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Dog-N-Jog 2013 Race Report

Saturday morning was the 2013 Dog-N-Jog 5K race, and Tara’s second running race!  I woke up around 6am to feed Tara and make myself breakfast so we would have plenty of time for our 9am start. I needed to get to the start line around 8am to deliver something, so we left the house around 7:50. I picked up my race packet when we got there, got situated with my race bib, chatted with a few friends, and went for a short walk to work out some of Tara’s and my nerves.

I have a confession to make.

I’ve never really “warmed-up” for a race. I usually run longer distances than the 5K and in the past I never felt that my endurance was good enough to warrant an extra mile or so before beginning my race!  In my training runs, though, I’ve noticed that it usually takes me about a mile to get really warmed-up and into a rhythm for a good run, so I decided to try it for the 5K. Around 8:40am, we set off for an easy warm-up mile. Curtis didn’t race on Saturday, but he joined Tara and me for our warm-up. We ran just under a mile (0.89) at a 10:34 pace, and got back about 10 minutes before the start.

Getting ready for the big race!

Getting ready for the big race!

Tara and I were both pretty jittery and ready to go, but we stood and talked to some friends (doggy and human). Just before the gun, we lined up near the back of the corral and braced ourselves for the start. Just like last year, there was incredible energy at the start. The dogs were ready and raring to go and when the gun started, after a short collective hop, everyone started moving forward. The initial forward movement seemed a little slow compared to last year, but that was probably because everyone was trying to get over the timing mats, as this race was chip-timed for the first time.

Off we go!!

Off we go!!

As soon as we got through the chute, Tara started moving and picking off runners. We made our way through the pack pretty quickly by going around runners in the grass. The field opened up a lot by 1/4 of a mile into the race, and we were cruising. I checked my watch and realized I was on a much faster pace than I anticipated. I have never beaten 9 minute miles in a race, and I was on pace for a bit faster. I considered slowing, but felt great and decided to keep up the pace as much as possible. Tara was running strong and still wanted to overtake the runners. We passed a number of people and only got passed by one guy with a dog right at the end of mile 1.

Starting to pick up our speed out of the chute!

Starting to pick up our speed out of the chute!

Curtis joined us for a short bit of the race to run us into the finish area. I still felt strong, so I think I probably still have more to give with these shorter distances.

Still going strong!

Still going strong!

We kept pushing the pace as much as possible till we came to the home stretch where we sprinted as much as we could through the finish chute. Our final time was 26:58 (8:41 minute/mile pace!!!!), which is a PR by about a minute and a half. I finished 8th female (out of 91) and 17th overall (out of 132).

Running in for a strong finish!

Running in for a strong finish!

This was the strongest I have ever felt running a race, so it seems that my winter training has been paying off! It might be time to pick up the speed in my training to keep improving in this area. I felt like I was stagnant and destined to run consistent 10 minute miles forever, but I’m finally getting faster!

I was really proud of Tara’s and my efforts today, we both started strong and ended strong and she was very well-behaved. I can’t wait to do this run again next year and maybe even PR again!


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Race Day Tomorrow!

The Dog-N-Jog 5K race is tomorrow morning at 9am (I should be sleeping right now!). I’m super-excited for tomorrow’s race. I can just remember the high of the energy at the start line of last year’s Dog-N-Jog and can’t wait to be part of it again. 🙂 This race marks the start of my whirlwind “season”, with another race on Sunday, and the half marathon in two weeks!

Good luck to all my friends and classmates running tomorrow! I hope you and your dogs have fun!

Today’s Training
2.41 mile run to loosen up

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Dog-N-Jog and Brew to Brew Race Plans

This weekend, I have a 5K race on Saturday (Dog-N-Jog) and a relay race on Sunday, in which I’m running two legs for about 9 miles total. Both races are more “for fun” than major goals for me. I’m very tempted to go for a PR on my 5K at Dog-N-Jog, but knowing that the start will be insane with all the people and pooches, I think it is more important to just enjoy the event without setting any race specific goals. My major goal for the Brew to Brew relay race is that the day goes smoothly and everyone gets to the exchange points on time!


I’ve toyed with the idea of going to the gym in the morning to lift, but I think I am going to prioritize sleep over an extra workout this week. My plan is to do a light 3 mile run around the neighborhood right after class ends in the afternoon.  I want to leave plenty of time to get my studying done so I can get to bed at a reasonable hour.


Classes don’t start till 9am on Friday morning, so I should have time to fit in a short yoga routine to stretch and loosen up in advance of the race Saturday morning. Otherwise, my time will be spent in class in the morning and then an exam in the afternoon. Packet pickup should begin by the time I get out of my exam, so I’ll grab my bib/chip before I leave school. Then, Friday afternoon/evening, I’ll prep everything for the 5K and lay out my running clothes and Tara’s gear:

  • Timing Chip/Bib
  • Leash/Collar
  • Poop bags
  • Water bottle(s)/bowl
  • Heart rate monitor/Garmin
  • RoadID
  • Running shoes
  • Socks
  • T-shirt/Capris/Sports bra
  • +/- Race belt
  • Hat/Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen!
  • ID badge


The race doesn’t start till 9:00am, so I have plenty of time if I get up by 7am to eat breakfast and be out the door by 8:15am. That should put me at the race start early enough to do a quick warm-up and hit the bathroom before lining up.  Last year, I think the race started a little late, but they’ve enlisted the help of Manhattan Running Company to do the timing this year, so I’m hoping we start right on time. As I mentioned, I’m not setting a goal time, but I expect to be done in around 30 minutes give or take depending on how congested the start is. After the race, I need to remember to stretch well so I’m not stiff/sore for Sunday. I might take a short nap before getting packed and ready to head out to Lawrence, KS for the night.

Packing list:

  • Change of clothes and shoes for after the race on Sunday
  • Neon green tech shirt, sports bra, and long-sleeved shirt
  • Running capris and tights (just in case it’s colder than expected)
  • Rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • RoadID
  • Garmin/Heart rate monitor
  • Race belt
  • Hydration belt
  • Water bottles
  • Snacks and Breakfast foods
  • Running shoes
  • Running socks
  • PJs for Saturday night
  • Toiletries
  • Small first aid kit for the car
  • Cooler
  • $$$

We’ll pick up a few of our teammates and head to Lawrence around 5pm to all have dinner around 7 or 7:30pm and a brief race meeting. Then it’s early to bed for a really early wake up call.

Our teams start at 6:00am Sunday morning, so we’ll need to meet at the race start to coordinate and get into the right vehicles by 5:30am. Once the first racers go off, we’ll start the crazy carpooling and driving around to exchange points to cheer in runners before moving to the next exchange point. I’m running legs 5 (4.8 miles) and 9 (4 miles) so I’ll have awhile in the car before my legs, and will need to eat around the time the race starts and probably snack after my first leg is finished. Hopefully the day will run smoothly and we should finish around lunch time. 🙂

This will be my first attempt at running two races in one weekend. The overall mileage is pretty reasonable, so I’m not too worried about the physical challenge. I do think this weekend is going to be just a little mentally exhausting, especially since I’m going to try and fit in studying anytime I have some downtime!

Have you ever done a relay race? 




Wednesday’s Training

4.6 mile trail run, easy

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Beginning Running with your Dog

There’s no running partner quite like a dog. The uncontrollable joy when you grab your dog’s leash is infectious and is almost guaranteed to get you out of the house to hit the roads or the trails. And who else can we convince to run in rain, snow, sleet, and even a stiff Kansas wind with us? Whether a seasoned runner or a newbie, your dog can help keep you motivated in your toughest moments and be there to share your greatest runs. My dog, Tara, has helped me train for five half marathons. She keeps me going on those tough long runs when I just want to take a break and she races me, pushing me faster, when I’m working on speed. In honor of our upcoming Dog-N-Jog race this weekend, I’ve put together 10 tips for beginning a running program with your pup.

Home stretch of our 10 miler and the snow is just starting to stick to Tara's fur.

1. Warning: Always Consult a Physician Before Beginning an Exercise Routine

We see these signs and warnings every time we go to the gym or read about starting a new exercise routine, and the same goes for our dogs. It’s a good idea to take a trip to the veterinarian before beginning an exercise program with your dog, particularly if she hasn’t had a complete physical in awhile. Just like in people, we want to make sure there are no heart, lung, or musculoskeletal abnormalities before beginning a running program. Also, ask your veterinarian to teach you how to evaluate your dog’s Body Condition Score to determine if she’s at a good weight, which will be helpful for you to evaluate her condition as you increase your mileage. And if your dog is under two years old, make sure to ask what age it is okay to start running so that the repetitive physical stress does not affect joint and bone development in young dogs.

2. Know Your Dog

It’s obvious from the vastly different physical characteristics that different breeds of dog were bred for different purposes and have different strengths and weaknesses. While our herding dogs and sledding dogs may be able to accompany you on even your longest distance runs, smaller breeds and dogs with flattened faces (e.g. pugs, bulldogs, etc.) may only be able to run shorter distances due to their conformation. It’s important to recognize your dog’s abilities and keep your expectations in line so that you are not pushing your dog beyond his physical capabilities.

3. Start Slowly

If your dog has been a couch potato her entire life, or even if she’s active but has never done any endurance running, it’s important to build up slowly to avoid injuries. I follow the same general rules for building doggy training plans as for people – build weeks increasing no more than 10% total mileage and no more than 10% long run distance interspersed every 2-3 weeks with a step back or recovery week. If you are already running consistently, you may want to plan some runs in which you can run a short loop with your dog, drop him off at the house and then continue on the rest of your run until you’ve built up your dog’s endurance.

4. Be Aware of the Weather

Unlike people who can sweat, dogs use panting as their primary mechanism for cooling themselves. Because dogs are also extremely willing to please, they may push themselves past the point of safety on hot days. If you notice your dog is excessively panting, trying to seek shade, or lay down during a run, it’s time to stop and let them cool down. Tara is fairly heat tolerant for a German Shepherd Dog, so my general rule of thumb is no more than 3-5 easy miles when it’s over 80 degrees F. You will need to find the comfortable point for your own dog, and avoid pushing him beyond his tolerance.

5. Hydration

And on that note, if you need water on a run, there’s a good chance your dog does too! For short runs (under 6 miles or so), I don’t carry water and have found that Tara will not drink even if I offer it. On longer runs, especially on warm days, I offer water every time I take a sip. You can teach your dog to drink from a bottle or there are small collapsible bowls you can use that will fit in a hydration belt. Since Tara has never learned to drink from a bottle, in a pinch I will pour water into a cupped hand and let her take a few sips. There’s no need to gorge themselves on water, just enough to quench their thirst.

6. Nutrition

This is a tough aspect to cover, and could fill an entire blog since such a large percentage of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Running is a great way to help your pup get more exercise and lose some of that weight, if needed. You may also be helping your dog live longer, as some studies have demonstrated that thinner dogs may have greater longevity. If your dog is already a good weight – something your veterinarian can help you assess (see #1) – you may have to increase your dog’s rations to fuel the extra exercise. Dogs may also benefit from extra nutrition on long runs (10+ miles), but their smaller size means they probably do not need nearly the number of calories that we do, so it’s important to be careful to find an appropriate balance.

7. Strength and Stretch

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but just like you, your dog will benefit from strength training and stretching. Cross-training such as swimming, hiking, and tugging can help build muscle strength. You can also use simple tricks such as doggy push-ups, perch training, and backing up to improve body awareness and agility. Learning to do simple stretches and massage on your dog can be a great benefit for them to work out sore muscles.

8. Leash and Potty Training

There are two major training items that can make runs with your dog much more enjoyable. First, is teaching your dog to run properly on a loose leash. I’m not too picky, Tara can run at my side, behind me or in front of me as long as she’s not dragging me around the entire run or constantly crossing my path. I prefer her to run out in front so we’re not stepping on each other on narrow trails, but if she wants to be at my side, who can argue with that? In my opinion it’s easiest to train loose-leash walking then translating that to running. The second major item is teaching your dog to eliminate on command. It’s not a hard thing to teach (simply give the cue you choose every time your dog eliminates) and it saves a lot of frustration on the run. Obviously, when they gotta go, they gotta go, but the less stops the better! Some dogs will catch on to these faster than others, but if you put in the time having both of these “skills” will make runs much more enjoyable. 🙂

9. Observing Your Dog

I’ll never forget the day I was out with Tara and she went completely lame on one leg. She was non weight-bearing, but otherwise happy as a clam. I had no idea what she’d done to herself – there were no yelps of pain, no sudden twists, turns or stops that could have caused it. When I stopped to check her, I found a 3 inch long thorn sticking out of her pad. After removing it, she was back to normal, so we ran home where I was able to clean and more thoroughly evaluate it. It’s incredibly important that you learn to observe your dog for injuries especially through any subtle gait changes. Dogs are so incredibly stoic that they often don’t show us overt signs of pain unless it’s really really bad, so we need to be able to pick up on the little things. Sore muscles or injuries may lead to lameness that requires rest (and possibly vet intervention) for healing. Paw pads are a frequent place of minor and major running injuries, so I try to inspect them daily for any cuts or abrasions. In the summer be aware of the hot asphalt and in the winter, the chemicals and salt used on roads and sidewalks can burn the pads.

10. Have a Blast!

(The obligatory “have fun” tip). Running with your dog is not just a great way to stay motivated and to get fit, it’s fun! Explore new routes, try trail running with your dog, or find a dog-friendly race to do together. Just take the time to appreciate the pure and simple joy that dogs have when they get to go on a run with you. 🙂

What additional tips do you have for running with your dog(s)?

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Disclaimer: The contents of this post and blog are my own opinions and should be used for informational purposes only. The information presented here is not a replacement for your veterinarian’s medical advice or care.



Yesterday’s Training:

30 minutes yoga

New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1, Workout A (1/8)

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Best Laid Plans…

Urgh, I didn’t workout today.  For some reason, I always have difficulty in the middle of the week with workouts and today was no different.  I had made vet appointments for my cat, Suli, and my dog, Tara, for this afternoon and I ended up spending about 2.5 hours at the vet clinic.  This meant that I didn’t get home till after 5:30PM and I wanted to make dinner for Curtis and myself.  I also only had a power bar for lunch, so I wanted to make sure to eat something before running or swimming.  I had every intention of doing something after dinner, but it didn’t happen.  I’m going to try and go for a run in the morning before work instead.

Suli and Tara are both fine, by the way.  I know this is a fitness blog and not a dog/cat blog, but I figured I’d throw that out there.  Suli just needed a rabies vaccine, and I had some x-rays done on Tara’s hips and elbows to check for dysplasia since it is so common German Shepherd Dog breed.  Fortunately, both her elbows and her right hip are completely clear of dysplasia.  She has mild dysplasia in her left hip, but luckily the vet said she doesn’t need to be on restricted exercise or anything.  We’ll just add a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement to hopefully prevent the onset and severity of arthritis later on and watch her for any symptoms for now.  I’m really pleased with the results even though they’re less than perfect.  Since she’s a rescue dog, we really had no way of knowing what her background was and I had feared that she would have bad hips.  Anyways, enough about the animals.

I’m hoping to read both my new books in the next couple of weeks.  I should have plenty of time since I’m going to the beach for a week in the beginning of July.  I’ll do a full book review after I finish both and include any tidbits that I find interesting in the mean time.
Happy training!

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Excuses, excuses

I’m already failing at this posting every day business.  Probably because I didn’t want to fess up that I didn’t do anything yesterday.  My (bad) excuse was that I had no clean workout clothes and my bathing suits are too old and worn.  Both of which are actually true (seriously, my two workout bathing suits are completely see-through), but still poor excuses.  I could have done the laundry on Tuesday night to be read for Wednesday…but I didn’t.  I made myself go for a run today, just a short 30 minute run on the paths around my town.  I took the dog with me, and she seemed to have a good time.  I was hurting for the first 10-15 minutes, I had a twinge of weird knee pain that I’ve never felt before, but it went away so nothing worrisome.  Since I don’t have to work tomorrow, I’ll be able to bike and hopefully make a trip out to buy a new bathing suit so I can’t use that as an excuse to not swim.


Off to a slow start…

I didn’t make it to the gym to lift today, but luckily today was actually originally scheduled to be a rest day so I don’t mind missing the workout so much.  I just added it to today yesterday because I felt silly taking a rest day when I had hardly worked out all week.  I had Tara’s agility training class tonight, which is the reason I made this a rest day in the first place.  Look for an update tomorrow of my bike trainer ride (it’s going to be raining, ick!) and a NROLW workout.

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