Busy is a choice, stress is a choice, joy is a choice, choose well.

Weekends are meant to be full of fun and running, right? We were back to Callendar Country Park and Vogrie Country Park.

Saturday

I always look forward to the weekend, actually I live with the thought that soon there will be the weekend. I have always my weekends free so it means a lot of adventures. Saturday weather wasn’t nice, and my dogs aren’t a big fan of rain. Not the greatest choice of the country to live in.

Falkirk Parkrun is great and quite challenging with hills. People say only one heartbreak hill, but the whole route is up and down. Dog-friendly and when asking if we can start to the front they always allow us as they know it is for the best. I like that a lot, which means we can just fire away from everyone and then pace ourselves nicely with only a few overtaking us.

Laferra loves the starts, she is buzzing to go and really run clean. After not training much I thought this will be a massive challenge, but she ran really well, and not many could overtake us on the first mile. We have finished 12th overall, which means we are progressing and our time is more consistent now. It seems last few weeks we keep 5km easily under 21 min. Time to push a bit more now.

It is great to see photos after the event, as you can really see how much she enjoys it (me not so much!).

Cake and coffee time

Afterwards, we went for a nice walk with friends to Canada Woods, which I know quite well from MTB riding there. Canada Wood is a five-minute drive from the town centre situated in the rural countryside of Falkirk and boasts beautiful panoramic views towards the Ochil hills. Nice surroundings with woody paths, dogs just love it. You can do a short loop or longer loop. Therefore there are many paths to explore and you pass a lot of farmland, so if your dogs are like Roger The Chaser, I would keep them on leads. Luckily the sun came out so it was great to enjoy it. After a good walk, all the “humans” deserved the coffee right?! Canada Woods Kitchen serves anything you would want from nice breakfast up to great cakes and coffee. The great thing about this place is that it is dog-friendly so you can have furry baby with you inside. As it was sunny, we have decided to sit outside. Nice staff brought us our orders outside, which I like too as some places expect you to wait inside for taking your own order outside. I have checked the website and it doesn’t say it is dog-friendly, but it defo is. I think I had the best fruit scone ever.

Sunday fun

We were back to Vogrie Country Park. There are 11.5 miles of signed countryside paths through woodlands and the Tyne Valley.

After rainy and sunny Saturday, I didn’t expect a snow at all. We arrived there and there was at least an inch of snow. I had a great walk with Roger.

I think his feet were freezing as he was running around me on a lead. He is a funny boy!

Celebration

Two years ago I went to Vogrie Country Park and had a blast at my first canicross with Cani-Sports Edinburgh with Roger. I have decided to be back in February and celebrate my 2 years in the sport by running. Being a part of the Akobe TAM Marathon community, Laferra and I ran her first 6 miles, her longest run at only 19months old. Oh, Laferra pulled all the way around. We had a blast stopping talking to walkers, stopping for cuddles and talking to other runners. I had a blast on this sunny frozen Sunday! Great 1-2-1 with my girl to have just fun canicrossing, no pressure of racing (we did want she wanted and whenever she wanted)! We have collected our Titch medal  

Weekend

During one weekend we had any kind of weather, what a great fun! Love that kind of weekends, when we can do whatever we want. It is great to live in Edinburgh as within only 20-30min drive you get to very pretty places. After all that I had two very happy and tired dogs. In four days we are heading to Thetford Forest for 2nd round British National Championship. I am super excited.

 

 

 

Storm Challenge- Team AKobE Marathon Community- my wee story

I have no idea, what I have thought but I have signed for Storm Challenge that was organised by AKobe Tam Marathon boss David Parry.

About the challenge

Quote from Team AKobe Marathon community:

To earn yours then run or walk 5k a day for 7 consecutive days within 6 months of receipt of your medal. You can do this solo or by canicross. No bikes allowed for this challenge.

The only target is to complete the distance each day & to try your best to improve your time each day. There are no time targets just move forward raise your heart rate & sweat a bit & enjoy a wee bit o pain x

So I signed for this in September, so it took me some time to finally start it. Now I know why it took me so long. 5km every sounds like an easy idea?! It wasn’t that easy. Here are my 7 days challenges.

Day 1

Day 1 was very easy, training time with Laferra so we went to our local training area and did two loops in total of 22:25 minute. She was a star and very keen to go. It was very muddy and wet, so I am super chuffed with what we have done.

Day 2

Well Friday is usually my day off any activities, so we took the walking part on board and there I had a thought. Roger hasnt been canicrossing for some time due to harness rubbing his belly. I have decided to try and give Roger a chance to run with Laferra and I off lead (he has zero recall), so literally brilliant idea to exercise and do some training with cheeky monkey. I decided on power walk. 52:13min of total freedom for dogs. I didn’t have a “heart attack” as Roger stayed with us all the time. I like that Laferra always looks after him. It seems to be successful power walk and off lead training for Rogerowski. I was delighted and had hope.

 

Day 3

Our usual training on Saturday is attending a parkrun with Laferra and try our best. Recently my princess became more anxious and started looking behind her when canicrossing. We went to Vogrie Parkrun, as it is very dog-friendly and there is almost zero tarmac. I didn’t get 100% of Laferra, so I needed to push a bit myself on those hills. Even tho it wasn’t really bad time of 20:53. Not superb and I am still desperate for our first sub 20 on non-flat course, but I am glad we do mistakes during training, so I can adjust our training. I want to make sure she feels confident when racing. We will get there.

Day 4

It was very wet and rainy day, but nothing will stop me from having fun with my dogs. Early start and I am super excited to try Roger off lead again. Today decided we will all run. It was going well until going into woods and I see Roger running away and dropping his ball. I stand and wait what happens. Laferra follows Roger, but I use my whistle and she comes back straight away. No sign of Roger so I whistle again and there he is coming back super excited. Well is this Roger’s recall now? I decided we continue our running as I wanted to discover new trails for our training. Oh, wait! Dogs are gone again. I stand and starting to feel frustrating as we were going nowhere with that speed. I call Laferra and decide we go back to car to drop off naughty Roger. Oh, wait Laferra runs back super happy and I see she brings Roger back too. Is that her looking after him and telling him let’s go back?! Anyways I decided I had enough and it was girls time now. She is just amazing off lead, even if I don’t see her for a bit usually max a minute she always comes back. Oh how much fun we had and we discovered amazing trails for bikejor! Hopefully we will try them next week.

Day 5

Unfortunately I have no dog walk today so I decided I will try 5km walk on lead with the dogs, as Laferra doesn’t really know how to walk on a lead, she could easily walk on the street if she could (she has no clue that cars can hit her). Brilliant idea! We walked and walked and walked. OMG I have never thought walking 5km is such a long distance! Do I really run that far?!Oh and how far I need to go around my neighbourhood to really do the 5km! I feel shattered now and hopefully manage those two rascals to be tired too. It was great start to the day and I might continue in future (usual routine is: go to park, let them off lead and I just stand and watch-not much walking for me). I did let them off lead but I kept walking around. The conclusion of the day: Laferra is brilliant off lead, but wow she has no clue about differences between pavement and street.

Day 6

Today was time to discover new trails again. I love to make it excited for my dogs so we go to different locations. It was time for Dechmont Law in West Lothian. What a great run with princess, it supposed to be speed, recover and speed again. However if you train with Louise Mitchell it turns to speed, hills reps and speed run. Totally flat out at the end. We did just over 3 miles, and Laferra was superb. I discovered that when I am flat out she starts to keep looking, so maybe it isn’t really being nervous it is more the kind of look: come on mama let’s go faster?! Oh well who knows. She didn’t look as much so looking forward to see how she behaves at the parkrun on Saturday. Total of 26:24 minutes done.

Day 7

Time for last day of the challenge. It has been long 7 days and very challenging! However we did it! I was super busy all day with organising stuff for our team and maanged a half day off. I never thought it will be so hard to find an hour to actually do full 5km. We did it eventually and used it to check the trails for potential bikejor rides.

Amazing finish to the day and this challenge. I don’t think pups are so keen on the medal tho, but I am super excited one!

 

 

 

Well done Pups.

Love for sled dog sport? Planning new dog?

I presume most of you watch the Dog Power Movie? If not, please watch it. It is only 25 minutes and it is defo worth if you are looking for a dog for the sport.

My story

I have been reading a lot around and hearing a lot of questions from people regarding hounds or greyster which are great breeds and dogs for the sport. I have followed a lot of groups and forums to get to know the breed but let me tell you my story first.

As you may know I started my adventure with canicross in February 2016 with Roger. Great pullying dog. I thought this will be an additional fun hobby we can do together. How wrong I was?! I was so hooked after my first run that I went home and signed for my first race in April 2016. Despite I hated running. Roger loved it and he was very tired that afternoon. Our first race was with CSS in Plean Country Park. It was very challenging and hilly route, but I loved it even more. That time I discovered that it isn’t just canicross that’s there but there are more to this whole crazy thing. Yes, I was hooked and excited. Literally, I was buzzing after talking to so many folks and meet very good athletes. I started doing my research into the sport.

First proper season

I have decided to compete around UK with Roger and see how things look like and where we stand. I discover that a lot of folks have pointers in the sport, but also dogs specially breed for the sport called eurohound or greyster. I always dreamed about having two dogs so I started to think maybe I could get a pointer and be a bit more speedy than just 22 minutes per 5k with Roger.

I started looking for another dog, that I thought could make me faster. I have trained every day so hard to improve my running. In September 2016 I have enquired about pointer puppy in Greece. To make whole story short Laferra arrived to Scotland in October 2016. This was my first experience with a pointer breed. I read a lot about that they are energetic and full beans, but later on I learnt what that really means. As I am qualified behaviorist I was very confident that I will manage no problem. Laferra was only 4.5 months old and not really house-trained. Personally, it was my first puppy that I needed to teach what is the world.

Basic training started from day one, as I really wanted her to be spot on with everything to make my life easier, as Roger being an older rescue is very high demanding (separation anxiety, behavioral problems and reactive). I always knew staffies don’t understand your personal space, but later I have learnt that pointers are even worst. So house-training became and it was smooth, she was one clever girl. On the other hand, she was a nightmare to be left alone or in Roger’s companion. Laferra was loving to chew two things: socks and plastic things. Constantly something was chewed and I started to worry that something might happen to her. I don’t believe in crates and unfortunately, that wasn’t an option (Roger hates crate so he has access to the whole house, so I couldn’t just close Lafie).

Back to basics

I have started saying to myself she is only a puppy so I presume she will grew up from this stupid chewing. Later on I discover others pointers’ owners had the same issues, but dogs grew up from it. Ok she is only a baby. Laferra learnt quickly to do her “business” outside (very quick actually) and her recall was brilliant! I trusted her everywhere and she wasn’t even bothered when she met a horse on our walk one day. I thought fantastic I have a brilliant pet that I can trust being let off lead!

She was growing super fast and Roger loved her more and more. I could see that he liked to have her around. However, every day coming back home there was evidence that she found something and chewed. I gave up on “5min per month” rule and started really making her tired on walks but also playing games like I do with Roger. You can read a bit more here. It started to work, she finally stopped most of the time, but she was growing and being tall she could reach to the places she shouldn’t be even interested in. The kitchen counter got hoovered so many time and I knew Roger was delighted with her being able to reach there as she shared everything with him. I still kept saying to myself she is only a puppy.

However, being a puppy and being a pointer puppy was a bit different. For Laferra one day of me being lazy (meaning not playing a game or proper long-running off lead walk), she literally destroyed things mainly my clothes: lines, necks, zips and so on. She was bored where I was hoping she would sleep.

Old enough for more running

In 2017 I have discovered bikejor so I started training that with Roger, but to get skills I started riding bike on my own. I thought brilliant as Laferra is great off lead I can take her with me and she could get the activities that she needed. She was old enough to start doing it and be my trail dog.

I was learning myself and building up my fitness but Laferra had the best time ever and she could go for a long time. Our rides were minimum of 10 miles every time we went out. I was gutted that Roger couldn’t join us, but tough life if you have a zero recall. Anyways finally princess stopped all the chewing and she was tired sleeping when left alone. You probably want to ask how do I know this? I watched my dogs on camera while at work, just to make sure they are not stressed. The only problem was that I couldn’t ride a bike everyday I needed to do something with Roger too.

Running around

Laferra learnt canicross, being a bikejor dog and pull the scooter around. I always thought Roger was high demanding, but he was tired after 20 minutes training, where Laferra could go again and always tried to play with him at home. I thought she is young so she must have a lot of energy, but at 19 months old now she has even more energy.

My life changed a lot having her, I wake up 4.30-5am to make sure I go out there let them off lead and let them run around before I head to work. Usually, they have a dog walker during the day who takes them for an hour walk which is usually off lead walk and finally in the evening we drive outside Edinburgh to train: canicross, bikejor or scooter, or just me running with Laferra being off lead. Only Friday is my day that I don’t do anything with the dogs in the evenings (well we clean the house, which is great fun with two barking dogs). If one day I am being lazy and ruin the routine I come back to chewed things! And Laferra isn’t a puppy anymore.

Note: Laferra doesn’t understand personal space at all as per below photo ( you wake up to this).

Sled dog sport

I started my story to show you that a pointer changed so much my life as she has so much more energy than Roger or any other dog really. She also made me super busy with making sure she gets rid of this crazy energy.

Now being in the sport for 2 years, I started looking and learning about those “special breeds” for the sport. There are a lot of folks out there with those dogs, a lot of forums and groups on facebook that talks about them. However, I felt it was just talks and people opinions, I wanted to know the truth. As you know I had a brilliant opportunity and qualified to go to the IFSS World Championship in Poland (you can read here about it). I met with so many breeders but also athletes who own those dogs. This trip allowed me to watch the dogs at home (I stayed with few in the same accommodation) but also I could watch them during the big event racing or just sitting at the stake out.

IFSS World Championship gave me the chance to meet so many those pretty puppies but also see those adult dogs in action. They all were fantastic, strong and very keen to run, no matter if it was canicross or four dog team. Fantastic to watch but I thought there must be something more to it. I started talking around and surprisingly people were happy to share their experience. I discovered that those breeds can vary in mix of the breeds they have already and this mix was changing the way dogs behaved. All those breeds are full of energy, and I knew this kind of dog means more than Laferra herself.

On forums and groups you can read how much they destroy and how difficult they are to be left alone in crate. I know different dogs are different, but people told me it is a tough life to own one of those dogs, they really need attention. In case of the greyster they also need some attention as they love being around people. After few discussion I can easily say that those dogs cant be just pet, you need to train them every day. Canicross isn’t enough for them, and also they are that strong that running in a harness isn’t an option for every day training, so you need to do a lot bikejor and scooter- be brave enough as the speed you can go is crazy. Couple athletes in Poland told me that if I ever decided on that kind of dog I will need to make sure I am prepared for life to change (and there was me thinking, Laferra changed my life enough), otherwise this dog will ruin my house no matter if it is greyster or eurohound. A few of those dogs are only one person dogs, so not really a family dogs either. A lot to take on board before you decided about them.

I am not trying to put you off! I just want that people realize that those dogs are pretty and amazing runners, but there is more to just looking pretty athletes! In my case, how would my dog walker cop with having a greyster on a group walk pullying him?! This is just an example. Do your research, it took me a year to collect all the facts until now and I am still learning every day about them. I use the opportunity to go to different events to spend time with those dogs and their owners. I love to get to know them and see how really different they are.

One more thing before you get bored reading this. Those dogs breed for the sport and there are a lot of wonderful breeders with a long waiting list, but to have a confident and super athlete you need to put a lot of effort and train it correctly! What’s the recipe? Noone knows and you can only try and do as I tried with Laferra (I am still learning that recipe!).

I hope you enjoyed this post and have a better idea! I would defo recommend doing your own homework. Laferra is only pointer, no more crazy breeds in there and one day I was thinking Roger is high demanding right?! There are a lot of things to take into consideration when willing to buy a sled dog and bring it to your house.

For now I just focus on Laferra and Roger, They are both great for the sport and I feel it is great progress for me. Starting canicross at 30min with Roger and going down to 22min and with Laferra down to around 19:30min. I think I am on the right track, slow progress and improvment. I have learnt a lot about other breeds for the sport and still have plenty to learn.

 

 

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.

This post will be all about training how when and why from my own experience and my own opinion what I would have done differently and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning

Let’s say it loud there is no one right recipe for how to teach the dog  how to canicross. There are a lot of  knowledgeable folks there who are happy to share their experience, but there is no right or wrong way. You need to find the way that will work for your dog.

Roger and his start was the easiest job ever! He is a natural puller, harness on, bungee attached and he is off! He is smart cookie so knows the commands very well. Yes, 2 years old dog and he knew very quickly what to do. Roger was just getting better with every training. I knew I could trust him 100% when running.

On the other hand, Laferra was a puppy when she landed on my doorstep. I had no clue what to do and why. I have search internet, talk to folks and really couldn’t find the perfect recipe for training the dog from zero. It was a really good lesson for her. Let’s start from the beginning then.

Puppy training

You look around on youtube, Instagram and facebook and a lot of top athletes from sled dog sport are starting training their puppies at age of 7-8 months. They run them for 0.5-1mile canicross or even bikejor. I felt for Lafie it is too early and I wanted her to be a puppy for as long as possible. Usually, the start time for dogs according to race rules is they need to be 12 months old for canicross and 18months for bikejor and scooter. I have decided to just make her familiar with a harness so she was running off lead with harness on. I also focused my training on 100% recall of lead as I knew I would train her off lead on bike for her fitness and take her up the mountains when I was out with my MTB pals. We did well there, she has 100% recall! I know you think: not a chance. Well, I have tested it with having fox, horse and deer on the way!

Older puppy

I was super excited to finally start working with her, but I haven’t rushed to anything. At 10months old, we started doing power walk with canicross equipment. She was all over the place. Comparing to Roger she was just daft. We continue that even tho it was very frustrating at times as she wasn’t really good at focusing and listening what I tell her. She just wanted to say hi and be best friends with every single dog. I have never tried her with Roger either, and I know some did. It worked for them, pro-dog teaching new dog. In my case, I wanted to make her confident on her own as she is very shy and submissive dog. We just continue the training, she was more interested in birds and stops when she could cuddle with me. It was frustrating every single time. Now I only laugh at it as she is such a baby.

My teenage dog

She turned 12 months and we started doing more during the run, which was much easier than power walking due to that there was less time for her to get distracted. Finally, she started to understand what is this all about. Training was going really great until our first race! Our first race (first race report is here), Laferra thought we will do exactly what we did at training and we will stop for cuddles. Oh! Princess, we need to run to the finish line! Not successful but we finished our first race.

Racing

Although training was going well I discover that she didn’t understand the 5km distance and stop at the finish line (not when she felt like it). I realized all this few months I did it wrong. I didn’t build her for distance. Don’t take me wrong, she was fit to run it or even longer. It was just her head not ready for 22 minutes constant run or even other dogs on the trails. She was 15 months already so I really felt like I wasted time. It was time for changing the game, or at least I thought I did. Another race and unfortunately another fail (you can read here). We didn’t finish the race and I never give up. I was devastated and very upset that I really tried to prepare her.

I had two months to make sure she is ready as I already committed to going to IFSS World Championship (you can read about it here). After few days having a break from all the running, I sat and wrote a plan.

The new plan which changed the game

I knew that my dogs don’t care about winning or loosing, they just want to run with me. I just couldn’t disappoint them myself. Laferra and I started building up the speed and the distance at that speed. We ran 1 mile! Next week we did 2 miles and so on. I started doing more of 1-2miles with her on scooter or bike. She was loving it. Eventually after few years saying I will never go to parkrun, we went to parkrun and ran it. It was amazing to see how she cops with all the people, noise and distraction.

She was just amazing and I could see all these worked for her, which showed at the World Championship that it was all worth the patient. The time we spent together also build fantastic bonding between us. I have learnt one thing, if one training doesn’t work try something different. Dogs are different. She loves running and her harness.

Reward

Yes, I had an easy life with Roger, but the most rewarding with Laferra. I feel very emotional when we go out there and race. She just loves it. It isn’t always perfect, as you always learn something new right?! Sometimes we go back to basic or a small thing makes her distracted. However, at only 19months coming all the way from Greek streets, she really grew up to a fantastic “sled dog”. I am looking forward to our future and more competition. We both have fun and that what’s matter most.

What I would do different?

I think this time I would make sure Laferra is more familiar with wheels from early stages of her life. Even just putting it near her feeding place. She is brilliant MTB and with scooter, but she isn’t 100% sure about bike. Probably also would make her more familiar with hydration after training as she hates drinking water after training or race (no clue why). Finally, I would defo allow her runnning free when I did training with Roger on wheels or just canicross. She would have watched the wee pro doing it perfectly. Maybe this would help me to have less time being frustrated.

I probably wouldn’t attach her to bike or just run with both of them, but would defo want her to see more of Roger in action. Maybe two dog scooter one day! I presume she would love to have Roger with her during training now.

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Note: here are other posts which has some tips on training.

 

 

Training training- what’s important in the sled dog world

I have been in sport 2 years now and I can’t believe how much I learn in those few months and how many new friends I have made. I would like to share with you my own experience what to do and why you should train it with your dogs. Note: this is only my own opinion, experience and knowledge.

The start line

There is more then just to go to start line and get ready for your run. If your dog is like mine, you need to control them well as Laferra could easily give me the penalty. Roger on the other hand like to sniff, pee on everything and say hi to every marshal around start line. This is important. I try to keep my two near me and just let them go on “go”.

Saturday 08.01.18 British BSSF Series 1 – 2.

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Surprisingly as per video, we did brilliantly at the start at BSSF race.

The finish line

Agata finishing on Saturday BSSF Race 1

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

As you can see from video at a lot of events there are those mats and funnel to the vet checks and RM. Laferra was funny about any noise or people at the start line but mainly finish line was a struggle. I went to parkrun as the funnel is getting narrow and there are folks standing around. It is defo something to train to make sure your dog finishes confidently on a tight line which isn’t always the case for us.

On the trails

At the IFSS World Championship, we have a lot of distraction on the trails: talking people, photographers very close to trails or even halfway through a person with a walkie-talkie and beeping machine to check athletes. This is challenging to practice, but we went to Christmas Parkrun and guess what, we passed many marshalls with bells around. Great practice for Laferra.

On the other hand on the trails, you can catch another athlete or be caught by another athlete. Roger has no problem with these at all, however Laferra as a sensitive soul has a lot of struggle with this. She likes to overtake and go away, but she hates when someone catches us and sticks to my heels. She is better than she used to be, as in past she would totally lose her focus, where now she continues to run but she keeps looking at me and the person/dog behind, which means she doesn’t run 100%.

Overtaking

This is one of the challenges while on trails. Most races on the first day aren’t staggered so there is big chance you will get caught by fast one or you will catch slower ones. Laferra is brilliant in overtaking, not even looking once at the dog, but she sometimes struggles when being overtaken. She likes to say hi or look at the other dog, which isn’t ideal and could potentially take as to be DSQ.

Training

Training is there to do mistakes, but sometimes it is just hard to prepare for anything. From where we have been with Laferra in September to where we are now is such a difference and I believe I did great training with her. We are upgrading to more training on wheels now, which means she doesn’t have as much time to think about things around. Hopefully, this will give her even more confidence when out on trails.

Happy training and practising.  

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”

Christmas! Christmas and it is over now. So this year I wasn’t off work, which was a bit weird as I love to spend it at work. Anyways. There was no snow, so a bit disappointed, but the weather was good enough (or that what I believe in) to do things with dogs.

Parkrun at Vogrie Country Park

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, outdoor and nature

First time ever I have decided to go and check out the parkrun at Vogrie Country Park which we know quiet well, as it is the place where our sled dog sports adventure started. It was busy, but they allowed us to start in front. You do 2 loops of same trails and it was amazing. The parkrun is so challenging and distracting for dogs, that was a great experience for Laferra, but she didn’t even look at sides twice. Super proud of her. She is doing so well. We also did well timewise, although I was hoping for sub 20, but we got tangled on a tree and it was a surprisingly hilly course.

Christmas Eve

On a Christmas Eve I took dogs for adventure to Cathkin Brae. Weather was awful but officialy I became a BAM. Follow the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/206832509725490/ if you want to learn more about it. I ran 13.7 miles with Lafie off lead and Roger canicrossing for last 4.5miles. Great fun and super tired two dogs.

After that run I thought I deserved all the ice cream and a wee donut, but I wasn’t so keen on it when I got home.

How do you manage during Christmas

I am lucky as I don’t have many temptations during holidays time for bad food. It must be hard to still go out train and eat healthy with all those Christmasy food around. Do you stick to the plan? Or just eat whatever and being lazy?

I rather stick to plan with maybe tiny expectation of some sweet, but continue with my training schedule or even work harder as I have more time. Jolly of being off work.

Do you spoil your furry babies?

It isn’t just temptation for you, but also for dogs. Do you spoil them with extra treats? I don’t as it might affect them same as us. My dogs get a chewy treat once a week anyways. This year they only got spoiled with toys which they love. A friend of mine showed me best entertaining toy which includes:

These three things make an amazing toy, just check the video below how much Roger and Laferra loved it.

Rest of the Christmas Holidays

We literally spend it as always! Traditional trip to the beach as every year on Christmas Day. I thought going to Portobello would be good as not many people would be out, and it was raining again so a quick run for 2 miles and back home.

We have also stick to the training schedule and work out dogs in harness, which was super excited. Now planning ahead what to do to make dogs chilled and relaxed during New Year fireworks. Watch out for our next post.

 

 

 

 

 

Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.

Christmas time

This is a time of the year that everyone is getting busy with organizing everything for Christmas and arrival of their families. I feel lucky and not lucky that for us it is peace and quiet time and this year I have decided to even take 3 days off work. Even if you are busy don’t forget to squeeze training with your pups, it will only take max an hour if you plan it well.

Motivation

Recently my motivation has been playing around. I am very motivated for doing the training, but not necessarily sticking to my usual healthy diet which is probably not helping in sleeping, recovering and training performance. I know it and that makes it worst. It is hard as it is my birthday month and we love to eat for Christmas.

I feel a bit lost and trying really hard to get back on with eating less sugar than I really need. Surprisingly day after my birthday I felt like I have massive hungover. Hah! I don’t drink alcohol so it was definitely sugar hungover. I felt really awful. Do you think I learn from that? Yes, I went shopping and bought zero sugar! Is that me back on track? We shall see. This time of the year is tempting all of us with nice tasty (not good for us) food. Stay strong, it will pay back.

Equipment for dogs

Changing the subject. Finally, I have managed to find a place to try jacket for Laferra and first time ever decided I will not buy it online.

Lafie is one happy dog ready for winter coming. I must say I am very surprised even tho I have seen it before, but Hurtta quality is just amazing. I wish I can have that good quality jacket. Bring on winter as I am looking forward to try and test this summit park with Laferra in different conditions. Say no to shivering pup. It is black with nice orangish adds to it and has high visibility reflectors. I think it really suits Laferra (I am not biased hehe). Review to follow.

On that note

 

Team LaRogata is wishing you all the best for Christmas and New Year when it comes. Keep positive and dream big! Our 2018 will be busy and some exciting news coming (hopefully!) 🙂

 

 

The IFSS World Championship 2017 in Poland- “Winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.”

The IFSS World Championship

We are back and I can’t get over it is over. Probably that why I can’t find the motivation to write about it too. I just refused that it has finished. However, so many people asked me how was it so I think it is time to share with you the truth.

The long trip

From Scotland to Poland is a long way, I can’t believe that my parents drove to Scotland twice, yeah they did it twice. From Edinburgh, I drove to meet my road trip buddy Kim in England. We left Roger with his arranged nannies for 10 days, and Laferra and I went away. I have decided to stop every 2 hours to let her stretch legs, make her drink water and have a walk together around. This was just perfect as it took us just over 6h to take to Kim, so 3 stops and I was buzzing.

I must admit services on the way to England are amazing, they have so many dog walking areas. Laferra was enjoying being the only dog too.

Kim and Mark were so nice, so we could stay at theirs until next day when Kim and I were finally leaving UK for Poland. What a great place is the Forest of Dean!

Laferra got to know her road trip buddy Dusan. I knew she will fall in love with him, such a handsome dog he is. And as I discovered later she looked like mini Dusan!

England-Eurotunnel-Poland

I was buzzing all the way, I have never felt tired or even tried to close my eyes.

Eurotunnel is just an amazing to cross with dogs, easy to find the ways, dog-friendly having a massive fenced place to let them run around.

We even had a takeaway dinner in the wooden shelter while dogs were running around. I was surprised they never checked dogs’ passport on the way to France.

Here we are in France, first time ever I am driving with a dog abroad. I am super excited and even buzzing more. The weather was awful as it was raining all the way, but we have managed and we were delighted to approach Poland just in time for breakfast on Tuesday.

Poland

We had plenty time to rest before even approaching the venue and think of racing. It was fice of us who stayed in the same accommodation. 5 humans and 5 dogs, which was just brilliant for Laferra’s confidence. We even decided to have a wee jaunt around the village so our bodies stretch and started to prepare for the races. I was honoured to run with Ben Robinson and Kim Mazzucca (current World Champs) and Ben’s dad. Oh amazing. This bunch is just great as I have learnt sooo much from all of them including Ben’s dad 😉

Day 1

We were planning chilling again, but there were some issues at stake-out so we went to see the venue, trails, stake-out and the rest of the Team GB. I was overwhelmed with everything and everyone and I haven’t expected it will be such a big event. I heard the numbers but I think seeing it there you just start to feel what you have signed for.

As a Team GB Leader, I have decided to delegate as many tasks as possible, which worked. All tasks for the day done, sorted and I have picked up my card for a vet check.

A great laugh at the accommodation in the evening by the dinner, I don’t feel stressed for racing yet. Susie Tawney joined us too. That’s a full house! Dinner cooked and served, great company, great dogs, what else could we ask for?

Day 2

A bit more issues and tasks from the team, but I am managing so far. Today was Thursday, the first official day of the event as today all the teams were having a vet check. I was a bit stressed but it went all smoothly for our team, the vet group was very nice and friendly. Oh wait! yes, I forgot that Laferra needs to be checked too. Thanks to Someone who reminded me that too. I was worried a bit but ran into a car, grabbed her and we walked to the vet group. They loved her and were so nice and gentle with her. I think she loved them too. Laferra was growing in confidence every day since we left home. I was very proud of her.

Today we could walk the trails too, I have decided not to take Laferra around, so she is a bit suprised whats there ahead of her. Not very technical course with many turns, so I knew she will do fine even tho not knowing directions well.

Thursday was also the day for the official ceremony, which was awesome. In a polish style, there were some traditional music and dancing on stage too. Once again I was honoured to represent Team GB and walk with a flag, but also pick up World Cup medals for Lucy and Colin. I took Laferra with me and she totally rocked the stage.

Tonight my parents also arrived and met the team and finally met my golden girl. It was great to see them, they also stayed until Saturday.

Today I also met finally my “facebook” friends (Kika, Ellie, Kale, Blanka and so on). Amazing to finally be able to talk to my friends.

Day 3

Today was the first official start of the first races. I tried to do my best and be there for team, check on athletes, dogs and sort out other stuff too. Crazy day, but amazing to watch so many big names at the start and finish. I spend all day running between stake-out, race office and start/finish lines. I made sure I saw all the starts for our juniors. Great to be on side and support them. Remember never shout 🙂 at the races!

I haven’t seen my girl all day as Kim offered me that she will look after her. I totally forgot about her during day as I didn’t have a chance to look at my phone. Laferra had a blast with Dusan and was very happy to see me in the late afternoon.

First day races finished, and I thought great this is easy and went smoothly until team GB told me times are missing and so on. Here we go, I thought I can relax but I needed to go back to being a Team GB Leader. Loved it! All issues sorted and yes glad to speak polish!

Day 4

I couldn’t sleep last night, even tho I came back late. I was stressing for my race. It was happening today at 14:22. Dual start, which I have never practiced with Laferra. I was worried as I know she likes to be best friends with everyone.

I was glad to hear that Ellie (Deputy Team Leader) offered me to help so I could focus on my girl and race. Few issues that TL was needed, stressing even more. The weather was awful, rain and a lot of mud around.

I forgot about everything else, starting to be angry due to high stress and nerves kicking in. On my way to start met Kika, a wonder woman who always appeared at the right time. She makes me calmer….

First international race

Time to go to control zone: my legs are like jelly, my head is spinning, I realized that even tho I spend the whole day at the start and finish line I don’t know how it looks like and what I should do there. Time is ticking, my girl doesn’t really know what is happening too, as she didn’t see start/finish line at all. I have doubts I didn’t take her for a walk around course, but it was too late now. We are moving closer to the start line. Every 30sec new pair is starting, I am trying to see if I can see how people hold their dogs, but I see nothing. My heart beats like hell… The girl who was paired to start with me started talking to me and it turns out that it is her first international race too. I felt a bit better.

Time to go!

Ok it is our turn, we move to start line, people talk to me in polish, then Kale shouts from behind too. I really don’t know what is happening around. Laferra picked up it is a race and she is super keen barking to go. 5,4,3,2,1 Go.. and there we go. I thought to let my pair go, but we left her behind and Laferra is going strong, not even bothering that there were so many people at the sides of the trails. It was pissing rain.. Awful. I didn’t realize how cold I was until the first corner, I feel my body starts to shiver and fight with cold weather. Rain starts to be heavier and worst.

Laferra shook off around 5 times but continues to run. I feel super proud of her. We are overtaking no problem. We are passing people and photographers on the side and Laferra doesn’t even look at them. I can see sign finish and feel that my eyes are getting wet, I can’t brief and just continue moving my legs. We got to finish line and I have no clue what, when and how. Nothing at all. My girl is exactly same. I praise her and cuddle with her. I still don’t know what I said or what we did when we got to finish line. Yes, vet checked her chip that’s all that I remember. We have finished 41st.

Day 4 late afternoon

I have no memories here in my head still remember me buzzing and stressing for the race. I missed on musher party as needed to deal with race office. Other than that I was delighted to finally reach my bed. I slept really well that night.

Day 5

My start time was in the morning (10:22am). I wasn’t as stressed as yesterday and I was way better prepared for everything. I slowly walked my girl to start area and had a lot of clothes in my gifted bucket (amazing gift as from Polish Organisers, this is the most handy thing ever, I still use it). We were both in many clothes keeping warm. Once again Kika appeared from nowhere and told me to get warmed up! She even told me what to do and how while she was holding Laferra.

I took all layers off and put a running harness on Lafie. We were heading towards control zone. I feel relaxed today, however, I see Laferra knows that this will be her second race, she is keen to go.

2nd race was staggered so it was just us in the start line box. I felt good about it, but I knew it is just seconds that we are behind from others and it is just seconds for those behind us. The game was on, I felt we can do better today. We trained hard for this and Laferra was loving the whole experience.

Second international run

We are in start line box, I am in the zone, Laferra is jumping out of her harness. I have a good feeling and all those hard trainings appear in my head. I believe we can do it. I feel IFSS judge hand on my shoulder. 5,4,3,2,1 Go and we are off again. I feel my body is warm and ready to push with every step. We managed to catch an athlete from Canada quicker than I thought. I kept my eyes on her and kept digging every step. We were getting closer and closer. I quickly calculated in my head that we just need to be behind her at the finish line to hopefully land on a higher place. Laferra is amazing and surprisingly choosing the easiest paths to run. Like she knew it is important to make it easy for both of us.

We overtake Canadian athlete and I try even harder as I know there is just one more turn and straight and that will be us at the finish line. Unfortunately, Laferra spotted kid behind the tree and started barking. I am worrying but keep going, she never slows down just barks. We continue. The last turn, we ran amazing, first time I feel we finally work as a team. I feel the Canadian is coming behind us, and Laferra is a bit shy that there is a big dog just near to us, and she goes to the side of the trails but we keep pushing together. Never give up! I found out later Canadian Athletes is called Flavie. She finishes just in front of us. However I feel like a champion with my girl, she got a lot of cuddles while vets are trying to find her chip. We walked away from the finish line and Laferra knows we did amazing.

Finish

I cuddled her and she cuddled back to me. We are both happy, I have tears in my eyes. All that hard training paid back. I glanced at results and I can see the 37th place and red signs. I panicked and asked what that means. They tell me to calm down and it is just an error on screen, but I am 37th. Omg, I can’t believe, we picked up places! We are Champions. Well Champions on 37th place! In zone again, super chuffed walking back to start line for our bucket!

Closing ceremony and last day

I realised it was last day of the event and I felt sad. It didn’t feel like just a few days around my new friends. It was just amazing experience being around the best athletes in the world. It motivated me to work hard as I had a moment to give up on Laferra’s canicross, but never did and we did it. We went out there and smashed every step of our run!

We met amazing dogs and people, hopefully, friends for life!

The closing ceremony was emotional as my two new friends Kim and Ben both won gold medals. I was super proud that I met them but also shared all my experience with them.

Time to go home

It was challenging 30h driving back home, but I was despearete to see my Rogerowski, who was struggling without us.

Eurotunnel on the way back was even better. Pet reception is just so dog friendly. We met Laferra’s rescurers too! Random! The whole trip was like a big dream! I can’t get over it.

Thank you

  • Thank you to my sponsors: Odlo, Merrell, Fitline and Scruff Muffin.
  • Thank you to Colin and Louise for all the training. Bring on more hard training.
  • Thank you to Sharon and Monika for support even tho the distance!
  • Thank you to Pani Ania, Beata and Jarek for all support and patient with Team GB.
  • Thank you to my new friends Kika and Ellie to being there for me!
  • Thank you to my amazing housemates: Kim, Susie, Matthew (Ben’s Dad) and Ben, and four legged housemates: Rivelin, Dusan, Blake, Zofie and Nova.
  • Thank you to IFSS for an amazing event.
  • Thank you to my Team GB for being so challenging so I could learn a lot! I really do love you guys 😉
  • Thank you to my dogs <3 for being awesome.

 

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.

It is time

It has been a stressful week, preparing to make sure I thought about everything for the dogs and myself. I have been traveling a lot abroad but never with a dog. Just stressing about everything. I will definitely share my traveling experience with you when we are back.

I wish Roger could go with us, I feel anxious leaving him behind, so he defo comes for adventure with us next year.

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He deserved a short holiday off from training as he worked really hard last 18 months.

Pack the bags

Oh! I hate packing, this is stressing me a lot. I have new jackets for Laferra, her favourite food. Time to pack her bag and my bag too. A list is long but I really don’t want to take too much.

Lucky me my parents are coming so they will bring me some additional stuff if needed.

Travelling

We are leaving tomorrow, long drive before we meet with BSSF for some last briefing chat for Team Leader role and reaching to a friend. On Monday we will be on the way to Eurotunnel and Polska. 1923km from home to the race HQ. Hoping to arrive on Tuesday if Kim and I will drive well. I can’t believe my parents did this route twice by a car.

Training

Today was our last Parkrun run and training for Poland. Princess will rest and get full energy for the races on Saturday and Sunday. I will probably do some wee jaunts around to make my legs going.

Keep an eye on our FB page for some updates how are we doing and how our adventure looks like. Full update when we are back.

 

History to be made

Here are some photos from the past and how we all started this crazy sport.

This was our first time ever…

 

Happy Saturday.

Big dreams turns into hard work!

Most important preparation just started, in 5 weeks from today, Laferra and I will be probably heading to start line to have one first race at the World Championship. Just writing this gives me goosebumps, so I can’t even imagine how I will feel there.

Preparation

Proper preparation started a few weeks ago, and I can see massive progress in me as an athlete who runs, in my body and in my head. I also see my girl is growing up in confidence too. She has her up and down, but it is going well. As they always say it is better to do mistakes at training and work on them, the actual race. I have decided that I will do my best myself, and have fun. I will not put any pressure on my girl. She is an amazing dog anyways!

Vet check

Part of the preparation for that kind of event, we needed to have a passport ready to travel abroad but also a vaccination so she can compete. Surprisingly even tho day before the event there is a vet check if the dogs are fine to compete, you still need to ask your vet for a clear green light and health check! Laferra is ready!

Planning the journey

I think this is the most exciting part where you need to plan when to leave, which way to go and when you will arrive there. What an exciting thing… I am going to leave earlier than we have planned, so we can be in Poland earlier, and recover for races. It is a long journey. 1291 miles. Many hours of driving. We need to plan where to stop too, as having dogs with us we need to make sure they can properly stretch their legs too.

Game up

As per the previous post, I really needed to pick up the game and make sure Lafie is ready. She is shy and timid, so I needed to find the way to build her confidence in very short time. A friend of mine recommended me to start going to parkrun. I always refused parkrun, as they are just too busy for me. It was great to test us last Saturday. I didn’t know what to expect (exactly like it will be a World CHampionship) so I was a bit nervous. What a surprise to see my girl chilled and relaxed around so many people.

We went to Falkirk to Callendar Park. I can say we stormed it! I was super proud of my girl, even tho she slowed down twice. I had a great time and going to be back again this Saturday. Going to ask if we can start at the beginning rather than overtaking 200 folks.

Obedience training

We work hard at home and outside. I make sure it is loud and busy so she can get used that it is all ok. Does anyone want to go to the pub? Let me know. The more unusual places the better. She is doing great.

Running

I feel like it is going up and down, not always the best! But we are getting there. The most important thing is that we both enjoy it and have fun. I feel again that I am getting addicted to all this running! Rest days turn into more running. Maybe eventually it will pay back.

Dreams

My dogs changed my life. I always dreamed of things, but when I have them I live the dream. I make sure all my dreams are becoming true. Dream big, live big. Last year I said I will go to Poland and we are. We will represent My Home country in my Homeland! I am super excited! Counting down begins. And noone said it will be easy! It is hard work.

Happy Friday Folks.