Trail Monster

It’s not secret I hate this time of year.   Every horrible, rotten, crappy, down right awful img_1428thing that has ever happened in my life has always happened this time of year.  So, yesterday, while everyone else was off having family dinners and putting up Christmas trees baby trail dog and I went out and ran, more like hiked, 10 miles.  Yes, classic avoidance.  Hey don’t knock it until you try it.

I’ve been working with this awesome trainer, “Uncle Lance” who has been amazing.  At our first session he asked me what I wanted out of our training sessions and I told him that I wanted to know that when we were out on the trail together that she would stay with me and not take off.  See, she’s an Afghan mutt and she’s a sight hound.  What does that mean? Means she’s a survivor and why wouldn’t she follow/chase an amazing meal, even though there’s a heated car seat and a seemingly endless supply of doggie treats with me.  Last weekend we worked with Uncle Lance at a local park with her off leash.  We were ready, Uncle Lance said so, and he isn’t the kind of guy to blow smoke up your a$$.

Yesterday, we started our run with her on leash.  She’s really grown to love the run.  Especially the longer runs when it’s just her and I.  Her ears are her tell.  Flipped over, sassy.  Bouncy, happy.  Pinned to her head, she’s picked up the scent of something.  As we proceeded down the trail we got to a really technical rocky section of trail that I knew I was going to have to let her scramble on her own.  For her safety and mine.  As I reached down to unclip her harness from the leash I had to have faith that all of the training we’ve done was going to be enough.

She was amazing!  She scrambled and played.  She was far enough ahead for her to be able to explore some on her own, yet close enough that I was comforted.  She stuck her face into every dirt pile and mud puddle she could find.  She bounced and played and was happy, genuinely happy.  She came when called and didn’t put a single toe out of line.  I was so impressed.  When we got back to the regular trail she was so good I didn’t want to put her back on leash.  She stayed at my side almost in a perfect heel next to my knee as we moved down the trail.  Had a couple of volunteer Rangers not busted us, I would have kept her that way all the way back to the car.  She ignored the other dogs, people, and yes, even the ducks she saw on the trail.  While she’s still not 100% locked on me like HRH is, for her first off leash outing I couldn’t be any more pleased.  I’m really looking forward to our upcoming time in the mountains.  She’s definitely going to be my little trail monster.

 

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Bella’s 1st 5k: We found her incentive

img_1291“Aunt B, I can’t. I just can’t.”  Those words came out of Bella’s mouth for the entire first mile we were running.  My patience was growing thin.  I may not know many things in this world, but I’ve been around this child her entire life.  I was there when she began to walk.  I was there when she ran her first half mile, her first mile, and her first race (the 1k at Over the Bay Bridge Run two years ago).  Today was her first 5k as part of her elementary school’s Run Club.  I knew down to the depth of my toes that this was totally within the scope of her abilities and capabilities.  Listening to her tell herself that she couldn’t do it was more than I could take.  It was breaking my heart.

“Bella, stop saying you can’t.  I know you can.  You are strong.  Don’t let your mind tell you that you can’t.” I chided her.  Desperately trying to find something to get her to focus I said, “Do you see that boy up there, don’t let that boy beat you.”  I said it just loud enough so that the boys heard me and they started picking up their pace.  Ah, male pride and ego even at the age of 8.

“No way Aunt B.  Girls rule and boys drool! Let’s get them!”  she said picking up her feet and her pace.  I chuckled to myself and mentally sent out a plea to the universe that she would hold onto that thought until she was at least 18 or so.   We proceeded to play leap frog img_1294with the boys for the next half mile or so.  They would slow down, we would pass them, then they would speed up and sprint passed us again not wanting a yucky girl to beat them, until they slowed way down again.   Until ultimately we passed them around the two mile mark.  She burst out into a big grin as we blew passed them for what was the final time.

I looked at her and told her, “See, consistency pays off.  Well, that and the rocket boosters you have under your tutu.”  She giggled.

As we made our way down the course she kept trying to turn around to see where they were.  “Stop turning around to see where they are Bella.  Run forward.  If you turn around you could fall down.  If you are afraid that they are going to catch you, run faster.”  I wish I could tell her that was advice for life too.  Instead, I had her focus in on the next sign, the next tree, until finally we saw the finish sign.

img_1301When she saw the finish sign she started to sprint.  “I’m going to beat you,” she gleefully sang.  I sped up.  She sped up.  I sped up a little more.  She kept pace with me.  THAT’S the girl I know.  Competitive, strong, determined.  She crossed the finish with a grin on her face, gas in her tank, and having passed three of the older boys and a couple of the older girls in her run club.  Her final time was just over 41 minutes.

“HEY, you beat me.” she said looking at me as she found where she placed on the print out.

“I guess that means you’ll have to run faster next time.”

Wicked 10k & Marine Corps Marathon: A run filled weekend

Now, before you think I’m crazy pants, no I did not run the Wicked 10k AND the MCM.  Rather, I ran the Wicked 10k and cheered at MCM!

Wicked 10K (Virginia Beach) 

img_1182Saturday morning I got up at 2am and drove down to Virginia Beach to run the Wicked 10k with GardenerGirl.  It was her 1st 10k, her first costume race, and her first race where she got a medal!  I’ve been battling some sort of crud since I came back from Utah so I wasn’t expecting a PR.   We agreed before we started that we would begin together, but each of us would run our own race and then meet at the finish.

The weather was nearly perfect.  50 degrees, no wind. An Asthmatics dream.  Even better, it’s amazing what happens when you get all of the muscles firing thanks completely to the MagicalMan who has been putting this humpty dumpty back together again.  What happens exactly?  You wind up not only running your best 10k ever, but you wind up with a negative split too! I’ve been chasingfullsizeoutput_17b2 the sub-1 hour 10k time for a while now.  I had relegated myself to the possibility that it was never going to happen!  I was over the moon thrilled.  Granted, 58:20 isn’t exactly hitting a land speed record, but for me that’s AMAZING time.  GardenerGirl did AMAZING and wasn’t that far behind me!

Marine Corps Marathon

Sometimes you meet people and they stick.  Ella is one of those people.  She was one of the three awesome girls that I met at the Ohio Beast.  Ella had come to DC to run the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday and I was determined to cheer her on.  Sunday morning I got up super early and we (Perry, Charlotte and I) headed to Crystal City to img_1221wait for her to come through.  I wanted to get there early to ensure that not only could I find a parking place, but that I wouldn’t miss her by some fluke.  We even made a sign offering free hugs, and yes, we had some takers.

The great thing about MCM is that their app gives you the tracking information about the folks you are watching.  Big time kudos for them on that.  It made watching where she was much easier.  I was also able to tell when she was struggling so I could send her encouraging text messages.

I have to admit I wasn’t sure how baby trail dog was going to do with all of the commotion.  She handled it like a SUPER champ.  Kids, strollers, uniforms, balloons, runners, you name it, nothing fazed her.  The only downsize was that she wanted to say hi to everyone and her “talking voice” sounds horrific.  I had to explain to people that she was just begging the other dogs “play with meeeeeeeee”.  If you’ve ever heard a husky talk it’s similar.

img_1248When Ella came through we hooped and hollered and gave her a good swift smack on the tush to get moving.   I am so proud of her!  She a freaking badass.  26.2 miles on pavement is amazing.  I think I’m going to stick to dirt.   Maybe I’ll be able to convince her to come over to the fun side!