Adventures in Running: Another Update

On Monday, D came and we did another seven kilometre route. It was slightly different from the one on Saturday, with less hills.

It took us about 70 minutes.

I am not sure if we’re running or walking any faster, but I think we’re definitely running for longer periods of time. If the weather cools down, I’d really like to try Map My Run, an iPhone app that can measure pace, distance and other things like that. I need cooler temperatures, so that I can wear a coat and my phone will be safe. At the moment, I leave my phone home, so it won’t fall out of my pocket.

I felt less klutzy and a bit lighter on my feet than I did on Saturday.

It was pretty warm, so I was really glad to get into the shower after returning. I totally dislike sweating, lol!!

On Tuesday, Jess asked me to do a short workout that just included 30 minutes of brisk walking with a five minute warm-up and cool down.

I did both the warm-up and cool down at 3.2, and walked 30 minutes at 3.7.

I think it would be nice to get an exercise bike or something, so I can mix up the workouts a bit.

The workout went well. I thought I could forgo keeping a washcloth nearby to wipe sweat, but as I was about to start the final 10 minutes of walking, sweat began to run into my eyes – ICK!! So, I quickly ran to the washroom to grab a washcloth, and then finished the workout.

On Thursday evening, D came and we did a five kilometre route in about 50 minutes. It was our usual one, so we walked the usual warm-up path, down Watt, and up Starwood to Grange. My muscles felt relatively good, so after crossing Grange, we began our first section of running. It went pretty well.

I felt a bit heavy on my feet the first couple of times we ran, but I started feeling more comfortable the third time. About halfway through our walk, it began to spit and steadily got worse, so D and I stood in a bus shelter for 10 minutes while it poured and the wind blew. It was pretty wild weather, that didn’t last long at all.

We then continued on.

We walked a block or so, then began to run. Each time I ran, I felt some muscle tightness in the shin region of both legs, but it quickly resolved itself once we began just walking. I think I am probably walking and running a bit faster, so my legs are feeling it right now.

We probably ran the longest distance when we were going down the Grange hill. It was fun to run down the hill, but also a good opportunity to practice safety because D had to be extra watchful for awkward footing or anything else that might cause me to trip. She did an awesome job!!

As long as she can get off work in time, we are going to get together Tuesday evening before we head to Arizona’s field class.

Adventures in Running: 12 More Days

D is back for a week or so.

On Saturday afternoon, we did a seven kilometre route in about 70 minutes.

Normally, we warm-up before starting to run. This time, I didn’t think about it, so after our second run, my lower calf muscles were hurting.

So, we walked at a brisk speed until I felt better.

Our route was a bit more hilly and the temperature was warmer, so I think it slowed us down a bit.

I was also a bit klutzy at times – poor D!!

Despite all of this, I think the run/brisk walk went well. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I felt as though we ran longer spurts.

This week is supposed to be warmer, so I am hoping we can get out a couple of times. I would much rather run several days outdoors, than even once on the treadmill, lol!!

After showering and getting dressed again, Huib and I went to The Running Room for some clothes. I got a baby blue jacket that has silver reflective, a long-sleeve black shirt and pants that are navy with baby blue on them. I thought about getting something to carry water and snacks, but I am not great at drinking while I walk, so I don’t see myself drinking while I run/walk, lol!!

I also talked to the clerk about finding another guide runner. She took down my contact information and said she would put an ad into their next newsletter – Very Cool!!

Just 12 more days before I do my very first, and probably not my last, 10k race – Scary Stuff!!

Adventures in Running: Just the Treadmill for Now

In 16 days, I will do my first 10k race. I am both excited and nervous.

My guide runner is gone for the summer, so we are working on finding another one. In the meantime, I am working on the treadmill.

The last time D and I were out, we went 5k in about 50-55 minutes. We ran a bit faster and maybe even for longer periods of time. She did say that I sprinted up the big hill that often winds me, so that was pretty cool. When she pointed it out, I told her the hill will be done faster if we go up it quicker, lol!! She will be back in September, so we’ll continue running together then.

In the meantime, I have contacted People and Information Network, which is Guelph’s volunteer organization. My friend, Jason, has also contacted the University of Guelph’s cross country coach, so hopefully between the two of us, we’ll find someone soon.

On the treadmill, my workouts continue to get tougher, but I am also progressing.

I am now running for two minutes at 5.5 miles and walking at 3.7, most of the time. In addition, workouts tend to be 40 minutes or more.

I also bought some new running shoes for the race. They are Saucony brand, and are light teal with black and white. I think they will look pretty good with my black Columbia running pants. Now I just need to buy a shirt and jacket, since the race will be in the evening.

Yesterday’s workout was 80 minutes of hills. Every other five minutes, I had to raise the incline. So, I did: level 1, level 2, level 1, level 3, level 1, level 4, level 1, level 5, and then went down again. I was able to go up to level four without a break, but then took a break after levels four and five. I also had to lower my walking speed to 3.5, from 3.7, to do the full five minutes at levels four and five. I was really hot and sweaty, and sleepy when I finished.

Today, I have to walk for an hour and 40 minutes. It isn’t going to be tough, but it will be boring and hot, so I’ll probably wait until Huib is home to talk to me.

Field Class

Arizona had her first field lesson of the season and it went GREAT!!

We have been working all winter on her ‘hold’ and on ‘delivering to hand,’ but we have not done any work with ducks since the fall.

There were about eight dogs, including Arizona and Canyon, who came to class. There were: 2 flat-coated retrievers, 3 duck tolling retrievers, a lab and our 2 golden retrievers.

Canyon was our muscle. We didn’t know how driven Ari would be to retrieve ducks, so we brought Canyon to encourage her. They are very competitive with one another, so he does a great job of motivating her to cooperate.

Since there were several new dogs, Susie had them all start by retrieving a bumper from a short distance. Arizona was all over this!!

The dogs then had to retrieve a bumper from a farther distance. “No problem!” says Ari.

Finally, Susie got out the ducks and had us all practice with our own dog.

I worked with Arizona, while Huib tossed the duck from a variety of distances. Arizona was freaking awesome!! Other than me fumbling and dropping one duck, she handed every single one to me.

After several tosses, we put Ari into her crate and got out Canyon. With his seizures he cannot do any of the water work, so he loves when we let him play.

Unfortunately, he was a bit of a pain in my butt and instead of handing me the duck, he’d come close, then turn and lie down to start mouthing it – bad boy!! I guess we need to work on this.

If this is any indication of how Arizona will do in field this year…I’m getting pretty excited.

Adventures in Running: Progress

D came around 6:00pm last night, as a break from studying. It had been a day of sun, clouds and sudden downpours, so we had no clue what would happen during our run. Just before 6:00pm it poured, but then quickly cleared up and became sunny, so we were off.

We did a 5 kilometre route. We did our warm-up and then began to run. I felt really heavy on my feet and had some muscle discomfort in my shin region. I had done some stretches before D arrived, but it really didn’t seem to make a difference. Thankfully, the discomfort went away shortly after our second section of running.

Even though I stretch and we always warm-up, I wonder if I need to start doing a short pre-warm-up session on the treadmill as well… I did it once before and the run seemed to go really well, so maybe I should try to do this more regularly…

I think Jason might be right and I just need more time to warm-up.

After the second run, I began to feel lighter on my feet. Our first two runs were surprisingly good distance-wise, but I definitely began to feel better by the third. We walked up each hill (Guelph is a really hilly city), but we ran down one of the smaller hills.

In total, we ran about 200 metres, six different times. This is a really big increase for me!!

I felt really good after the run.

I am worried about the upcoming 10 kilometre race, but it is not for another month and a half.

So for now, I will take Dory’s advice and, “keep on swimming.”

Adventures in Running: Better

I have been training for 110 days.

I am still not a fan of running on the treadmill, but it is getting easier to run outdoors.

I haven’t been great about writing things down, so I am just going to talk about what I’ve been up to workout-wise the past couple of weeks.

After my week of not-so-good workouts, things began to improve.

I was pretty busy marking and preparing for the International Working dog Conference, so I only got a couple of workouts in before we left.

Tuesday afternoon, I did a run with D. I hadn’t done anything in a few days, so I did a bit of a pre-workout. I started with some stretching and then I walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I hoped the extra effort would improve our outing – it did!! We did our 4.1 kilometre route in 40 minutes. We ran about 120 to 150 metres five or six different times along the route. I felt a lot better than I had been. I felt lighter and did not seem to be heel-striking when I ran.

After the run, I talked to my friend Jason over iMessage about the improvement. I told him about the pre-workout stuff I did and he said it might be possible that I need a longer warm-up. I mentioned ;this to Jess and she agrees, so we’ll increase the warm-up portion of my workouts.

On Wednesday, I did a tough treadmill workout. Jess asked me to increase both my warm-up and cool downs to five minutes. She then gave me my assignment: one minute run, four minute walk, two minute run, three minute walk, three minute run, two minute walk, two minute run, three minute walk, one minute run and four minute walk. I warmed up at 3.1, ran at 4.5, walked at 3.5 and cooled down at 3.0 miles.

I did the warm-up, one minute run, four minute walk, two minute run, three minute walk and 3 minute run before I needed to take a 30 second breather. I then did the two minute walk and two minute run before taking another 30 seconds. Finally, I did the three minute walk, one minute run, four minute walk and then only did a three minute cool down. I didn’t do the full five minute cool down because I had a visitor coming in an hour and I needed time to shower and dress.

Even though I had to take breaks, I still felt my workout went a lot better than past ones.

While we were in Calgary and Banff, Huib and I did a lot of walking. Huib is a pretty fast walker, so I didn’t need to worry about finding a gym. I didn’t get any running in, but I don’t think my fitness level suffered.

Around 3:50pm today, D texted to see if I had time for a run. I was just drinking the last of an extra large coffee, so I said “sure,” but asked if we could get together in an hour. I wanted to give the coffee some time to vacate, lol!

D arrived around 4:40. We did our usual 4.1 kilometre route. We walked from my place, down Watt, left on Starwood up to Grange, crossed over and then began to run. We ran about five different times along the route. D felt we ran further than usual, doing at least 150 metres each time. We aren’t the greatest at measuring distances, so other than our full route, the rest of the measurements are kind of estimates. I was worried about the coffee making me feel sluggish, but I felt surprisingly light on my feet.

If it hadn’t been for the wind, I think we might have been able to run more. When we ran into the wind, I felt as though I couldn’t really breathe effectively. I honestly thought I might need to consider bringing my inhaler next time. It has been years since I actually needed to use it, but the wind really made me feel kind of nervous. Maybe if my nose hadn’t been as stuffy from the cold, breathing would have been a bit easier.

Other than the breathing problems, I didn’t feel any discomfort, so I guess my left hip muscle issue is gone – yay!!

I really think I’ve made a lot of progress since starting this adventure on December 19th.

Working Dog Conference: Presentation Day

We skipped breakfast and part of the morning, so I could focus on my presentation and so Rogue could rest more.

When I ran through my talk with Huib before we left the hotel, I was at 25 minutes with a lot of pauses to find my spot. As long as my nerves didn’t get in the way, I thought this time would decrease by at least five minutes when the time came to present.

Most of the talks before lunch were a bit more technical than I’d like, but the final one was pretty interesting. The presenter was talking about the work they have been doing on finding an effective way of decontaminating dogs after they have been exposed to some sort of chemical hazard.

Lunch was kind of boring. The curry flavoured vegetable soup was good, but the salad was a bit annoying to eat because the lettuce was really thin and difficult to get on the fork.

After we finished eating, Huib ran Rogue outside and I went back to my seat to read my notes again. When they returned, we went on to the stage, so Huib could show me the podium and show me what direction to look.

The presentations after lunch were probably some of the more interesting ones at the conference. There were a couple on service dog breeding programs, then a couple on service dog activities. For example, Colleen talked about research she’s doing with a program here in Ontario that is working with veterans and emergency responders.

I would like to do research with an organization someday. For now, I’ll just keep working on trying to get my name known.

At the break, I ran to the washroom and then got a drink before returning to our seats to run through my presentation a final time with Huib – I was now down to 20 minutes!!

I was the second talk after the break.

When I was introduced, Huib walked up to the podium with Rogue and I. He then went to sit at a table nearby, so he could easily control my powerpoint. We bought a remote for my laptop, so Huib can sit in the audience and control the powerpoint without anyone really noticing.

I had a bit of trouble getting Rogue to settle, but she finally did and I began.

I started to get nervous about a minute in, but I was talking about myself at the time, so told myself to stop worrying. I know who I am, so I didn’t understand why I was so nervous. The self-talk seemed to help because by the time I had finished introducing myself, the butterflies were gone.

I think my presentation lasted about 15 minutes or so. The committee person didn’t ring the bell to tell me I had five minutes left, so I assume I wasn’t close to 20 minutes. I also asked Huib to send me a text when I got to five minutes.

Rogue stood up and tried to lie back down in a different spot, but I forgot to change where her leash attaches to the harness. As a result, she barely had enough room to lie down – Whoopsie!!

Huib suggests we buy her a mat and teach her to lie on it. He thinks it is probably strange for her to be at the front of the room with people staring at her, so he thinks the mat work might help her settle. I agree. We’ll do it this week, so I can teach her to use it by the end of May when I have another presentation.

I think this presentation was the best I’ve done so far!!

I had to remind myself where I was heading twice, but otherwise, I remembered the whole thing. I also really tried not to just present the information, but talked about it.

When I sat down, a couple people came over to congratulate me and to exchange contact information. I really hope some of the connections I made will turn into something in the future.

There were a couple more talks after mine. When everyone was finished, we all got ready to go up Sulphur Mountain. The gondola was only a 10 minute walk from Rim Rock, so Huib and I chose to walk.

While we were waiting in line a few people congratulated me on a good presentation. I also got some comments and questions about Rogue. A lot of people like her harness and enjoy watching us work together. I guess our bond is really noticeable to others 🙂

When we got to the front of the line, we climbed into the cable car and prepared to go up. The ride was smooth and very pretty. I wasn’t sure how Rogue would like being in something that she could see out of on all sides, especially since we were really high up, but of course, she could have cared less.

This little fox red lab is amazing!!

At the top, we got out of the cable car and went to look around. It was a bit too windy to be outside for too long, especially since I forgot to bring Rogue’s jacket, so we did it in stages. Huib said the view was pretty cool. We got several pictures of Rogue and i, and one of Huib, Rogue and I.

I am not sure if it was the fresh air, but Rogue was pretty excited!!

After we had seen everything outdoors, we went up to the bar to grab a drink. I had a Pepsi and Huib had a beer. We sat with one of the people from the Service Dog Committee and then a few speakers. Dr. Reynolds had talked about sled dog nutrition earlier in the day, so I was excited to be able to talk to him a little more about his research.

At 7:45pm we all had to get ready to go back down the mountain. While waiting for our turn, I got to talk to one of the Pen Vet people. She really likes Rogue’s harness because it allows her to move freely. She also complimented me on my talk and said she really likes how fit Rogue is. While we were waiting, Rogue began doing her nose bumps, or ‘look,’ hoping I would give her a treat. I used her desire for treats to extend her ‘look’ more – we are now up to six seconds!! Some people asked why she was bumping me, so I explained that it is her way of giving me eye contact since I cannot see her.

On the ride down, Huib and I were alone with Rogue. Huib got a couple cute pictures of Rogue looking out the windows at the view.

When we got back, we walked to Rim Rock to catch the bus. Since we had not yet had dinner, we walked over to Subway and got falafel subs. I wonder why Ontario locations don’t have that option…

I was pretty nervous about presenting at this conference, but I’m really glad I did it!!

Adventures in Running: Guide Runner

I have a guide runner!!

The University of Guelph is amazing to their alumni.

When my friend Jason heard Jess and I were trying to locate a guide runner for me, he talked to a disability advisor at the U of G, and they suggested I email Student Volunteer Connections. It took a bit of time for them to return my email, but when they did, things went pretty fast. We developed an ad, put it in their weekly newsletter and the following day, I got two responses. I emailed both students, but only heard back from one.

We met up for the first time on Wednesday morning.

D is great!! She has never guided, but she is very eager to learn.

To make things easier we met at my place. If we meet somewhere else, and Huib cannot drop me off, Rogue will need to run with us. Until we’re comfortable running together, it’s better if I don’t have her join.

D plotted out a 3.3 kilometre route. We began by just walking a few blocks. After we felt as though D had a good idea of what I need in terms of guiding, we started running 100 metres at a time. We ran about seven different times throughout the route.

We met again on Saturday morning. Even though it was about -12, we thought we’d still give it a shot. It wasn’t breezy, so -12 was quite comfortable, especially once we’d walked a few blocks.

This time, D plotted out a 4.1 kilometre route. In total, we ran about one full kilometre!! D said on average, we were running about 150 metres, 50 metres further than Wednesday!! Maybe it was the temperature, but I found it took less time to catch my breath after each period of running. D said that she felt I was doing a lot better.

Both days we were out for an hour.

Our next scheduled run is Wednesday morning.

Facebook: Attentive Students

I still can’t figure out the Instagram app, so I am trying out another option for sharing my pictures. I will set pictures that I want to share to public, so I think everyone should be able to view them.

Here, you will find pictures of Arizona and Rogue from obedience class.

In the first picture, they are waiting for class to begin. In the second, they are wondering why class has started without them. In that picture, I am in the obedience ring with Susie. She is teaching me the different exercises I will need to perform with Arizona.

Please let me know if this is not a good picture sharing option and I will try something else.

Busy Bees

The past two weekends have been good weather-wise, so we have been out tracking at the University of Guelph.

Last weekend Laura laid a really tough track for Rogue. She did an AMAZING job!!

The track was on Johnston Green, where a lot of students cut across to get to the corner of College and Gordon. There were a couple of corners where Rogue had to work harder to locate the track amongst all of the other scents, but she idd it perfectly. She has really improved over the past year.

This weekend’s track was a bit easier, but it still had some places where Rogue needed to work things out. I think the toughest part of her track was having to work through areas of slushy snow and puddles. It got up to about 8 degrees celsius on Saturday, so we had a lot of slush.

I am really glad I bought waterproof shoes last month. They kept my feet warm and dry, while also giving me enough traction to navigate the snow, slush and sections of ice.

Last weekend Arizona’s track was around MacDonald Hall towards the hospitality buildings. Laura and I stayed on the opposite side of the road to watch because Huib and Arizona had to cross the road twice. Arizona did a bang-up job!! Other than a bit of hesitation when she had to cross over the road, she really didn’t struggle at all. I love listening to people describe her working.

This weekend’s track was more about navigating the deeper snow. Laura wanted to see how she’d do with the challenge of finding her scent amongst the snow and other people’s footprints. Huib was able to see the track somewhat, so it gave him an idea of when Ari was checking out a cross track or if she was actually on the track itself. Other than taking the wrong direction near the end, she did great!! Ari had briefly indicated the correct direction, but it was such a fleeting indication, that Huib missed it.

Arizona has only been tracking for a year and she is such a different worker now than she was three months ago.

Last weekend, Canyon did a tough track that included pavement, snow, ice and sculptures. His track went through the sculpture garden at MacDonald Hall. I had to do a lot of encouraging, but he did a pretty good job considering how new all of this is for him.

This weekend, Canyon seemed a bit more unsure than usual. He kept running back to us, so I just encouraged him to continue on. Laura says that this behaviour is pretty common for obedience dogs. Canyon hasn’t really done formal obedience trials, but we have been training for them and he also does other dog events, like conformation, so I think her comment is still valid. She said that a lot of obedience dogs find it tough to work on their own, without constant direction, like they don’t think it’s okay to track.

I think it will just take Canyon some time to realize that it’s okay to work things out and to do things on his own, without any cues from me. Once he gets the idea of it, he’ll really excel!!

It has been really good for me to work with him. He is really a different worker than Rogue. I also find he’s less all over the track, so right now, it’s sometimes a bit easier to read him. This may change as he gets more confident though.

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On Tuesday I had my annual check up with my ophthalmologist. Alain wants to keep a close eye on how my optic nerves are doing, so each appointment begins with an O.C.T. (I just know the ‘O’ stands for optical). The images from the O.C.T. will give him a good idea of what is happening and if anything has changed. He wants to keep this record, so that when stem cell research into optic nerve regeneration progresses far enough, he will attempt it with my worse eye. In my left I really only have light perception, so I wouldn’t lose anything if it didn’t work. From the images he got this year, nothing has changed, so he was happy with the results. I had my pressure in each eye tested, but I didn’t have to have them dilated – YAY!!! My pressures were normal. Alain says he checks pressures because it would be a shame if I lost more vision because of something he could have prevented. He’s a pretty cool guy.

It would be really strange to have my full vision back. I wouldn’t mind having more than I do now, but I don’t know if I would want it all…

Unless I run into any problems, I’m good for another year.

We were going to meet one of my aunts for dinner, so we stuck around London after the appointment.

I needed to get a new CNIB card, since mine expires in March – it’s kind of funny to know that the card expires, it’s not like I’m going to stop being visually impaired. The new card should arrive in about two weeks. I hope the picture is better than my last one.

We went to dinner at Dawghouse with my Aunt Tracey. We haven’t seen her in a while, so it was nice to catch up. The food was great!! I had a vegetable stir fry with spicy teriyaki sauce, while Huib had a turkey club with fries and Aunty had a beef dip with a salad. We had a really large lunch at the Mandarin, so I ended up taking half of my meal home. After dinner we went over to Aunty’s place and they opened their Christmas presents. Last year, we had all planned to do a stocking sort of thing, so Aunty had Huib’s name and Dad had to buy for Aunty. We had an ice storm before our Christmas dinner, so Aunty was not able to make it. Huib got an awesome cushion for his chair at the office or in the car, along with a cute moose toque, a big travel mug and some other things that I cannot remember.

Huib is going to look pretty adorable tracking in his moose toque!!

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Friday was obedience class. Susie was quite impressed with the progress both girls have made.

Arizona and I need to continue working on heeling and sit-stays. I also need to get her used to people walking around her for the “sit for examination,” and making a beep noise when we’re doing the figure eight.

Since I cannot see, the obedience judge will have the ring stewards be the posts, making a “beep, beep…” sound as I approach. Arizona thinks this is pretty exciting at the moment, lol!!

I also need to keep working on ‘leave it’ because she wanted to sniff the floor at times, which really got in the way of my ability to remain in a straight line.

Like us, Rogue and Huib need to continue working on heeling and some stay stuff. She is paying more attention to him, dropping her head less, so that is huge progress!!

I think working with Rogue is good for Huib because it will make him a better trainer. He says that unlike the goldens, Rogue really seems to cue off his body. As a result, he needs to pay close attention to what he’s doing and make sure she knows he’s watching. When he doesn’t pay enough attention to her, she will often start tossing behaviours at him, hoping she’ll give him what he wants and get a reward.

From personally working with Rogue, and listening to them work together, I think the biggest thing he needs to do is talk to her more. I talk to her a lot when we are out walking and also while we’re tracking, so that’s what she is used to. I think she gets distracted or thinks she’s doing something wrong when we don’t communicate with her enough.

Rogue is a sensitive girl, so needs to know she’s doing things correctly. I think this communication is needed most when she’s initially learning things, then he can probably back off a bit.

While the girls were learning, Canyon was visiting his friends Mandi and Maddy. Last time we had obedience class, I left him at home, and he had a seizure. We got home just as it was finishing, but it still made us nervous to leave him again. Dad is usually pretty good at paying attention to him, but I think Canyon must have fallen asleep on the couch upstairs, waiting for us to return. i think the seizure caught him off guard, so he didn’t have enough time to get to Dad. It must have been a pretty mild one because when we arrived, he was still on the couch, laying close to the edge. If it had been a moderate or bad one, then he definitely would have fallen off. His head was up, so it was his usual partial one, but it still worried us. As long as Mandi and family are not busy, they have offered to take him while we are at class each week.

We are SO thankful for these guys!! They are so great with the goldens and amazingly accommodating.

Well, that’s a wrap. As you can see, our week was pretty busy.