Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Roosting Game

OK so this is another post (mostly) about chickens. :)

Check it out! A rare picture of my whole flock all together!

My little whites are growing up! It's actually a bit of a relief that they are because at this point they are finally pretty much cat-proof, which means I can let them free range around the backyard without being back there to supervise. This is White. (I was super creative coming up with her name.)

I actually started letting them risk their freedom probably a bit too early because in the past weeks I have had to roam the neighborhood multiple times looking for each one of those white chickens after Ozzie had chased one of them out of the yard. Talk about Crazy Chicken Lady... There she goes again walking around the neighborhood going Peep! Peep! Peep! Obviously I managed to find them each time and in good news they let me catch them and bring them back to the yard and their friends.

Anyway, as these little whites are growing up, they have started wanting to roost higher at night. For the first few months they sort of huddled together in the bottom corner of the coop while Ellie would roost up high all alone. (In case you don't know chicken sleeping behavior- I didn't- they like to hop/fly up high to sleep at night... so Scott built in a wooden 'branch' into their coop for this purpose. In the wild chickens fly up into tree branches up high and sleep there and that's called 'roosting'.) Anyway, for 2 months the littles slept down low, probably because #1 they couldn't fly up that high to reach the roost and #2 they were quite afraid of Ellie (rightfully so).

When they got big enough to physically fly up onto the roost, they would hang out there sometimes during the day... and even sometimes in the early evening I'd go out to watch and they would be up there... until Ellie decided it was time to go to bed and then when she would go in the coop there would be a ton of frantic peeping and eventually the littles would all hop down and huddle in the corner trying to stay out of Ellie's way.

This isn't a great photo but you can see all three of them are up there on the roost (2 huddled together in the far corner).

Anyway, a couple nights ago I was watching and wouldn't you know it... those littles decided it was time that they got to sleep up high. It's been fascinating for me to watch as this chicken behavior is so instinctual and to watch them all figure it out is pretty cool... Anyway, I can't get pictures of it b/c it's dark by the time this is happening so you'll have t use your imagination...

The littles fly up and huddle at the far end of the roost. The safest place is actually against the outer wire because that's furthest away from where Ellie is going to go... and the littles all know this so they fight for that end spot! They literally climb up over each other and under each other and it's like they're playing a game of King of The Mountain... one of them always ends up being pushed off and when she is, she flies back up and tries again to claim the end spot but is rarely successful. Snowball sucks at that game and always seems to end up closest to the middle.

Enter: Ellie, Queen of the Roost. The littles all freak out and peep wildly... super nervous yet determined to hold their positions... She hops up onto the roost (which is sort of an ordeal because she is HUGE) and paces back and forth, all out of sorts that these little whites are up there with her... Snowball gets extra anxious because she knows she's about to get pecked so she frantically starts pecking whoever is next to her in line... trying to knock somebody off so she can move over a spot... unsuccessful at this she remains where she is and gets pecked by Ellie... Which makes her squeal (and not with delight) so she pecks further at the littles down the line... Anyway, this is The Pecking Order. It's very real!

Last night this lasted ~10-15' then they all eventually settled down and went to sleep (Ellie first). I would think at some point they'll have it all sorted and Ellie will accept them being up there and resist their presence a little less? For whatever it's worth, I was proud of the littles for holding their ground last night and not giving in to the pressure to hop off the roost. Brave girls!

Except it is possible that Snowball is a boy?? I actually was out the door super early this morning to go running, but Scott said he distinctly heard Snowball attempting to crow. CRAP! He said she (he?) did it 3x. So here I am googling Do hens crow? Turns out sometimes, in the absence of a rooster, they do... but either way, if he/she is crowing, we can't have that. Argh. Have not heard anything the rest of the day but if we hear it again tomorrow morning, Peepers may have a new friend up on the side of the road. :(

Friday, August 22, 2014

Running Season!

So at some point most years, usually sometime in the fall, my brain and heart transition over to 'running season'. This year it's started a little earlier than years past- and last year I kinda missed it completely b/c I had IM Cozumel so late in the year. I think missing it last year makes it more appealing to me this year? Anyway, like most Hawaii runners, I enter the Honolulu Marathon every January when they open it up to local residents for the bargain price of $26. I figure $26 is a decent gamble in case I find myself with the desire to run a December marathon... Currently, I find myself with the desire to run a December marathon. :)

In good news, we have a whole local 'race' series for marathon prep. I don't really consider these 'races' as much as opportunities to have catered long runs with lots of people around... chances to practice pacing and fueling and mindset and maybe some suffering too. The first race, the 15K, was cancelled due to the "hurricane" we didn't have, but it's been rescheduled for this Sunday so yay! Running season starts this weekend!

I had a look at my schedule for next week and there are SEVEN runs on there! YAY again!! I love that. Given that running does not come very naturally to me, running frequently has been quite beneficial for me in the past so I'm definitely looking forward to increasing my run volume and frequency. Biking obviously takes a backseat. To be honest, I'd be happy to just completely hang up my bikes for the next couple of months but Marilyn has some other ideas... so I'll still be riding some.

And of course I am not going to stop swimming! :) The only swim races left on the schedule for the year are a 5K and a 7K... Marilyn must have looked at that and decided that I needed to swim long (a logical conclusion) but damn if anyone would have seen my face when I was looking at my swims scheduled for next week... narrowed eyes and jaw dropped open... I mean really, you know when *I* am looking at a swim session and thinking that's crazy, it really is crazy. But of course in some sick way I'm sorta looking forward to the challenege. I know my swim gets better when I swim a lot (#rocketscience) so it's all good.

My most recent swim workout ended with 10x50's fly. Um, what?!? Before I even went to the pool I was all set up in my mind with what I was going to write in my post-workout notes... "Sorry coach you over-estimated my abilities here I cannot do 10x50's all fly..." Shoot, I was thinking that even every other one would be super hard... maybe I'd challenge myself to do 2 in a row then the 3rd ones easy free/recovery? I wasn't sure... But through the whole workout I was thinking about that last piece and finally thought, Maybe she's not over-estimating me. Maybe I'm underestimating myself?? You know, to decide that you can't do something before you even try is kinda shitty... So I started the first 50 trying to stay as relaxed as I could while still technically swimming fly. And then I did the second one. And the third one too. And it wasn't pretty, but it was fly, and I was doing it! By #4 I knew I was going to do them all so I just sort of closed my eyes (yes while I was swimming) and kept bringing both my hands out of the water at the same time... stay relaxed, stop thinking about it... and before I knew it I was on #10. Really cool and confidence building and I'm glad I gave myself the chance to try it. I think this is a mindset I am going to have to figure out how to transfer over to some of the run sets coming up on my schedule as well...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kawela Triathlon

Yesterday was the first inaugural Kawela Triathlon here on Oahu. It was a laid back grass roots kind of 1/2 Ironman-ish event that was mostly fun because every triathlete we know was either racing or volunteering. Very family style out there yesterday! It was the kind of race where I got body marked by one of my best friends (lucky#7!), smiled at one of my favorite bike mechanics when he was on the side of the road with a cow bell, was handed water at an aid station on the bike by the guy who bought my condo last year, and was being hunted on the run by his bad-ass wife! It was the kind of race where afterward, while drinking beers, there were so many friends to talk to I didn't even have time to text my coach the results...

Unfortunately the swimmers once again got screwed with not only a super short swim, but also one where we had to run 1/2 mile in the middle of it. I know the majority of triathletes enjoy/prefer a short/easy swim, but yikes it's such a tired story I can't even get into it again.

I felt like I kept my effort on the swim/run/swim quite controlled... Finished the first lap of the swim in less than 10', 4th (I think?), got passed by ~5-6 men during the beach run, then promptly passed them all back on the second swim and exited the water again in 4th. (One of the swimmers who beat me out was a relay.) I glanced at my watch as I ran into T1 and saw it ticking over to 23' flat and just sort of groaned at the ridiculousness of that. Oh why oh why can we not have any triathlons on Oahu with legit swims?? Moving on.
Mahalo Kim Burnett for the photo!

Have to say, I was way off on my prediction for this bike ride! I thought it was going to be a ton faster and easier than it was... Might have been a more comfortable ride if my P3 was a full suspension bike? The roads on Oahu are ALL in desperate need of repaving. Yikes. We did at times have the benefit of a tailwind but interestingly it didn't translate over into the easy speed I sort of assumed it would... My plan was to hold back a bit on the bike in hopes of being able to run, so I don't feel like I blasted the bike at all... but I don't know... maybe I'm delirious but I just sort of thought I could cruise the ride easy speed but that's just not how it went. In good news I managed to nail my nutrition/hydration and came off the bike in 2:38 feeling pretty good. 3rd woman. Interesting though as I was riding I just couldn't wait to get OFF that bike, which is not like me normally!?! At least I managed to keep air in my tires, which is not something everyone could say. I heard tons of stories of flat tires and mechanicals out there on that rough road bike course...
Mahalo Kalani Pascual for the photo! 

Moving on! My expectation of this run was that it was going to be brutally HOT and that was spot on. The best news I heard at the pre-race meeting was when the race director said it would be fine to get "outside assistance" in the form of a bottle/drink from friends/family on the run course... YES that meant I could get ice cold Osmo on the run... So my friend/athlete Heidi stuck a bottle next to my run gear that I slammed in T2 (mahalo Heidi!!), then Scott was up there with another bottle on each lap of the run and I swear this is what saved my life on that run! I remain such a huge fan of Osmo and it's ability to hydrate an athlete during a hot event is like magic.
Mahalo Kalani Pascual for the photo! 

One lesson I think I will take away from this race is that Expectations are Everything. I think it's best for me always assume that it will all just be crazy hard b/c then when it is, I can handle it better! This was a perfect example b/c yesterday I thought bike was going to be easy, but then when it wasn't, I got kinda pissy and judgmental in my own head. But I predicted the run would be hellishly HOT and then when it was, instead of being upset about it, I was just like duh, of course it's hot and crazy hard! So it was all ok. Kinda funny though at the far end (Kaena Point) of the course, which we went around 3x, I kept seeing Heidi who was such an awesome cheerleader... The second time I saw here there she told me to run like a CHEETAH... ha! Yes what a CHEETAH I was... lol. By the third time I rounded that point (~12 miles in) I told Heidi that indeed I did feel like a CHEETAH... A cheetah in the Sahara Desert, in labor. So I guess it was a good sign that I still had a sense of humor at that point. ;)

In the end, I ran 1:57 which was good enough to hold on to my 3rd place OA (5:01). Being on a podium with these girls (behind Mariane and Lectie) was quite satisfying and a good way to end my 2014 triathlon season. :)
Mahalo again Kalani Pascual for the photo! 
Mahalo to the race directors/organizers for bringing a new local style endurance triathlon event to Oahu!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Just Some Ranting...

I've had so many thoughts that conclude with I should blog about that... Yet the updates continue to be rather infrequent. Hmmmm. Here's a little bit of what's been going on though... warning... maybe a little  <ranting> involved.

Last weekend our island shut down because of the threat of a hurricane. Ok so better safe than sorry I guess, but I feel like decisions were made quite pre-maturely and so.much.overreaction was the result... Everything closed (schools, parks, gas stations, stores) and everything was cancelled (all races and weekend events) and we ended up with a bit of rain and then perfect weather for the rest of the weekend. Honestly I think my biggest issue with this was that even after it was obvious that the storm was headed south and not going to hit us, the news people were still all over the TV warning about DANGEROUS DANGEROUS driving conditions, etc. It was almost as if they didn't want to just say Hey it's cool sorry for the inconvenience but we're all good... I finally just had to shut off the news b/c their reporting felt patronizing to me, and it was almost as if some loved the idea of the drama that surrounds the possibility of a big disastrous storm- playing it up even after the threat was gone. It seems like this happens fairly often but I swear, the more of these false alarms we get, the less likely I am to believe any warning going forward... So that's my rant about the hurricane thing.

This was the day of the 'hurricane'...

So we get to do a half-ironman-ish race tomorrow... It's really called an 'Endurance Triathlon' b/c it's not really a 1/2 ironman. It's a 1/2 mile swim (one way with the current/chop), get out run barefoot on the sand back to swim start, repeat 1/2 mile swim, long run to T1... So once again we have a triathlon where the swim is minimized as much as possible. I won't even start on my rant about that. OK I lied- I'll start the rant- It is possible to become a strong swimmer, but that requires actually going to the pool more than 2x/week and swimming more than 1500/session, and for more than 3-4 months of the year. I do think that if triathletes actually trained appropriately for the swim, they could/would become stronger swimmers, then triathlon swims wouldn't have to consistently be dumbed down all the time. I will say this though- we have been out at that beach practicing the swim/run/swim thing and it is way harder than you think to dive in and swim after running 1/2 mile barefoot on the sand... My prediction is that spectators will see quite a bit of breaststroking in the beginning of that second swim lap!

Then the bike is supposedly 57 miles, mostly with a pretty strong tailwind, so it should be pretty fast. Funny how in my race plan my true thoughts come out... I think my exact description was Not a legit bike course... So the distance is there but I ride that road all the time and know that a rider can go 20+mph averaging ~130w... so the advantage in this race is not going to go to the stronger riders, and the bike split cannot count as a 'PR'... though I suspect a lot of athletes will be pretty damn happy with their bike split when they get to T2 (If only I had a dollar for every time someone will say I had a great bike!). Now, IF we got to turn around and ride back it would be a completely different story- requires 180+w to go 19mph into that wind... That would be a tough bike course!

The run should be legit and hard though- it's flat but will very likely be HOT HOT HOT, so that'll be a good challenge. Regardless, it should be a fun grassroots type racing event, and it's the last triathlon of the year for me, so I'll give it my best shot and see what I've got. Training has been going ok the last few months. I've been doing it all and sometimes seeing/feeling glimpses of fitness but I don't feel as overall like a BULL like I have in past years which makes me think that it's a bit of a crap shoot tomorrow. So we'll see. In all honesty, after this race is over it becomes Running Season and there's something about that that is extremely appealing to me right now... But more on that later!

And of course a blog entry wouldn't be complete without an update on the chickens. They are all good! Snow disappeared (again) for a few weeks and I thought the worst for him (again) but then he reappeared on the side of the road (again) this week so that was fun to see him! Not sure if someone is taking him away to mate with their hens or if he just goes and hides in the fields on his own? Either way, he's been out there long enough that I would expect to see some hybrid silkie chicks here in the next month or so... The other day I stopped to feed him and as I was driving off I saw a woman stop her car, get out and take a picture of him. He really does stand out among all the other wild chickens on that road. Here at home my girls are all doing well too. My new Snowball is happy and healthy and running around with my other little white ones, who are not so little anymore... but they are like a little gang of four following each other around the yard. They are almost big enough for Ozzie to leave them alone, but yesterday Ozzie twice went after them and twice I had to rescue one of them from the neighbor's hard. At least now they are all aware of Ozzie as a threat so they pay attention and are able to get away from him when he gets that stalking look in his eyes. Ellie is still too much of a Queen to associate with any of them, but she does warn them with mad clucking skillz when Ozzie is in the yard and watching, so in that regard, she's shown herself to be a team player. When it comes to food though, she is not a team player. At all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sergeant Peepers and The Injured Hens Club

OH GOODIE! More chicken stories! This time with lots of pictures...

Peepers first... That poor guy is so anxious and neurotic. I was hoping one of these days he would just adjust to being wild outside and start acting like a normal confident rooster, but so far that has not happened. He does wait for me every day now though... he recognizes my car and will see me pulling up (if I'm driving) and run/fly across the street to get to me. It does make me sad every time he perches on my car (which is several times/week) because I know he's asking for me to just bring him home already.

The other day I was jogging home from swimming... There was a guy sitting in his car on the side of the road near where Peepers hides in the bushes... This is what he witnessed: Girl in bathing suit/shorts runs up, stops, kneels down on sidewalk. Black rooster comes darting out of the bushes and hops on her shoulders. She hangs out for a few minutes talking to the wild rooster. Then she stands up, rooster flies off her shoulder, and she continues running.

Fwiw, I didn't know the guy was watching, but he did throw me a shaka when I finally noticed him. Apparently it is cool to be a chicken whisperer.
Most of the time I bring food and sit down on the sidewalk while Peepers eats. Sometimes when he's done he uses me as a perch. When he is perched, he seems more calm/normal, so I have asked Scott to build him a perch that we can put near where he lives. I've surveyed the area and there aren't any good trees nearly that aren't already occupied by another rooster and his hen(s). I think being on the ground all the time is what makes Peepers nervous though.

What Peepers really needs is a hen! And I've found him one! She is a new mama who hatched NINE little chicks a few days ago... I've been throwing food at them when I am there and she is starting to trust me, coming closer and closer. If Peepers would just act like the ROOSTER he is, he could adopt this pretty lady and her babies and live a normal rooster life, so that's what I'm trying to achieve by feeding her...

Snow is doing well. He acts like a rooster, crowing his little heart out on the sidewalk and protecting his hen and her babies. It's cute and since they are doing well, I just throw food at them and leave them alone.

So you can imagine, feeding Peepers and his potential hen/family, Snow and his hen/family, Ellie and my three little whites, I go to the Feed Supply store fairly often. The guys in there know me by now (and Moana too!). A few days ago I was there and saw a white silkie who is apparently about 3 months old sitting in a little cage... not sure why I had never seen her before? Silkies, as cute as they are, don't always end up being bought because 1) They can't be sexed as chicks so you're taking a risk that you might end up with a roo, 2) They lay really little eggs so if you're in it for egg production this is not your most desirable type. But damn are they cute, and they are really sweet docile gentle chickens so they make great pets. Anyway, when we saw this white silkie who looked like the female version of Snow, I asked the guys about her... they said she was injured and couldn't walk. I think they figured they'd never be able to sell her so they told me if I wanted her I could just have her... Um, ok! Moana of course was thrilled to be bringing her home, but nobody was happier than me. :) So this is Snowball! xoxo

I was nervous about introducing her to Ellie, especially since she wasn't exactly mobile nor able to defend herself at all. Older hens are known to be bullies and Ellie definitely falls into this category. She is queen of that yard and coop and she lets everyone know it with a stern peck on the head if they are in her way or trying to eat her food.

In the open yard Ellie had enough space and I think she figured out that Snowball was not a threat to her at all, so I only witnessed one peck and then I sternly took a swat at Ellie to let her know that was not acceptable behavior. That one peck was all it took though for Snowball to understand her place in the pecking order and now that she can walk normally (yup, all it took was ~48 hours and some open space to roam and Snowball is 100% healthy...) she seems really happy. She's still super friendly and easy to pick up and pet, and she eats right out of Moana's hand.

My three little whites are kind of too young to really have a distinct pecking order already so accepting Snowball into their little gang came easy to them. Snowball found her place with them and they all get along just fine.
The White Gang

So there you go! Life as the Crazy Chicken Lady continues... I swear though, no more chickens... at least for a while... My little gang I have is enough.