Training Thursday Week 3

Technically this is week 4, but we were sick last week and had to cancel our lesson, so I'm going with this being Week 4 LESSON 3.

During out week 2 lesson, we met in a public place so Helene could see how Matthew interacted with people and distractions. He did really well. Me, not as well. I am so on edge when it comes to Matthew being in public because SE Guide Dogs told me that Matthew displayed aggressive tendencies towards other dogs, so I'm always freaked that he's going to see another dog and just go ballistic. But we didn't come across any other dogs, and he did fine. BUT...there was this bird, this white ibis that flew in front of us while we were walking and Matthew lurched after it, and my initial reaction was one of PANIC!! Matthew lurched, I screamed, and Helene sort of laughed. It was then that I think she decided that I needed to see Matthew actually put in a controlled situation with other dogs. She didn't tell me her grand plan then, but later that week when we talked to set up our next lesson she told me that's what she wanted to do. She wanted me to bring Matthew to a neutral place, and interact with her 2 dogs. One big black German Shepherd, and one small dominate Jack Russell Terrier. She sensed the hesitation in my voice, and said if I thought I wasn't ready, we could wait. ME?? Not ready? BRING IT ON! Tongue Out

We arrived at our destination and I snapped a quick picture. We were both happy, though inside I was a bundle of nerves. Would my dog rip out the throat of another dog? What would happen? OMG OMG OMG!!! But I didn't have too long to think about it because Helene arrived right on time, and we were off working. She came dog-less and first off she wanted to see how Matthew and I were working together on our heel. We passed that test pretty easily Wink She said she was satisfied with the control I had over Matty, so she was going to go and get her German Shepherd first. SE Guide Dogs said that while Matthew had dog aggression, he particularly had dog aggression with SMALL dogs, so we were going to start with the big dog first.

I put Matthew in the back seat of my truck and Helene brought out her pup, Talon. I greeted Talon, and then took his leash from Helene and she went and got Matthew.

We kept the dogs at a good distance for a short time, and then gradually brought them closer together, with Helene carefully observing Matthew's body language. After a minute (literally, it was very quick) we brought the dogs together. They said hello, they sniffed, there was no growling, no hair raising, no aggressive signs AT.ALL. I even felt confident enough to handle both dogs at the same time.

We let them sniff and mull over each other for about 20 minutes. No reaction from Matthew at all. Helene decided it was time to get the little dog (Kaiser), so off she went to transfer them out, and up went my anxiety level!

I could tell as Helene was bringing Matthew up that he was apprehensive. She told me she could feel it from him as well, and that he was looking to me for cues on what he should do, so I should try to remain calm and praise him as he approached. We brought the dogs together and a little bit of hair went up on the back of Matthew's neck. Nothing to bad, and Helene had him and I had Kaiser, so I was following her cue's and she let the dogs come together. Matthew apparently displayed some dominate traits by placing his head over the little dog (I totally missed this, that's why she is the PRO!!) and then he completely turned his back to Kaiser. There was very little butt sniffing going on, no friendly greetings like with Talon. Every few minutes Matthew would turn back around and sniff, then turn back around. But he was visibly nervous. And at one point there was a little something something happening, but Helene quickly picked up on it and we separated the pups before there was any sort of incident.

So, in a nutshell. Matthew DOES NOT HAVE DOG AGGRESSION!! Matthew has dog anxiety, but it's something that we can work on and likely get him over it. Eventually we will have Helene's dogs over to my house and the dogs will have a controlled play date in my backyard. And I thought I was a helicopter parent with my trio. Surprised

Then we worked on the sit/stay. Matthew did AWESOME, so I practiced with him when we got home.  I did it just like Helene taught me with keeping him on leash, shaking the leash, had the kids distract him while he was in a sit/stay on leash and he did great. So I bought out the big leash, big bone and distracting kids. AND HE ROCKED IT!

And then I was feeling VERY brave and I brought Matthew to football/cheerleading tonight. We walked a mile around the field with stops to practice sit/stay. We did encounter one other dog, and despite me telling the dude WE ARE WORKING RIGHT NOW, he let his dog on a long retractable leash come running up to us. Matthew let the dog smell him, but I could tell he had enough and just as I was about to pull us away, Matthew gave a little growl and the dude invited us to the dog park. Undecided Really?? Couldn't ya tell that neither me or my dog wanted to be there?? I pulled a Matthew and just turned my back to the dude and off we walked in the other direction. When we saw him again about an hour later, I took a very wide berth and didn't make any eye contact. Cool I need to get Matthew his working dog vest so that people will leave us alone! I understand that he's so big, and so beautiful, but if people aren't going to listen to my words, maybe they'll realize the working vest and give us our space!

Homework this week: continue with our heel, easy walk, sit/stay AND I need to start focusing on Matthew's body language, trying to pick up his cue's when he's happy, stressed, that I can better interpret when he might need to be removed from a stressful "dog situation."

And that's that. I love my dog.

Do you take your dog to the dog park?? Does it make you anxious?

Experience the Expedition with Endeavor Racing

Participating in the Project Athena Keys Race to Recovery in November, 2012 was life changing in more ways than one. Not only did PA teach me the 8 Essential Elements of Human Synergy (TEAMWORK), they taught me that in order to experience change one must be challenged; step outside that proverbial comfort zone.   I don’t remember ever being physically challenged when I was growing up. Mental challenges, sure; all the time.  I’m 41 years old, and now that I’ve hit the middle part of my life, I am physically challenging myself every single day.  I met a lot of amazing people on my PA adventure, had a lot of interesting conversations, but one conversation stuck with me throughout my trek,  then followed me back home,  and continued to taunt me until I knew I had no choice but to follow through with it. Tongue Out

On night two of our adventure, I had a chat with one of our “trail angels.” This man is an amazing athlete and he volunteered his own time and expertise to help make sure we completed our adventure. He’s an Army Ranger, and does some sort of “hush-hush” work with the government.  Some would call him intimidating.  And he is. But he’s also generous and inspiring. It was during our conversation that I learned that there existed this whole “other world” of racing. Being a newbie in the fitness world, I knew of races like triathlons, and marathons, and events like the Warrior Dash and off-road runs (like the one I did at Honeymoon Island in 2012), but I thought that this is where it stopped. But I was wrong; oh so wrong! This “other world” in racing is called Expedition/Adventure Racing. And it sounded totally amazing and totally up my alley!

Mr. Army Ranger told me of his exploits as an expedition racer.  And I also learned that the leader of the Project Athena Foundation, Robyn Benincasa is a world class expedition athlete,  a two-time Adventure Racing World Champion, and two-time Guinness World Record distance kayaker. I got tips and lessons from the best there is!!

Adventure racing is a combination of two or MORE endurance sports/skills and can last anywhere from a few hours (sprint) to more than 10 days!! Athletes often find themselves cross-country running, mountain biking, paddling, climbing, and using other rope skills. They often also have to be pretty dang good navigators, as the course is typically not marked.  Project Athena had provided me with my first taste of an expedition race and I was hooked. I biked, I ran, I paddled, and I pushed myself in order to change myself. And I worked as part of a team. Expedition races are comprised of TEAMS of people. Depending on the event you choose, you will have specific rules to follow regarding how you set up your teams.

But I’m getting off on a tangent here.

Mr. Army Ranger told me that he thought I was a pretty good expedition racer for never having done this sort of thing before, and he gave me the name of a man he knew in Tampa that hosted Expedition/Adventure races and told me I should contact him when we returned from the Keys.

When we returned from the Keys, life happened. First it was Thanksgiving, then the kids all caught Influenza A , then it was Christmas, then the new year, then Haley’s birthday, etc, etc, etc., and this man’s name slipped from my mind, but the idea of expedition racing didn't.  By sheer chance I heard his name again during a cycle class.  My ears perked up, and suddenly this mystery man’s name was forever ingrained in my brain.

I came home from cycle class and immediately looked him up on Google, found the name of his company, friended them on Facebook and sent him a Facebook message.

And that is the L.O.N.G. story (and honestly I left a lot out) on how I got connected with Kip Koelsch, owner of Endeavor Racing and a phenomenal expedition racer himself!

Kip invited me to attend the Citrus Trail Marathon series on March 17, 2013. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t grow up being physically challenged. I don’t want that for my children. I want them to push their body, to know what it feels like to work hard, AND have fun while they are doing it. I asked Kip if I could bring along one of my children to participate in the race as well. When he graciously said YES, I knew I’d immediately bring Ella, my little 7 year old runner, and we signed up for the 4 mile course.

Ella and I trained together, and she trained alone. Together we ran on the Cypress Creek Trail near our home, and alone she ran a one mile loop through our neighborhood. She was ready, she was excited, and before we knew it, the time for the race was upon us!

We woke up bright and early on St. Patrick’s Day to make the commute to Citrus County. It was a cold morning, in the upper 40's at our house, but as we traveled north, I watched the temperature drop, the elevation increase, and the the fog move in. Ella and I chatted, and she fiddled with her iPod.

Dressed in our green shirts and black pants, we made it to our destination with about 25 minutes to spare! Thankfully we had our jackets to help keep us warm.  Also, since this was a trail run, I knew liquids would be limited, so I made the decision to wear my Camelbak, though only filled it with 50L of water instead of the 100L that it can hold. I have NEVER run with it before, only cycled and paddled, but I figured the "nothing new on race day" would not pertain to this race since I would be going at a 7 year old's pace.

We checked in, I met Kip in person, dropped my jacket and we were off!

This course was so well marked! There was virtually no chance of missing a turn-off!

And notice Ella has her jacket off. And her gloves. My Camelbak came in handy for more than just water! I also ended up toting her gear! Totally fine Smile

Once Ella got comfortable with her body temperature, she found her pace, and we were making really good time! We quickly came upon our first aid/water station. It was a 7 year old's delight! But I reminded her that we were racing for time, so take a quick water and let's go!

She was having so much fun she even danced along to her music! She never complained, she never lost her footing, she never said "I can't do this" or "this is too hard." She just ran, and laughed, and danced. And that my friends is what it is all about. Teaching our children that exercise is FUN and that they can do anything!


We kept following signs, and quickly the finish line was upon us. Ella stopped running when she saw the sign that said "finish line left." I always stayed a few paces behind her, so when I saw her stop, I yelled at her, "Ella, give it all you got, the finish line is right up ahead" and wouldn't you know it, that little girl just emptied her tank. She sprinted like I have never seen her sprint and BAM, she was across that finish line! I came in a few seconds behind her.

There was yummy watermelon, cold beer, pizza, cupcakes, bagels, water, and Gatorade for the post-race refreshments. Ella and I both had some watermelon, and she had Gatorade and I had beer.

Beer was provided by Total Air of Tampa. And both Stephanie and Aaron of Total Air were on site, participating in the event; Stephanie did the 10K and Aaron did the Marathon. Local people supporting a local race. Awesome. 

Overall between all the distance events (and there were 4; 4 mile, 10 mile, marathon and 50K) there were approximately 120 runners. It was a nice, family atmosphere. Kids of all ages, and dogs, too :) No dogs on the trail though, or you know I would have brought Matthew!

Endeavor Racing puts on great races, with great prices, and it's a great way to get your kids involved in adventure racing! Their next event is April 13, 2013 and it's a 10K- River N Rapids 10k and a Fun Run, too. Kip invited us back out, but we can't make this race. Frown Haley has a cheerleading competition in Orlando and then Ella and I are running in Iron Girl Clearwater the following day. But if Haley didn't have cheerleading, we'd totally be doing back to back races. Wink

But we will certainly be participating in the Life's A Beach Triathlon in September in Sarasota. The kids will do it, too!! And as other dates for events get announced, I'm hopeful that I'll be able to add them to my packed race schedule, and I'll bring along a kid.

If you are a seasoned expedition racer, or a novice like me, Endeavor Racing has something for you!! From a 4 mile jaunt, to a 50K ass kicking, you should certainly check them out!

Step outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. And never look back.


Getting Social at Social Fresh East 2013

I've been invited to attend the social media conference Social Fresh East 2013, the premier social media conference!! Lucky for me that this conference takes place in Tampa, so no need to make airline reservations, pack, get a hotel, etc, etc, etc.

There were many things that drew me to this social media event, first and foremost being that they offer a single strand. Having attended a multitude of professional conferences in my pre-blogger days, from NSTA (National Science Teachers Association), to FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education), to going with my husband to SharePoint conferences, I know how difficult it can be to try to choose which strand of a conference you want to attend. I would often get the conference program weeks in advance and try to plan out my days. At 9am I want to hear XYZ speak about children's apps; at 10am it's a toss-up between Reluctant Readers and the Sunshine State Young Readers Association. I would often feel pulled and torn, and honestly it made me feel like I didn't experience the best possible conference I could because I was being torn in so many different directions.

This is where the Social Fresh social media training is different. They offer a SINGLE strand. That means there is NO choosing. You attend what is on the schedule; one choice and that's it! And the list of their guest speakers is fantastic! From highly successful authors, to Directors of Social Media Strategy for major brands like ESPN, Jet Blue, Campbells, Dunkin' Donuts and MORE!! I'm not sure who I am most excited to learn from because they are all so great. I'm just fortunate that as a new blogger I get to soak in the knowledge from such a fantastic group of individuals.

After reviewing the agenda and topic discussions, I think I am most looking forward to hearing from Chris Brogan of Human Business Works. Chris' presentation is entitled "The Impact Equation : Are you making things happen or just making noise?" The discussion abstracts explains that Chris will discuss how people  "were told to 'just get on the social networks' and you'd be successful. Start a Facebook page and you can just start cashing checks. But that didn't happen. Why not? Because you didn't have enough information, and you had too many conflicting goals. The Impact Equation is a simple formula for a complex challenge: getting a unique idea seen by a platform of value, and having that idea be cared about (and responded to) by a community that matters. If you're selling, this is the new digital method (based on thousands of years of offline behavior). If you're promoting, here's how you rise above the noise.  Starting from the big ideas and moving down to actionable "recipe cards" for success, Chris Brogan will share with you the steps you need to rise above the noise."

Having joined the social media world in November 2012, it's presented itself to be much more challenging than I anticipated it would be. I almost pictured Kevin Costner from Field of Dreams: Build it and they will come. I thought I'd set up my social networks and I've have the tens of thousands of followers that some other Facebook fan pages have. I don't know why they do and I don't? I don't see that their content is any "better" than mine. I'm hopeful that this social media training can give me some insight to what I might be doing "wrong" and how I can correct it to make my social media experience not only positive for me, but for my followers as well. As I've mentioned before, I have more advanced degrees than I know what to do with. Tongue Out Attending the Social Fresh Media Conference is my first "class" in my social media degree. And I'm pumped.