Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dog Days 5K run

March 22, 2009

Shannon and I have a lot of free time, so we will run a race for just about any reason.

We did the “Joggin for yer noggin 5k” on Saturday because it was in Crabtree park, which is very close to my house, and because my neighbor Guy was doing it as well.
We also signed up for the “Dog Days 5K” on Sunday, because, well, it had the word “Dogs” in it. So here we were running the second 5K this weekend.

This race is held by the NCSU Vet students on some property next to the vet school. It is a very relaxed, low key event, with only 35 people running it this year. But despite being very casual there were bib numbers and timing chips. We were not actually allowed to run with dogs in the 5k so we left our pack of dogs back at the Cary Shelter for Unwanted Animals (my house)

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, sunny, mid 70s. At the start we ran into Mandy’s friend Josh. Mandy wasn’t running because she was still injured; some lunatics had encouraged her to run the Umstead Marathon on a bad ankle and limited training (sorry). Josh was days away from being shipped off to Iraq or possibly Afghanistan, which seemed kind of surreal, and I wasn’t sure what to say to him. “Have fun” seemed inappropriate.

“Where is the start line?” somebody asked.
The student coordinating the race shrugged, “I don’t know. How about this crack in the pavement?” We shuffled up to the crack.
“Ok. Go.” it took a few seconds for us to realize the race had just started, and then we sprinted off down a dirt road. Unlike the 5k the day before where most of the participants were parents strolling along with their coffee and 6 year old children, this race was mostly 20-something students. Two guys sprinted off well ahead and I tried to keep up with them, feeling the soreness in my legs from the day before. The guy in second place had on some fancy cross county spikes that clicked on the gravel. We turned off onto a short trail through the woods, and after a couple of short hills I managed to pass “spikes” and got within a few yards of the leader as we came out onto a pasture.

I was already losing some steam but managed to stay not far behind as we looped around the big field. Unfortunately there were no cows as Shannon had hoped. We headed back into the short trail again, and the leader seemed to run out of gas on the hills and he gave me a “thumbs up” as I passed him. I tried to say something nice in return but was out of breath. As we headed out for a second loop around the field, I couldn’t believe I was in the lead. Before Saturday I had never dreamed of actually winning a race, and now here was the possibility of winning my second race this weekend; it was crazy. I found the implausibility to be motivating, and I pushed myself as hard as I could. But my feet sank softly into the thick grass, and in the middle of the wide open field it seemed I was moving in slow motion, like some kind of bad dream. I didn’t look back for that last mile, but assumed somebody must be gaining on me. After the last turn in the parking lot I hit the finish line where they were holding up the tape to be broken. That was really cool. Maybe it was just a dinky 5k with only 35 people, but I got to break the tape.

Shannon was second female. Josh came in 7th place, refusing to let a 9 year old kid beat him, outkicking the little tyke to the finish line. Lots of people had brought their dogs for the dog wash and dog walk. We hung out and pet the pooches until they gave out awards, which were very generous for such a small race. I think I will be back next year.
Josh poses triumphantly in front of the vanquished 9 year old

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