, do wasps make honey?  The internet has mixed reviews on this question but I'm with the 2 sensible guys here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Ah Taper Week and More Waspmageddon

I've got a race this weekend which means I'm tapering which means plenty of time and energy to do myself a mischief.  My wasp traps came today so I'm back to Waspmageddon.  Managed to block off their access to their lair with a t-shirt and duct tape and put a trap right at the entrance but man they are PISSED and so far they're not falling for the trap.  Thankfully no people or dogs have been stung so far, other than my two previous stings before I started my war.  I'm starting to have the feeling this is going to turn out as badly as Iraq.  Or Viet Nam or Afghanistan, or whatever ill conceived U.S. aggression you like. 

YouTube is filled with all sorts of unhelpful advice mostly involving rednecks and gasoline/explosives or elaborate gizmos requiring soldering irons and knowledge of geeky electronics.  Or hippy traps made of apple cider vinegar and dish soap.  Never mind the horrifying videos of wasp swarms and the queen.  Because the queen is terrifying huge.  I had no idea and I wish I could unsee it.

Then there was the guy who ran his shop vac at the nest access point and gathered up around 1000 of them (by his estimation).  This sounded like a great excuse to get a shop vac until I got to the part where he said he ran the thing for 3 hours.

I could go back out there with the garden hose and a spray bottle of dish soap/water mixture but this is a slow, tedious, dangerous operation that maybe kills about a dozen before you lose patience and get too hot in your winter clothes that you're wearing to avoid getting stung a few days before your race.

I guess let's look at a pretty sunrise picture at the Rez and hope for an early snow.