February 27, 2015

A weekend break

I am SO looking forward to this weekend! I don't have any big plans, but Jerry is off work and I feel like I haven't seen him in forever. He's been working a crazy schedule for a couple of weeks, and we haven't spent more than an hour together at time!

Last night, the boys had their last day of basketball. I dropped them off, and then to kill a couple of hours, I went to Goodwill to hopefully get a couple of pairs of jeans. I bought a few pairs in August, but they are a little too big. They're size 10, because I really didn't think I'd be able to wear an 8, but I have to wear a belt and cinch it tight to keep them from inching down.

I tried on probably about 25 pairs of jeans, everything from 6's to 10's, and wound up buying five pairs of size 8's that fit pretty well (slightly snug, but I prefer that to being too loose). I resisted buying jeans for so long, because I have a closet full of perfectly good size 4's, but I cannot wear those now. It's been probably nine months since I could wear them! I still have hope of getting back into them, though--preferably before summer. But anyway, it felt good to get some jeans that I desperately needed.

I decided to do my long run tomorrow instead of today so that I could free up most of the day today to work on the Motivational Monday post. Monday will be the 100th MM post, and I'm super excited about it--in honor of #100, I decided to share photos/tips/advice from several people who have each lost 100+ pounds. It has been a HUGE project, and I've spent about eight hours working on that one post, but it's almost done now. I wanted to get it done today so that I could take the entire weekend off of blogging/the internet/social media/etc, and just spend time with Jerry and the kids.

After getting the kids off to school this morning, I worked on the post for about five hours, and then I had to take Joey to the vet to get his final vaccination for at least a year. While I was there, my younger brother, Nathan, called me to see if Joey wanted to play with his dog, Bailey. When I got home, I had just enough time to clean out the car before heading over to my parents' house with Joey.

The dogs played while Nathan and I chatted. I took a couple of good pictures of Joey when I was playing fetch with him yesterday:

He finds any stick, no matter how small, and plays
with it until it's broken into tiny little pieces.

Joey and Bailey played for a while, and then it was already time for the kids to get home from school. The day went by SO fast, mainly from working on the MM post.

Tonight, we have Joey's second obedience training class. I just wish it wasn't such a far drive! The drive is two hours round-trip, and the class was over two hours last week, so it's a minimum four hour commitment. That's a long time. I just hope that Joey is good and worn out from playing with Bailey today, and that he does well in class.

Joey has done SO great with practicing the sit and stay all week; but I have a feeling that as soon as we get to class and he's with the other dogs, he's going to throw out everything he's practiced ;)

Well, I won't be posting at all this weekend, but definitely check back on Monday for the Motivational Monday post!

February 26, 2015

Getting my (running) groove back

I started writing this yesterday, but got rather distracted in the evening, and I completely forgot to finish the post! Not that I have a whole lot going on right now anyway ;)

I woke up yesterday morning feeling super sore (in a good way). My legs felt like I was a true beginner runner! I thought that the deep water running would prevent me from feeling sore when I started running on ground again, but that was definitely not the case. It actually felt really good to feel sore, though!

Nathan said he was running late for work, and wouldn't be able to drop Bailey off at my mom's house, so I was a little bummed that Joey wouldn't have a playmate for the day. Hopefully we'll get them together this weekend. It was pretty warm outside (10 degrees! Woo hoo!) so I decided to take Joey to the State Park for a walk.

After I got the kids off to school, I ate breakfast and then we headed out right away. When we got to the park, there wasn't ANYONE in sight. I was kind of surprised, considering it was much warmer than it has been lately. Next to where I parked, there was a garbage can that was overflowing with empty beer cans. We have a 10 cent deposit in Michigan, so after glancing around to make sure there really was nobody watching me, I put all the cans in the back of my car--I counted 40 of them, so $4.00 isn't bad ;)

We started walking the 5K trail, which was totally covered over in snow. It was the good kind of walking snow, if that makes any sense--really crunchy and not slippery. It was super quiet and really pretty through the park today.

We didn't see a single soul during the entire 5K loop. It was a pretty peaceful walk, and I love the noise of the crunchy snow.

When we went past this gazebo that has some binoculars, Joey looked scared to death. He started growling and backing away. I laughed when I saw what he was looking at:

Once I showed him that it wasn't alive, he relaxed. It does kind of look like an animal, though!

I really wanted to run yesterday, but it was a "rest day", so I didn't. Now that I'm able to run, I want to all the time! It's a strange feeling. Today, I was scheduled for 3.5 miles. I briefly thought of using the treadmill, but I wanted to sign up for an exercise class at the rec, so I decided to run the track there instead. If you sign up for a class before the 27th, you get $5 off. I still wasn't SURE what class I wanted to do--I was debating between yoga and water aerobics.

I went up to the track and saw that there was a class of some sort going on in the corner--a bunch of women with yoga mats and hand weights. I know one of the women in the class (she teaches at the library, and I used to take my kids there when they were in preschool). I asked her what class it was that she was doing, and she said it was circuit training. I had thought about maybe doing the circuit training class, but I wasn't sure how my ankle would do with "high intensity" aerobics. But my ankle seems to be completely healed, so I thought about it while I was running.

Going around the track is very monotonous. Today, I actually took a time lapse video--this is one time around the track:

I was actually walking during a cool down during the video, so the guy that laps me wasn't going quite as fast as it seems ;)

While I was running, I was paying attention to the exercises that the women in the circuit training class were doing, and the more I watched, the more I liked the idea of trying that class. I know I need the strength training, and it looked more appealing than yoga. And I wouldn't have to get in the pool... I was sold!

On my last lap, a few of the women were walking side by side, so the "runner's lane" was occupied. As I got up closer, I called out, "On your right!" (something that is considered good track etiquette). I had earbuds in, and I think I said it louder than I intended, because the woman on the right jumped about a foot in the air. Oops!

I ran 3.5 miles, and I was really surprised at how much my pace has improved in just a few runs. My first run post-stress fracture was an 11:08 pace. Today's:

A 9:46 average pace, and negative splits to boot! I'm very happy with that. It felt much easier than that first run, too. I was a little worried when I ran on Monday and it felt like I was a beginner again; but it's coming back to me quickly, and without too much effort on my part.

On the way out of the building, I stopped and registered for the circuit training class on Thursday mornings (starting next week). I'm looking forward to it, especially now that I got a glimpse as to what it is.

I headed down to the locker room, and the woman that I had scared on the track with my loud, "On your right!" was in there. I apologized for being so loud, and she laughed and said something about her dog scaring ME one time. I wasn't sure what she was talking about, but she said that I run past her house sometimes (she lives on the same street as my parents), and one time, her yellow lab was out and charged at me (as you may know, I'm scared to death of loose dogs when I run). She'd pulled her dog back from me, and apologized.

I vaguely remember something about it, but I come across so many loose dogs when running that it's hard to remember. I just hope I handled it well--a couple of times, I've actually cried when dogs have charged me, even if they're friendly! Haha, at least now I know that if I see a yellow lab on that street, it's probably hers. She said she is scared of dogs, too, so she completely understands. Anyway, she seems super nice, so I look forward to getting to chat with her more in the circuit class.

Anyway, when I glanced in the mirror in the locker room, I couldn't believe how red my face was!

I very rarely get red-faced like that after a run. It felt really good, though. Even though it was "only" three and a half miles, and I wasn't pushing myself to extremes, I felt like I'd gotten a good workout. It was nice!

February 24, 2015

First post-stress-fracture run

A few days ago, after I'd attempted to run on the treadmill, I started researching how to know you're ready to get back to running after a stress fracture. When I'd attempted the treadmill run, I didn't have any pain, but it felt "weird"--that's the only way I can describe it. A little twinge, basically. I assumed it meant that I wasn't fully healed, but after some more reading, I realized that it's quite normal.

I came across this article on Runners Connect, which described what I was feeling perfectly:

The article also went on to describe "phantom pains", which was very helpful. The little twinges I feel are very sporadic and they don't get worse over time, which is indicative that they're "phantom pains" or just the calcium buildup.

After reading that article, I was pretty confident that I'd be able to run. I went to the rec center to run on the indoor track, because the last thing I want to do is slip on the ice and break my ankle (ha ha) outside. I could use the treadmill, but I wanted to be able to run at whatever pace felt most comfortable, and it's hard to do that on a treadmill (I tend to push myself harder on the treadmill, because all it takes is a push of the button).

My hope was to be able to run a mile, but I didn't want to push myself into that if it felt too hard, so I was just going to see what happened. I turned on a podcast to listen to, and I started running around the track. I felt a few of the odd twinges, but nothing painful. I was a little surprised at how difficult it was cardiovascularly. My lungs were burning, and I wasn't even running fast. My pace was 11:00+ per mile, which is about 1:30 slower than it was two months ago, but I didn't let that bother me.

When I finished the first mile in 11:11, I kept going. My legs felt great, and I thought, "Wow, I wonder if I can do two miles?" And after the second mile, I figured I might as well go for three. Jerry is on week three of half-marathon training, and I thought if I really am okay to run again, maybe I can pick up on week three along with him.

I ended up finishing three miles in 33:42, an 11:09/mi pace. My heart rate was pretty high throughout the entire run, and like I said, my lungs were burning! It was a tough run in that aspect, but my legs felt really good. I burned a crazy 125 calories per mile, because my heart rate was up fairly high. Even though I was doing deep water running for the past six weeks or so, I don't know that it kept my cardio fitness level what it was when I was running on ground. I felt really good for finishing three full miles, though--when I'd hoped to do one!

I was worried I'd wake up this morning and my ankle would be all swollen and painful (meaning I shouldn't have run), but my ankle hasn't given me one bit of trouble. I decided to try and follow the same schedule that Jerry is following for the Indy half-marathon (Hal Higdon's Novice 1 plan). That won't get me any PR's, but I'm hoping that it'll help me to at least be able to run the whole race. There are four runs per week, and I'm going to do 1-2 days of cross training. Today, I ran two miles (at a 10:45 pace) and felt fantastic. It feels so good to be back at it!

To hopefully prevent another stress fracture, in addition to the cross-training, I'm going to make sure to rotate my shoes (between my Altra Paradigm, Altra Torin, and Brooks Adrenaline); when the weather clears up, I'd like to start running on trails or grass once a week to vary the terrain; I'm also going to try to shorten my stride a little and increase my cadence to as close to 180 as I can. Most importantly, I'm only going to concentrate on ONE race at a time... doing races "just because" messes up my training schedule, which causes me to overtrain (and I believe that's why I wound up with the stress fracture). My top priority is to stay injury-free so that I can train for the Detroit Marathon.

I'm hoping that now that I'm back to running, I'll be extra motivated to get back to my goal weight. Over the past 7 weeks of not running, I am happy to say that I haven't gained any weight--but I haven't lost any either. I've been tracking my food, but only sporadically, so I'll lose a few pounds then gain a few, and it ends up being a wash. Jerry is over his goal by about 15 pounds, too, and he really wants to get back to his "happy weight". So maybe now that both of us are training for Indy, we can help to push each other to track our food very consistently and make better choices. I know we'd both like to go to Indy feeling our best!

Now, if this snow and ice would melt, and we could have some nice spring weather, I'd be bouncing off the walls with motivation ;)

February 23, 2015

Motivational Monday #99

Happy Motivational Monday! This has been one heck of a week for me. My kids were home on winter break, my parents were in South Carolina and I was taking care of their house, I was still getting adjusted to having a dog, and Jerry was working what felt like non-stop. My parents' water pipes froze (twice), which was stressful--I was going over there several times a day to check on them, for fear of them bursting and getting water everywhere.

Our house has had a couple of issues, too--our clothes dryer stopped working (Jerry fixed it this morning). And today, I woke up to a house that was 52 degrees! The furnace gave out sometime during the night, and it was absolutely freezing in here (the temps were in the double digits BELOW ZERO outside). That's the third time it's happened over the past couple of weeks, so I'm really hoping that we don't need a new furnace.

ANYWAY... I have good news! Today, I successfully ran three miles on the indoor track at the rec center. It had been over 11 weeks since I injured my fibula, and over 7 weeks since my last run. I'll write more about it tomorrow, but I am super excited to be back at it :)

I have a few fun Motivational Monday stories for you this week. Enjoy!

Rachel just finished her first 15K! She ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in Nashville last weekend. She had some hiccups in her training, due to the flu and a sore foot, but she finished well under her goal of two hours--crossing the finish line in 1:51:55! She was proud to have finished in the top 50% of her age group.

Meghan has been hard at work to lose over a hundred pounds, using Weight Watchers and running as tools to help with the weight loss. She had a huge non-scale victory yesterday that she is very proud of. She and her husband took their kids, ages 3 and 5, to the park because it was a nice day outside. At the park, she was able to keep up with her children, husband, and dog! They had races, and chased each other by playing tag. She didn't even have to stop for a moment, and her children were thrilled to be able to play with their mom so actively (something they were not used to). This picture below is from the hardest workout she's done to date--yesterday, she ran 5 miles at an 11:00 pace!

"Princess Katie" and her mom, "Princess Claire", completed the Disney Princess Half Marathon this weekend! It was their first time doing this particular race, but their fifth half-marathon together in the last three years. Because they live in different states, they use the races as a way to train "together" and they look forward to spending time together at the race. They had a great time going through the Magic Kingdom, looking at the signs, t-shirts, and costumes!

Cheri just completed the Disney 5K with her husband, after overcoming a very tough year of training! She registered for the race last year, and was working with the AACR to raise money for cancer research. Her intention was to follow the Couch to 5K plan and to run the race, but she had to deal with the illness and subsequent death of her beloved dog, which derailed her training plans. Even though she knew she wouldn't be able to run the race as planned, she and her husband decided to walk it together--and they had a blast! They had so much fun that they already booked their hotel room for next year, and plan to do the 10K race.

Congrats everyone, and thanks for sharing!

Next week, I have a special post planned for the 100th Motivational Monday--some awesome tips and advice from people who have all lost 100+ pounds!

February 22, 2015

A draining week

You know you live in Michigan when you tell your children that it's going to be a toasty 30 degrees today, and their faces light up while they cheer about how hot that is ;)

Yesterday and today were both WARM--26-30-ish degrees. After the below zero temps we've had all month, I almost decided to sunbathe on my deck, but settled for going coatless today instead. It was SO nice outside! I had to run a couple of errands this morning, but when I got home, I took Joey over to my parents' yard to play.

I've figured out a very efficient way to play fetch with him (his very favorite game). I have two tennis balls (his favorite thing to play with) and I'll throw the first one. He runs to get it, and I have the second one all ready to throw. As soon as he gets back with the first one, he sees that I'm holding the second, so he instantly drops the first at my feet and starts running again (knowing that I'll throw the second). So he's basically running non-stop for 45-60 minutes, and I don't have to struggle with him to "drop it" or "leave it" or anything like that.

Today, he lost one of the tennis balls, though. It happened so fast--it was on the ground (in the mounds of snow that we have) and I was just starting to reach for it. Out of nowhere, he slammed down right on top of it, and it was like the ball just disappeared. I started digging in the snow, looking for about 10 minutes, but I never did find it. We'll see where it is when the snow melts, I guess! Good thing tennis balls are easy to come by.

Joey has been doing SO GOOD on his obedience training. I'm super impressed. Last night, we ordered pizza, and when the pizza delivery guy came to the door, I told Joey to sit and stay, and then I went to the door, got the pizza, and brought it to the kitchen--without Joey barking, or running to the door, or anything like that. When Jerry or I come in the house now, we decided to start knocking, so that we can practice with Joey (getting him to sit and stay, rather than attack the door with excitement). He's done great!

I bought him a bed for his crate, and before I even put it in there, he was sleep on it (well, mostly, anyway)...

Once I put it in the crate, however, Chandler pretty much claimed it for himself! He hasn't moved all day:

Eli actually asked me if he could sleep in the crate. He wanted to turn it into a fort! I'm pretty sure CPS has rules about kids sleeping in dog crates, though ;)

Since the class on Friday, I've also been working on Joey's leash pulling. The trainer said that when we pull back on the leash, it makes dogs just want to push forward; so rather than pull back, we should pull to the side, which will spin him to a different direction. I was very skeptical, but it seems to be working. It only lasts a few seconds before he pulls again, so we're constantly repeating, but the trainer said that with consistency, he'll eventually learn that his walk won't get interrupted if he keeps a loose leash.

This whole week has left me feeling SO drained. The kids were home from school on winter break, Jerry worked every day, my parents were in South Carolina (and I've been taking care of their house--of which the water pipes froze!), and we've been so far out of a routine that I feel like this isn't even my life ;) I'm really looking forward to getting back to normal tomorrow!

I'm going to try to run at the rec center on the indoor track in the morning. My ankle felt completely fine all day yesterday and today, even after running for a couple of minutes on the treadmill yesterday, so I'm hoping that it goes well. I can't believe it's been 11 weeks since I injured it! The indoor track is only 1/12 of a mile, so maybe I'll just start by running a lap and then walking a lap for a total of a mile or two. I'll have to see how I feel--right now, I have no idea how it's going to feel! I really hope that I don't feel like I'm just starting out as a runner (like it felt in 2010). That was SO difficult, with my lungs burning, and gasping for breath. I'm hoping that all the deep water running that I've done has kept me somewhat-good shape.

Jerry did his first "long run" for his half-marathon training today. He is going to do the Indy 500 Festival Mini as his first half, and he's been sticking to his training plan really well. I was encouraged to see that his plan is only at 4 miles for the long run this week--so there is still hope that I can be caught up midway through the schedule, and still run the Mini (I no longer have a time goal, but I'd love to be able to run the whole distance). With the deep water running I've done, I should theoretically be able to run for about 6-7 miles now, but I'll be thrilled with just 4. I'm planning to progress the same as I would as a beginner, about one mile per week for the long runs. I'll probably do three runs per week, plus two days of cross-training.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself... I need to see what tomorrow's run feels like first! ;)

Tomorrow is Motivational Monday #99! If you have a photo you'd like to submit, you can find the instructions for doing so here. I've gotten several submissions for the 100th MM post (which will be next week, as long as I have a post for tomorrow!)--it's going to be a big post, and I have a ton of work to do on it, so if you have a submission for the "100 pounds down" post, please email me by tomorrow at the latest. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, the 100th post will feature people who have all lost 100+ pounds; so if that's you, feel free to share!

February 21, 2015

Joey's first obedience class

Joey's first obedience class went pretty well last night! I chose this particular class because the trainer teaches positive reinforcement and he was recommended by the ASPCA when we adopted Joey at the shelter. There aren't many options for dog training where I live, so the drive was nearly an hour each way--thankfully, it's only once a week!

Jerry was working, so I took the kids and Joey on my own. When we first got there, I was pretty turned off by the fact that the trainer was smoking in the enclosed room where we were doing the training. I hate the smell of smoke, and I didn't want all of us smelling like it when we left, but we'd driven really far to get there. I just hoped that the training would be worth it.

Joey was the only "new dog" in the room, and there were probably about 10 dogs altogether. When we first walked in, Joey was doing great--he was very calm (but understandably excited).

I love how his tail gets extra-curly when he's excited, haha

Once a couple of other dogs started barking, though, he started barking, too. It was like he was taking cues from them on how to act in that situation. Once the barking started, then he was trying to lunge out of his leash.

The main focus of the first lesson was "sit and stay", which he's actually pretty good with at home. It was good to practice it in a room with a bunch of other distractions, though (dogs, people, and even cats). Yes, cats--I thought it was hilarious that there were two cats just chilling out by the door. Meanwhile, there are dogs barking and lunging, and getting all excited. It didn't phase the cats one bit! The dogs and dog owners were all standing around the perimeter of the room, and one of the cats just walks calmly through the middle of the circle of barking dogs to the other side of the room for a drink of water. I could only imagine Estelle in that situation! It would not have ended well, haha.

We did a "meet and greet", where each of us had to walk with our dogs around the room and give treats to the other dogs; but we had to make our dog sit and stay while we treated the other dogs. That part was kind of stressful for me, because I hate being the center of attention (not to mention that I was new to the group). I was hoping Joey and I would do it perfectly and be done quickly; but I blanked on just about everything the trainer instructed us on, so he pretty much just used all my mistakes as examples for the rest of the class. Glad I could help! ;)

I really did like the instructor, and I am happy with what we learned. I've been practicing it today with Joey, and he's doing really well! The instructor used Joey to demonstrate most of the stuff he was teaching, and Joey listened to him really well. He recommended that I get a different collar for Joey, though, because he slipped out of his three times during the class (even though I kept tightening it). I bought the one that the trainer recommended today, and it's just called a "no slip" collar.

It's just like a regular collar, but when you pull on it with the leash, it tightens a little--not like a choke collar, but just tight enough to where it can't slip over his head.

He also said that Joey is going to be difficult to leash train, because he's fast and he pulls SO HARD on the leash. We learned how to practice getting him to walk with a loose leash, so I'm going to work on that all week.

The class ran long--it started at 7:00, and we were supposed to be done at 8:30, but it didn't get over until 9:15! The first class was really helpful, and I'm looking forward to the next one. I just hope that Joey is as obedient during class as he is when training at home ;)

I was completely exhausted when I got home last night. The class was mentally and physically draining. Joey crashed as soon as we got home, and he didn't get up until after I did this morning! The kids have been home from school all week for winter break, and as much as I like having them home, it's been challenging--Jerry's been working a lot, so it's been just me with the kids and the dog. I hope that next week we can establish a good routine.

So, I decided to try running today...

My ankle has been MUCH better, and even when I try to elicit pain from it, it feels normal. I decided to try out the treadmill (I won't be running on roads for a while--they are covered in ice). I was hoping to be able to do one mile at a slow pace completely pain-free. I was fully prepared to stop the treadmill the very second I felt even a twinge of pain.

I started at 5.0 mph, and I felt fine. I bumped it up to 5.5 mph, no problem. At 6.0 mph, I thought I might have felt a twinge. Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn't have even thought twice about it--I would have just kept running. But because I was very hyper-aware of my ankle, I decided not to push it. It felt slightly different from my good ankle. Not painful, per se, but just the tiniest of twinges.

I really wanted to run through it, but I decided to play it safe and wait a little longer. I only made it a full two minutes today. I'll try again in a week or so. I'm really hopeful that after I get home from Portland (less than three weeks away!!!), I'll be able to start an actual training schedule. There is really no chance that I'll be able to run the 15K, but I'm okay with that. I'm looking forward to spectating!

February 19, 2015

Coffee & Canvas

This morning was my painting class with Jessica, and it ended up being so much fun! The class was called Coffee & Canvas, and was at new local restaurant called Public House. For $35, you get coffee (tea for me) and a muffin, all the supplies to create a painting, and the instructor showing you how to make the painting, step-by-step. It was a great way to try painting without the commitment of buying a bunch of supplies that you'll never use again.

I am most certainly not artistic, and the last time I painted anything was in art class in high school! So I wasn't doing this so much for the painting itself, but more for the experience and to try something new. There were just three of us (plus the instructor), so it was intimate and a great way to chat while keeping our hands busy.

The painting we did was a rather whimsical scenic landscape. The instructor showed us everything each step of the way, so it was almost as simple as paint by numbers ;) Jessica sneaked this picture of me, and I thought it was so funny because I'm sticking my tongue out! Apparently, I was concentrating very hard...

It was fun to see the three pictures when we were done, because even though we were all painting the same thing, and received the same instructions, there were little differences that made each of them unique.

I'm not crazy about the picture, and it shows just how untalented I am with a paintbrush, but I'm glad I went--it was a lot of fun, and very relaxing. They also have classes at night, where you sip wine while you're painting--I'd love to go to one of those!

Today was another ridiculously cold day. The temp was below zero, and the wind was over 20 mph. There was no way I could walk Joey in that, so instead of walking, I drove him over to my parents' house and played fetch with him. I even had to wear a face mask just to stand outside.

(After I uploaded this, I noticed the terrible dark circles under my eyes. What the heck?! I think it's just a shadow or something, because they don't look like that now.)

It's always nice when we come home from playing fetch, because Joey is completely exhausted, and he crashes for a few hours. I used that time to start a new puzzle! I bought a few puzzles from White Mountain Puzzles, and I thought this one would be pretty fun--it's all well-known places in Michigan.

The table I've been using for puzzles is about two inches too small for the puzzles I ordered. I discovered that fact when I was halfway done with the candy bar puzzle! Jerry ended up finding a board to put on top of the table that was a little bigger, so I'm hoping that will work out well.

Thanks for the input on the exercise classes! I'm actually thinking I may sign up for two classes. The classes only meet once a week, so I may do the yoga class and the adult aquacise class. The aquasise is on Monday mornings when the kids will be in school, so it works out well. The yoga is in the evening on Tuesday or Thursday, so if Jerry isn't home, I'd have to bring the kids with me and they could play basketball or something while I do the class.

This isn't a gym (it's a recreation center for local people in the community), so there aren't a ton of options--just the basic kickboxing, zumba, circuit training, yoga, chair yoga, aquacise, and aquatic kickboxing. Each meets for an hour one day a week, for eight weeks. The circuit training interests me also, but they use high intensity aerobics, and I don't know how that will be with my stress fracture, so I'll wait on that one. I'm going to the rec tomorrow for a deep water run, so I'll figure it out and sign up for something then!

Tomorrow is Joey's first obedience class. We'll go every Friday night for five weeks--I'm curious to see how he does!

February 18, 2015

Houdini dog and exercise classes

Well, we discovered today that Joey is a Houdini dog. We put him in his crate (stocked with toys) so we could go to the rec center and avoid a repeat of what happened on Sunday. I even put peanut butter in a Kong toy to keep him busy for a while.

When we got home, however, he greeted us at the door! And there was a huge mess in the living room. He'd escaped from his crate somehow. There are two latches on the outer side of the door, one on top and one on bottom; he apparently unlatched the bottom one and squeezed his way out of the crate.

Thankfully, he didn't damage anything important--he got into the bathroom garbage (so gross), so that  mess was strewn across the living room; and he got into the kitchen sink. He actually grabbed some ceramic bowls from the sink, brought them into the living room and licked them clean. He did ruin my water bottle, but other than that, it wasn't anything major.

I'm shocked that he didn't get into the pantry--I'd left the door to the pantry open, and wasn't worried about it because Joey was in his crate. So, it was another lesson learned ;) We now have another (separate) latch to use on the bottom of the crate door, so hopefully that will work? My brother said that his dog, Bailey, chewed up EVERYTHING when he first got her, but she eventually grew out of it. I'm hoping that Joey does, too. We knew when we adopted him that labs are notorious chewers, so I was expecting it; but he was an angel for the first two weeks we had him, and I thought we just got lucky. ;)

It's super hard to even be mad at him, because 90% of the time, he looks like this:

I love that Chandler is in the background staring at us!
Someone mentioned leaving the radio on while we're gone, and that reminded me that I have a CD of music that was actually made for dogs with separation anxiety! When I went to the Purina Better With Pets Summit, they handed out the CD's, and I got one for dogs and one for cats. Since we didn't have a dog, I had planned to give it to someone, but I forgot about it until I read that comment about the radio. So, next time we leave, I'm going to try playing that. The composers were at the summit, and I was thoroughly sold on the idea after they gave their presentation.

Anyway, Noah went to a friend's house today, so I told Eli he could invite a friend over. Jerry and I took both of them to the rec center to swim in the afternoon. Jerry ran on the indoor track for three miles while I did a deep water run.

Today, instead of doing intervals with the Garmin, I used Jerry's run to do some tough intervals. From the pool, I could see Jerry running around the track above me and to my right. There are 12 laps per mile, so it doesn't even take a full minute to run around the track once. I decided that every time he passed a particular pole, I would "sprint" in the water, running at 100% effort (as hard as I could sustain), until he reached the pole again. Then I'd jog slowly while he ran the next lap. And I repeated that several times--it was an exhausting workout!

While I was waiting for the kids to change clothes after swimming, I picked up a brochure about upcoming classes that are offered at the rec. I've never paid attention to them, because I am not a "classes person". I've always liked running because it's a solo exercise (unless I choose to run with a friend).

As I looked through it, I decided that I'm going to take a class starting next month. This is WAY out of my comfort zone. Even though I'm no longer 253 pounds, I still feel like I look that way--it's hard to explain, but I've always been super self conscious of the jiggling and having a hard time with exercise. I remember that before I lost the weight, I would try an exercise video or something, and I was terrible at it--I couldn't keep up, I was breathing like Darth Vader, and pouring sweat... during the warm-up!

So, when I think of classes, I picture that scene in my head. Even though I am no longer that person, and I'm sure I could handle a class just fine, I still picture myself as I was 100 pounds ago. I'm scared to go, but I think it will be good for me to prove to myself that I am capable of doing it. And who knows? Maybe I'll enjoy it!

The big question is which class I'm going to take. The most interesting to me right now would be either Aquacise or Water Kickboxing because I've been doing the deep water running. The one that sounds least appealing is yoga, because I'm not at all flexible and I really disliked it when I tried it in Bethlehem recently. I'm kind of thinking maybe I should do the yoga--if I'm going to step out of my comfort zone for the class, might as well go big or go home, right? ;) My friend Hilary has been trying to talk me into giving yoga a try, so I know she'd be happy if I did it. The one big benefit of taking a class is that I'll be forced to do cross-training--no excuses! I really want to make cross-training a habit, so an 8-week class will certainly help.

Tomorrow, I'm taking a painting class at a restaurant with Jessica. Should be interesting! I'm glad that I posted about it earlier this week, because I could have sworn it was on Tuesday. Thankfully, Jessica read my blog, because she sent me a text that said, "You know the class is on Thursday, right?" Hahaha, nope--but now I do :)

February 17, 2015

The one where Joey chewed up the couch

Joey was neutered yesterday, and his surgery went well. I had no idea it would take so long to heal from the surgery, but the vet said no running or jumping for 10 days (walking on a leash is fine). I assumed he'd be good to go in a couple of days, but I guess not. When he got home yesterday, he was pretty lethargic--acting almost like he'd taken a Valium or something. It was nice having him so calm and relaxed!

Today, though, it was like he was a pent up ball of energy. We didn't go for a walk yesterday, because of his surgery, so it was like he was storing up all that energy and let it out this morning. I walked him for a couple of miles (in 4 degrees fahrenheit!).

Oh! I almost forgot to write about this... on Sunday evening, we had quite the disaster. Joey has been really well-behaved, for the most part. I was expecting it to be much harder to train him, but he's done great. But Sunday, he showed another side of his personality.

When we got home from church, we walked into the house and it looked like a bomb had gone off in the living room. Joey had gotten into the kitchen garbage, and there was trash everywhere--coffee grounds, paper towels, food wrappers, etc. He'd chewed up my favorite winter coat (the orange one) and one of the kids' pillows. He pulled cinnamon-sugar off the counter (a large packet that came with a box of pretzels) and chewed that open, so it was everywhere. And he'd eaten an entire loaf of bread! (Thank God I'd "dog-proofed" before I left for church; I closed all the bedroom doors and the pantry door. I can't imagine what would have happened if he had access to the pantry.)

I was stunned. Other than my coat and the kids' pillow, though, there wasn't anything important that he'd chewed. We decided that we'll have to crate him while we're all out of the house. The funny thing is, I'd given him a bully stick when we left... and he'd only chewed half of it while we were gone! I found the other half as we were cleaning up.

We cleaned the whole mess up, and everything was fine. That evening, I was feeling bad for Estelle, so Jerry and I brought her in our bedroom and we closed the door so Joey couldn't come in and scare her. We were lying on the bed, chatting, and then we heard the kids yelling from the living room, "OH NO! MAMA! Come out here, quick!"

I ran into the living room, and saw that Joey had chewed up the corner of our leather couch! He was only alone in the living room for about five minutes. I was so bummed--it was very noticeably shredded into 3 large pieces that dangled. I wish I'd taken a pic right away, but I got out my sewing stuff, and decided to try to stitch it together.

It wasn't very fun to stitch, because pushing the needle through leather wasn't easy. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER, I had finally finished sewing it back together. It looked much better, but it was still pretty obvious that something had happened. This is the before and after (the first pic was after I'd sewed the seam on the right--I didn't get an actual before pic):

I was happy that I was able to salvage it somewhat. Then, because it was already ruined, I decided I might as well try coloring the light spots with a brown sharpie to see if it would make it less noticeable. It worked! I was really proud of the repair job I did ;)

So, needless to say, we learned a harsh lesson on Sunday--Joey hates to be left alone! We're going to start obedience classes soon, so hopefully that will help.

Today, I went to the rec center and did a deep water run. I was excited to listen to Dean's episode on the Half Size Me podcast while I was in the pool. I did a steady run today, rather than intervals, but I tried to keep my cadence at 180 "steps" per minute so it wasn't too easy.

Dean did an awesome job during his interview, and I loved listening to it! The time went by really quickly, and before I knew it, I'd been pool running for an hour. I love that I can use the pool running to catch up on podcasts.

Yesterday, out of habit, and without really thinking about it, I was backing out of the driveway when I realized I forgot something in the house, so I ran from the car to the house to get it. I ran. And I didn't even realize it until I'd gotten to the house, because there was no pain! That was really encouraging, so I decided to try the "ultimate test" (the surefire way to know if it's still injured)--hopping up and down on one foot (of the leg with the stress fracture, obviously). I've been trying it about once a week (just one or two hops), to see if it's still painful.

So I hopped on one foot, fully expecting it to feel like it had the week before, but there was no pain. Not even a little bit! I hopped a few more times, and nothing. That is super encouraging to me right now! I'm going to give it about a week, just to be sure, but then I'll go to the rec center and try running slowly on the indoor track. Maybe I'll start with just one lap (1/12 of a mile) and see what happens. If there is still no pain, then I'll slowly progress to hopefully get my mileage back up.

I still don't think I'll be ready to do the Shamrock 15K next month, but there is still time to be ready for the Indy Mini the first weekend in May. I'm not going to aim for a time goal, because I want to take it really easy during training, but I'll just be really happy if I can run it :)

February 16, 2015

Motivational Monday #98

Happy Motivational Monday! The past several days, I've wanted nothing more than to just curl up under my electric blanket and not move a muscle all day thanks to the crazy cold weather, but thanks to Joey, I've been getting out for at least one walk each day. 

I still really miss running, but I am proud of myself for staying active even though I can't run. I'm still doing the deep water running (about four times a week), and I've been walking a LOT. Hopefully I'll be running on ground again soon!

I have another short but sweet Motivational Monday this week. Enjoy!

AndrĂ©a had a week filled with some pretty great milestones! 1) On Wednesday, she ran her longest distance yet--10K; 2) On Friday, she and her husband celebrated Valentine's Day a little early to beat the oncoming storm, and and she was able to wear a size 10 dress--down from a 16/18 in August! and 3) On Saturday, she hit a new 5K PR--knocking 1:12 off of her previous best time!  She said she felt like she had hit a plateau with her weight loss and running, but this past week has showed her that if she sticks with it, good things WILL happen.

Rikilynn and her husband took a big step by signing up for their first half-marathon! The couple is going to do the 500 Festival Mini Marathon in May (I'll be there, too!). Rikilynn is proud that they've been training despite the bitter cold Michigan winter.

Dean didn't ask me to share this, but I am super proud of him and want to brag about him for a sec! I've mentioned Dean several times on my blog, and I originally met him because he'd submitted a story for Motivational Monday after he completed his first 5K (and had lost about 30 pounds). I invited him to join my Sole Mates Ragnar team, and we've been friends ever since. I have to say, and I'm not exaggerating, Dean is one of the most inspirational people I've ever met! He's lost nearly 140 pounds, and ran his first marathon in October (in 3:50-something, at that!). Anyway, I told Heather from the Half Size Me podcast about him, because I really wanted his story to get out there and inspire others. Heather interviewed him, and Dean's story is on the current episode of Half Size Me! I actually haven't listened to it yet, because I'm saving it for my deep water run tomorrow, but I'm really excited to hear what he has to say. So if you're looking for some inspiration, make sure you check out Dean's story on Half Size Me episode 158. (Dean also has a blog: The Tatted Runner)

If you haven't seen this on the news, it's a really inspiring story about a woman who literally crawled on her hands and knees to finish the Austin Marathon yesterday, and took third place! Her body just shut down with about 50 yards to go in the race and she collapsed, but she was SUPER determined to finish, which you can see in the video.

February 15, 2015

25 days until Portland!

Yeah, the forecasters weren't kidding when they mentioned that we'd have "arctic temperatures" this weekend...

That was at 10:30 this morning on our way home from church!

Yesterday, when I woke up, I knew it was going to be a cold weekend, so I took Joey out for a walk before it got SUPER cold. At that time, it was 15 degrees with a "Real Feel" of -7 (the warmest temp of the day, haha). At first, it was really nice outside! There weren't any cars out, and it had been snowing, so the streets looked really pretty.

You can't really tell in the pics, but it was snowing SO hard--it was hard to even keep my eyes open.

You may notice that Joey has a new chain leash, instead of the red woven one. He was driving me CRAZY when we'd go for a walk, because he started playing tug-of-war with his leash! I couldn't pull it away from him, because that just made him think I was playing along, but I couldn't drop the leash either, so there was nothing I could do to stop him.

I tried giving him a toy to carry when we walked, and that worked okay, but I had to keep stopping because he'd drop the toy to smell something. I got so fed up with it, that I went to the store on Friday and bought a chain leash to hopefully remedy the problem. It worked like a charm! He tried to grab it, and realized it wouldn't work too well, so it hasn't been a problem since.

We walked to my parents' house and played for a little bit in their yard (yes, it was freezing!) and then took the long way home. It was still snowing hard, so I couldn't really see the lake, but I thought it was so pretty!

I almost called Jerry to come pick us up, because my legs were completely numb from the cold. I'd thought jeans would be enough, but I was wrong. We kept moving, though. When I got home, Jerry left to go play Snowball Softball. I thought he was CRAZY to go when it was so cold outside. Meanwhile, I got warm under the electric blanket on the couch. Normally, Estelle is right there to sleep on my legs (she loves the electric blanket!) but she's been ignoring me ever since we got Joey. I was pretty surprised, though, when I wound up with not one, but THREE pets laying with me.

Chandler and Phoebe still don't like Joey, but they are tolerating him. I really hope that Estelle comes around soon--I miss her! She's been hiding out on the top bunk of the kids' bunk beds every day, and she only comes down to eat and use the litter box.

There are only 25 more days until I go to Portland!! I'm SO excited I can't even stand it. I really hoped I'd be back at my goal weight before the trip, but that's not going to happen. I'm only down two pounds since AUGUST. I haven't been at all consistent, so I know that to make real progress, I need to buckle down and stop making exceptions for whatever reason.

After Andrea was here last month, and she told me the idea of "Just get it over with", I've done much better with tracking my food. I do try to keep in mind that I need to just do it so that it's DONE. I don't have anything going on between now and when I go to Portland, so I'm going to try extra hard to drop a few more pounds before I go. If I track consistently, I could probably lose 5-7 pounds before I go, and I'd be very happy with that.

The kids are off school all this week for winter break, so I'm going to have lots of stuff planned to keep busy. Joey gets neutered tomorrow; on Tuesday, I have a painting class at a coffee shop (Jessica asked me to go, and it sounds fun!); Wednesday, we're going to my younger brother's house to let the dogs play; Thursday and Friday, we'll probably do a hands-on museum and library. I'll also take the kids to the rec center every day to get some activity while it's so cold outside. I've found that the best way to stay on track with my eating is to stay as busy as possible!

Don't forget, tomorrow is Motivational Monday! If you have a photo you'd like to submit, you can see the instructions for doing so here. Remember, it can be anything health or fitness related that you're proud of--it doesn't have to be a completing a race or losing a ton of weight!

February 13, 2015

Joey meets Bailey

We have had some SUPER cold weather the past few days. The temp has been in the single digits, and the windchill brings it well below zero degrees. When it's this cold, it's so hard to get motivated to do anything.

On Wednesday, I walked Joey to my parents' house, and Nathan (my younger brother) came over with his dog, a black lab named Bailey. I was really excited to introduce Joey and Bailey, because I could tell that Joey has been dying to play with other dogs (every time we go for a walk, he gets super excited and playful when he sees a dog).

When Nathan and Bailey got there, we let the two dogs loose in the yard, and as I expected, Joey was ridiculously excited. Bailey seemed a little annoyed at first, because Joey was right in her face constantly, but once we started throwing the tennis ball for them, they were running all over the place. Joey normally loves playing fetch with the ball, but he was so distracted by Bailey that he just did whatever she did. I'd throw the ball, and Bailey would take off after it; Joey, who was always watching Bailey, took off, too--although he had no idea why he was running, haha.

Needless to say, Joey was always a few steps behind Bailey, so she won the race to the ball each time ;)

This picture says it all: Bailey got the ball, and Joey is watching her with
a big old grin on his face.
My feet were super numb from the cold after about an hour, so we didn't stay long.

Yesterday, I didn't go to the rec in the morning because there is no open swim on Thursday mornings, but I decided to just go in the evening and walk the track while the kids played basketball. I tried taking Joey for a walk outside in the afternoon, but my face hurt from the cold--we only went around the block, and my legs and face were beet red.

A package was delivered in the afternoon, and I knew I hadn't ordered anything, so I was curious what it was. Then I saw that it was addressed to Joey.

The note read: "Joey, We can't wait to meet you. Here is some of our favorite treats. Love, your cousins, Lucy & Remi". Lucy and Remi are my sister's basset hounds. They are pretty spoiled, so I knew that the box would contain some great treats for Joey! There were a couple of toys, an elk antler chew, and several different treats--including bully sticks (which I learned are actually dried bull penises!). Joey loved everything. The elk antler chew is awesome--he chewed on it for a couple of hours yesterday, and didn't even make a dent in it, so it'll last a long time.

Last night, I took the boys to basketball, and while they were playing, I walked on the indoor track at the rec. I turned on a podcast to listen to while I walked, but I was still bored (12 laps equals 1 mile, so the scenery is limited!). I felt like I was full of energy last night, but I had no way to really release it--I wanted to run so badly, but I have to be patient and wait for my stress fracture to heal.

While I was walking, Renee ran past me and waved. I was really jealous seeing her run! She kept lapping me, and I'm sure she ran three miles in the time it took me to walk half that. At one point, I wanted to pass a couple of people ahead of me, so I had to go into the "runner's lane" to pass. The track is so small that you can't really see if anyone is coming up behind you until they're right there, so without thinking, I just hopped into the runner's lane and then ran ahead to pass those people. I immediately realized I shouldn't be running, so I got back into the middle lane; but I was really excited to realize that my ankle feels much better than it did the last time I tried running a short distance.

It didn't really hurt, but I could feel the spot where the fracture is, and definitely noticed it, so I know it's not healed yet. But I felt really good after that, thinking that maybe in a couple more weeks I might be able to start running short distances. After I was done with my walk (an hour and 15 minutes), I was going down the stairs when I realized that I didn't feel any pain doing that. Normally, when I go down those stairs, I feel a little tug of pain when my foot hits each step, but it wasn't happening. After that, I felt so encouraged that my ankle is actually healing!

We have a super cold weekend ahead, so I'm going to have to bundle up to walk Joey. Jerry is crazy enough to play a "Snowball Softball" tournament this weekend--there are about 30 teams that get together to play this tournament, and it's supposed to be single digit temps (with windchill below zero). Crazy, right?!

February 11, 2015

Missing running

It's kind of strange how I'm starting to get used to not running. For the last five years, running has been as big a part of my life as brushing my teeth! In 2010, once I got past that initial "I hate this, why am I doing this, I'm going to quit running as soon as I finish that 5K I signed up for..." attitude, it was like I just couldn't stop. I was hooked on it!

My first race: Ragnar Relay Great River 2010
I've dealt with a couple of knee injuries (during most of 2012), but I (stupidly) ran through the pain and eventually was fine again (they would have healed much faster if I hadn't run through the pain). So this is definitely the longest I've ever gone without a run. Any time I would go for more than two days without a run, it became really obvious that I was needing it. I would get really crabby and irritable, and feel pretty restless. Running kept my sanity.

After a couple of years of running consistently 3-5 times per week, I realized I never wanted to stop. It did awesome things for my mind and body, and I was really thrilled that I stuck out the tough beginning to get to where I was.

I love identifying as a runner. I love feeling like one of those "elite people" (or so I used to think of them) that can just head out for an "easy 10 miler" on a Sunday morning. I love that running has become the "easy" sport, and I'd rather do it than any other form of exercise. I love that running allows me to burn thousands of calories, so I can eat the foods I love without gaining back the 100+ pounds I lost.

My favorite race picture of all time. I've posted
this no less than 276 times on my blog. 

It's been five and a half weeks since my last run, which ended halfway through a long run, due to ongoing ankle pain. The first two weeks off from running were torture. I was thinking about running pretty much every moment of the day, and I felt horribly guilty for not running. Once I started deep water running in the pool, I felt a little better, but I don't get all of those "love-y" feelings I mentioned above when I deep water run.

I miss running. I miss thinking about running. I miss writing out training plans. I miss setting time goals, and reaching for them. I miss racing. I miss planning races. I miss that little connection, or bond, I felt with other runners.

I know it's only been less than six weeks, but I don't even feel like a runner anymore. It's not the first thing I think of when I wake up in the mornings. I don't plan my days around running, or fit running into my days. It's actually almost scary when I realize that I don't even really think much about running anymore.

I think I'm mostly scared that this injury is going to push me right back to the 253-pound couch potato I was just 6 years ago. After I started running, and I'd lost the weight, my weight has certainly had its ups and downs--bouncing around a 25-pound range between 130 and 155 several times (even a few pounds higher on a bad day). That's nothing new. But the one thing that stayed very consistent was my dedication to running, and training, and setting goals for racing. Even if I gained back all the weight, I would at least have running.

Logically, I know that my stress fracture will heal, and I won't be forever sidelined from running. I realize I'm being a little dramatic. I'm just afraid of getting so far out of the habit that I won't be able to get back into the habit once I'm able to run again. Make sense?

I hope this post doesn't sound whiney. I'm not trying to whine, just trying to explain this whole thought process. People are injured all the time, and I never think much of other people taking two weeks, six weeks, or even six months off from the sport. But now that it's happening to me, I'm trying to stay positive but still be realistic. Even if I have to take several months off, several months is nothing in the grand scheme of things. It just derails my running goals for 2015. This was going to be a great year for my running! Hopefully it still can be.

I'm hoping that by taking the time to heal, regardless of how long that is, I'll come back stronger than ever. And smarter. I've already been planning some changes: 1) Make cross-training a priority, even if it's just deep water running in the pool; 2) Make strength-training a priority, as much as I hate it; 3) Follow my training program right to the letter, and don't "squeeze in" races here and there. Pick a race and focus solely on that, training specifically for that; and 4) Make my "easy" runs truly easy. Even if the pace is embarrassingly slow, I will do them ridiculously easy.

To lighten this up a bit, I'll end with asking you all a question that Runner's World posted on Facebook recently: What's the most embarrassing thing to happen to you on a run?

Mine was definitely when I got home from a run and realized that I looked like THIS:

Haha! You can read the story here. :)

February 10, 2015

Podcasts and dog training

I woke up feeling much better today! The past few days were terrible, but yesterday it turned around. I was worried I'd have to reschedule my Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid certification class yesterday, but I felt good enough to go. My current certification expires next week, and I have to keep it current in order to maintain my RRCA running coach certification.

It was a long class--five hours! I'm glad to have that taken care of for another two years, though. It's hard to believe that it was already two years ago that I got my running coach certification.

This morning, after getting the kids off to school, I went to the rec center to do a deep water run. I had downloaded a bunch of podcasts to my iPod to listen to in the pool, and it really helped make the time go by quickly. I didn't do intervals today--just a steady run, which isn't as effective, but I ran for nearly an hour. I was listening to this podcast called Risk!, which is a storytelling podcast (where real people share real stories, most of which are embarrassing or funny).

I was alone in the deep end of the pool, but there were several people in the other end, and there was a lifeguard walking around the perimeter. I burst out laughing (out loud) at least three times while I was running--it was very embarrassing, but the podcast was so funny that I couldn't help it! Every time the lifeguard would walk by, I hid my face under the water because I had this enormous grin, and I must have looked ridiculous.

Several people have mentioned the podcast Serial, and how addicting it is, so I listened to the first episode of that last week. It's basically a real-life murder mystery, and this woman tries to solve it. I think I would really like the podcast if there was an actual conclusion, but after I listened to the first episode, I asked my friends about the end. It's left open-ended, so I decided not to listen to any more of it. I hate not knowing the truth! It's like that TV show called Disappeared, where people just vanish into thin air, and they are never heard from again--there is no conclusion, so you're left wondering what happened to them.

But anyway, I do love storytelling podcasts, like The Moth, and that's what I've been listening to lately. That will get me through a ton of deep water running! My guess is, it's going to be at least another 3-4 weeks before I can run on ground again.

Joey has been doing great! I still consider myself a "cat person" all the way, but Joey is certainly making me see dogs differently. Today, I was lying on the bed talking to Jerry, and Joey parked himself right in-between us ;)

I think we're learning little bits and pieces about his past based on his behavior. (The only thing we knew from the shelter was that he was brought in as a stray, and nobody ever claimed him). He doesn't bark much at all--he'll let out one or two barks if someone comes into the house (when he hears the door open), but that's it. He doesn't bark when he sees or hears other dogs, when people walk past the house, when meeting new people, or anything like that (yay!). But when I was walking him down our street a couple of days ago, our new neighbor (James) was outside talking to another neighbor (Corey), so I stopped to chat.

When Joey saw the James, he started barking, backed away from him, and looked scared to death. James was really friendly, and tried coaxing Joey to come over to him, but Joey was freaked out. He went right up to Corey, and let Corey pet all over him, though. So it made me wonder if James just reminded him of his previous owner or someone that was familiar to him? I don't know. Eventually, Joey let James pet him, but he was very cautious about getting close to him.

Another clue to his past: Yesterday, he completely tore apart the $16 Kong tennis/football that I'd bought him. I couldn't believe it! Jerry and I were laughing about how quickly he destroyed it, and I gathered up the pieces to put in front of Joey to take a picture (I wanted to show my brother, because his black lab tore his entire house to pieces when he first got her).

As soon as I put the pieces in front of Joey, he looked broken--his ears and tail dropped, and he ran and cowered like he was terrified that I was going to hit him or something. I felt awful! So I think he probably used to get punished for chewing things.

When I was at the Purina Better With Pets Summit, there was a dog trainer there who talked about the effectiveness of using positive reinforcement training, as opposed to "alpha dog" training (praising/rewarding when the dog does good, versus scolding/punishing when the dog does bad), and hearing her talk was really what sparked my interest in getting a dog. She explained things so well, and I decided that if we ever did get dog, I was going to use the positive reinforcement training. (Wow, I feel dumb now! I just double checked the itinerary of the Summit for the trainer's name, and it sounded familiar from the training article I just linked to above--turns out the trainer was Victoria Stilwell from "It's Me Or The Dog" on Animal Planet! I had never seen that show, so I had no idea. Anyway... she was a great speaker, and I loved what she had to say.)

I had to explain to the kids and Jerry how to do it, so that we're all on the same page, and so far, it's worked wonderfully. Joey has learned the following commands: sit, stay, come, drop it, leave it, bring me your ball, down, and back off. And that's within a week! I think the positive reinforcement is good for him, especially considering he seems scared of certain things.

The kids absolutely adore him. Today, Eli was spinning a top on the kitchen floor, and Joey was so curious about it. He kept sneaking up to and trying to tap it with his paw (much like a cat would do) and Eli was cracking up. The kids love that Joey comes to them when they call him, because the cats would never do that (they usually come when I call them, but when the kids do). I really wish I could get Joey to sleep with them, but he always ends up on my bed.

But anyway--that's the update. We've only had him a week, but I'm so happy with how well it's all going!

Featured Posts

Blog Archive