Jogging the dog

It’s not uncommon for Coby, my Golden retriever, to find himself attending doggie daycare during the week.

Personally, I’m a huge proponent of getting dogs together, especially at a young age, to help them socialize and get plenty of exercise. It’s something I started with Riley, my previous Golden, and a tradition I continue with Coby, now 20-months-old. You can read some blogs about Riley here and here — or an entire thread of posts.

Each time I pick Coby up, it’s the same drill: someone goes to fetch him from the play area, and then he barrels down the hallway and launches himself at the steel door — where he stretches his neck to peek through the window. By now, he should now he can’t open the door with brute force, but he does it anyway. As the door swings open, he sprints and leaps at me, often reaching back to snatch his leash with his mouth.

It makes me chuckle every time. So does the happiness depicted by the photo of Coby below.

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During the brief wait today, I noticed a clipboard containing flyers with the large words “The Dog Jog.” It’s the latest addition to this blog’s race calendar, and a Facebook link to the April 18 event in Grand Forks’ Lincoln Park can be found here. The event benefits the Circle of Friends Humane Society. Below is a photo of Riley, running with me and my pal Jason, at the Filthy 5K several years ago.

RIley, Jason and me

 

Once Coby and I returned home, I finally made the commitment to Saturday’s 25K at the Sandhills Ultra Run Experience on Saturday. It will be my first trail experience in North Dakota and as memorable as the time I spent running gravel roads near the town of New England while Riley and some friends went pheasant hunting. Here are a few photos from that trip.

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Another Fat Tuesday

“Through the ups and downs of running, I have found new perspective in life. The suffering and success has made me a stronger, happier person.” — Christine Casady 

There, in my kitchen, I stood with a stack of papers detailing the daily workouts leading up to Grandma’s Marathon.

In black ink, the words spelled out the the specifics of the plan requiring determination, focus and commitment necessary to arrive at the starting line — 16 weeks from that moment — in shape to run a peak race.

Like any imposing task, a marathon requires serious participants to marshal every bit of hope, energy and fortitude to endure hours of training every week. The sacrifice varies from runner to runner, but the sense of accomplishment is nearly identical. Running a marathon takes courage and a healthy threshold for pain and self-doubt.

Breaking up the marathon training into tiny bits helps. Each week I peek ahead on the schedule to see what the hard workouts require: speed intervals, speed endurance or tempo sessions, and long runs.

My favorite among all of them are the Fat Tuesday interval sessions.

That’s the name I’ve given these workouts because my goal is to run faster, and to meet that goal, I need to lose weight. Running intervals is one of the proven methods of cutting pounds. Other major benefits of intervals are two key concepts: you have to practice running fast to execute in a race, and running faster helps improve running efficiency.

And the final upside of Fat Tuesday intervals? They are simple fun, and easier than a tempo run because of the recovery between each one.

Trying the trail

“The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” — Fabrienne Fredrickson

If you’ve ever wanted to try trail running, the Sandhills Ultra Run Experience on Saturday would be a good one to try.

Don’t be thrown by the name if you’re not an ultra runner. There is a shorter option available.

The event offers 100K (62 miles), 50K (31 miles), and 25K (15.6 miles) distances. Trail running offers an excellent opportunity to see new terrain, appreciate the outdoors from a new perspective, and experiment with your running.

Several area runners have talked about signing up and doing so by Thursday will save $10 over the packet pickup price on Friday. To make it easy for 25K runners, there will also be a shuttle service from the campground parking area to the race start.

And if there’s ever been a year to run in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in March, this would be the year since the weather shouldn’t prove to be a challenge. There is a short gear list required for runners, so be sure to arrive prepared on race day. There are some required items (a container with 1-liter water capacity, cell phone and whistle) and recommended items (extra socks, wind/rain jacket and waterproof shoes). The 100K runners have a few other items they need to bring.

The event will be on the North Country Trail through the Sheyenne National Grasslands, about 45 miles southwest of Fargo.

Race director Tim Bauer, an experienced ultrarunner who has run the race in the past, posted numerous photos and a written report in his blog Trails and Travails.