Sunday, June 14, 2009

Verona Dog Jog 2009 Report

Saturday, June 14, 2009
Verona, WI

On Saturday I ran a dog jog in a small suburb of Madison. I wasn't really sure what to expect or if it was even a race. It benefited an animal hospital and was right by the dog park that I always take my dog (Bella) to.

The weather was cool with sprinkles, so I unfortunately didn't take any pictures of the actual event because I was worried about my camera getting wet.  But I did snap a few of Bella right before the run. It was a very small event consisting of maybe 75 people or so. Turns out that it wasn't a race at all. I didn't even know how far we would be running! Still, it ended up being a lot of fun.

We congregated at a shelter in the park and amidst many barking dogs we were informed that we'd be running/walking on some grassy trails (that are actually part of the Ice Age Trail, which runs through all of Wisconsin and was formed by glaciers. See informational website here: Ice Age Trail) Most people walked the event opposed to running. I'd say maybe 15 people ran and the rest walked. I chatted with a woman who had a Boston Terrier who asked me if I ran a lot with my dog and she was very impressed to hear that Bella had run up to 8 miles with me before. She had on a Whistle Stop marathon shirt, so she was obviously a runner.

There was no timing or clocks or mile markers. We just kind of started. I ran around my 5K pace or so. The trail was very nice. Lots of trees, some hills, some wild flowers and prairie. There was a water stop in the middle - both for humans and dogs! We just buzzed right past it. Bella was very excited to be running on a nice, grassy, interesting smelling trail opposed to the street so she was just pulling me along. We were done before I knew it! Garmin told me that it was just a tad over 2 miles with my time being 19:23. I was the 4th person to finish. Too bad it wasn't a race!

I chatted with the runners and we ate yummy bone shaped cookies that the event gave out. There were kiddy pools filled with water for the dogs to lay in. Bella made ample use of those and made some new dog friends in the process. Finally the walkers started trickling in and they gave out some really nice door prizes including a free day to doggie day care, Frontline, and some services at the animal hospital. We also received a goody bag with a t-shirt, a bandana for your dog (see pictures), a dog brush, a pen shaped like a dog, some dog treats and coupons for free ice cream. It was a really nice event, actually. I'll definitely be doing it again next year. Not only was it for a good cause, but very well organized and I met some really nice people.

The sun was starting to come out as the event finished and seeing that I didn't live too far away, I ended up leaving my car at the park (coming back for it later, obviously) and then running home with Bella, putting me at about 8.5 miles for the day.

Bella smiles and sports her new bandana!

As you can kind of see in the background, the park was very pretty!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Clean Lakes Festival 2009 Report

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Madison, WI

This was my second 5K ever, the first being back in August of 2008 shortly after I began running. I had one and only one goal: to run it in under 30 minutes, which would beat my previous 5K time (30:31).

After a hot and sunny day on Friday, the weather was perfect for running on Saturday morning. Somewhere around 55 degrees, overcast and lightly drizzling. I had no idea how big or small this race was going to be. I'd never heard of it before, so I couldn't imagine that it would be too big. It turned out to be quite small. 118 runners. About the same size as a previous 5K, actually.

I got there about 20 minutes early and parking was a breeze. It was held in park right on one of Madison's lakes (hence the event name!) There was a lot of runners there by themselves, which always makes me feel better when I'm milling around alone and just waiting for the race to start. I did a bit of jogging to get warmed up and then lined up to start.

We listened to the national anthem and someone counted down from 3 and we were off! This was my first race that was NOT chip timed. I tried to line up a little more toward the start for this reason. Normally I just hang around the back. Thankfully it didn't really matter because there were so few runners.

The course was nice with a few smaller hills. We ran mostly on a path that winds through a couple of parks and under some bridges and tunnels. Very nice little route. After about the first mile, I heard a girl say to someone else that she was shooting to break 29 minutes and I thought, "Okay, I'm just going to make sure that she's in my view the whole time." It worked fairly well and my Garmin helped with my pace too. (Although the poor girl ended up finishing in 29:01 - ouch.)

I was feeling really good until around 2.5 miles in. That's always when I start to lose it. I ran this race without my ipod and this was where I felt its absence. I can always count on a good fast paced song to help motivate me to finish that last little bit. The last .2 miles or so were going up a major hill, which was torture. I couldn't muster any kick, which really disappointed me because I'm usually really good at that. However, the good news...

I finished with a solid 29:17! A new PR and I broke 30 minutes! I came in 64/118 overall and 26/62 women. This obviously wasn't a super fast group of runners. Amazingly, a woman won the entire race! How cool!

Mile 1 - 9:16
Mile 2 - 9:38
Mile 3 - 9:28
Last .1 - :54 (9:14 pace)

Overall, it was a very well run and organized race. I would definitely do it again next year. (Not to mention we got sweet green t-shirts. I always like the colored ones better than the typical white.) There was one water stop in the middle, which I just zoomed right on by. No mile markers, but that didn't bother me since I had on my Garmin. Post-race food was Gatorade, bagels, bananas, oranges, etc. I grabbed a banana, drank some Gatorade and headed home to run another 3 miles with my dog.

For my next 5K, I'm going to try and break 29:00!