Adventures in Running: The Next Chapter

After a week off, I’m slowly getting back into my workouts. Since I do not have any imminent race plans, I’ve decided to reduce my workout days to three times a week.

After some thought, I’ve decided that my next goal is going to be continually running a 5k race. My friend Jason has said he will do one in the fall with me, so that will be my deadline. We are going to look at the different races taking place in Ottawa and Guelph, then choose one we like.

On Wednesday, I did a 30 minute walk on the treadmill to warm-up my muscles. I did 10 minutes at 3.2, 10 minutes at 3.5 and then 10 minutes at 3.7. Then at 6:30pm, D and I went to the Running Room to check out their group runs.

There were two different group runs taking place: a 7k trail run and then a learn-to-run group. We joined the learn-to-run one because D worried about her ability to keep me safe on the trail. It is tough enough for her to watch for uneven sidewalks and other obstacles, so a trail could be a nightmare.

The route was 2k, a shorter distance than we usually do, but it was fun. The group leader had us doing one minute of running and one minute of walking the whole route. I think it took us about 40 minutes. The leader asks the people in front to region the group each time it switches over to walking, so D and I didn’t run as fast as we usually do – probably half of our usual speed. Even though it was slower and shorter than usual, it was still fun, so I think I will try and join the group as often as I can.

After we got back to the store, I talked to the leader and she said anytime I want to join them, I am welcome to come and someone will be able to guide me.

I would still like to find another guide, but this is a good option for now and one that I will continue in the future because it was a lot of fun.

Jess thinks the learn-to-run group will help me run better. I am going to focus on building my endurance.

Until next time…stay safe and enjoy the warmer weather!!

Tracking Updates

I haven’t written about tracking in a while. We have been working on it though.

Over the past month, we have been tracking a few times a week.

Rogue is doing really, really well. Her work ethic is amazing and her focus is beautiful. We have been concentrating on urban because I have been hoping to test this spring. We got into the London test, which is this weekend. I am nervous about it, not because I think she isn’t ready, but it is supposed to get really hot this weekend. I think the temperature is supposed to be 30 degrees Celsius on Sunday and there is a risk of thunderstorms.

I am crossing my fingers for good conditions though. This will be our third attempt. I am hoping third time will be the charm. 🙂

Arizona is progressing well. Her focus and work ethic is improving every time we track. I think we need to start making her tracks a bit longer and begin adding in new elements like pavement, so she won’t get too used to the ‘easier’ stuff.

Canyon is still struggling a bit with the concept of tracking, but he is learning. Huib has been handling him for now, as it’s easier for him to help Canyon when necessary. Once he gets the concept, I will take over as his handler. I think he enjoys tracking, especially because he gets to find ‘toys’ along the way, also known as ‘articles.’

Once we get past this weekend, we will move over to field tracking. There aren’t really anymore tests until the fall, so we will have a lot of time to do some field tracking with a bit of urban mixed in.

I really, really hope Rogue passes on Sunday!!

Adventures in Running: Race Day

I did it. I did my first, and definitely not my last, 10 kilometre race!!

Saturday morning, Rogue, Huib and I travelled to Ottawa. We arrived around noon.

Jess met us outside of her place, so we could go run a few errands. First, we went to the Running Room to grab some clothes and energy gels. I got a black t-shirt and black shorts, while Jess got a purple tank top, purple and black shorts, and some colourful socks. I’m glad Jess convinced me to grab some clothes because when I went to get dressed, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my running pants and jacket, lol!!

After the Running Room, we went to Critter Jungle for some dog stuff. I bought Rogue and Nala each a cool vegetarian treat that was in the shape of a dinosaur. Jess bought Arizona and Canyon a really cool bacon flavoured Nylabone-like wishbone shaped toy for their birthdays (Ari’s was on the 17th and Candy’s is on the 3rd). I suggested she buy it for the two of them to share because it was expensive and they are competitive, so having to share a toy would make it an even cooler one. They love it!!

Nala turned six yesterday, so Jess bought her a ChuckIt! launcher and some tennis balls. She also got her little dogs some cool chews for when her and Nala have to leave them home alone.

Around 6:00pm, we set off for Ottawa City Hall to meet up with our guides. Rogue and Nala hung out with Huib while we were running.

It was really busy, so Huib had Jason hold onto him, while Rogue and Nala guided Jess and I through the crowds. The girls were fabulous!! As it got more congested, Jess gave me her tether to hold, so that we would not lose one another. Nala is longer than Rogue, so even though her and Jess were walking behind us, she was able to walk beside me on the right, so her and Rogue could make room for us to move through the people. I was pretty darn proud of the two of them!!

It took a bit for our guides to find us, but once they did, we gave Huib our girls and then set off for the starting line.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the four of us were all wearing tutus. I wore a royal blue one, Jess had a purple one, my guide had a black one that lit up and Jess’ guide wore a lime green one. My guide also wore a batman t-shirt, so he looked pretty cool!!

When the race began, they had us all start at different times because there were thousands of racers and we all ran different speeds. To make things less crazy, they organized people into different groups based on the estimated time you thought you would take to complete the race. I tend to take about ten minutes per kilometre, so we were near the back of the pack.

Jess and her guide were doing the race to support me, so they stayed behind us. They sang, danced and had me laughing the whole way. I honestly never thought running could be so much fun!!

Jess’ guide had us working at a pretty constant pace that we maintained most of the way. I think we completed the first half of the race in 45 minutes, which would be about nine minutes a kilometre.

Around kilometre six, I began to lose energy, so Jess gave me an espresso gel. It kicked in at about kilometre number eight, allowing me to finish the race with energy to spare.

In the end, we did 10 kilometres in one hour and thirty-two minutes. This is about eight minutes faster than my usual time, so I was pretty excited!!

Thank you Jess, for motivating me to try running and for helping me train.

Thank you Huib, for cheering me on and for helping me with my treadmill workouts.

Thank you D, for the dedication and for being an amazing guide.

Thank you to my race guide, for keeping me safe and entertained.

Finally, thank you Team Tutu!! You guys were the best race partners ever!! I have never laughed so hard.

Now, I need to set a new goal…

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.

Biking

Last fall, Huib bought a bike, and then several months ago, he got an attachment for the dogs. A few weeks ago, he got the bike out and started teaching the dogs to run alongside him.

The first couple times he took them out, it was slightly warm, so he did not take Canyon out as long as the girls. With his seizures, Canyon runs the risk of heat stroke, even when the temperature is just over 20 degrees celsius.

Of the three, Arizona loves it the most. Huib usually goes about four kilometres with her. He says nothing seems to distract her, that no matter what they pass, she just continues going straight ahead. I think she loves the speed.

Canyon only tends to go about 1.5 kilometres. Unlike Arizona, Canyon thinks he needs to pull the bike, so Huib is finding it more difficult to adjust speeds with him. As they work together, he’s getting better, so hopefully he’ll stop being a pain soon.

Rogue usually goes for two kilometres or so. The first few times they were out, she kept pulling further away from the bike. I think she thought it was going to eat her, lol!! The last time they were out, Huib said she did a lot better, so I think he’ll probably start going further with her as well.

Guelph is a very hilly city, so poor Huib is pretty tired once he’s taken the three dogs out. They all seem to really like it though, so I think he’s going to try and get them out at least a few times a week.

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: 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.

Update on Tracking

Our winter wasn’t as cold or snowy as most, so we did get some opportunities to track. We didn’t really do any field tracking, but focused more on urban tracking.

In urban tracking the dog is learning to follow scent on short grass and pavement and in high traffic (or highly contaminated) areas. We tend to practice in school yards, on the University of Guelph campus or in local parks.

Rogue is loving it! And, she’s doing fabulously. We try to lay a track a few times a week and then we attend a private Friday or group Saturday tracking session, depending on Laura’s schedule.

If all goes well, we will be entering an urban tracking dog (UTD) test in June that is taking place in London.

I am trying to get Rogue to spend more time exploring the ‘scent pad’ by putting more food on it and by introducing a start cue “are you ready to track?” in an excited voice, and then once she looks at me, “FIND!!”

Some people ask their dog to ‘sit’ or ‘down’ before releasing them to start, but Rogue is usually quite revved up and she really doesn’t enjoy either of those cues. I know, you’re wondering how a service dog can succeed while disliking ‘sit’ and ‘down,’ well it’s because I try not to ask her for them unless we actually need to seriously do it.

So far we’ve done 2 to 3 hour old tracks between 200 and 300 meters long with a variety of surface changes and different numbers of turns. Rogue seems to be struggling with wind, with harnessing her enthusiasm, and, at times, with highly contaminated areas. We have a couple of months to go before the test, so we’re going to try and practice at least a few times a week, in different places, on different ages and lengths of tracks.

I really think Rogue can get her UTD this spring/summer, and then we’ll work towards possibly getting her TDX (or Tracking Dog Excellent) title in the fall.

Arizona has also started to track. We are practicing on short grass and pavement for now because it’s convenient, and it will help her in the end when she actually starts training for her TD, which is the first level of field tracking.

Arizona has a bit of trouble starting, but once she gets into the zone, she’s awesome! Huib has chosen to track with her on his own, and says she seems to be a more methodical tracker than Rogue.

The club here in Guelph hosts TD and TDX tests in early November, so I think we are going to try and enter both Arizona and Rogue.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, so stay tuned for more tracking news.