JonRoig.com | Posted: 2008-04-19 13:01:47 | 5227 hits | View in Hi-Fi Mode
"I'm gonna be pissed if that dog beats me," I heard someone say in the starting area of Pat's Run Tempe, the annual run to honor Pat Tillman. Well... I hope ya get over it, buddy, 'cuz that dog kicked your ass!
Now... that race was just silly. 4.2 miles is an unusual distance for a race -- Tillman was number 42 when he played in the NFL -- but since it was right in my neighborhood, I figured I'd drop by. No doubt I could do it faster by myself, but to mix it up a bit, I resolved to sneak the dog into the race, see what he could do at that kind of distance.
As it turns out, dogs were totally welcome, which totally reduces the pirate appeal. As far as I can tell, though, I was the only person to bring the dog into the runners area.
I did employ a bit of strategy. See... we got up early and jogged at a comfortable pace down to the Marina to kind of loosen up a bit. I figured that if I let the dog swim in Tempe Town Lake a bit, he'd stay cool enough that I wouldn't really have to worry about water for him out on the course.
A good idea, I think... but I hadn't really counted on what would happen when I brought a soaking wet dog into the overcrowded starting area of the race. To be fair, the dog did quite well... he's not really freaked out by crowds, so he totally kept his cool in amidst all the runners towards the front of the line. The other runners seemed bemused when he bumped into them, all moist and whatnot.
Needless to say, with a race this short and a crowd this big, the start was just chaos. Again, all this time spent running with the dog really paid off -- he was totally on the ball, sticking next to me as we wove our way through the crowds for the first mile or so. I don't think we inadvertently cut anyone off... although if we did, we certainly weren't any worse than all those fools who clogged up the course for the first mile.
Things started to thin out a bit when we hit the Curry hill, but since this is totally our home turf, we tackled it just fine, accelerating the whole way, passing all kinds of people who were starting to fall apart. The water station at mile 2 had a kiddy pool set up for dog water... how cool is that? Worked perfect to refresh the mutt, although my pre-soak plan seemed to work and he was doing just fine.
Gus is more of a distance runner than anything: he doesn't like to set a pace too fast, so by the time I was trying to pick up the speed and wrap it up at mile 3, he was pretty settled into a reasonably slow pace. It's cool, though... we were moving along just fine... and to be fair, he didn't really know how far we were going. He can usually get a good kick going on the last few blocks from our house, but running into a stadium, that's something different.
The other runners seemed a little alarmed to get passed by a dog. 'Course, along the way, people were yelling stuff like, "Go Cujo!"... or... towards the end, "Awww... poor puppy."
We rolled across the finish line as the clock ticked over to 29:00 exactly... totally respectable, I think. The guy at the finish said, "First Labrador!" and I'm pretty sure I beat everyone else out there with a dog.... so I've got that going for me. Which is good. I certainly didn't see anyone else running with one a dog...
I'm not sure if I'll get an official time since I signed up too late to be issued a timing chip... but really, who cares?
UPDATE 4-22: Perry, the race director of both this race and Zane Grey, was kind enough to insert my time into the official records. So, officially, Gus 'n' I finished 159th out of 7442 runners.
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