Dog Days of Summer

Labor Day weekend is considered the end of summer.  To runners, however, it is the beginning of the race season. Oktoberfest runs, fall classics, Turkey trots, etc.  Here in my part of the country the Chicago Marathon overshadows all other races.  The marathon is a singular experience because 40,000  people start with you but you cross the finish line alone.

Training for any race is a lonely process and no matter how much external support you have, on the trail you’re on your own, buster!  Having a training partner or joining a running club is advice I have heard from more than one source and I heartily agree.  I joined a local running group and they were a fantastic group of people.  One spouse would set up water stops and cruise the course in his mini van looking for stragglers.  They organized a 10K by the local racetrack (cars) and it’s been a great success.  But…(there’s always a but!)  I started running because I’m lazy.  It sounds counter-intuitive, I know.  But that’s basically my motivation.  Minimal equipment required and all I need for a workout is to open the front door.  For many the social aspect of a running club is a large motivator.  For me, not so much.  I’m a bit of a loner.  What’s an anti-social lazy endurance athlete to do?  An ideal training partner would be ready to run on the shortest notice, wouldn’t have prior commitments, doesn’t sleep in on Sunday,  and doesn’t care how far you are going, what time of day, or how hot/cold it is.  On the trail they shouldn’t  spout bizarre political views or complain or come up with lame excuses to turn around. Oh, yeah, you really should like each other, too!  So I run with the KK-K9-10K club

Me, Kipper (Jack Russell Terrier), Riker (German Short hair Pointer), and Izzy (Black Lab).  I don’t usually take Kipper running, but she is a “me too” kind of dog, so she’s in the picture.  I’ve always run with the dogs.  My first running dog was Watson, a Black Lab. He really “got” running.  He stayed right by me on or off the leash and he would poop while running  just like a horse.  It was amazing.  Riker is the real athlete in this picture and  is he fast!  Not being content with ducks and geese, he can just about catch robins on the ground.  He can get 1/2 mile ahead of me before I even realize he is gone.  When I call him he won’t come, but he’ll stop and patiently wait which is a bad habit according to the Dog Whisperer, but I figure if he’s ahead of me he deserves a rest.  Izzy is a little lazier than Riker but still always up for a run.  She’s  more gratifying to take because she’ll at least be tired when we get home.  I took Riker for a 10-miler in the middle of winter and it was so cold the sweat in my hair froze it straight up and I had icicles in my beard.  When we got home he sat in front of me and grinned from ear to ear as if to say “is that all you got?”  I don’t think I’ve ever tired him out. The day this picture was taken, I ran Kipper for about a mile.  Her little legs went a million miles an hour and when we we got home she was toast for the rest of the afternoon.

So leave the iPod at home. Listen to the wind and the birds and your heart for a change. Make your best friend happy. Plus, there is always potential for extra cardiopulmonary exercise from screaming at the dogs to “leave the @#$%^ skunk alone!”