20 March 2014

CaniX and Mud & Mayhem

Back at the end of January we had Sence Valley CaniX. Blaze was out of action with a poorly paw so I decided to run Rex and Pip, the Original Ruffs Team CaniX. It was a cold and drizzly day and we got rather wet but Rex toroughly enjoyed himself. More specifically, he enjoyed wallowing in every available puddle and having a dip in the lake. We weren't particularly quick, but then Rex motivation for competitive CaniX has long since gone, though we still managed to get a 3rd place. We go at his pace now. Unless you want a slow training run in which case he will run like the wind.

The next CaniX event after this was meant to be Alice Holt, but the weather put a stop to that. We didnt fancy travelling in severe wind so we gave that one a miss.

The last weekend in February saw us travelling to Ebworth for a very muddy and hilly CaniX. This is one of my favourite courses. Its held on National Trust land and follows the edge of a valley, involving a final climb up to the finish. I'm not quite sure how I didnt break my leg, or my neck, or something. I know I almost went over on several occasions. The mud we ran through was thick, hiding stones and sticks beneath. Blaze and Pippa ran particularly well finishing in 27:51 on day 1 and 28:06 on day 2, earning us 2nd place ahead of Fiona and her spaniels.

The first weekend in march was Salcey CaniX not too far from home. The course this time consisted of 50% bog which didnt impress Pippa too much and resulted in a slightly slower time than last time we ran the same course. 24:34 and 3rd place for us.

The following weekend we were down at Lydiard Park. It was a mixed bag, the first day aside for a few poo stops, my two ran their hearts out finishing in 24:05. The sunday was hot, the public was everywhere and for some reason they think its fine to let their off lead dogs run up to runners with their dogs on leads. As a result we had a slightly slower time of 26:07. But Adelle had moved into the 1 dog female leaving us all on our own in the Xtreme Female class. 1st place, but by no means earnt.

Last weekend we attended Mud & Mayhem at Thetford. This is primarily a 10km race and duathalon, but they allow canicross competitors also. 18 of us, all in one category with a right mix of dogs from Huskies and Pointers to JRTs and Rotties to Lurchers and Belgain Shepherds. It was a 2 lap course along the river and through some single track in the trees. We set off 15 minutes after the other runners. As with all mass starts it was a bit hectic, especially as the path directly after narrowed into a single section along the river. It made passing almost impossible. We started off near the back, trying to keep out of the way of the commotion but it wasnt logn before we were overtaking people. My two always start off like rockets. I was a little worried that they were going to burn out but Blaze absolutely loved the single track section, he loved catching up both the dog runners and the non dog runners equally. We stopped half way round to give them a drink and a swim in the river to cool off. They were just as enthusiastic on the second lap and I managed to fight my way up that hill for the second time. I rather enjoyed being able to over take the 10km runners on the single track. Its times like that you appreciate how well behaved your dogs are. We crossed the line in 52:23, overall 3rd in the canicross behind Rich Roberts and his spaniel (41:45) and Paula Thompson and her rottie (51:16).

19 March 2014

London Marathon 2014

At the end of January I was selected for a last minute charity place to run the London Marathon for APEC (Action on Pre-Eclamspia), giving me just over 2 months to train.

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I wont lie, it hasn't exactly gone to plan. I got a rather horrid cold which put me out for a good couple weeks, and I've had on-going ankle problems. Thankfully I have a good physio but my right ankle has also had issues from compensating for my weaknesses on the other side.

Back in February I took part in the Caythorpe Dash with Blaze and Pippa. My first half marathon with dogs. It was hilly and muddy and involved lots of styles. I learnt the hard way that you need two separate canicross lines when dealing with styles with 2 dogs! But we enjoyed ourselves, Pippa forgave me for the mud when I gave her my sausage.

The weekend after I took part in the Valentines 30km around Stamford. An 18 mile very hilly road race. The scenery was lovely, but the hills were relentless. I finished in 3:16 which was a little longer than I hoped, but I kept my legs going and ran all the way. I knew if I started walking, I'd never get going again.

I've done a few CaniX/canicross events inbetween (I'll update about those separately) and some longer training runs in addition to our usual routes. Shouldham is still a favourite, mainly because its easy enough to get to, the routes I can vary, its easy to get to natural water, and easy to divert back to the car to swap dogs etc. I ran part of the Nar Valley Way from Shouldham the other week, totalling 11.6 miles in just under 2 hours. I didnt feel too bad considering I'd run 13.4 the day before!).

Last Wednesday I ran just over 17 miles with Blaze and Diesel from Great Massingham to Hunstanton along Peddars way, with a little help from my friend Nic who dropped me off and met me at the other end with my son Will. The route was easy enough to follow, though I did miss one post. Thankfully when doing my research I had read a blog from one of the ultra runners back in February. He mentioned missing a post and running round a field, so when I started veering right I knew I was no longer following the roman road that should be straight. Thankfully I hadnt gone far so back tracked and found the post I had missed. This was also my first long distance run I've run carrying water,. I used a North Face hydration pack we've previously used for hiking and packed a few extras (Pawz dog boots, map, food, first aid kit etc) in addition as well.. I discovered the hard way that you should really run with a collared top when running with a back pack as it rubbed on my neck. I knew this area has well draining soil and with no adjacent rivers or streams I didn't know how much water there would be for the dogs. As it was, I only had to stop a couple times to give them water myself as there were enough puddles for them to drink and wallow in. It was the most enjoyable run I've done for a while, the weather was lovely but not too hot, we went at our own pace taking in the views. We only encountered a handful of walkers on the path, and were joined at one point by some fallow deer. The hardest part of the run was the past mile or so along the Norfolk Coast Path from Holme next the Sea to Hunstanton. The path has been destroyed in parts by the recent tidal surges and whats left is just soft sand. It makes for hard running. We ended up going down to the beach and running on the harder sand which was easier, but the dogs had less of a path to follow. Once we got to Hunstanton Blaze and D got let off and had a good charge about - I wish I had that much energy after running 17 miles!

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8 February 2014


Rex broke a tooth a few weeks ago. He'd not wanted his dinner one evening which is extremely unlike him, although ate his breakfast the morning after so I didnt think too much of it. However, that evening I found part of his tooth just hanging off so the vet pulled that part off and he was booked in to have it removed and have a dental while he was under.

Rex will turn 12 this year so I opted to have pre-op bloods. I do tend to have them done anyway, but I think its especially important when a dog is aging. As yet, I've not had one come back with anything out of the ordinary but our luck ran out. Rexs came back with a high liver enzyme but he needed the tooth out so the plan was to give him fluids before, during and after as well as scan his liver. Thankfully the scan came back clear and he came round from the anaesthetic without any problems.

I went away and researched liver issues and diet wanting to be as armed as possible IF a diet change was needed. I know there are plenty of hepatic diets out there but ideally I would like to continue with raw if we can. Basically its a diet where the main protein consists of white meat; white fish, chicken, turkey, cottage cheese & eggs. There are various supplements the main ones being milk thistle and turmeric.

Rex went in the following Monday for a Bile Acid Stimulation Test to test the degree of liver dysfunction. Essentially its a fasted blood test, followed by a fatty meal and a further blood test 2 hours later. The results came back the following day and, thankfully, came back normal. So his liver is working normally but something is stressing it. The plan of action is to change his diet, use supplements and re-test. If its improved then we know its diet related and we can try playing around with that, if it hasnt then we know its something else. Only time will tell.


Kyra (formerly known as Poppy) has been with us just over 3 weeks now and is coming along in leaps and bounds. Her coat is so much better, shes gaining weight and muscle tone now shes on decent food and getting short walks, and generally shes settling in really nicely. Occasionally she gets a bit OTT with the others when playing but shes soon told and she respects that which is great. We had a couple incidents with her showing signs of food aggression with the others when she first came but shes learning that theres plenty to go round.

Shes attended her first puppy class on Thursday evening at Garrity DTC. I was a little dubious about how she was going to be; if she could concentrate with the distractions of other puppies, if she could manage a whole hours class, if she would be able to settle between exercises. I need not have worried. She was a little star. I rewarded her for a nice relaxed wait on her bed and she was happy to sit and watch the others work. On a couple of occasions I had to help her refocus back to me when a puppy working on the mat was trying desperately to get her attention by barking and yapping at her, but thats to be expected.

Her confidence has certainly grown and the lead work is paying off. I'm still mixing up walks so she sometimes gets to do road walks with Will in his trike/pushchair where we focus on leadwork somtimes going past the local pub when its busy, or the school when the kids are leaving. Then other times I'm doing short walks with the others with her in her harness where she can romp about. I usually do a short circuit with her and then pop her back in the van and take the others out for a longer walk. I've been using a long line attached to the end of an extendible and, now that she has a proper name, we've been doing recall work. At the moment she is soo food focused she comes zoooming back at 500mph. I'm not sure how long this will last but we'll keep rewarding heavily while it does. I am being very careful with the dogs she mixes with and got rather grumpy with a lady with 2 very full on Labrador who let hers rush up. I ended up picking her up as I couldnt body block two of them. I want nice experiences with well balanced dogs at this age.

Training wise I'm doing occasional short clicker sessions. I keep meaning to do some videos but somehow haven't quite got round to it. I started scent work today and introduced her to cat nip scented articles. Once she got over the excitement of bouncing on my helping hand she was starting to search for the scent, though even when preoccupied with my hand she understood it was the scent she was looking for once she caught wind of it so I'm pretty confident she'll get over this quickly.

23 January 2014

Introducing: Poppy

Poppy has been with us just over a week. She is a husky puppy from Woodgreen Animal Shelter in Godmanchester and is with us for a 2 week trial to ensure she gets on with everyone. Steph sent me a photo when I was on my way back from Beacon Hill CaniX as her Aunt was fostering her, but it turned out she already had a reserve so I didn't think much of it. However, that (and another) reserve fell through and, despite them wanting a household with no cats and any children to be over 11, Nic and I arranged to visit her the following Sunday to see her. I wanted to ensure she was the right pup for introducing to both Will & my gang. I'd heard she was a bit full on and bitey but we met an adorable little pup so willing to learn and who took to the clicker almost instantly. At one point Nic was rolling around on the floor with a squeaker whilst I was rewarding a lovely relaxed wait. Poppy didnt move.

Her story is sadly like so many. She was bought just before Xmas from an advert on Gumtree. She was raised in an outside enclosure with a shed, her parents, 6 siblings and some other dogs. Her new home was a flat and without appropriate stimulation in just a couple weeks she was too much for them and handed into Woodgreen.

Shes a bit mouthy, and a bit scrawny but is really just your typical average naughty husky puppy.

I'm doing a couple of little clicker sessions throughout the day to keep her occupied, mainly focusing on lead work but also games that get her to think. Shes picked up the clicker quickly and we've found a happy balance that keeps her out of too much trouble. On our training walks from the house shes already walking nicely with Wills trike, and we've done a few short walks with the others/some of the others where she gets to have a mooch about on a longer lead.

Her crate training is coming along nicely. She now settles at night without making any noise and is usually fine until the morning. On the odd occasion she needs the loo she barks, and has then had a bit of a protest at settling again (though these have usually been around 5am so she'd quite happily get up). We've not used the crate much in the day as shes usually in kitchen or with me but she does tend to protest more.

Hopefully I'll be a bit more regular with updating how shes getting on. Shes already been with us over a week - its gone so quickly!

Catch up:

I managed to run every day in December and complete my Marcothon challenge. I clocked just under 140 miles in total for the month. Unfortunately I finished with a fall just a few days to go, by tripping over Diesel at the start of a run. He was busy bouncing everyone at the start. I assume the line went under him so when they all started running 100mph he set off but then stopped. I tried to jump over him but ended up falling on a rather stony hard patch of ground. Typically the only stony hard patch of ground the entire run as the rest consists of mud mud and more mud. I was rather sore but managed my remaining runs including a dogless 10km PB at the Ely NYE 10km.

We've attended a few more CaniX events since our last blog post:

Cannock Chase on the 22nd December was rather muddy and slippery so I wimped out on the steep downhills. I was the only XF running so ended up starting with the 2 dog I'm going to keep up with them LOL. We also had several bikes to contend with on some of the narrower tracks so I was expecting a much slower time, however, we were quicker than the last time we ran this course.

Then on the 5th January we were back at Beacon Hill. Another PB for this course and a 1st place finishing in 24:19. Admittedly Adelle was off as broke her toe, and it also helped to have a small battle with Fiona as it made me push myself a little more. Pip and Blaze were running really well. They're so much more confident with other runners passing them now they know they don't need to worry.

Our next event is this weekend. Blaze is currently nursing a bandaged paw so I have a feeling I might be running Pip & Rex at a very leisurely pace..

16 December 2013

Salcey CaniX

Yesterday we headed over to Northamptonshire for what is probably our closest CaniX venue at Salcey Forest. I havent been there before and was expecting hard packed paths like the other Innerwolf run events at Hicks Lodge and Sence Valley. This venue made a nice change as the course actually consisted mainly of grassy muddy paths, rather squelchy and slippery in places.

My legs felt a bit achey from running 14 days back to back. Nothing specific, just not feeling good as fresh legs. However, Blaze and Pip were on form and ran their socks off. They've got their confidence back after being lunged at on a couple of occasions earlier in the season. We're all running much better now we've relaxed. We finished in 21.44, ending up 3rd. Whilst we're never going to beat Adele or Carolyn, the gap is slowly closing. We used to be a good 10 mins or so behind them, now we're only just a couple minutes.

Blaze rather excited at the start
Eager to get to the startline

Coming into the end