Monday, March 26, 2018

Running with a Dog… An adventure with Paddington


  Paddington is my four-year-old dog.  Well, he loves my youngest Tori and me the most out of the family.  Paddington will follow either of us everywhere and he doesn’t like when either one of us raises our voice.  He is such a cuddly dog and he loves to lick.  But he goes crazy whenever there’s a mention of the word “leash” or when the leash is accidentally bumped and makes a jingly sound.  

  My wife started walking with Paddington to get him out of the house.  I started to run a mile with Paddington sometime two Springs ago.  In July-August, our city holds a 5k race to help raise funds for Police K-9 units, the Guardians of the Night 5k.  It’s a pretty fun event, and as you can guess, takes place at night.  The county sheriff’s department blocks off a route and hundreds of people walk, run, or jog and so a lot of dogs.  

  The first time I took Paddington on this race, he wasn’t ready.  I had a GoPro harness on him, but instead of an action camera, he carried a small speaker to play music as we would run the course.  While the harness and speakers were light, Paddington was not in shape to run 3.1 miles yet.  I still believe he didn’t drink enough water that day, and being the eager dog that he is, Paddington sprinted at the start of the race.  I should point out that the first song on our playlist for everyone to hear was the Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Of course, it HAD to be that song at the beginning.  We passed a lot of people and dogs and when they saw this 60-pound dog running and blaring a dog anthem, they all laughed and cheered him on.  But Paddington loved to sprint and that we did… for the first quarter mile.  After that, he was ready to trot, not run or job, but trot.  We went along the rest of the course, but at my pace, and with the running playlist still going.  We eventually finished the race, and Paddington took in a lot of water at the finish line.  We had fun that night, but I vowed to get Paddington ready whenever we have a race that I would him along.

  Last year’s Guardians of the Night 5k went a lot better.  I took Paddington out six weeks prior to the race and ran more with him, increasing the distance every couple of weeks.  He still wore the GoPro harness and speakers, and we still started the race with the Baha Men song (which will probably be a tradition for us now), and this time, he finished the race a little faster and less tired than the year prior.  Paddington’s tongue was not hanging out like some towel dispenser in a public restroom.  After the race, I let Paddington rest but would occasionally take him on a run if he knew I was hitting the pavement.  

  This winter has been very unusual down here in the South.  One day, it can be freezing, but the next we could hit temperatures between the 70s and 80s degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 26 degrees Celsius).  But I’ve been getting Paddington out there every so often.  Today, we ran four miles and as usual, he wanted to start sprinting.  He’s getting better at not completely spazzing out and trying to charge ahead for the first quarter mile.   But there are some things I cannot get Paddington to stop doing like chasing birds and squirrels, and boy does he like to chase them.  

  There is a preview race later this week, a preview for the See Spot Run 5k, that I might take Paddington to and see how he does.  He’s going to act crazy, but at least he’ll be able to run and finish 3.1 miles with no issues.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Don't Run With Race Swag On Your Back: Use the Bag Check (or Gear Check)

  Several days ago, I ran in a very popular local race, the Get to the Green.  I took part in the 5k event, which had over 1400 people in it.  Over 250 people went the extra mile by going for the 10k or even the 15k race.  While I don’t remember seeing anyone in that group do this, I did notice quite a few people running in the 5k with their drawstring bags on their backs.   Some runners barely had anything in their bag as evidenced by it being almost flat against the runners’ backs but there were some who looked like they had an extra shirt, jacket, maybe a towel, and some other items in their bags.  Those people’s bags sloshed around on their backs and you could see the drawstring pulling on their shoulders.   I think this was one of the very few things the organizers could improve upon for future events; the inclusion of a gear check area.  

  I rarely bring a bag with me to a race; I usually leave any gear in the car at the parking lot and grab it after the race.  This was the case for a Spartan Race my wife and I did in Austin years ago.  We knew we would get muddy and I had water, towels, and spare clothing lined up in the back of our SUV once we trekked back from the finish line.

  However, last year I wore a cinch bag on my back for the Cooper River Bridge Run because I wasn’t sure if security would let me through the gates with my GoPro and my gimbal through the corrals (there were no issues).   If you watch my video from that race (the Cooper River Bridge Run), you will occasionally see me pull the drawstrings to make it more comfortable.  I could have done bag check but my bag was relatively empty and its only purpose was to hold the GoPro.  Afterwards, I figured I wouldn’t carry a bag again.  I would check my bag every time I bring it.  

Just before swapping clothes

  Earlier this year, I brought a bag for gear check to the AllState Hot Chocolate 15k in Atlanta and I don’t regret it.   It was rainy and cold, and when I crossed the finish line, I was freezing.  Having a change of clothes helped out immensely.  That would not have been a good time to carry a non-water repellent bag through a cold, wet 9.3-mile course and expect my spare clothing to be dry afterwards. 

  But back to the Get to the Green race, each time I saw or passed someone wearing their bag on their bag, I kept thinking that they didn’t plan to have that with them.  While it was only a 3.1-mile course, the weather was a little cooler than most expected, and I believe that a bunch of people shoved an extra shirt or jacket in their bag thinking it would be okay to check in or to carry along the course. 

  Carrying a cinch bag or a drawstring bag can be an inconvenience while out on the course.  If you aren’t sure if a race offers a gear check or not, I advise leaving anything extra in the car or have someone come along to the race and have them hold your gear for you.  Check the race website or ask them on social media about gear check.  Most race organizers have at least a Facebook page if not also a Twitter and Instagram account as well.  For me, my son played the pack mule for the Get to the Green race because I initially had a jacket on me before the race.   If he wasn’t with us, I would have left the jacket in the car.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Contents of the Cooper River Bridge Run race packet

  Friday I received my Cooper River Bridge Run race packet in the mail. I wasn't expecting it because when I signed up for the race, I thought I would be picking up everything at the CRBR expo on April 6.  So I looked at my registration, and yes, I did sign up for the packet to be delivered to my home.

 Thus I set about opening the envelope and this is what came with my bib number.

The first (and only) thing that was in my envelope was my cinch bag, but it was filled with all the all the race information and goodies that I would expect from this company.
Front of the Bag

The bag has this year's cover art on it. As you can see from the picture, the front is plastic and based off of how last year's bag performed, it will help repel some water off your back while you wear it. If it's a light drizzle, because...

B1ack of the Bag

 the back of the bag is a clear mesh. This helps with security at the event; bag checks are a big issues these days with something this big.

Front of the Shirt

  The first thing that stood out to me when I looked inside the bag was the shirt. I love racing shirts and I rarely get rid of them. In fact, the only times I really throw away race shirts are when they don't fit me or I end up spilling something horrendous on them.  This particular shirt is a Gildan, which I'm normally not a big fan of, but it was not a typical Gildan shirt. This one was a dry blend Gildan, so it's not the usual sort that you find for a cheap price at a craft store.

 The back does have a list of the major sponsors for the Bridge Run, which I do like the layout.  I'm not that keen on the grey color of the shirt, though, mostly because I've worn a grey shirt most of my Army career during physical training... and when I slept during a deployment. But I can see this shirt looking good in a pair of jeans.

Next came the mini-towel which is a special item that they pick out each year. The first time I ran the Bridge Run, I got a similar mini-towel, but last year, I received a multi-purpose headband. I still have those with me, and I like the length of this year's special item.  It's longer than the previous towel I received, and I can easily hang it around my the back of my neck without it falling out.

  Next I pulled out some maps of the local area. One was of Charleston, where the race ends, and the other similar looking map was of Mount Pleasant, where the Bridge Run starts.  There was another map that came with the packet and that showed the route from start to finish. Anyone who has ran this course within the last several years will be familiar with what this looks like.

 Finally I had my race bib (though that was rolled up in my shirt), a card for the Asheville Half-Marathon and 10k, a 30 dollar voucher for Hello Fresh, and a five dollar coupon for Gilligan's Seafood Restaurant.

  Not a bad packet after all, and while I thought I would be picking it up at the Cooper River Bridge Run Expo, I still plan on going there. Maybe I'll get a new pair of On Cloud running shoes.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Beginnings...From Little Kid to Retired Army Guy

I started running when I was eight year old.  That day was my first race, the MidSummer Morn 5k, which I learned has now been renamed to the Woodstock 5k.  My parents always joked about that race.  Not because it was my first time running, but because I finished... dead last. In fact, I was so slow that the announcers were calling my name over the speakers and a trail ambulance offered me a ride because I was walking after hitting mile two.  But at the last quarter mile, I got out of the vehicle and finished the race, with a time of 45 minutes.  Most people probably would have quit but after a couple of weeks, I jumped back into it. You see, my dad was a career Army guy and was in pretty decent shape and he liked to run; my mother was getting into running as well, and I watched her rack up trophies and medals at the local races.  From the time I first raced until four years later when we left Alabama, I would join my parents in any 5k race they did, and even attempted a 10k but only finished four miles of the 6.2 total.  When we moved to Texas, I pretty much stopped running.  Sure, there was P.E. and joining the high school basketball team, but as far as races and doing anything over a mile was not going to be a part of my childhood any more.

  Fast forward five years, and I join the Army.  I go from a scraggly 17 year who ran a 17:50 2-mile time to six weeks later where I could run a 13:20 2-mile time in Basic Training.  From that point on, I loved running but I never thought of running in a race until almost two decades later when a tragic gun shooting happened the day after I got back from my fifth deployment and Fort Hood hosted a memorial 5k race one year after that shooting.  While the event sought to have people remember those who lost their lives to Major Nidal Hasan's actions, it made me realize that I missed that feeling of being in a crowd and running alongside other people.  Running in Army formations do not count, though I loved doing that as well.  Throughout my Army career, I was consisting running between 14 and 16 minute two mile time but I  was getting the bug to run further and among a bunch of people.

  A few years after the Run to Remember race, I ended up doing a few obstacle races in Texas before we moved to South Carolina (Army commitments).  The first race I did in South Carolina was the Jailbreak 5k, which was a two person event; you and your partner had to do each obstacle together and cross the finish line as a team.  It was pretty much at that point, I would run races with my wife.  While I'm more comfortable with 5k runs, I do like 10k races, and I will occasionally dabble in the 15k, 10 miler, and even a half-marathon or two.  The Cooper River Bridge Run is a fantastic, memorable run and I suggest anyone and everyone do it at least once in their life.

  In my last assignment, the Army sent me on my sixth deployment to the Middle East, and while I was in Kuwait, I would run in the base's monthly 5k or 10k races.  They even had a color run and an obstacle course race out there. Yes, we carved time into our schedule out there to do a fun obstacle course race that service members from multiple countries participated in.

I left the Army after a 25 year career, and running will be a connecting factor to in my life. While living in South Carolina, I joined Team Red, White, and Blue and the Columbia Running Club. Team RWB is a great group of people who are or support veterans and want to give back to the community. The Columbia Running Club is a group of runners who enjoy... well, running.  These past few years have been a big transition time for me, not only in run time, but life in general as I said good-bye to the military lifestyle.

  I may be a bit slower now, but I will be writing about my exploits, adventures, and mishaps here. Join me as I go running... after the military.