Race Recap: DAWS Run Your Tail Off 5K

What a fun race!

We adopted our dog Gizmo three years ago from a local shelter called the Danbury Animal Welfare Society, or DAWS.   He’s a great dog, a big Shepherd Collie mix, and he runs with me nearly every time I go out.  He loves the exercise, and I feel a little better knowing that no one will likely mess with me because I have this great big scary looking dog with me.

So when we saw the Run Your Tail Off 5K, my husband and I knew this had to be.  I was a little nervous because Gizmo is a very nervous dog, and his nervousness comes out sometimes as aggression with other dogs, but Gizmo is also very docile and listens to commands well.  So I went ahead and signed up for this one a few weeks ago.

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Also, the whole family came to cheer me and Gizmo on, which was nice.  The last race they came to was my Veteran’s Day 5K  last November.  It does make a bit of a difference knowing there are people there to support you and waiting for you at the finish line.

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Me and my pooch pre race.

I wasn’t sure how it was all going to work.  But eventually, we figured it out.  They started runners without dogs first, and they must have started the clock then.  A few minutes later (I realize now it was exactly six minutes later), they lined those of us with dogs up and got us going.

dawsrun2 dawsrun3It was totally crazy at first!  Gizmo is usually good about staying with me and not pulling, but with so many dogs around him, he wanted to keep up with them.  And since I am a slower runner, this meant lots of people (and dogs) were ahead of me, even at the start.  I could tell he was pulling me outside of my comfort zone, so my whole first mile was pretty much trying to pull him back until the herd thinned somewhat.

My GPS wigged out right off the bat, so at the five minute mark I had no idea how far I’d gone.  Technically we started in the parking garage, so it probably couldn’t find a signal.  Still, I knew the time was accurate so I just tried to get a comfortable pace on and go with the flow.

Around mile 1.5 was the water stop for both dogs and humans.  I followed my usual race protocol and walked through the stop, and then gave the dog a minute to grab some water too.  The water stop was during the first uphill of several, so it was well placed.  I caught my breath and went on.

By now we were on the roads leading through the corporate complex and it was a gorgeous day.  50 or so degrees, bright and sunny, spring just starting to come out in the trees and flowers.  I sailed through the next mile without ever finding the marker for mile 2.  There were a few hills in there and I did let myself walk thirty second stretches during the two steepest ones.

All of the sudden I saw we were at mile 2.5, and I wasn’t sure at all how fast I was going with the GPS all messed up.  I was hardly even paying attention to the voice calling out my time over my music in the RunKeeper, because I knew the mileage was all screwed up anyway.  But then I saw the finish line, and could see 36 and change on the timing device.

Damn.  I couldn’t believe I came in slow, but attributed it to the walking.  I bolted for the finish line, determined to finish in the low 37s.

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I ran through and went over to the side where the pans of water were for the dogs, figuring I would let Giz grab a drink while my family caught up to me.  I reached over to my armband to stop the RunKeeper and saw that it said this:

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What the what?  How could that be?  Yes, I knew the mileage was wrong but there was no way the time was.  Sure enough, my daughter ran up to me and said, “Mom, you ran that in like half an hour!”  So all that pulling Gizmo did really did speed me up.   And I didn’t even stop my RunKeeper until a good 20 seconds or more after passing through the finish, so I reasoned that I possibly ran this 5K in the low 32s.

That’s insane!  I think that possibly the course may have been slightly short, because I cannot fathom how I ran this hilly course three minutes faster than my best 5K time, which I did on a totally flat course.  The course wasn’t billed as ATF certified, so it may not be a full 5K.  But I suspect it is still a PR, regardless, because even if it’s a bit shy on mileage, it’s probably not short three minutes worth of running.

The race results show me with a time of 31:48, an average of a 10:15 mile.  They must have started us six minutes later than the non dog runners.  Holy smokes.  Maybe I should consider some actual speedwork.  It didn’t feel as hard as I would think that kind of time would make me feel.  How about that?

I was so inspired by my time that I signed up for the Mother’s Day 10K as soon as I got home.

Overall, the race was a lot of fun.  I think it was well run, with frequent water stops, poop bag stations (thank god I didn’t need one today) and great music pre and post race.   Plus, it’s a great cause.  Definitely plan on making this an annual event for me and my pooch.

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Somewhere on the journey to a better life, depending on the day...moving (mostly) forward.

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