Monday, November 19, 2012

This is not a dog blog

I'm going to try my very hardest to not let this blog be dominated by dog-heavy posts. Right now, though, our pup is a dominate force in our life and so I find myself constantly talking about her. Cory says I need to tone down the Mayla stories because people aren't that interested, but I find myself unable to think about much else. We've only had her for a week and she already feels like part of the family.

Yesterday, though, I wasn't very happy with her. I've been taking her on a few short runs (3-4 miles) on the nearby bike trails and I've noticed that if she has the choice between pavement and dirt, she always chooses pavement. So when we pulled up at the trailhead yesterday she was enthusiastically sniffing coyote poop, but as soon as I started to run she lagged behind. We were going to do a 6.5 mile loop that has one big climb but has become relatively easy for me. It should have taken me no more than an hour and fifteen minutes but with her it took an extra half hour.

I'm not sure why she hated it so much. She dragged as much in the first mile as she did in the last mile so it wasn't that she tired out.  When I would walk and let her catch up she would energetically take the lead but as soon as she heard me running, she would slow down and eventually I would have to pull her. I experimented with dog booties on and off with no change in performance. I gave her water and treats but nothing gave her any more pep.

You can imagine my disappointment as the dog I love so much seems to hate the activity that I love so much. All week at work fellow cattle dog owners were telling me fantastical stories about how many miles their dog could run. One former elite marathoner told me her dog would run 20 miles with her. Another told me that she would take her dog for a run, hand it off to a friend to run with, who would hand it off to another friend so that they would all feel protected from mountain lions while on the trails.

I'm hoping she gets better and for now I'll dismiss it as post-traumatic stress from her previous days ordeals. I took her to a nearby field to play ball and on the way we met a guy and a kid with two dogs. One was the same breed as her but slightly larger and much more aggressive. I wanted her to socialize with others dogs better and so I let her check them out. Everything was going well until suddenly the dog bit her face. They followed us to the field and the owner assured me everything would be fine if they all played together. I did not believe him. I took her to a nearby tennis court and, though she acted fine, I checked her feet after 10 minutes of pavement pounding. Bloody toenails. Shelter must have trimmed them too short.

I really hope she learns to love trail running. After all, if I took a sedentary middle-aged person on the loop we did yesterday, they wouldn't have liked it very much either.

She doesn't like the socks much but they keep her from constantly licking her paws.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mayla... the best distraction from running

Last Friday we got a dog!! She is a seven-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix from a shelter down the street from us. We've been going to the shelter once or twice a week looking for the right dog and when we saw her we knew. She's cute and she can catch a ball like nobody's business. She has a high pain tolerance and the first time she went out to catch the ball she got a thorn in her foot. She was so excited about the ball that she didn't start limping until she had been playing for a half hour. I tried taking her on a run with me, but she would have none of it. I guess we'll have to wait for her to heal up a bit. This morning when I took her out she just sat on the cold pavement and started licking her feet. I guess she's a sensitive one. We bought her dog booties but they come off when she starts running.

At any rate, I'm not sure what kind of trail adventures we will be having in the short term. We're hoping she will show some more enthusiasm to running soon. I mean, what kind of cattle dog doesn't like to run? Our pup has been through some trauma these past few days and we want to give her time to settle in now that she's home from the shelter.

Ready and willing once she heals up.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nostalgia on the Rainbow Trail

What do you do when you live in Colorado and you have two weekdays off of work? You go skiing. Is that what we do? No. It's not because we are too cool to go skiing. It is because we suck at skiing. So on Tuesday we drove 3 hours south to the Sangre de Cristos to run for two days on the Rainbow Trail. The Rainbow Trail is special to us because it runs out the back door from the camp where Cory and I met.

One time on the Rainbow Trail, I started to experience hypothermia when sunny conditions gave way to driving rain, which detiorated into hail. Unfortunately that was an introductory backpacking trip and I was supposed to be the group leader. That night the camp director got me out of there and let me sleep back at camp. What I never admitted was that it was actually far worse sleeping in a large, empty dormitory by myself. I kept the light on the whole night.

Later this trail is where Cory and I started to fall for each other. We had hiked Horn Peak with a group of other counselors and once we reached the Rainbow Trail, I asked if anyone wanted to run with me. Cory was the only one who said yes. As we blazed down the trail, I tried to convince myself to stay away from him. I already had a boyfriend.  Later this trail became Cory's escape after I told him I couldn't date him.

And here we were, years later and married. We parked at the Horn Creek Trailhead right behind camp and ran north on Tuesday afternoon. That night we camped (like a bunch of creeps) in sight of camp where we once took campers to do fort building. It was cold (25 degrees) and the coyotes serenaded us all night long. On Wednesday we woke up and ran south towards Humboldt.

It seems that we tend to argue a lot on the Rainbow Trail and this trip was no exception. I hate to be the weaker runner. I wish I was as fast as Cory, but I'm not. Therefore I tend to get left behind. Ordinarily this is fine, but I was not comfortable being left alone for the entire day when I knew I would be more likely to encounter a large predator than another person. I'm really not exaggerating. We did not see another soul on the trail, but in the past we have seen multiple bears (4 between the two of us) and we've also seen mountain lion tracks.

I really wanted to be able to push aside any fear. I recently read that 0.2 people die from mountain lion attacks every year while 16 people die from dog attacks. Trust me, I've tried to coax myself with every rational line of thinking. After arguing for the first 35 minutes, I told Cory to go ahead without me. Then I secretly decided that I would turn around early and wait at the car.  Then 15 minutes later, I saw him coming back for me. He said he didn't want to spend the whole run worrying about me. For the next 3 hours he would run ahead 15 minutes and then come back to me. What a great husband.

After we got back to the car, we drove into Westcliffe for a post-run tradition: enormous cinnamon rolls at the Sugar & Spice Mountain Bakery. If you are ever driving through Westcliffe you must stop there. You will be greeted by the most wonderfully awkward Mennonite woman who will provide you with huge servings for unusually reasonable prices.

Here are pictures:

View of the Sangres from the road to camp. Horn Peak is directly under the sun.

Cory heading north on the Rainbow Trail. He wants to set an FKT (Fastest Known Time) and run all 105 miles of it.

A familiar trail intersection.

We think the Sangres are greener than the other ranges.

Horn Peak and its darned false peak. Many a camper was left in despair after realizing how much farther it was to the top.

Snowy trails.