Saturday, April 21, 2012

2012 Umstead Coalition 4 Miler

Canine showdown! Dudley Dooright on the left. Jeffery J. Jeffery on the right.

[The rest of Shannon's photos from the race are here.]

Yesterday Dooright and I challenged Shannon and Jeffery to a heads up race in the Umstead 4 Miler.
The betting odds were a toss up. Here are the profiles:

Everybody loves a 3 legged dog.

Jeffery J. Jeffery

People assume that since Jeffery is missing a back leg, he is somehow disabled, but this not the case. 
Out of our 4 dogs he is the fastest runner and is never tired, even after a long run. He is nothing but lean solid muscle, coiled like a spring.

Strengths: Raw speed. Endurance.
Weaknesses: Easily distracted, especially by food. Prone to badly timed bodily functions. Missing a leg.

He doesn't care where. He just wants to go.

Dudley Dooright

When he was younger I used to take Dooright running all the time. But he is now 7, which is old for an 85 pound dog. He is built more for pulling a sled in the frozen tundra than running in North Carolina.

Strengths: Laser like focus. Metronome pacing.
Weaknesses: Overheats very easily. Bad hips (hip dysplasia).

Who would be top dog?

Going For The Win
I had been debating all week about whether to run this race by myself, or take Dudley along.
If I took him, I was pretty sure he would run the first mile fast, then by mile 2 he would overheat and be collapsed in the bushes, panting uncontrollably.

If I ran it on my own, I could run it hard and use it as a fitness benchmark, comparing it to when I ran it in 2009 and 2011. And depending on who showed up, I could possibly win. (Crazier things have happened). First prize is a $100 gift card to Great Outdoor Provision Company.

But then I remembered reading Marty Gaal bragging on his blog about his dog Tassie winning the canine division of Umstead 4 Miler last year. "You wanna go for the win Dooright?" His tail thumped on the floor.

Pre race soaking.
A Plan
If Dooright was going to go for 4 miles without stopping to jump in the lake, I needed a plan to keep him cool:

  1. Last week we shaved off most of his fur coat. Our friend Ken was impressed, "Did someone attack him with a kitchen knife?"
  2. Before the race I soaked him with water. Dogs can't sweat. But the cooling power of evaporation still works for dogs, just like people.
  3. I would bring with a 20 oz bottle of ice water to spray on him during the race.
  4. Lastly, I had one secret, underhanded maneuver to ensure victory

We registered Dooright and Jeffery so they would have bibs.

Dooright, leaping into action

And They're Off!
When Dudley runs, he must be in front. And when the pack of kids took off sprinting, so did he.

Within a quarter mile we had passed everyone and were actually leading the race! I was already out of breath, and my Garmin showed a 5:00 min/mile pace. Once out in front Dooright relaxed a bit, and Jeff Hall pulled into the lead.

Jeff just ran a 3:08 in the Boston Marathon heat wave 5 days ago, but I couldn't keep up with him. And he is older than me. Unreal. I am adding him to the rival list.

The first mile, Jeffery hot on our tails
They had lots of awesome live music along the course. Dooright wasn't interested in slowing to appreciate it though, he wanted to catch Jeff.



Secret Plan
The first mile was all downhill which we did in an insane 5:43. This was a sprint for me, but Dudley was just trotting along. Still, I knew he wouldn't be able to keep it up.

It was time to implement the SECRET part of my winning plan. To keep Dooright in first place, I needed to slow the rest of the dogs down. I pulled out a small bag of dog food from my pocket and spread it all over the wooden bridge.

We both laughed like Muttley from The Really Rottens.

Iced Dog
We continued up cork screw, dodging bikers and runners. Every time Dudley started to slow, I gave him a squirt of the ice water, and each time he picked it back up.

Jeff was sill in sight. But we were unable to gain any ground on him. At mile 3, Dooright spotted Ready Creek lake to the left and tried to run down to it. A gave him last squirt from the bottle.

Do I smell dog food?!!
Behind us, Jeffery stopped on the bridge looking for the dog food I had dumped. My evil plan worked!

The last mile was uphill and I was spent. We still managed to do a 6:37, but neither of us had anything left to catch Jeff.

We rolled into the finish as first dog and second overall in 25:06, a 6:17 mile. This seems crazy on the hilly course, and was better than I had hoped, even running it alone. Maybe Dudley actually helped me by pulling me along!

The 3 legger Jeffery was second place dog
-photo by Scott Lynch

Jeffery came in a few minutes later as second. Unfortunately they will not show up in the official results as we had hoped. Maybe we can ask them to have an official dog division for next year.

We had a great time. Thanks Umstead Coalition and Carolina Godiva volunteers!