Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Taos Race Report: Running With Canine

Hello from Death Valley, California. It's Day 5 of our 3rd annual cross-country road trip to Lake Tahoe. Only one more day of driving - we'll be at Big Blue tonight. But first, a quick race report of the Taos 5K.

13.1 to 5K: I actually signed up to do the Taos Half-Marathon. Then a few days ago, the race director called me and said that only 7 people signed up for the half-marathon portion of the race. It wasn't worth it to organize water stops, police, etc. for a 13. 1 miler, so was I OK just doing the 5K instead?

No problem, I said. Even though I wasn't going to get my long run in as a result, we really didn't have the time for me to run a half-marathon. We had to get back on the road and drive 500 miles that day.

Nelson Runs!: The race was very low-key. Only about 60 people, or so. I got the OK from the race director to run with our dog, Nelson. I felt bad for our dog, looking forlorn and sitting in the car while it was a cool and beautiful morning, so I thought, Why not? It wasn't possible to run for time, as Nelson likes to stop and sniff. So it was just going tbe for fun. E. ran the 5K too, so it was a family run.

Then the gun sounded. Actually, the gun didn't work, so the race director just clapped his hands. No race clock, either, just a stop watch. Did I happen to mention that the race was low-key?!

Nelson, E., and I were lined up way at the back, but the dog and I quickly pulled to the middle of the pack. It was very, very hard to run with him, as he sprinted, then slowed down, then sprinted, etc., and I pulled him back mightily lest other runners trip over him.

My right arm and shoulder got the biggest workout in the race, not my legs. Nelson also kept zig-zagging all over the course. Even so, we started passing runners left and right. I briefly flirted with the idea that we could make up time and that I could finish first or second in women. So far, I was number 3, and gaining.

We ran by open fields with horses. Gorgeous animals. Then Nelson started barking furiously and charged a horse. He yanked me off-course several feet, both of us skidding on gravel. I almost lost my balance before I got Nelson under control. Lost about 10-15 seconds there. At least. Ran past several heavy-breathing men. They were not pleased to be passed by a woman in a running skirt and a dog. Strangely enough, the high altitude - about 7,000 ft. - was not bothering me.

Say cheese!: The weekly Taos News photographer stopped in her truck and took several photos of us. I waved. Nelson grinned. Maybe we'll be in the next edition of the paper, which comes out on Thursday.

Bathroom breaks: Nelson stopped to pee twice. Lost about 30 seconds there. Runners streamed by us. We started running again, and we passed lots of people. Then Nelson stopped. And pooped. Then pooped some more. I had a plastic bag for just the occasion, though I was not happy to have to use it. That cost us about 2 minutes. Runners smiled as they ran past, while I held the dog with one hand and picked up poop in the other. Yuck.

E. caught up with us, and took the dog with him. I ran with a bag full of poop for a half-mile. I spotted a trash can about 10 feet off-course, but the damn thing was chained shut! Ran another quarter-mile before I found an open trash can. Yeesh.

I decided to run with E. and Nelson, seeing as how I had lost so much time. We ran together for a bit, then I looked around me and saw they had fallen behind. So I stopped and cheered on the other runners until E. and Nelson caught up, or I'd run back to meet them. This happened several times, and one 40ish man with headphones (the only runner to break the rules and wear them) was not happy AT ALL that I kept running past him.

In the last 50 feet, I stopped for the last time and waited for E. and Nelson, who was flagging, to catch up. I saw headphone man charging, his arms and legs pumping for all they were worth. He was looking straight at me and running as fast as he could.

No way was I going to let him beat me.

From a dead stop, I started sprinting. Go, go, go! I thought. The track work paid off - he didn't get by me. After we crossed the finish line, I smiled at him to convey no hard feelings, and said, "Good race!"

He didn't look at me as he mumbled, "Thanks." Then he stalked off. Hmmph.

My final time was slow: 28 minutes and change. But the race medals are the coolest I've ever seen - ceramic and handmade by local elementary kids. Included in the photos above is one of me wearing my medal after the race, and one of Nelson wearing one. Gotta go, kids. More from Tahoe.


  1. You didn't run a race. You had an adventure! Cool medals.

  2. What a fun race! Go Nelson!

    And feh to Mr. Grumpy Pants. He needs to cash in that medal for a clue!

  3. Cute pics! Sounds like a fun run and yes, I can only imagine the upper body workout you got from tugging a 60-something pound lab!!!

  4. Nelson is too cute! And the race report is hysterical. Nice job out there, in particular for passing grumpy men ;-)

  5. This has got to be the funniest race report I've every read. Nelson rocks. And I can just see you out kicking the head-phone-dude. Too funny.

    The pictures were great.

  6. That's a hilarious story! I don't think I could run any distance with a bag of poop in my hand.

  7. great race report! this is really fun!

    Love those hand made awards... Low key has its upside for sure!