Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dog Day Afternoon...

In all my years of running, I've had several close calls with dogs almost biting me, but it had never happened...until this weekend.

I always kid that the instances where I've been chased by dogs served as my speed workout. The close calls have been funny or humorous stories, but not the real thing. It's actually kinda scary - before, during and after.

The plan was to spend Saturday with my son, niece and parents about 20 miles away. I'm always trying to squeeze in a run, so I took my running stuff with me. I figured I'd sneak away for a couple of hours and do a longish run.

After having gone shopping (I needed my mom's good taste in chosing linens) and out for a bite (pun intended), I decided to run at a local park with a 1 mile dirt loop. Immediately upon starting, I thought: "10 loops? This'll get boring fast." So I decided to go off road and follow some canals that we often run on.
This particular canal runs along some fields on 1 side and fenced houses on the other - the backyards, to be more specific. I've gotten used to hearing the dogs barking as I run by, but they're always in the fenced in backyard.

After about 1.5 miles, I suddenly saw 4 dogs about 10 feet in front of me run onto the dirt road. I froze in my tracks as 1 of them growled at me. They started running towards me, and I did the only thing I could think of at the time: started backpedalling slowly. As they got around me, I stopped, turned around and (for some odd reason) raised my arms. I guess it was my way of saying "I give up!!!"

As the dogs were around me, I felt what I can only describe as a pinch in the ass. Yes, my ass!!! I'd like to say that I let out a manly yell, but in reality, I think I screamed as I felt the bite. I think I screamed because the dogs (luckily) ran off immediately.

What was the 1st thing I did? Well, I pulled my shorts down to check my ass. My left butt cheek was red and slightly bleeding. I had 3 small teeth punctures. In my ass!!! I pulled my shorts back up and ran back to my car. This was the longest 1.5 miles. I kept thinking: "What if I get rabies?" "What if I die?"

I texted a friend of mine who is a nurse, and she asked me questions about the dog (which I couldn't remember). She gave me some quick instructions on what to put on it, how to clean it, etc.

My mind was racing because I couldn't think of what to do, so I did the only logical thing: I finished my run. I ran 8 more miles - the whole time my butt cheek throbbing. It probably was not the 1st thing I should've done, but it's all I could do to calm down.

2 days later (Monday morning), I drove by the canal to see if I could see those dogs in somebody's back yard and guess what??? I did. I managed to get their owner to come out, and I told him what had happened. Considering that he had his dogs unleased or loose, he seemed like a nice guy. He assured me that they were vaccinated, gave me his name and phone number. I wanted to see the vaccine record, but at the same time, the thought of going into his backyard or waiting there while the dogs were barking was too much.

I drove to the local police department and filed a report which according to the officer, would be forwarded to health services.

A doc's visit was next which alleviated my fears. I'm lucky that all that's required is some anti-biotic cream.

I really don't blame the dogs. I blame the owner. Just because you live out in the country, shouldn't mean your dogs can roam freely - in my opinion. Because of your carelessness, my butt cheek is bruised, purple and sore.

One of my friends runs with mace all the time, and another runs with a pocket knife. Yes, I am serious. I'm not much of a fan of running with anything on my hand (I can barely hold a handheld during long races), but I may have to reconsider this.

It would be so much easier if (so called) animal lovers kept their pets leashed or made sure they wouldn't get out of their backyards.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bandera 100k The Way I Saw It...

I was a little worried going into my 100k at Bandera since I'd hurt my knee at Cactus Rose 100 and ran very little in November. This race was supposed to be the 2nd of my trifecta: Cactus 100, Bandera 100k & Rocky Raccoon 100. I was afraid of injuring myself and not having enough time to recover since Rocky is in about 3 weeks.

The plan was to finish. Just finish. Even if it took me the entire 24 hours. Of course, I really didn't want to be out there that long unless I really had to.

My sole sister, Laura, had agreed to pace me the 2nd 31 miles, last 50k, and she was looking forward to it. Well, so was I.

1st Loop:

I began the 1st loop cautiously - afraid of slipping and/or falling. It was drizzly and it made the surface muddy and the rocks slippery. I figured I'd run a little less gingerly as I got more comfortable.

It was muddy and, at points, it felt like I was playing hopscotch out there - trying not to land on muddy slippery rocks. I was afraid I was working 'too hard' considering all the skipping I seemed to be doing. Not to mention that the temperature was in the high 50s. Nice, but a little to humid for all that mileage.

It was a little muggy but overcast. I tend to get cold very easily, so I started w/ a jacket, but started sweating pretty quickly and decided to note my mileage at leave my jacket behind a tree. I made a mental note of the tree I left it under. Sure, I'll find it the 2nd time around, I told myself. Don't laugh. It worked but more of that in a bit.

At 1 point, there was a pretty long flat muddy section where my hokas picked up a lot of mud. A lot. Another runner wearing hokas told me "Like we need any more padding." My hokas' thread is pretty worn out - smooth, really, and I think that helped repel a lot of mud buildup, as opposed, to making it more slick.

I ran into my buddy, Carlos, at the CrossRoads aid station, and we decided to finish up the 1st loop together. Truth be told, he slowed down to run with me as opposed to the other way around.

Hydration? The entire 1st loop's liquid intake was water. I tend to easily get tired of the taste of water, but I'm not much of a heed fan, so I had little choice. It's weird, but I drank and drank and drank.

The landscape out there was beautiful. The fog and mist made it impossible to see majestic hilltops in the distance. Only the bottom 2/3 we visible. It looked like a tropical paradise...with a little pain intertwined. Unfortunately, I was unable to take as many pictures as I wanted: the condensation on my iPhone (being drenched, myself) made it impossible to touch navigate my phone. Ugh!!!

I finished the 1st loop in 7:30. Right on time. I told Carlos that I wanted to take no more than 15 minutes before starting the next 1/2 of the race. My friend's gf gave me a couple of tacos, and I felt really good and confident.

2nd Loop:

Something happened between loops 1 and 2.

Immediately, after starting the 2nd loop, I was fatigued and winded. I figured that with my pacer, Laura, Carlos and his pacer, Andy, we were in business. I began not only walking the uphills but walking everything. everything. I began to question and doubt myself whether I could (or wanted to) do 20+ more miles feeling this way. I think this is a mental game I play with myself for motivation. I think I question myself each race - to make myself do it.

I think I may have eaten a little too much before starting the 2nd half. I guess, the food finally digested after the Chiapas aid station (10ish miles or 41ish cumulative) because as soon as we left, we ran. It was as if I'd gotten my second wind.

I have to hand it to my pacer. This is the 2nd race she has paced me. As I told her, she's 2 for 2 pacing me. She talked when I needed talking to. She pushed me when I needed pushing...and she gave me the silent treatment when she could tell I didn't feel like talking. Typical convo when I was tiring and frustrating:

     Laura:  ...So how are things between you and 'blank'?

     Me: Can I tell you when I feel better?

     Laura: Ok.

Right at around mile 41ish, a cool front blew in. Literally. It got cold and windy.

We kept telling ourselves - mainly, I kept telling Laura: 1 aid station at a time. 1 at a time. We were going to finish at 5 mile increments.

The last 4.7 miles were an adventure. The wind was so strong that a lot of the reflective ribbons on trees had blown off. It seemed like stretches would go by without seeing any, and we began to question whether we were heading the right direction. I was in no mood to turn back and re route.

Luckily, my pacer was alert and had her wits about her (as usual), and we found the finish line.

18:32:54 later, Joe P. handed me my buckle.

I often tell my friends who don't run trail: how many races does the Race Director meet you at the finish, shake your hand and hand you your medal/buckle? Not many.

What's next? Rocky Raccoon 100. Let's do this!!!

PS - I managed to find my jacket the 2nd loop. Yep, under the tree I'd left it under.

PS2 - It was awesome running into/with so many great friends that I hadn't seen in a while.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Unplugged Running...

Everybody that knows me knows that I'm a slave to my garmin. I gotta have it for 99.9% of my runs. For the most part, it, and my ipod, are a must accessory for me.

But wait...I have a good reason for it: I'm a nerd. I love uploading my run(s) and nerding out to them. I love studying my pace, distance, elevation, etc.

I even have a picture somewhere that is a finish line pic - except I'm looking at my wrist & pushing a button.

This afternoon, I ran for 2 hours without a garmin. Full disclosure: my garmin was in my car since yesterday's run, and the battery was dead, So I almost was forced to. But you know what? It was a great run. Easy 2 hour run with great friends. I didn't have to worry about looking at my watch. No, what is my pace? No, should I speed up? No, should I slow down? Just run, talk, laugh and kid around.

I'm sure the fact that I am tapering had alot to do with this also. I mean, I'm forcing myself to take it easy this week. Really easy. Regardless of the reason, it was fun.

I don't just take off and run for a couple of hours without my garmin, but when I do, it's a memorable run with those I'm running with. I definitely need to add a no garmin run to my repertoire.

Sometimes, it's just fun like that...unplugged.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Work In Progress...

It was a crazy 2012.

No, the world didn't end (as predicted) although, there were several times when it sure felt like it.

Those close to me know what I'm talking about. It's still a little too personal to talk about, but perhaps in due time, I will. Not that it's important, now. The important thing now is that I learned from it, and all I can do is move on.

Anyway, I attended some self help classes/groups this past year to help me become more patient, a better parent and (at least attempt to) become a better human being. I continue, to this day, to attend. It wasn't a voluntary thing, by the way. I got called out on some of my shit, stepped back to see if it was true...and it was. It was an eye opening experience.

I admit that my attendance was lip service initially, but I've learned quite a bit and now look forward to it.

What have I learned? Too much to write about, but there was 1 huge thing that has helped the most.

I used to be quite impatient internally. I mean, outwardly nobody could tell I was stressing (at least I think). Internally, I was a mess.

I've learned not to sweat the small stuff. I ask myself a simple question when things don't go my way, or I feel the onset of a stressful situation coming along:  Is it the end of the world??? I've allowed myself to get upset if the answer is yes, but you know what? For the last 8 months, the answer has always been no. Always. Yes, it is that simple.

Don't get me wrong: it's still difficult sometimes, but in the end - its been a difference maker in how I relate to strangers, friends, those close to me and, most importantly, my son.

Happy 2013 running, y'all!!!