Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Runner Dog

Zucchini loves trail running. LOVES it. Goes crazy nuts for it. Whines if we stop.

We started running in the woods with a trail running group on Sundays and holy cow is she sure that this is her job. I'm pretty sure she'd go until she dropped if I let her. We started at 2 miles of off leash trail with 1.55 miles on leash on flat path back to the car. The following week we did 2.5 with 1.5 back to the car, and this week we did 3.5 miles with 1.15 back to the car! She's still raring to go when we finish.

I also finally figured out how to pique her interest in running in the city- go to a soccer field, give her a stuffed animal and then 'chase' her around. It results in some pretty intense and abrupt changes in direction and pace, but hey it's improving my fitness and she's in heaven. Plus now she's running 1 mile twice a week to assist in endurance building for our weekend jaunts.

This pup is going to be a trail running BEAST. I can't wait to see what she can do when she's three!

Whew! This is why I wanted a border collie. It would've been pretty funny if she turned out to not like running.

Monday, June 12, 2017


It's somewhat ironic that while Zucchini loves sprinting and running and leaping, she does not particularly care for running with me in the city. She gets bored..."mooooommmm why can't we stop and sniff??" Her trotting pace is pretty steady at slightly over 11 minutes/mile. If I try to encourage her faster she briefly perks up but quickly loses interest.

Thing is, I know she is perfectly physically capable of running much longer and faster than we do together. When we go hiking and she is off leash, she runs back and forth through the woods for almost an hour straight. And she plays high speed wrestling and fetch for 30 minutes every morning, in addition to walking almost 3 miles a day. (For the record, I've only ever asked her to run when she is fresh and raring to go, not after other activities).

So if she doesn't want to run in the city with me, she doesn't have to run in the city with me. With summer coming on it will shortly be too hot for her to safely run anyway. I'm fairly certain she will love running on trails with me, given her enthusiasm for the woods. We might try that in a couple of months.

For now, we are tabling it and enjoying the finer things in life, such as fetching tennis balls, excelling at agility classes, and taking a sheep herding seminar because why not?

A wild Zuc in her natural habitat on her birthday. Happy First Birthday puppy!!!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Faster!!

Whoo!!! Zucchini ran 1 mile in the rain Tuesday night in 9:22!

When we started running she kept to a trot of around 11 minute miles. She understood pretty quickly that there is no stopping and sniffing in running (unless there is a poop emergency), but didn't have great focus. A lot of runs ended up with a total of around 10+ minutes/mile because we did fast finishes where she would break into a lope and ask to play tug with the leash. I was good with this because I want her to have fun and love running!

She ran two miles on Sunday in 11+ minute miles at a pretty steady trot. She seemed interested in the world but was definitely not interested in going faster. HOWEVER, on Tuesday it was raining. Zuc LOVES the rain. It makes her all excited. She already went to the park to play with her best friend in the morning and got a good walk at lunch, so I expected her to be a little tired. Not so. She started out by galloping. She settled pretty quickly. Then, for the first time, she got into a really good extended working trot! She was excited to be moving and stretched out her puppy legs!

I know, so exciting! #nerd

In her spare time she attends marches.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Training Log: Getting to Year One and Week One of Running

This was Zucchini when she came home at 8 weeks old:

She loved sleeping on our shoes.
This is Zucchini now:

Eyes closed and that is her tongue. The hot weather tired her out!

When Zuc first came home, she followed the infant pattern of insane activity and play followed by deep napping. Now....she's permanently just a little bit high on cocaine except for when she's sleeping, and even then she chases things.

These are the commands she knows:

Sit, Down, Wait, Stay, Come, Here, Look, Touch, Heel, Dropit, Leaveit, Takeit, Off, UpUp, Find, Gimmepaw, Circle, Dance, Chachacha, Rollover, Scooch

They are at varying levels of solid (I just taught 'takeit' this week) but she is doing a really great job of learning. She's 10 months old right now, so she's testing boundaries and developing independence. However, she's also developing patience and emotional control. She tries really hard and is a pretty happy little pupper!

She's been on a leash since day 1 and I work with her every time we go outside. Needless to say, her leash manners are fairly good (we are working very hard on walking nicely past other dogs and not jumping on passersby - getting better as she learns to control herself).

So what has her exercise looked like up to now?

8 weeks to 18 weeks (2-4 months): She was good for a 10 minute walk and 10 minute playtime before needing sleep. We woke up at 6am, went out, ate breakfast, went out on a walk (avoiding dog-populated areas until she was vaccinated), came home and played, I got ready for work, we went out to potty again, then she went in her crate and I went to work. I came home at lunch, we went out, we played for 20 minutes (tug, indoor fetch, and training games), then out again, then crate while I worked for the afternoon. I let her out after work, she went back in her crate while I went on my run, then she was free for the evening with a lot of bone chewing, dinner eating, tug playing, and going out to potty. She went to a puppy socialization class almost every Saturday. We also spent a long weekend at a cabin in the Poconos with friends and their grown dog Louis. She came back exhausted but happy. She had her last indoor "accident" 11 weeks after she came home.

19 to 28 weeks (4-6.5 months): The walk extended in the morning to about half an hour. We started going to a dog park at lunch. While she was still only 4-5 months old she really loved it. She got about 15 minutes of dog park playtime. She started staying awake the whole evening until bed time. I declared her house trained when she went a full month with no "accidents" and she was allowed out of her crate at night to sleep on the bed. She also got run of the kitchen during the day instead of being crated. She came along on as many errands and weekend events as I could manage. We continued with periodic obedience training classes. About halfway through this time we learned about a fenced park near our house. I started taking her there in the mornings and played fetch and sometimes played with some other regular dogs that show up.

29 to 30 weeks: She was spayed on December 27th. The two weeks after that involved a very itchy, stir-crazy unhappy puppy. I tried to keep her occupied with training games but it was a very difficult two weeks for everyone.

7 months: Fenced park in the morning. We stopped going to the dog park at lunch because she was getting into fights over toys every day. It's a difficult problem to manage when other owners are on their cell phones. Instead, we started going for a half hour walk at lunch and working on leash manners. Also, we started going hiking on the weekends! She got 1.5 hours every weekend (sometimes twice!) of off-leash hiking. She learned really quickly to sit from a distance and come back to me when called (walking away from her worked really well). She pretty much ran and frolicked the whole time with no encouragement. (Off-leash privileges were recently revoked because she is 10 months old now and no longer reliably comes back to me in a fit of teenage independence).

8 months: Morning, afternoon, and evening routine stayed the same. At 8.5 months I decided to try running one mile with her on the sidewalk from the house. At this point, she had good leash manners and we had spent a lot of time doing little sprints and jogging along when we wanted to go faster on our walks. She trotted along like she'd been doing it her whole life and if anything was MORE amped up when we got back. She seemed comfortable trotting at around a 10:15 mile and lagged behind if I picked it more than that. I didn't want her loping so we stuck to the slow pace. After that, she started coming on a 1 mile run with me once a week.

9 months: OMFG who flipped the LUDICROUS SPEED switch?????? She turned 9 months old and her brain dropped out. Every day she seemed to have even more energy than the day before. I was v v. worried it would just keep getting worse. I started talking about getting a second dog just so I wouldn't have to try and entertain her every second I was home. We played vigorously at the park, frolicked at lunch, did training games after work, hiked on the weekends, and carried on running 1 mile a week. We went on vacation for a week to visit my little sister in Florida and she got to be awake and playing all day long (played by the pool! dug a giant hole at the beach! wandered around the city!). I didn't know dogs could get bags under their eyes, but she looked hilariously exhausted. To her credit, she was a VERY good girl. When we got back she seemed a lot calmer. Thank goodness. A week and a half before she turned 10 months, we went on a 2 mile run!! The run was on Saturday and replaced her other activities. She was excited and ready to play when we got back. We repeated the 2 miles the following Saturday.

10 months: The warmer weather seems to be over-heating her a little bit, so we scaled back on intensity. We did our normal routine plus a 0.5 run last week and a 1 mile run this week. We've been having some non-exercise related training breakthroughs, which is exciting! Also, sometime between now and June her growth plates should be closed!

So far, she gets excited when I get out the running leash. She really likes loping and playing tug with the leash while running (I invite this and she stops if I ask her to). She trots at right around a 10 minute/mile pace. I think she gets a little bored with where we run? I feel like she might be more animated and interested if we go somewhere new. And when we get to the point where we can go to the woods I know she'll be ridiculously enthusiastic about it.

How fast does your dog run? What is their comfortable pace? Are there places they are more or less happy to go? How fast did you up their mileage?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reboot: Let's Talk About Running and Dogs and Frolicking Like Ninjas

I'm another runner. I have goals and victories and disappointments. At the very end of 2016, I got a coach, and I'm feeling very optimistic and enthusiastic about my progress and the future! Hurrah. I don't have a lot to say about this on a regular basis other than HOOARY!!! and OUCHIE!!! and whoa running in the snow/sleet/thunderstorm/extreme heat is fun but difficult.

This is when she was 8 weeks old.
For the three people that read this blog, if you recall, last summer I added a small furry bundle of joy to my family. Her name is Zucchini.
She just turned 10 months old!
She is a border collie, which means she's smart, permanently set to Ludicrous Speed, and a little bit insane. I love her more than I can express. When she turns 1 years old, on June 10th, her birthday present will be that she gets to run with me for real. We started going on little baby 1 mile (and very recently 2 mile) runs once or twice a
week when she turned 9 months old. We aren't going further or more frequently until her growth plates are closed, which should be sometime in the next two months. I'm SO EXCITED to get to run with her more!

In anticipation, I have read everything I can find on the interwebs about dog fitness and running and training plans. It took about 5 minutes. Lest you think this exemplary of my poor googling skills, my skeptical boyfriend and friend also verified the surprising dearth of information. Where are all the runners obsessing about their dog's fitness and weekly mileage? Any information about their heart rates? Any horse people who spend countless hours monitoring and tracking their horses' fitness who also run with their dogs? There are lots of pooch-5k programs, but they all seem to focus on the human. What if Human already runs 40 miles per week?
She does not like sleeping.

My dog does not stop when she's tired. Even playing fetch, I've got to look out for her. So advice telling me to stop if she lags behind, or limps, is crap. That's like telling a runner to stop running if they snap a tendon. I mean, duh.

And, in that vein, where is all the dog-runner-specific merchandise???? Apparently the only thing anyone wants is a bungee leash that fastens around the runners waist? I don't know about you, but I choose my running gear carefully. I adjust if something chafes. I plan my nutrition and hydration. If I am asking my dog to run with me and I dictate our route, she deserves my attention to her comfort as well as mine.

See? Cute picture.
So, yes. She's a dog and so far she loves running. She doesn't need a whole lot. But she definitely needs a bit! This blog will talk about running with dogs and dog training plans and dog-running merchandise. It will also include cute pictures.

How did you train your dog to run? What kind of mileage do they do each week now? How fast do they go? How much does the temperature dictate how much they run? Is there anything you wish you could have for your dog?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pennypack Oktoberfest 10k Race Report

Last year, I ran the Pennypack Park Oktoberfest Half Marathon. I set a great PR in a season that led to me BQing at my goal race, won 2nd place in my age group and a beautiful handmade hygrometer, and declared that uberendurancesports and the Pennypack Park Oktoberfest race was my favorite race organizers/race of all time. Naturally, when registration opened I again signed up to run another 13.1 through beautiful fall leaves.

Then the Seattle Marathon happened the end of June and I didn't run much until the middle of July. Then I got an infant puppy and didn't sleep for a solid month, I started biking 40 miles a week back and forth to work 4 times a day, and I decided to concentrate on simply running 30 miles a week until the end of 2016 and my body acclimates to the mileage. Also, after The Summer of Burning Sun and Roasting Death, I lost all motivation to run longer than my standard run of 7 miles. Plus I've wanted to spend Saturday playing and napping with my puppy instead of running forever. And I could count on one hand the number of miles I've run in under 8 minutes since June.

So I knew I could run 13.1 miles, but I also knew that it was going to be nowhere close to my PR. I spent weeks trying to talk myself into being happy to just enjoy the fall leaves and the race atmosphere. I'm not very good, however, at tamping down my competitive tendencies. Despite knowing that I am endurance building, that I just added a LOT of unintentional cross-training into my life between the biking and the puppy-walking/playing, that I am consistently and comfortably running higher mileage per week than I ever have before, I felt like I've lost a lot of fitness. I'm not as fast as I was last spring. It's been ages since I've done a sprint workout. I already skipped the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon I was signed up for earlier this fall. As the Pennypack Park race got closer, the more I waffled about simply not starting.

Then, the Wednesday before, I got an email saying that it was my last chance to drop down to the 10k! Aroo? They added a 10k option this year! It was perfect. The last time I raced a 10k was in the Bolder Boulder when I was 13. I ran a 9:xx mile in that race, and it felt like a monumental effort. My 10k "PR" was set last year around this time on a treadmill (45:48). As the race got closer I still waffled. I didn't feel fast and I really had no idea what time I should be aiming for or what I was capable of. My boyfriend, being the wonderful boyfriend he is, said that I was running, and that he and Zucchini (the wonderful puppy) would come along and cheer me on.

The entire drive to the race, we both whined that we wished we were back in bed. About a half mile from the parking lot, I realized I forgot my watch. I laughed and shrugged and finally surrendered to the idea that I would really be running on effort, not pace.

The delightfully Bavarian man announcing the start told us that since this was the first year of the 10k, the winner would set a course record, and win a handmade Black Forest German cuckoo clock. Le most excellent boyfriend told me to win. Sure honey.

We started and I ran off with people, happy to be frolicking in the chilly fall air. I stretched my legs a little but kept my breathing even. I passed quite a few people in the very beginning and then steadily passed more as time progressed. Without knowing what pace I was running or how many tenths of miles had passed, I had nothing to obsess over except the people around me. So I began targeting people in front of me and picking them off. Eventually, I saw a group of two men and two women far in front of me. Slowly, I got closer. Around Mile 2, I caught up to them and settled in behind them. At first, I struggled a little to stay with them. But then, as the hills became more rolling I began to leapfrog one woman on the uphills and the other on the down. Just before Mile 3, I charged down a downhill and left them for good. I ran along, slightly disappointed I had lost my motivating group to chase. I assumed the leaders were far ahead of me.

After another half mile or so (unsure of the exact distance), I reached the turnaround for the 10k. I leapt about a bit and asked for a high five. The gentleman serving as the cone to run around laughed, gave me a high five, and shouted that I was first woman. FIRST WOMAN?! "Get out of town!" I exclaimed, channeling a heretofore unknown part of me that is a genteel 70-year-old.

Suddenly, it was extremely important how far behind the other women were. I ran by the second place woman in bright orange arm warmers very soon after the turnaround. She couldn't have been more than a tenth of a mile or so back. And just like that, I was running scared. My legs picked up and my eyes focused. No more enjoying the pretty leaves. I wanted that damn cuckoo clock. It was mine. I powered up the rolling hills and spread my arms wide to tumble down the downhills as fast as I could. For the first time since Seattle, I was pushing and feeling serious pain and enjoying it. Plus, I was wearing my Seattle Marathon tech shirt, which felt a little bit like I was sticking it to the race. Watch me destroy this 10k, you stupid Seattle Marathon. I am going to win a goddamn cuckoo clock.

Every couple of minutes I turned around to look for bright orange arm warmers. They slowly faded into the distance. The last mile I couldn't feel my legs, but I loved it. I sprinted across the finish line with the biggest smile I have worn probably in any race I've ever run. Incidentally, I finished in 44:38, beating my "PR" that I set on a treadmill last year and setting my official 10k PR. I also hold the course record!! I'm sure it will blown out of the water as soon as anyone even a little fast shows up, but for a whole year it's mine.

Here is my beautiful cuckoo clock.
Zucchini (the puppy) is very suspicious of Cuckoo. Occasionally she gives it a little growl to keep it in its place.

Running for place not pace is fun. I love this race. I love the organizers. I love the Bavarian music and the bratwurst served afterwards. The pure joy exhibited by the people who run this race and the people who organize it is unmatched by any other event I've participated in. I will be back next year. Love you, UberEnduranceSports.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

No Boston For Me

No Boston for me in 2017. But that's ok! I missed the cutoff by 1 minute and 6 seconds. That doesn't take away my BQ. And honestly, I'm happy I don't have to train for a marathon through the winter this year. It will be way more fun when my doggie is old enough to run with me!

So the plan going forward is: stay at 30 miles per week through the end of 2016 and get very comfortable with the training volume. Slowly increase my speed and add in Fartlek workouts until I can comfortably do 5-6 mile tempo runs at my goal marathon and half marathon paces. Up my mileage to 35 mpw the beginning of 2017, and then to 40 at some point in the spring when I feel ready. Run some half marathons, 5ks, and 10 milers in the spring. At some point I should probably start doing long runs again.

Start training for the Philadelphia Marathon 2017 in the summer of 2017. Run it in 3:20:00. Qualify for Boston, run Boston in 3:13:00 2019 and qualify for NYC. Run NYC. Achieve maximum cuteness while running with le pup.