Hermes Escapes! Thoughts on Chases and Dog Wrangling

See how cute I am? Now take off the leash and watch me go!

See how cute I am? Now take off the leash and watch me go!

Hermes escaped last weekend. Julian and I were up at his parents’ place canning tomatoes. Julian, his daughter and myself were slaving over a hot stove while his niece and son were on “tomato duty” – running out to the garage to bring in more tomatoes. The first time they went out, Hermes joined them. He sniffed around the closed garage a bit and came back in when they did. The next time they went to go out, they called him to come along. What they didn’t realize that someone had opened the garage door. Hermes saw the bright light and sunshine and took off like a shot.

Hermes has no recall. He will not come when called. When I got him from the shelter they warned me that I could never let him off leash, his little hound dog brain would be hellbent for smells – not for obeying. When we heard what happened Julian reassured me that his niece, who has two dogs of her own, is well versed in dog wrangling. I gave them some time, but after a few minutes when they hadn’t reappeared I threw on some shoes, grabbed Hermes’ leash and went out to help.

Julian’s folks have a huge piece of property. The front half is suburban house but “the back forty” is wild meadow and scrub. It’s so large that sometimes I just walk around the perimeter with Hermes for his nightly walk. He loves it – it’s hound dog heaven, full of bunnies and other critters, long grasses and weeds. I figured that’s where he’d head.

Sure enough, as I rounded the corner I spotted him trotting through the grass, the kids trailing behind. I shouted to Julian’s son to cut around and cut Hermes off, but he said “I can’t go that way – we don’t have shoes!” It turned out that they hadn’t been wearing shoes in the garage and when Hermes took off, they just followed him barefoot! Of course there are prickers and sharp sticks out there, so I sent them in to get their shoes and headed after Hermes alone.

This is us on a hike. This dog can run fast when he's on the scent of something!

This is us on a hike. This dog can run fast when he’s on the scent of something!

I nearly caught him twice. I had my hands on his little furry hips, but the snaky little SOB shot out of my hands. Now that he knew the game was on, he ran over to the edge of the property. The neighbors have a similar size lot, except their back half is a Christmas tree farm. In between the two lots is a kind of botanical no-man’s land of scrub oak, thorns and evergreens. Being low to the ground, Hermes zipped back forth. I had to jump over, climb under and sometimes just run through the vegetation just to keep site of him. Then it happened – he ducked under some vines and I lost sight of him. My heart dropped in my chest.

Fortunately a second later he caught the scent of… something. He started baying his little hound heart out. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him. I ran towards him. Then I caught a glimpse of white tip of his tail – I was suddenly glad hunters had bred that into hunting dogs, because it helped a lot. I followed him over to the farm.

Out of the brush and into the Christmas trees, I could see him a lot better, but there were two problems: the long open rows meant he could actually run faster and he could easily run between the rows, well under the low branches. I, however, had to look for breaks I could jump through.

I finally had the presence of mind to back off. I stayed close, kept him in sight, but didn’t try to grab him. I kept thinking about people who hunt with dogs and tried my best to make Hermes think I was running with him after whatever critter he was tracking – not after him. It worked. He stopped for a second to take an extra sniff, and that was the opening I was looking for. I swooped down and grabbed his collar! Dog retrieved!

At one more than one point during this ridiculous chase, I found myself (still wearing a blue and white checked apron mind you) running full tilt after that dog. I was running as fast as I could. I couldn’t help but think that a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I couldn’t have kept up with him. This time, even though I felt like I had just completed an obstacle course, I wasn’t even breathing all that hard. I was more scared than winded. Truthfully, probably nothing would have happened to him if I hadn’t caught him – he was far enough from the roads, but that wasn’t what I was thinking at the time. I just really appreciated what this new body can do.

He’s home safe, and back on his leash, but now that I know how fast that little guy can move, I think I need to train him to go running with me!

 

Do You Still Run?

Yes, yes I do. Flooded Heart trail

Just not as much.

I struggle with running. I like the fact that I can run, I just don’t like the running itself much. I keep hoping that will change with more exposure and increased skill, (but I have my doubts.) Nonetheless, my current workout calls for interval training, so off I go!

The other morning I packed my bag to run after work. I was feeling pretty good about it as the workout only calls for 15-20 minutes of intervals. That is certainly doable, (even though I haven’t run that much this year,) but by the end of the work day, I was feeling a lot less motivated. It was hot and humid and my inner voice kept saying “F-It.”

I’ve read lots of advice on how to work out when you don’t feel like it. Most say to at least give it 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes you want to stop, fine, but usually the hardest part is just getting started. Once you start, you’ll finish. So, I figured I’d try that. I also decided to stack the deck in my favor by going trail running. I love being in the woods, so trail running appeals a bit more to me. As a plus, the park where I like to trail run is right by the river – hopefully that meant it would be a little cooler and less humid.

However, despite the proximity of the river, it was still hot and pretty buggy. I was glad I slathered myself in bug spray, (the problem with trails: flying bugs and ticks.) My run time pretty much sucked, but that was okay, the important part was that I did it. Johnny Cash, Credence Clearwater Revival and Tom Waits kept me going. After all, you don’t tell Johnny Cash that you are going to quit. But near the end when Aretha Franklin came over the headphones, I slowed to a walk. Let’s face it, Aretha wouldn’t be caught dead running through the woods.

It might not have been my best run ever (or anything close) but the important part was that I got out, spent some time in the woods and I completed what I set out to do. That makes it a winner in my book.

I Froze My Face Off!

frost by Joel KramerThat’s right, I am typing this without a face. How? you ask. I am just that good.

The reason I no longer have a face is that I went running before work! It was dark, windy and cold. How cold? 24 degrees Fahrenheit, or -4 Celsius for my non-American friends. Other than the whole face thing, it actually went pretty well.

I got up early and walked the dog, then came home, switched into running gear and went out for a short run. Now because it is cold, and since losing weight I am cold all of the time, (All the time – even now. Yes, right now I am cold.) I wear several layers when I walk the dog. For example, I wear a fleece hooded sweatshirt over a long underwear shirt. I pull up the hood and pull the long sleeves over my hands and use the thumbholes. Over the hood, I wear a hat, and over the sleeves on my hands, I wear heavy gloves. The bottom half is the same way – long underwear, heavy walking pants, ski socks, boots… yeah, I look like I am going on an exhibition every single time I leave the house. I just need a sled and more dogs.

Now, I also wore two layers of clothes when I ran, and I admit, when I got home and had to change out of three layers of clothes (two plus coat) and back into three, I almost gave the whole thing up. It occurred to me that if I am going to do this again (which I will,) I should just wear the running clothes under my walking clothes in place of long underwear. Yes, that will probably bump me up from two layers plus coat to three layers plus coat, (two running layers, one outwear layer) but seeing as we haven’t even really got into the really cold weather, I think I’ll be fine.

The dog walk actually warmed me up nicely, so it wasn’t really that bad, except for my smallest two toes on each foot, my kneecaps and my face. Those were darn cold. I got through it though, and it felt great. I was unsure about keeping up with my running through November, but I’ve pretty much proved to myself that I can do it.

I did do one smart thing though, I set out all the breakfast fixings the night before. The pan and utensils were ready to go, the ingredients for a breakfast ham, cheese, veggie and egg scramble were cut up and on the top shelf of the fridge. When I walked in the door, I popped in the shower for a quick hot wash up and was able to have a good breakfast ready to go in just a few minutes. It was great.

So, until the snow flies, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on.

Photo credit: Joel Kramer on flickr

Cold Weather Runs

bagaball

It’s coming…

Interestingly, I kind of like running in terrible weather. Saturday was windy, cold and kind of miserable. It was a far better run than Sunday, which was still cold, but more breezy and almost (but not quite) sunny. The lousy weather on Saturday gave me something to think about, and I felt tough for getting out there and running anyway. Sunday didn’t have those advantages.

One thing I finally figured out was to not fight nature. My route has some sloping hills and it occurred to me to run so that I was going down hill against the wind and up hill with the wind. Before I’ve tried to run against the wind uphill, and that just sucks.

My goal is try to get in at least two runs a week through November. Some of this is going to depend on the weather, but since actually do better in foul weather, I really have no excuses. Once December hits, I’ll just have to see how it goes. I don’t mind running in snow, but I will not run on slippery or un-shoveled sidewalks. I’m doing this for my health, after all, and it’s kind of hard to run with a twisted ankle!

I am happy about the double runs though, it would have been so easy to stay inside, in my comfy clothes, with a cup of tea, so regardless of run times or anything else, I can be happy I just got out there.

Photo credit: bagaball on flickr

Ah, Nature

The woods at dusk 1 by A quiverful of fotosI managed to slip in another run the other night. Sadly, it made me realize that my week night trail running is over until spring. I made it fine, but at the end it was getting mighty, mighty dark. It was beautiful, however. A white tailed doe ran along with me for awhile, and when I ran by the river, a great blue heron flew overhead.

From now on though, it will have to be lighted locations after work, or at least at places not deep in the woods. I wasn’t afraid of predators (two legged or otherwise) but the thought of twisting my ankle in the dark crossed my mind a time or two. I do love trail running, so I’ll try to head out on the weekends still. Oddly, one of the things I love about being out in the woods is the hills.

Yes, the hills.

Not big hills, but little steep dirt bike style hills. You know what I mean? The super sharp kind that you can run up in less than a dozen steps. I feel like superhero going up those! There is nothing like that in the paved places I run.

In other news, Hermes and I got sprayed by a skunk. Normally I keep an eye out for critters when he and I are out on patrol, but it was raining fairly hard and I had my head down. We were in a residential neighborhood and the skunk was in the middle of someone’s lawn. I see skunks fairly regularly, (especially this time of year,) but usually they hear us coming and take off. I also try to give them a wide berth. This one though was in a mood, because he was turned and ready to go. He got us both. It wasn’t too bad for me since I was wearing rain gear, but Hermes pretty much got a direct shot. We both got baths as soon as I got home, but I have a feeling my pooch will be aromatic for awhile. Here’s the bright side – I pretty much have no sense of smell, and really, skunk isn’t a scent I usually pick up. So, as far as I am concerned, it’s not all that bad. (My coworkers might tell you another story, however!)

 

Photo credit: A Quiverful of Fotos on flickr

Autumn Running

Fall by Rocky Mountain High

What’s that you say? How’s the running going?

In a word?

It isn’t.

October has been a rough month for me running. It’s been cold, dark, gray, rainy, wet and windy. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea, not pull on your running shoes and sports bra. Of course, it is also getting dark much earlier, and is dark much later in the morning, which completely removes all my motivation. There really is no good reason I can’t run in the dark, (I have several times,) but when it is also cold, wet and windy, I just don’t want to.

That doesn’t mean I am not working out. I’m still strength training every other day. I am also using the Lift app to build a daily habit of exercising. My goal is simple: at least 15 minutes a day doing anything I want. The strength training days are easy. My routine is a little over a half an hour. On the alternate days I’ve been doing a lot of walking.

Since it has been so miserable out in the evenings, usually the best time of the day to get outside is while I am at work. I’ve been packing my lunch, eating at my desk, then putting on my spare pair of sneakers and hitting the sidewalks. I can’t run (my office doesn’t have showers or a changing area,) but I can power walk the neighborhoods around my office. I am almost always out at least 20 minutes, but I usually go 30-45, and occasionally I go the whole lunch hour. It just depends on how I feel.

On the weekends, or when I can’t quite get out of the office, I’ve just tacked on at least 15 minutes to my daily dog walks, which is something my little hound appreciates! The nice thing about walking is that I feel more comfortable knowing how to dress for the weather. Running is tricky because I heat up so much. With walking, I can dress in layers and take off my hat or gloves and shove them in my pockets. That’s harder to do while on the run.

I haven’t given up running all together though! I still have a goal to do 100 miles by December 1, and I have toughly 25 miles to go. Friday we had a rare day of almost sunshine, so I went trail running. Trail running is my favorite. I promised myself I that’s where I would go in order to make it more enticing. The trail was absolutely gorgeous. It might be a bit nasty here weather-wise, but the Midwest is gorgeous in the fall. I was slow, partially because I was out of condition, partially because of all the tree roots hidden under layers of wet leaves, but I had a wonderful time. I even had three white-tailed deer running alongside me for a bit!

Even though I don’t enjoy running as much as I would like, I really love what it does for me. I like feeling strong and having stamina in a way I never had before. I am going to keep at it. I am not giving up!

…but there may be a few less running posts over the next few months.

Photo credit: Rocky Mountain High on flickr

Other Runners

motivation-irresistableI never used to notice runners. I’d see them, of course, when I was driving around town, put I didn’t pay any attention to them.

I do now. I think it is like the “blue Buick” syndrome. You never notice blue Buicks… until you buy one. Then everywhere you look: in every parking lot, passing you on the highway, in your neighbor’s driveway – a blue Buick. Running has been like that for me. Now that I have been doing it for a little while, I notice how many other runners there are. I see them everywhere – even now that the weather has turned cool and dark, folks are still getting out there pounding the pavement.

Once and awhile I see someone who motivates me. It might be the way they are running or how they look – something catches my eye and I think “Oh, I hope I can do that someday.” I promise, I try not to be a creeper about it. I keep my staring discrete. Recently I was walking Hermes and saw a man running towards me. His running looked effortless, even though he was moving at quite a clip, and he still had the lung capacity to wish me a pleasant morning. He did not look like I do when I run – sweaty, red-faced, clumsy, face scrunched up in painful concentration. He looked happy, free and comfortable. After he passed, I thought, “If I keep at it, there will come a time when I’ll look like that when I run.”

It backfires though. I was running at the park the other day and I saw this gal coming towards me, running with her arms high on her chest. She looked more like she was boxing than running – with each step her fists were level with her cheekbones. As she ran by I thought, “Well, that just looks uncomfortable.”

Then I started worrying. Do I do that? I remembered that my Run Clinic instructor told us to run with our arms at a 90 degree angle. I know I run higher than that, I didn’t think I was as high as boxer lady, but maybe I was… I started concentrating on my arms, forcing myself to hold them at what I thought was a 90 degree angle. I would do okay and then slowly… slowly… the arms would creep back up. (Incidentally, I think women instinctively run with their arms higher than men. Maybe not all gals, but a lot of us. I suspect it has to do with protecting the bosom.) Anyway… you know what happened right?

(Long time runners are probably laughing at me right now!)

I got through the run okay, but the next morning, and for several days after that, my shoulders and arms were killing me! Lesson learned – allow your body to find its own natural rhythm. That includes breathing, arm placement and anything else. Sure, there are adjustments that can be made with the help of a pro, but doing weird things ad hoc in the middle of a run? Not smart! In other words, “Eyes on your own paper!”

Do’s and Don’ts

I ran across this somewhere on the web and tucked it away as a good reminder:Dos_and_Donts

What I love about it is that it has some good points without being focused on one particular fitness path. For example, while there are several points about eating, the phrase Eat Clean doesn’t appear. (I wrote about why that phrase gets makes me clench my teeth awhile back.) I have heard some conflicting advice about drinking that much water, but considering it is August and high summer in the U.S., if you’re going to be working out outside, it seems like a good plan to me.

I really like the don’s side – especially #1) don’t skip rest days and #4) don’t forget to reward yourself. I think those get forgotten a lot. Since I try to alternate weight training and running, it is really easy for me to skip rest days. (That’s why I don’t get too down on myself when I have a busy week. I just figure they are unplanned rest days.) As for rewards, so far, the results have been their own reward. Then again, taking the time to sit for a while by the river after a long run is an awfully good reward.

Sitting at the river's edge after my run.

Sitting at the river’s edge after my run.

Just a Quick Update

EVEN IF ALL YOUR TROUBLES SEEMED SO FAR AWAYYY

I needed this today. (From wewanderandwonder.com)

I still feel like I am still recovering from my week with the sick pooch (plus a few other random stresses,) so I am not completely on my game. I am still here though, and I love reading all your blog posts! You guys make my day.

Even though I’ve been indulging in some emotional eating, things are still going pretty okay. It’s been hard not being able to walk Hermes like I am used to, though. He is able to get around okay but is still on rest for the next week – until the staples from his surgery come out. We’ve been doing some short (sloooow) walks. They let him do what he needs to do, but don’t do much for me. Normally, I love our walks because they let me work off stress, get some “walking meditation” time in, and burn some calories all at the same time. These little 20 minute jaunts down the block just don’t have the same effect.

Fortunately, the strength training is still going well. I’m loving The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and I’ve kept to my every other day routine. I finally admitted to myself that the Swiss Ball I bought was defective and returned it for a new one. That one inflated beautifully. While I was at the store I also picked up a few more weight plates, and I am ever slowly working my way towards a home gym.

Hermes' "Welcome Home" present from his girlfriends. He doesn't normally get cheese, but when he does, he's a happy pup!

Hermes’ “Welcome Home” present from his girlfriends. He doesn’t normally get cheese, but when he does, he’s a happy pup!

After a pretty decent week of running, I am on a bit of a hiatus. I was going to go yesterday morning, but: 1) I had a small blister on the back of my foot from my work heels. Nothing major, but the equivalent of a paper cut, small but ridiculously painful., 2) it was raining, 3) my raincoat has lost much of its waterproofness and needs a respray, 4) I was super low on sleep on account of Julian and I having not seen each other much lately and spending the previous evening talking. It was much needed time together, but I was really bleary eyed in the morning. Any one or two of these things wouldn’t have kept me from going out, but when I piled them all up… yeah. I threw some Neosporin on my blister, put a good bandaid on it, and crawled back into bed. There is a line between excuses and darn good reasons, and this time it felt like staying home was the smart move.

I’ve got a busy couple of weeks ahead. It’s the last of my summer freelance work and I’ll be wrapping things up. So, I’ll be laboring away on Labor Day, but I am still hoping to get a few runs or maybe some good, strong walks in anyway. It’s too bad Hermes can’t join me, but hopefully he’ll be back at it in full strength in a week or two. Now it is time to shake off this post-stress malaise and get back to looking ahead!