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!

 

Making it Work – Roof Rack Love

Guess who bought herself a new present?roof rack

This is my new roof rack. It can hold a bike and a kayak! I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Last summer a friend gave me a bike, and while I loved riding it, it was difficult to take places without a rack. I could put it in my hatchback and leave the back open, but that just didn’t seem very safe. On top of that, there are some great riding trails up by my cabin, but if I took my bike, I couldn’t take my dog. (I am not going to attempt to transport my dog in a car with an open hatch. He’d probably be fine, but I am not taking that risk.)

Likewise, I have a kayak at my cabin. However, it’s 10 feet long – it definitely won’t fit inside my car. And while I enjoy paddling around the lake by my cabin, I’ve been itching to take it elsewhere – even just down the road a half a mile to a pretty woodland inland lake.

So, I had a bike at the house I wanted to bring to the cabin and a kayak at the cabin I wanted to bring home occasionally, and this week, I made it all possible! Hooray!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fitness goals. I’m doing a lot of things that at first glance seem pretty different: yoga, strength training, boxing, walking, running, biking, kayaking… and so on. Really, anything that catches my eye is fair game. So, what am I trying to do?

1) I’m looking to find fitness that is fun for me. I was at boxing class the other night and chatting with an older fella that always seems to be there. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Oh, you know… I’m unmotivated. I always feel that way before class. But, (siiiighhhhh,) I make myself get out and do it…” He was the Eeyore of boxing. I thought, “What the heck? Someone actually dreads this class? This class is awesome!” Of course I realize it isn’t for everyone, but then why come? Why not do something else?

If I am going to stay active for the next 40 – 50 years, I am going to do it by finding things that are fun for me. Even running, (which is probably my least favorite of all the stuff I do,) has benefits I love. I make it even better by running in parks and beautiful places. It may not be my forte’, but I never dread it.

2) I want to be a superhero. That is the best way I have of describing it. I want a whole bag of tricks at my disposal. I want to be strong, but also able to run. I want to be able to throw a punch, and also twirl a hoop. Actually, Steve at Nerd Fitness wrote a great post that totally fits in with how I feel: Becoming AntiFragile: How to Prepare Yourself for Chaos.

3) I’m still figuring stuff out. Up until one year ago, I would have laughed if you had told me that I’d be running or working out at fitness studio. I’m still figuring out what this new life is all about. The more things I try and say “Yes” to, the more I learn about myself. It’s a good place to be.

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.

Thought Experiment: Would You Exercise if You Didn’t Have to?

PillsThere is a really cool conversation going on over at Fit and Feminist on her post: If You Could Have Good Health From A Pill Would You Still Exercise? Go check out her post and be sure and read the comments. I have kind of mixed thoughts, (and because it is me, they are also long and wordy) so I thought I would post them here. Here’s a quick excerpt from the thought experiment she posed:

…and so I wondered, if medical researchers were to develop a pill that could provide all the physical health benefits of regular exercise, and that pill had no side effects, and it was as inexpensive as a bottle of aspirin – would I still continue to be as physically active as I am? []

I love the idea behind this, and if a pill as she described could be invented, I’d be all for it. I think it would change the lives of a lot of people. But the question is, would I take such a pill?

I think about this question a lot actually. Quite often I’ll be in the middle of some kind of exercise and think, “if this didn’t help burn calories or my health in any way, would I still do it?” My answer depends on what I am doing. For example:

Kayaking: A definite “HECK YES!” I love kayaking for many reasons; that it’s a great work out for my arms and shoulders is just icing on the cake. I love being outside, on the water, and feeling the freedom that comes with piloting a tiny one person boat.

Biking: Yep! My bike is my land kayak.

Walking: Mostly yes. I walk for many other reasons than exercise. I walk to clear my head, get fresh air, and to find peace. I also walk because my dog needs regular daily exercise. However, if I had a huge fenced in yard, and I could take the magic pill, I probably would cut down on the time I hit the sidewalks. I most likely would give up my 6:30AM walks, but I would keep my lunch hour strolls when I need to get out of the office. I’d probably still walk in great weather, but I would give up walking in ice storms, thunderstorms and blizzards.

Weight Lifting: Maaaayyyybe. I love the way weight lifting makes me look. I really like what it does for my arms and shoulders, in particular. I’m assuming the magic pill would not build muscle, so if I wanted that look, I’d have to lift. I like lifting, and when I do it, I feel like a total badass. However, it takes time that I would really love to have back. I would be hard pressed (ha!) to keep up with it, I think.

Running: I’d give it up in a New York minute. It has advantages – I love the stamina that I gained by running regularly. And again, I felt like a badass when I ran… and in my goal to become a superhero, running is important, but if it didn’t also burn calories and make me feel like I was improving my health? Nope, no way.

Here’s why I think I would take the pill: I love the way that I feel now that I am roughly 40 pounds lighter, but I am petrified about going back up. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, there are a whole lot of people out there – many of them smarter and with more will power than I have who have lost weight, only to regain it a few years later. If I could take a pill and erase that worry, I would do it in a heartbeat. 

… but I would still exercise too!

 

 

Photo credit: Victor on flickr

 

Just an Update

I’m in part of the Midwest that is getting hit by all this winter weather. It’s cold and when we aren’t getting ice, we’re getting snow (and lots of it.) I’m not really complaining. I know it’s all just part of winter in the north, but I admit, I am starting to look forward to spring.

He looks like a crocheted traffic cone.

He looks a little like a crocheted traffic cone, don’t you think?

People had been saying it was going to be a bad winter all last fall. I didn’t really believe it, or rather, I just figured it would be the same as last year – no snow until Christmas, a wintery January and then right back into a dreary spring. That’s certainly not the case this year!

One of my coworkers knitted Hermes a sweater. I am usually anti-clothes for my dog, but as I write this it is -4 degrees with a -20 degree wind chills. So, a sweater it is. My coworker knows I am always concerned about visibility so she made it Hunter Orange. I’m not sure he is much more visible at night, but he certainly won’t be mistaken for a deer.

He doesn’t mind the weather at all. Honestly, he doesn’t mind much at all. All he really cares about is: food, walks, and fireworks. The first two he loves, the last one he hates. If a sweater means food and a walk (he gets a treat for putting it on nicely,) then he’s all for it.

Seriously, he loves this weather. Moments after this was taken he dove head first into a snowbank.

Seriously, he loves this weather. Moments after this was taken he dove head first into a snowbank.

Me? I’m having a little bit of a harder time. There is so much snow on the sidewalks that parts are almost impossible to pass through. A walk that usually takes 15 minutes took me over 40 the other night. Then, just as I am ready to call it quits, figuring it’s not weather fit for man nor beast, some runner comes striding past me …in tennis shoes and running clothes, nonetheless. (I bundle up like I am heading out on a North Pole expedition just to get the mail.)

I won’t lie, I’ve thought of pelting them with snow balls.

…it’s too cold though, the snow doesn’t stick together.

Me? I’m not working out, (other than snow slogging with the dog and snow shoveling,) and my weight is up a bit. Ironically, I made it through Christmas just fine, it was the days following the holiday that did me in. Ah well, every day I wake up and think, “Okay, today is the day I will do this. I will refocus.”

One of these days it will be.

 

Slowly Getting Back

saddle

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

This morning I attempted to go for a run. The weather app on my phone said it was supposed to be fairly mild (high 30s, low 40s), and the ice and snow have pretty much melted off the sidewalks for now. It was supposed to get around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) later in the day so I thought that might make good running weather. I set out my running gear the night before. In the morning I got up early and donned it under my dog walking clothes.

I didn’t end up running, however. Once I got out with the pooch I realized that the winds were just too strong. We aren’t talking about some little gusts, we’re talking about the kinds of winds that blow over trash cans. Was it likely to blow me over? No, but I could tell it would be miserable. Instead, I pulled up the hood of my winter coat, tightened my scarf and took the dog for an extra long walk.

I was a little disappointed, but also pleased. I did what I set out to do – got up early and was ready for a run. I can’t control the weather, and the fact I bailed didn’t feel like a failure, it felt more like an affirmation. I am taking care of myself, whatever that means at the time. The weather was much milder at lunchtime, so I went for a walk then. Knowing about the wind, I specifically dressed for work in clothes that would keep me warm (tights under my dress pants, layers and a warm sweater.) I got a solid 45 minute walk in.

I read an awesome article about working out and getting older over at Stumptuous.com that reminded me why this is important. It won’t make me invincible, but in the long run, it just might make life a little better.

Little Miss…

brokenI’ve been writing about the habits I’ve been trying to build and work towards and I know it can all sound a bit Pollyanna. I just want to say, it isn’t all perfect.

I have weeks when things are clicking along – when I’m doing what I want to do and feeling productive and in control. But there are also weeks like the last one – when everything is just a little off. Some goals I get close to, but miss. Others don’t even come close. I haven’t done my weight lifting or been for a run in weeks. I’ve been getting some sleep, but not enough. I’ve been spending money and I haven’t been meditating.

It happens. The trick is not to let it take over. The world gets crazy sometimes and you have to set some things aside. There are priorities and responsibilities that take precedence. Other times life just goes a little sideways for awhile. There’s no shame in not being perfect, in falling short of your goals, of having to do a half assed workout or eat fast food. However, once those habits slip, its a little tricky to pick them up again. It is not as easy as deciding to do them in the first place when you’re all wound up and full of “I can do this!” energy. Entropy is a nasty beastie.

I’m ready to let last week go and start fresh. I’m not going to beat myself up for what did, or didn’t happen. I’m also not going to let go of my goals. It’s time to just wipe the slate clean and get back at it.

I’m worth it.

 

Photo credit: Faruk Ates on flickr

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