Roxy training diary month 60

May 2008


Jerky Dog

May 31.  Roxy finished off the requirements for her American Herding Breed Association JHD title.  She failed her first test in September in rather spectacular fashion and then got her first leg back in November in Idaho, so this was her second leg which gives her the title.  She apparently thought it stood for "Jerky Hellish Dog" because that's what she was, and she went a little nuts, but she finally settled in and I got enough control over her to pass the test.

It's a family tradition to scarf down a can of sardines when you get a title, but I forgot to bring the can and the convenience store where I stopped didn't sell them anymore, so it was fitting that I bought her a strip of jerky since she was a Jerky Hellish Dog.  (It actually stands for Junior Herding Dog, but you couldn't prove it by her performance.)

The judge, Dave Viklund, will be leading a clinic tomorrow that Roxy and I have signed up for, so it was a good chance to see her in the ring and perhaps tomorrow we'll get some tips on how to fix it.  The consensus is that she's jerking me around.  So, I need to do my part to not get jerked around.


May 30.  Regular readers of the RoxyLog continually pester me, saying, "Jim, when are we going to see pictures of your brain on the RoxyLog?"  Well, today is that day.

On Wednesday, I went down and acted as guinea pig for a research study we're starting up.  The idea is to see the effects of math anxiety on the processing of math problems in the brain using functional MRI (fMRI), which shows areas of the brain that are activated when one performs a task. 

The task here is doing math problems.  There are easy ones (of the 2+2 variety) and then there are hard ones, like 7 x 284 and 359+425.  The yellow and orange areas are showing parts of the brain that are more active when doing the hard problems than the easy ones.  It's good to see that all the parts that I am supposed to have in there, are actually in there. 

I bit the bullet and signed up for Writer's Relief today.  They are going to help me prepare my novel so that maybe I can get an agent and get the thing published.  It's daunting.  Conventional wisdom is that you need to submit to 100 agents to get one to represent you, and that's only if your work is of high enough quality.

Roxy and I will be at an AHBA herding trial Saturday, and then at a herding clinic Sunday.  We've got a full weekend of sheep festivities planned.

I planned to run 24 miles this week, and so I had 6.5 left that I needed to knock off today or tomorrow.  Because the weather was near-perfect, I decided to take one of my favorite 8 mile runs, 4 miles up to the mouth of Ogden Canyon and back.  This is the view from the end of the trail, which overlooks a "waterfall".  It's not a real waterfall, but rather a discharge point for untreated irrigation water that is running through the pipe in the center of the picture.  The discharge flows down into the Ogden River.  It's beautiful, even though it's man-made.


This Is Your Brain on Math

Conditional Discharge


May 26.  No one would be crazy enough to run 13.1 miles in a pouring rain, right?  Well, at least 68 people would.  I made up my mind to run the Memorial Day half-marathon at Jensen Park in Syracuse.  Normally, May 26 has beautiful weather, cool in the morning, perfect for running.  Not this year, however.

Although I went out for a Personal Record, it was pretty clear by the halfway point that I was dragging butt and was not going to make it.  In the event, I placed 5th of 7 in my age/gender group and 28/66 overall, and finishing under 2 hours was an accomplishment.  Still considerably off my PR pace, but there will be other half-marathons where I'm not carrying an extra two pounds of water the whole trip.

May 23.  Kibo and Sky are friends.



Mystery Ball

May 22.  Lots of changes around the house today.

Rosemary left for her trip to Minnesota today.  There were tornadoes along her path, so several of us kept interrupting her drive to give her weather updates.  She reports that the only radio station in Wyoming with weather updates alternated these with Sean Hannity, which did not please her.

The workmen arrived today to finish the third and final section of the wood fence.  We had the northwest and northeast sides done three years ago, when we first moved in.  It was time to do the southwest side.  Rosemary also had Sr. Rodriguez put in a 3 foot high chain link fence around the garden.  After they were done, I laid down weed block and planted my acorn squash on the steep hilly part of the garden, that we had not used yet.  That'll give the squash lots of room to spread out, as squash likes to do.

Yesterday, we picked out a new tree for the front yard to replace the one we removed a year ago. It's a blue spruce, and it looked a lot bigger at the tree farm.  It's on the south side, so it should get first crack at the sun which will give it an advantage over the maple tree, seen at right in the picture below.

To prepare the bed, I had to dig a big damn hole, the biggest hole I've ever dug.  The tree farm was to deliver the tree at 7 pm Thursday.  Rosemary came by to kibbitz and said, "you know, the neighbors see you digging this huge hole, and then I disappear the next day.  Looks suspicious."

After the fence in back was finished, I got the camera out and went to take pictures of the garden (more of those later; the ones I took didn't come out) and then around the front to take a "before" picture of the hole — but the hole was an "after" already.  They had delivered the tree four hours early. 

The Big Dig

Spruced Up

Roxy got some time to play with her mystery ball without Sky getting in the way.  She misses him, though.  She can't figure out how we get that tennis ball out of there.  She has been trying to stare it out by telekinesis, but it hasn't been working for her so far.

Ogden Marathon photo added to the May 17 entry below.  More here, plus a couple more of someone else whose got mixed up with mine.


May 20.  Sunday, it was a nice day (if a bit hot), so it was time to turn the garden and prepare for spring planting.

There was a piece of hillside that had bugged me last year, because it was too steep to garden easily.  So, we bought 59 landscape bricks, and made a little mini-terrace so the area (shown at lower right here) would be flat. 

I also ran the wall around the valve and filters, where the secondary water line comes up into the yard.  (Here in Utah, we have untreated reservoir water that we can use for our lawns and gardens.  It's unmetered.  We still like to conserve it.)

Rosemary turned the new, flat area into an herb garden.   Peppers went along the wrought iron fence at the back, and tomatos along the wall.  The area where I stood to take the picture will grow pea vines.

Garden Before

Garden After


Photo: NY Times

May 18.  Annie, Roxy and Sky read this NY Times article with interest.  They want to us to get them some free sheep.

"There aren’t many programs in place to help young people get started in the sheep business," says Justin Luther, a sheep specialist with the North Dakota State University extension service.  (Emphasis mine.)  Based on this quote, it appears the program is closed to dogs.  Clearly discriminatory.

Plus, they have to be North Dakota residents between 10 and 18, they have to write an essay, and they have to agree to share their profits from wool and lamb sales. 

Annie qualifies based on age, but she refuses to write a stinking essay so that Roxy and Sky can have more fun.  She sees no reason why she should share anything at all that results from her hard work.  Jim and Rosemary refuse to move to North Dakota.  So we're at an impasse. 


May 17.  Today was one of my favorite days here in Ogden: the day of the Ogden Marathon.  Ogden was the first marathon I ever ran, just last year, and I was sick as a dog when I did it.  My time reflected that, but as they say, when you're running your first marathon all you want to do is finish. 

Because the gorgeous run through Ogden Canyon occurs between miles 18 and 23 of the marathon course, you could be running in Kansas for all you care.  That's a point in the race that's always grueling, and the natural beauty of the canyon is wasted.

So, I made the decision to run only the half-marathon in Ogden.  That way, I get the canyon between miles 5 and 10 when I can really enjoy it.

It was a beautiful day, with perfect conditions.  I didn't want to go out too fast (see entry below for what happens when you do).  So, I took it at a nice, moderate pace until the mouth of the canyon, then let out the stops for the last 3 miles and really went for it.  That strategy worked pretty well.

I was aiming for 2 hours even; I finished in 1:59:21.  I entered the "Clydesdale" class, for men over 200 lbs, and finished 32/90 in that class.  (When I picked up the chip, the kid working the booth said, "you're a half Clydesdale."  I said, "yes, but we're not sure whether I'm the front half or the back half."  He just stared at me.)

I would have been 34/54 in my "normal" age group, and I was 312/563 among all men.  Most of all, I was happy with the race I'd run.  Thirteen days after a lousy marathon is no time to go for a PR.  Depending on the weather, I might give my PR a shot on Memorial Day.  It's a flat, boring course.

Everyone Loves Loni


May 11.  I wanted to report that Roxy came back from a herding trial with an STD, but I can't.

In this case, it's not a sexually-transmitted disease but rather an ASCA "started dog" herding title we were after.

She did get one leg towards her STD, so now she's Miss Consistency: she has one "leg" (qualifying score) in each of three types of herding: AKC, ASCA and AHBA.

Another significant event was that she got her first exposure to cattle.  Even though it was "for exhibition only", I still managed to mess it up.  I was so used to working sheep that I tried to get her to fetch the cattle to me.  Cattle don't fetch.  Cattle drive.  That's why cowboys ran "cattle drives" and not "cattle fetches".

For both the sheep and cattle, in Sunday's course, she had to do a "take pen" which means go into the pen and get the stock out. 

Roxy, Sheep, and a Cloud of Dust

Done Taken

We've not practiced that, and she's never done it before.  I was proud of her for her composure.  She handled it well with both kinds of stock. 

She got a little crazy with the sheep, as you can see in the picture, and we got dinged hard for it.  We just barely qualified Saturday with a fourth place, and we didn't qualify Sunday but got a second place.  That's how it goes.


May 1-8.  The run was a bust, but the rest of the vacay was fun.

Thursday, May 1, we started our drive up to British Columbia.  The drive up was uneventful, and we made it all the way up to Mt. Vernon, Washington for the overnight part of the trip. 

Mt. Vernon, of course, is where we had the ACDCA National Specialty for 2008 and where our van was broken into.  No break-ins this visit, thankfully.

Then it was over the border and onto the ferry to Victoria, on Vancouver Island.  We spend a great day visiting our friends Monique and Brian.  Doggie playtime ensued, especially between Sky and 8 month old GSD Neville. 

Saturday morning, we took the dogs to a local provincial park and let them run about a bit.  Roxy got her first exposure to swimming in a current.  She made it through okay, but was somewhat reflective about the whole experience.

Saturday, May 3, we crossed back over the strait and scoped out the marathon course which I was to run Sunday.  We stayed in Surrey, south of Vancouver, but right next to the Skytrain line that would take me to the marathon start.

Sunday, I felt pretty good about my chances.  So good, in fact, that since the 3:45 pace runner did not show up, I decided to line up with the 3:30 pace runner.  Since my best-ever time in the marathon was 4:12, that was a bit of a stretch but I figured I could drop back if need be. 


Roxy Theatre, Choteau, Montana

We started out at a pretty good clip.  I was feeling all right until about mile 10 or 11, and then I just fell apart.  I noticed a lot of people passing me, and by the halfway point (13.1 miles), I had been passed by the 4:00 pace runner and couldn't keep up with that group, either.  By mile 20, I had pretty much given up and decided to walk in, or maybe just quit. 

After walking for about an hour, I started to feel much better.  I ran mile 23, and that felt pretty good, so I kept running and made it to the finish.  Not my best time at 4:41, but not my worst, either.

I'm not sure what went wrong.  I may have gone out too fast, or I may not have eaten properly the morning of, or I may not have had enough time to recover from the Catalina Marathon (just seven weeks in between).  Probably, it was a combination of all of those. 

On the bright side, they posted split times and I could see the objective evidence for how I felt.  I ran the first 10K (6.2 miles) in 53:05, which is a Personal Record for me at that distance.  One shouldn't be running a PR in the 10K when one is trying to run 26.2 miles.  So, I need to rethink my race strategy before the next marathon Aug 3. 

I need to decide on a training regimen as well.  When I decide, I'll post it on my training calendar as usual.

We set out to cross the Canadian Rockies, and spent the night in Kamloops BC, which is a beautiful place. 

Continuing on the TransCanada, we made a sort of international rail link when, traveling from the location of the US Golden Spike near Ogden, where the two halves of the rail across the continent were joined, we visited the similar site for the Canadian Pacific railway in Craigellachie BC.

That night, we stayed in Banff on the Alberta side, which is pretty much a tourist town.  There is nothing much sadder than a tourist town in the off-season, or more properly, between seasons.  There was neither snow for skiing nor open roads for tourism, so the town was pretty slow.

The dogs were getting a little stir-crazy, so we decided to scope out a dog park I found on the Internet.  It was in Cranmore, just a bit down the road from Banff.  It was a nice place, but we discovered that Canadians are no better at picking up dog poop than are Americans. 

Down through Calgary, with a stop for lunch and some business at an Internet cafe (I needed to do the final work on my spring semester grades).  We crossed the border at Carway, Alberta / Piegan, Montana, and passing through Choteau, Montana, we found the Roxy Theatre for sale. It is a beautiful old-style movie theatre with the classic awning, so we took a picture of Roxy there.

We stayed the night in Great Falls.

On our final stop, we visited with our friend Ingrid in Billings, Montana.  Again, the cooped-up dogs got some playtime.  Sky met his first ACD puppy.  Frost is just a month younger than Sky and they had a great time.

We amused ourselves taking pictures of Sky under all the "Big Sky"-themed items we could find.

Big Sky Country

Snoop Big Sky Dog

Big Sky Motel

Big Sky Bank

Neville vs. Sky

A Roxy Runs Through It

Canmore Dog Park

Big Sky, Little Sky

Frost vs. Sky

Frost vs. Sky, round 2

Previous RoxyLogs
2003 2004 2005   
The Pre-RoxyLog Days RoxyLog January 2005 (month 20)
RoxyLog February 2005 (month 21)
RoxyLog March 2005 (month 22)
RoxyLog April 2005 (month 23)
RoxyLog May 2005 (month 24)
RoxyLog June 2005 (month 25)
RoxyLog July 2005 (month 26)
RoxyLog August 2005 (month 27)
RoxyLog September 2005 (month 28)
RoxyLog October 2005 (month 29)
RoxyLog November 2005 (month 30)
RoxyLog December 2005 (month 31)
2006 2007 2008   
RoxyLog January 2006 (month 32) RoxyLog January 2007 (month 44) RoxyLog January 2008 (month 56) 
RoxyLog February 2006 (month 33)
RoxyLog March 2006 (month 34)
RoxyLog April 2006 (month 35)
RoxyLog May 2006 (month 36)
RoxyLog June 2006 (month 37)
RoxyLog July 2006 (month 38)
RoxyLog August 2006 (month 39)
RoxyLog September 2006 (month 40)
RoxyLog October 2006 (month 41)
RoxyLog November 2006 (month 42)
RoxyLog December 2006 (month 43)