Tuesday, July 18, 2017

If Your Dog Is Overweight, It's Your Fault!

Pacer has the metabolism
 of a young elite athlete!
Is your dog fat or overweight?  Then you have probably been feeding it too much, giving it too many treats and not exercising it enough.  Its so sad when I see very overweight dogs because its so easy to prevent.  I recently took Lilly to the vet for vaccines and when they weighed her I compared it to the last weigh in which was 4 months prior.  She had gained 6lbs in 4 months!  That is like a human my size putting on about 30lbs!  She was getting less exercise because of the summer but I hadn't changed the amount of food I was giving her.  I quickly put a plan in place to help her lose the weight.  I began to get back on track with our walks and she is getting less food and very few treats.  When it cools down a bit and we can run more often I can start feeding her more.  The lesson here is that the weight can creep up so fast you wont even notice.  It's so easy to gain it and so hard to lose it for both dogs and humans. 
Don't just assume each of your dogs can eat the same amount either.  Both my dogs are about the same size and get the same amount of activity.  Pacer is a youngster who is a lean machine and I feed her quite a bit more than I can feed Lilly who is the same size and gets the same activity.  If I fed Lilly the same amount as Pacer she would balloon up and be huge!  Unfortunately  for Lilly she's middle aged and she is not naturally a lean dog.  Daily exercise is a must for all dogs and humans!  Its good for you and your pup so just get out and do it.  I have to be to work at 5am so I get up at 3am so I can walk my dogs before I go to work.  Sure I would like that extra hour of sleep but its important for us to get our exercise. If your dog has excess weight it will shorten their life and we don't get to be with them long enough as it is so keeping them healthy and fit is important. 

Good snacks like vegetables are low calorie and a lot of dogs like them.  Lilly didn't much like her celery but she does love stuff like cucumbers, watermelon, carrots and broccoli.  
Keeping them active is important and in the summer swimming is always a good alternative to running or walking.  Pacer loves the water but Lilly prefers land and unfortunately Lilly is the one that needs to keep an eye on her figure.  
Lilly has the metabolism of a middle aged female:( 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Comrades Marathon Race Recap

The Comrades Marathon in South Africa is a bucket list race for anyone who does ultra marathons.  It’s one of the most iconic ultra marathons in the world.  It has been in existence for over 90 years and was started by a man who wanted to remember his comrades who perished in the war.  It is not only the oldest running ultra marathon in the world but it’s the largest with close to 20,000 runners.  Another unique thing about this race is the very challenging cutoff time of 12 hours to run 54.5 miles. 

Running the Comrades was going to be the toughest challenge of my life.  Training for this event was special to me not only because of the iconic race, I was also raising money for the dogs at the Nevada SPCA.  I called my cause Run For Fido and I was hoping to raise $3,000 for the Nevada SPCA.  I do a lot of my training for my events with the dogs at the Nevada SPCA and with my two dogs. 
We had a bit of a hiccup traveling to Johannesburg when our flight to Atlanta was delayed and we missed the direct flight to Johannesburg.  There wasn’t another flight for several days so we had to get rerouted through Amsterdam, Paris, to Johannesburg.  It was over 30 hours of traveling but at least we got to spend a few hours seeing the sights in Amsterdam.   We made it to Johannesburg and we spend a night there before traveling to Durban where the race would start.  Comrades is unique in that one year they run uphill from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and then the next year they run downhill from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.  We had a few days to relax in Durban before the race.   Several weeks leading up to the race I was having a lot of pain in my hip.  I had tried dry needling, massage, stretching and all did a very minimal amount of running.  I didn’t get much permanent relief so I was very concerned if I would be able to finish this race.  

The race started at 5:30am and the excitement at the race start was unbelievable.  I had to finish before the cutoff time and I had never had to worry about making a cutoff in my life. In fact it’s not something I have never even looked at when entering or competing in a race.  At this race I had all the cutoff times written down and in my pocket.  It is very unsettling being so unsure of your ability to finish when competing in a race.  With my hip problem I had checked into what I would do if I had to bail on the race.  I mean I am in South Africa and I wasn’t too sure how I would get to the finish safe and sound if I couldn’t finish the race.

As we started the run I didn’t feel pain in my hip. Maybe it was all the excitement or the massage or the rest but it felt ok as we started to run.  There were so many people we were forced to start at a very slow pace, which was a good thing. I ran with my boyfriend for the first half of the race.  The weather was a little humid but very comfortable.  I knew going into this race we were going to have some really big hills but I had no idea just how big and how long until I got to each one.  The hills were like nothing I had ever seen let alone run before in my life.  The first major hill I was trying to run up until I realized I could actually go faster with a power walk.  In this race the people who have completed more than 10 Comrades have green numbered race bib.  Everyone has the number of Comrades races they have done on their race bib.  I realized all these runners who have ran more than 10 Comrades with green bibs were walking these monster hills.  I figured I should follow their lead, I mean lets face it they know what they’re doing if they ran this race more than 10 times!  Power walking the hills was going to be my strategy throughout the rest of the race. 

I was very lucky my hip didn’t give me any problems during this race but about the halfway point my knee started hurting pretty bad.  The awesome thing at this race is they have stations you can stop at for someone to rub your legs with arnica massage oil.  I figured my knee was hurting from my IT band or my calf so each time I saw a tent I had them rub my upper and lower leg quickly.  This helped tremendously each time and enabled me to continue to the next station.  Toward the end it was survival and just getting to the finish before the cutoff.  I knew it was going to be close and was well aware of the pace I needed to keep to get there in time.  On my race bib it had a zero since this was my first time racing.  People running by me must have seen me struggling and new I was going to be close to the cutoff.  As people passed me many of them encouraged me to get to the finish and that I could do it!  As I crossed the finish I broke down and cried my boyfriend was there waiting and the first thing I said to him was, “that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.  Competing in Ironman is hard but this was a whole different kind of hard!  The medal for this race is the smallest medal I have in my collection of medals but it certainly is the most memorable.  They have been giving out the same medal for the duration of this event.  Going into the race without confidence and then barely making the cutoff was emotional and a very rewarding experience.  The best part of the experience is all the money I raised for the dogs at the Nevada SPCA thanks to my amazing friends and family!  The dogs will have wonderful new courtyard with splash pads, agility equipment, and treadmills for exercise! The best news of all was that my favorite running buddy Sandra from the Nevada SPCA was adopted a few days before the run!  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Revel Race Report

On the bus to the top of the mountain
I found out Sunday a week before the Revel Marathon that we could sign up for the race since it had sold out.   We were on the wait list for the Revel Full Marathon in Las Vegas and I honestly had forgotten about putting my name on the list.  My boyfriend and I are doing the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa in June and we had to submit a qualifying marathon time before May 2nd.  When we found out Revel was sold out we signed up for a small marathon in Long Beach.  We really didn’t want to go out of town to race but we didn’t have any other options.  Sunday before the Revel race we got an email that we could sign up so rather than go to Long Beach we decided to sign up for the local race and stay in town.  Revel is a downhill run from the top of Mount Charleston down to North Las Vegas.  This run has a massive elevation drop of over 5,000 feet.  While we had not been doing training specific to this race we had been doing lots of up and downhill runs.  Each weekend in preparation for Comrades Uphill run we have been running Red Rock loop, which has both up and downhill sections that are pretty steep.  I was a little excited when I realized the Revel race was a Boston qualifying race.  I am a pretty good downhill runner and my qualifying time was only 3:55 so I was hopeful I could qualify.  I have qualified in the past but it was never a good time for me to do the race since it always conflicted with one of my Ironman races.  I figured I would have to do better than a 3:55 since Boston now has the three-tiered entry process and the faster your time is the more likely you are to get in.  My boyfriend and I set our race goal at 3:40 and this would also give us a good placement at the Comrades race in June. 

Race morning the temperature on the mountain was predicted to be in the 30’s.  We bundled up and got on the bus with the herd of people trying for a PR and/or BQ.  We got to the top with plenty of time before the race, we had about 30 minutes before the race started.  We got some coffee and then stood in line for the bathroom.  I told my boyfriend to get his stuff together while we waited in line because he hadn’t pinned his number, started his music, put his hat and put his watch on all the stuff you should do well before the start time.  He kept saying we have plenty of time.  When we got to the front of the bathroom line we had 8 minutes before the start and he still had to do all that stuff and we still had to drop off our morning cloths bags.  He was still pinning on his number and putting hat and glasses on as the gun went off.  We were 2.5 minutes behind the start group and needless to say I was a bit annoyed.  Thankfully your time starts when you cross the line but we still had hundreds of slow people ahead of us.  The first half of this race is the steepest so my pace was faster than normal.  I find running downhill too slow hurts worse than running at a faster pace.  The problem is that between mile 6-8 my quads started feeling the downhill running and I still had a long way to go.  It worried me and I wondered if I would be able to sustain my pace.  I knew the last 6 miles could be brutal since there was not really a downhill and I would be tired and very sore by that point.  By the halfway point I was on target for a 3:30 marathon but I knew the last 5-6 miles would be slower so I was still thinking it would be a 3:40.  The last 3 miles was brutal physically and mentally.  A small portion was into a major headwind up a slight incline.  I was barely going to make 3:40 and as I was approaching the finish line I had to practically sprint to make the 3:40 time.  I qualified for Boston with 15 minutes to spare!  

I haven’t done a lot of marathons in my life in fact I have done more Ironman races than marathon races.  If I remember right this might be my 7th marathon that I have done and I have done 12 Ironman races.  Today the day after the race I am more sore than after any Ironman races I have done.  People think a downhill run would be great but the reality is that it really beats up your body.  My quads, back, and shoulders are so sore from this race.  I don’t recall ever being this sore after a race and I have done 50 mile runs, Ironman races, 8k swims and paddled the Molekai channel in Hawaii.  This soreness tops any of those!  I only hope it doesn’t last too long because we have a race to train for that is in June! 

My dog didn't care that I ran 26.2 miles she
still wanted her walk!
My event in June is going to be EPIC.  The Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa is the oldest and largest ultra marathon in the world.  I am also raising money for a great organization that helps animals in need.  The Nevada SPCA helps so many homeless animals and they are a non-profit.  I volunteer there running and walking dogs.  The shelter is currently undergoing a major and much needed remodel.  The money I raise will be used to purchase treadmills, splash pads, agility equipment and training for the dogs.  Splash pads in the new courtyard will be a great addition for the dogs to keep cool in the summer and have fun.  The treadmills will be great for the summer, when it gets too hot in Las Vegas to walk all the dogs.  Agility is a great way for some dogs to learn and work their brain and body getting much needed physical and mental stimulation.  So far I have raised just over $2,000 and am hoping to raise $3,000. 
You can support me by going to my Razzo Run For Fido Page.

Thanks for all your help and support!

Run For Fido!

Coach Cyndee

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Does Your Dog Have What It Takes?

Lilly's first day of work at a cancer
infusion center
I was looking for a running partner last August when I was looking for a new dog.  I had recently lost my beloved dog and running partner and I was devastated.  I wanted to rescue another dog and was looking for a young dog that had potential to be a good runner.  As a volunteer at the shelter I run lots of the dogs.
One of the workers who knew me well suggested a dog that recently became available for adoption.  She had just been spayed so she was in the back and I didn't meet her yet.   He brought her out to meet me and my dogs and we met the sweetest dog we had ever met.  She was older than I wanted but once I met her it didn't matter.  I took her home and named her Lilly.  She was 6 years old and some sort of husky/retriever/ lab mix but who really knows she's simply beautiful.  So I started out running her very slow and she took to it right away.  As I got to know her I was amazed at how well behaved, sweet and an all around great dog she was.  I knew she not only had potential to be a good running partner but she had something more. With her temperament I thought she would make the perfect therapy dog.  She loves people and it seemed to be the perfect job for her.  I decided to go through the Michaels Angels Paws Therapy Training Program with her and she past with flying colors.  She now has a job and a purpose and a home with an owner that loves her and would never give her up.  Michaels Angels gives us a list of jobs that they need dogs for and we can choose what will be best for her.  

If you think your dog has the potential to give back and be a therapy dog then I highly suggest contacting Michaels Angels Paws.  They are always in need of therapy dogs to do work around the Las Vegas area.  It is a class that takes 6-weeks and meets once a week.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Run For Fido Important Update

As race day grew closer I was feeling confident in my effort to run 12-hours and 55-60 miles while raising almost $3,000 for the Nevada SPCA.  A week before the race, while on a training run, I fell and broke a bone in my hand/wrist.  I was upset but figured heck its my hand I can at least still run.  That was until I went to see the orthopedic doctor and he said I broke the worst possible bone in my body and the hardest bone to heal properly because of low blood flow to that area.  He was very adamant that I should not run the 12-hour run this weekend or run at all for about month to prevent further damage to the bone.  If I don’t listen to him I run the risk of needing surgery, which is a very difficult surgery to do and recover from.  Needless to say I am not running this weekend or at all for at least a month. 

Run For Fido is not dead since I have a 56-mile run I was planning to do in June.  I will continue my fundraising efforts through June and that race.  The good news is that I have more time to meet my financial goal of $3,000.  You can still follow my adventure on my Run For Fido Facebook page and lets face it this has really turned into quite an adventure!

Thank you for those who have donated and supported me, I will be running in no time at all.  The dogs, NSPCA, and I appreciate your support.  If you know me well you know my determination is relentless!

Thank You!
Coach Cyndee

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Simple Tips To Staying Safe When Running

For the most part running is a relatively safe sport, but there can be a few things to be aware of.  If your like me most of your running is done alone.  I am usually running with my dogs but not always another human.  Over the past 20 years of running I can honestly say I have only had a few scary things happen but it only takes one bad situation to put you in danger.  Most of my scary situations involved off leashed dogs rather than people.  In either case carrying a few essentials could save your life or the life of your pet if your dog is running with you.  A few years back I was out early with my dogs and several off leash dogs attacked my dogs.  My dog that wasn't friendly with other dogs (except my other dog, she loved him) fought back and didn't get hurt but my other dog Tigger wasn't a fighter and they attacked him.  I was helpless and couldn't get the dogs off him for what seemed like forever but I'm sure was only seconds.  If I  would have had my stun gun I think I could have kept them back because many dogs are terrified just from the sound of it.  Needless to say I carry one now along with mace.  
Here are some safety tips for you when you are running:

  • Carry pepper spray or mace.
  • Carry stun gun and/or whistle/noise maker
  • Use a leash that goes around your waist so your hands are free if you run with your dogs.  Always keep your dog on leash, you never know if other dogs may not be friendly and don't want your dog running up to another dog or chasing after a rabbit or chipmunk.  
  • Carry your phone for emergencies.  I use a small hydration pack that my phone fits in.
  • Keep music turned down so you are more aware of your surroundings and if its dark don't use headphones.
  • Wear reflective gear if you're running in the dark and make sure your dog has it too.
  • If its dark outside try and stay on busier well lit streets.
  • If you encounter an off leash dog most times a loud foot stomp and NO will keep them away but always stop running if you see one because they may want to chase you.  
  • Change up your running routine by running at different times and taking different routes.
  • Always let someone know when you're headed out for a run.
  • Run with Fido, strangers don't know if your dog is friendly or not so you may be less of a target if you have a dog with you.  My dog doesn't like strangers and will bark if someone comes too close.  Most people stay far away from me if she's barking! 
Running is an easy way to stay in shape.  Just make sure you and your pet stay safe when doing it.

Donate To Help Me Help The Dogs At Nevada SPCA

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How To Start Running With Your Dog

If you have wanted to start running with fido now is time to get started.  If both of you are just starting an exercise program then you both need to start slow.  Starting with a walk/run is the best way to get into better fitness without getting injured.  Dogs as well as humans need to begin a running program by gradually building their mileage each week.  I typically recommend starting with a 20-minute walk/run 4 times a week.  When you are starting you can begin with a 1- minute jog and a 3- minute walk repeating this throughout the run.  When this gets easy try increasing it to a 2/3 and then 3/3 and 3/2 and so on.  Eventually you will be running continuously.  Increase the total time each week by about 10% and every 3rd or 4th week give yourself an easier week if you feel like you need it.  As your miles get higher you will definitely need the easier week. 

Always watch your dog for signs of fatigue and alter your run if needed.  Remember each dog is different and some will progress faster or slower depending on their current health, age and their breed.  If your pup is very overweight then they may need to work into the program slower.  If you pup is older you will need to be even more aware of any signs of stress or fatigue.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Be aware of the weather and adjust your training accordingly.  If its hot then do your exercise early in the morning before the sun comes up or late when the sun goes down.
  • As workouts get longer carry water for you any your pet.  You can use a camelback and carry a collapsible water dish for your mutt.
  • If you’re running on trails work into it very slowly because the trails can hurt your dogs paws.  You dog will need to build up toughness on his feet to run trails so you have to start with very short runs.  Some breeds such as cattle dogs, border collies, and sporting dogs are better at trail running than others.
  • Adjust your workout based on how your dog is feeling.  Dogs like humans have bad and good days.  If you planned a 5-mile run and

    you can tell your dog isn’t 100% that day then adjust your plan and take him/her home and go back out to finish your run. 
  • Run them in shifts if you have more than 1 dog.  If I am scheduled for a 10 mile run sometimes I will take one dog for 5 miles and then take the other one for the remaining 5 miles.  
  • If your dog is at a healthy weight then on the days you run longer you will need to increase their food intake.  Just like humans when they run they are burning calories and to maintain their healthy weight they will need more calories.  If your dog is overweight you won’t need to do this until they reach a healthy weight. 
  • Always check with your vet before beginning any program.  Your vet knows your dog and will be able to give you advice based upon your dogs breed, age and health.
  • Use the right equipment such as a waist belt with leash to free your hands when running.  I use a one and it goes around my waist and then I use regular slip leads for the dogs.  One time the collar I was using was slightly too big and was bumping my dog on the shoulder.  I didn’t realize it until she started running funny.  Little things like this that may bother the dog are important to look for.  You will find a leash or harness that works best for you.  If you are running at night both you and your dog should wear reflective gear.  They make lots of different types of reflective gear for both humans and dogs.  
  • Make sure you have good running shoes that are fit professionally at a running store.  A good running store will analyze your gait and recommend the right shoe for you. 
  • Don’t run your dog right after you feed them.  If I am running first thing in the morning I feed my dogs about 30 minutes after the run.  Larger breeds can be prone to bloat so it is extremely important to adjust feeding times based on when you run.  You could give them a little snack but not a full meal.  Just imagine how you would feel running after a large meal. 
  • Take a rest day.  I typically take two days off from running each week so my dogs do too.  I walk them  on non-running days and play games with them to keep them stimulated. 

I have been running with dogs for nearly 10 years.  I run with my own dogs and I run dogs at the Nevada SPCA.  It makes my run much more enjoyable and the time goes by much faster when you have a dog with you.  They also don’t complain like your human running partners!  Follow my journey on my Run For Fido Facebook page and donate to help me raise money for the amazing dogs at the Nevada SPCA!