Birthday Part 2: Ipperwash Beach

Continuing the dog-themed birthday weekend I've been having so far, today we went to Ipperwash Beach (Lake Huron) with Bo to swim and have a picnic dinner. Like usual, we went a bit later in the day so John could avoid the sun, and all of us were able to avoid the crowds. It's nice to pull up to the parking lot just as families with kids are heading home.

Bo was a champ in the car. She's either interested in looking around, or she settles down right away and enjoys the ride. This bodes well for our upcoming drive to Indiana.

Like most things, the beach made her a little nervous at first. So much noise! There were boats and kids and other dogs, and she was consumed with watching the seagulls fly around.

Several people complimented us on how beautiful she is - this happens everywhere we go. Obviously.

We made sandwiches and brought chips for our picnic, and I enjoyed a peanut butter and chocolate cupcake from Hey, Cupcake! Few things are better than sitting on the beach with your dog and eating a cupcake on your almost-birthday. 

Once my stomach was full of sandwiches, chips, and cupcake, Bo and I took a walk around the beach, and then a short run in the water. It went like this; I would coax her to jump and run a bit, and she was trot for a few steps, then try to shoot past me. When she couldn't keep going, she would do this horizontal flip in the air (a characteristic greyhound feat). I'm sure it didn't seem like real running to her, but she had a great time. Once she relaxed and had her dinner, she really enjoyed the lake. And bonus, my stress fractured foot didn't hurt at all! I think we'll be able to run together a bit this fall.

Bo rarely wags her tail or even raises it to show her mood. But once we got in the water, her tail curled right up to show she was having a good time. So far she only does that when she's swimming, meeting another dog, or staring at herself in the mirror.

I tried to take a family photo before we left. 

After Pawlooza and the beach this weekend, next weekend is going to seem awfully boring.

All the running and mental stimulation of the beach really tired her out and she slept like a baby the whole way home.


Summer Swimming

Finally!, you must be thinking, a post that's not about her dog!

Just kidding, here's a picture of my dog!

No really, this post is about swimming. The doctor confirmed this week that I have a stress fracture in my right foot, and I won't be running for at least 4 weeks. That pretty much nixed my plans for the half marathon in October, though I'll still accompany John and Kira to the race (my first time to crew for my friends!). I could maybe eek out the run, but I'd rather play it safe and not cause another injury. 
Luckily, my stress fracture is healing well enough as I abstain from running and wear supportive shoes. They said at first that I might have to wear a boot, and I had flashbacks to my other splint boot (aka, RoboBoot) from 2009. Shudder.


I could get upset about not being able to run, and do the usual runner thing when I talk about my injury, but honestly, I think I need a break from running. Let me recap all my running injuries from the last few years: 
  • January 2010, I started running again. 
  • Fall 2010, my IT band was so tight that my knee hurt too much to run for almost a month. 
  • Spring 2011, prolonged inflammation in some connective tissue in my right leg; I went to physio all summer. It finally went away about 11 months later. 
  • Spring 2012, about two months after my right leg healed, I developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot. It's still there now, despite physio again last summer (in no small part because the phsyio exercises make me motion sick).
  • Summer 2013: Still have pain in my plantar fascia. Had a few other little flare ups, some knee pain, a random pain in my hip/lower back (fixed by my massage therapist). And now a stress fracture.
The short version of the story? I've been injured for more time than I've been un-injured since I started running about 4 years ago, and that gets fatiguing. I want running to be this kind of mental meditation, and it often has been for me. But for the past few months especially I've had mostly painful, sometimes very frustrating runs. You can understand why I'm ready to have a break from that routine. 
I see a massage therapist with a sports med background at school for "motion sickness" (if you want to call it that). In addition to doling out my weekly beating, he's also full of sage advice. And as he put it, "Runners are...persistent. So if you think you might need a break, you should go ahead and take one."
He's also after me all the time to swim because of the good it would do my shoulders and neck. So he was happy to hear this week that I've decided to commit to swimming for the fall term. 
This week I started a new regimen of swimming three days out of seven, and ideally that leaves one or two days for weight lifting and yoga. I know I've said this before, but seriously, y'all, I'm way better at swimming than at running. If nothing else, an hour in the pool generally leaves me feeling better about myself than an hour running and worrying about my injuries.

Since the pool is now a regular part of my routine, I decided to clean out my swim suit drawer and take a final photo of its contents before getting rid of them. 
"But Abby, those are perfectly good suits!" you might be saying. 
False. Those are from 1999/2000, and the elastic is actually dried up in most of them. In the top photo you can see a bunch of suits my friend Sarah gave me when she stopped swimming competitively during sophomore year. In the bottom photo: my old suits, mostly team suits from my summer team, the Park Forest Piranhas. Some of mine are just a little stretched and faded, and remarkably close to my current size, so I can keep them for drag suits. The rest either went to Goodwill or I threw them out.  

Sarah and I met the winter that I swam for Fort Wayne Central YMCA. That's her in the cap. Apologies for the quality of the photo.

I also decided to take advantage of the end-of-summer sales and buy a new swim suit, for the first time in over 13 years. Behold! I also have some new goggles coming my way for my birthday (thanks, Mom!) so I won't have to use the ones I got out of the Park Forest lost and found when I was working as a life guard in 2001.

I looked into joining the local masters swim club, but it's $330 per term, and that's too rich for my blood. Then I found out I can join the UWO Triathlon Club for the swimming portion only, and it costs $40! Perfect. Plus I can meet some other kids at my school, practice on campus, and participate in some of their physical and social events. 

So that's my new work out routine. I'll post some of the swim workouts I'm doing in future posts, as well as my online sources for the work outs. I can't believe how hard they are, but how good it feels to swim that much for the first time in so many years. I'm not saying good bye forever to running. I'm a little sad to spend the fall away from my favorite running routes, but I think walking is good for my foot, and I get to introduce Bo to all my favorite local trails. I figure that by the time my foot is healed and I start physio (again!), Bo will be ready to do the Couch to 5K, and we can work on running shorter distances together. 

Birthday Part 1: Pawlooza

It's almost my birthday! Since it's on a Monday this year, John and I are observing it this weekend with some fun activities. The first: Pawlooza, a dog festival with tons of activities and vendors for all things dog related. They have everything; an off leash play area with a pond, a lure course, agility demos and an agility course for guests to try, a bunch of open water and streams for dogs to play in and get a drink, and vendors with every pet related product you can think of. The festivities started at 10:30 and we tried to get there as close to the start as possible. But as soon as we parked, I realized that everyone else had the same idea. There were hundreds of people and their dogs there. 

From the start we could tell that Pawlooza was exceptionally well run. Parking attendants guided us to our spot, others directed us to the main festival grounds, and everything ran on time per their schedule of events

We started off with the lure course, since it already had a decent sized line and we wanted to get a chance for Bo to run before things got too busy. While in line, we ran into several other greyhounds. It amazes me how big they are! Bo is smaller than any greyhound we've met so far.

We also saw a greyhound run the lure course ahead of us (that's him below). He didn't seem to be running full out and he was still flying! I was nervous for Bo to run the lure course because I didn't want her to get hurt; I also thought she just might not get what she was supposed to do. Fortunately, she only spent a few seconds wandering around before she spotted the lure and she was on the move. And she was beautiful! I think it put her in a great mood for the rest of the day. She loved getting to run again like that.

Then we headed into the vendor area to explore.

We met up with our friends, Samantha and Adam, and their dog, Donna. We explored the festival together for the better part of the morning.

We saw little dogs.
[Sidenote: I was impressed with these chinese cresteds in their Seuss shirts, since they pretty much already look like characters out of a Dr. Seuss book.]

And we saw big dogs. I saw more great danes and bull mastiffs today than I have in my whole life. 

And these big fluffy ones were really friendly while we were in the falafel line.

What with all the ponds and streams, Bo had plenty of opportunities to swim. She welcomed it in the hot weather. I still can't believe how she takes to water. She's like a fish in a dog costume!

Greyhounds only have about 15% body fat, and they're not natural swimmers. Maybe it was the heat, but Bo was all about the water. I'm all the more excited to taker her to the beach for the first time.

We took breaks from swimming time to walk around and look at all the booths.

We watched some dogs participate in the dock diving contest.

Some dogs balked at the end of the dock, but this german shepherd followed the ball all the way into the lake. The guy in the kayak was there to help dogs know where to go after jumping in, and to retrieve tennis balls that went unclaimed by the dogs.

Then Bo was back in the water, making friends.

And just splashing around.

We had such a nice time at this festival. Everything about it was so well organized - even the port-potties were cleaner than usual and came with actual sinks. The whole festival is run by volunteers and 100% of the entry fee ($10 per vehicle) goes to rescue charities. Pawlooza has events all around the U.S. and Canada, so they may have a festival near you! I know Bo will be happy to return next year.


Bo's First Week

As of today, Bo has been with us for one week. And what a week it's been! Everything is new. Everything is startling. Everything is worth licking to see if it tastes good. 

She watched TV for the first time and found it puzzling. That's her standing directly in front of the TV.

We heard that greyhounds will stare at themselves in the mirror for long periods of time. Bo doesn't just stare - she thinks there's another dog, and it's the only time she seems remotely excited. The other night she was standing in the kitchen, making a soft growing sound and looking intently near the oven. John and I both panicked, thinking she saw a mouse (something I always dread but that's never happened). Then we realized she was looking at her reflection in the oven door. Sigh. 
We've met up with another greyhound family in town for a joint walk and she seemed ok with that. Based on her reaction to her reflection, I thought she'd be stoked, but she was just relaxed. 

She's taken to the car well, since the car usually means a trip to the park. Even when we took her to the vet for an initial visit, we sandwiched the vet with walks in the park and a trip to PetSmart.

Thankfully, she doesn't seem to mind strangers asking to pet her, or other dogs, big or small. 
We also went to Gibbons Park, where she walked into the river like was nothing at all. I'm so happy she likes the water! And now I CANNOT WAIT to take her to Lake Huron! It's nice and shallow there so I think she'll like it.

The first few days, she basically refused to eat. The vet suggested some wet food to mix with her food and she's been snarfing that up, so I think we're in the clear food-wise. She also LOVES a Kong frozen with pumpkin inside, baked sweet potatoes, and peanut butter...All foods I also enjoy. The Kong makes a great treat delivery device, and it keeps her occupied, so we love it, too.

Every day brings a new, small success that shows us she really does have a personality, and that she's gradually coming out of her shell. It's hard to imagine, but she likely spent an average of 20 hours per day in a crate with little interaction, and without a ton of affection. From her behavior and her willingness to be handled, we don't think she was abused. Just left alone a lot. She's started to behave like other greys we've heard of, in that she's started to "steal" things. For instance: in this picture, she's laying on top of an old SEM conference bag. She took it from the handle of the front door and brought it back to her living room cushion. She doesn't shred it, doesn't chew on it or destroy it. Just likes to take it. It's like she's going to build a nest out of soft, found items.

Today she also exhibited a little more normal dog behavior: she retrieved her mole toy (bottom right of the photo above). Greyhounds aren't big into fetch, as a rule, but she actually played fetch with me for a few minutes before getting too confused. Fetch with Bo isn't like fetch with a retriever or terrier. John says it's more like fetch with an old man - she walks so slowly it's almost like she's ashamed. We've read that this is typical of greyhounds, since they aren't raised with a concept of "play."

Lots of things still freak her out, like cars, any kind of sharp sound like a hammer on a neighbor's roof, or my pitch pipe. It's sort of like we adopted an alien, or a robot dog whose mind was wiped. John says it's like she was in solitary confinement and now she's forced to be around people again - an apt analogy, since she was alone a lot, and we've been watching Orange is the New Black. But still, every day she lets us see a new part of her, and she lets us know a little bit more that she's cool with us. 


Corey's Wedding in Lake Tahoe, NV

A couple of weeks ago, John and I headed to Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada for my cousin Corey's wedding. Between our wedding and Corey's we were able to see my dad's side of the family twice in one summer - a new record, since his siblings are kind of scattered. For instance: Corey's mom, my Aunt Clare, lives in Seattle; his brother, Uncle Russ, lives in Albuquerque, NM; his other sister lives in a small town in PA. And now my cousins and I are even further apart, with my brother in L.A., us in Canada, and Corey and his new wife moving to San Diego. 
They settled on Lake Tahoe since many of their friends and relatives were out West, and it's more tourist friendly than the bride's small hometown. 

We flew out of Detroit, where I saw what might be the world's saddest, most ironic key chain for sale:

We flew to Vegas and transfered to Reno, then drove to Lake Tahoe. That meant we got to fly over some pretty scenery.

John was impressed with the slot machines in the Vegas airport. Later on, he and my brother and sister in law tried their luck at some video poker, and John won $90!! Then, when we returned to the airport to go home, he won another $25! Apparently John found his lucky game. Of course, when my parents each handed him $3 and told him to turn it into more, his luck ran out. Still, his net winnings covered our parking at the Detroit Airport. 

On our first day, John went on a 20-ish mile long run in the mountains that were practically across the street from our hotel.* After he returned and I finished worrying about why on EARTH he was gone so long in a place we'd never been, with terrain and wildlife we're not accustomed to, we had lunch. Uncle Russ (shown here, to the right of my dad) took all of us out for pizza.

South Lake Tahoe is pretty resort-oriented. Heavenly Ski Resort pretty much dominates the town. It was only a few minutes walk from our hotel, with restaurants and shops, and of course, skiing in the winter.

Corey and Amanda asked me to sing in the wedding, so I attended the rehearsal that afternoon. Here they are miming the tea ceremony that they incorporated into the service. And in case anyone's interested, I ended up singing Widmung and Caro Mio Ben with accompaniments I found on itunes for $.99 each.

Next we headed to the reception at Stateline Brewery. Here Corey and Amanda listen during the many toasts, speeches, and blessings given by their friends and family. The restaurant had several pitchers of beer set up with tasting glasses during the hors d'oeuvre portion of the evening so I got to try a few of the Stateline brews.  

The next morning, still on east coast time, we set off with my parents to explore the lake itself. We drove until we found an access point that looked interesting: Camp Richardson. If I were staying in Lake Tahoe for a while, and if money were no object, I'd rent a cabin at that camp, since they have little vacations houses, a hotel, a general store, ice cream store, cafe, etc. The lake was beautiful and very clean, but also freezing cold. 

We were all surprised by how much the temperature swings in Tahoe; highs around 88, lows around 37! The staff said they found ice on the docks that morning - in August! It was also amazing how quickly it warmed up. By 10:00, the water was warm enough for me to get in without loosing the feeling in my legs.

I tried to run a bit since the sand was so soft, not very rocky, and my foot was pretty sore.*

Next we drove a little further up the highway to find a look out point. Between the steep drops, lack of guard rails, and my motion sickness, the curvy roads scared me and John from going any further. But we did find a place to get out and look at a scenic mountain lake. 

That afternoon we hung out with my brother a bit and relaxed until the wedding started. It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was fun to sing. By that time of day, the sun had started to set and the wind picked up, to the point that I shivered from the cold until after the ceremony was over. We stood for pictures with the happy couple, and then took our cocktails down to the beach for small-scale family photos. 

Andrew and Nora:

Another one of John's GQ photos.

Me and my brother. We look so unlike one another, how can anyone tell we're related?

Dad stood back during the photos and enjoyed a cigar.

We also had some fun during cocktail hour with the props in the photo booth.

The reception was lovely. The bride's mother made amazing flower arrangements and so many other detailed, personal touches. I took a picture of the favors the next day. Each place setting had a tea cup, and those pink flowers are tissue wrapped around a serving of Korean green tea. Corey and Amanda both spent the last year teaching English in Korea, so all the tea references in the ceremony and reception acknowledged their time there. 

Corey warned me in advance that they wouldn't have any veg entrees at the reception, but I had more than enough to eat: big green salad, au gratin potato casserole, broccolini, and a great pasta salad. And of course I suffered through some wedding cake while John ate some pie.

Once the dancing started, John jumped up to express himself physically, and I danced for a bit, until my foot hurt too much.* They had fun glow sticks and necklaces/bracelets for the dance portion.

Earlier in the weekend, my mom bought tie die sweatshirts that say "Lake Tahoe, CA" for me, my Aunt Clare, and herself. So after the send off (with sparklers!), we put on our sweatshirts (good for evening Tahoe temps) and took a few, finale photos before heading back to the hotel. 

We had such a nice time on this trip. It's been great having excuses to see all our relatives so often in the same year. But who knows - maybe John and I will get jobs in the Pacific northwest and we'll see Clare and family more often! I'm still trying to convince Corey's younger brother Zach, a senior in high school, that he should go to IU next year.

*I injured my foot not long before we left for Tahoe. I'm still waiting to hear back about exactly what's wrong, but it looks like I may have taken a trip down stress fracture lane. More on that later.