After last weekend's weather for the Little Rock Marathon, almost anything would have been an improvement, but Saturday's conditions were close to Heavenly. After the cold wind and rain last Sunday, and weather that kept us out of school for three days this week, we were ready for some nice weather and we were blessed with it Saturday morning.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. ~ James 1:12
Since I didn't run Monday after the marathon, I needed a few more miles than the three I'd get at Saturday's race, so I put in nine before we left. Starting a 4 AM, I did three miles by myself, then met a friend for six more at 4:30. I had nine in so far, and that's all I had time for. Then it was back to the house to clean up and change, pick up Janice and Zoey and the dogs, and head out for Conway.
When we arrived, the temperature was in the mid-30s, but the sun was shining and it promised to warm up. By the 8:00 AM start of the 2-mile race, it was 370. I really had no idea how I was going to do. The early miles and the fact that I haven't done any speed work to mention for at least a couple of months, left me unsure how fast I could run a short race. So I was a little surprised when I looked at my watch after the first quarter mile and saw I was holding barely slower than a 7-minute pace. At the first mile marker, I'd been running for 7:08, maybe the fastest mile I've run since I left the Marine Corps.
I knew I couldn't hold that pace for the next mile though, and backed down. I decided to stay with an 8 minute pace for a half mile, then try to pick it back up. But when I got there, I decided to hold the current pace for another quarter of a mile. At that point, I could see the finish and picked it back up. I crossed the finish line in 14:56.70, only 0.29 seconds of my 2-mile PR. It was only by the grace of God, because I certainly hadn't been training for a 2-mile race.
Now it was time for the next adventure...the dog race. We'd brought our pack of dogs to the Chase Race several times in the past, all five of them. But I'd never tried to race with any of them. Always before, we just took the whole pack and walked with them, usually coming in close to last because they stopped to sniff, scratch, and harass the other 4-legged creatures on the course.
But this time we decided to just take two of our herd, Sandy and Sissy. Sandy was Amanda's dog. She's about four years old, about 30 pounds, and built like she could run. I'd never run with her before, but decided to see what she could do in a mile race.
She was a little nervous at the start, not quite sure why we were lined up without Janice, Zoey, and Sissy. When the airhorn sounded to start the race, the excitement startled her or confused her or did something to keep her from understanding that we were here to run! We were up close to the front and I was literally dragging her for the first few yards.
Then things opened up a bit and she was still a little disoriented. She did start to run at this point, but more in a back and forth, sort of weaving pattern than racing for the front of the pack. Then a woman tripped over her dog right in front of us, crashing to the ground face-first, phone flying, and her little dachshund-looking dog under her shins. As we passed, I asked if she was okay. She replied she was, so we continued on.
That fall seemed to be what Sandy needed, because she suddenly started acting like we were there to race. Now I was holding her back! It was still a little crowded at this point, so I was having to pull back on the retractable leash to keep her from wrapping around people and their pets as we passed them. By the half-mile mark, we were making up for lost time, with three pairs of owner-pets in front of us that we could see. These would be our competition for the rest of the race. The others were either long gone out front, or somewhere behind us.
Sandy seemed to have figured out how this whole race thing worked and was working hard to get in front of those other three. She was taking the inside track on corners, jockeying for position like a pro. At one turn, as she came alongside one of the other dogs we were passing, she snapped and barked ferociously. I tugged a little on the leash and told her we couldn't cheat to win and she settled down. This pair was the last we had to pass. We were in front of the other two and a quarter mile from the finish.
We stayed neck and neck for a couple hundred yards, only a block to the finish line now. But I was gassed. Sandy probably could have finished strong, but I had to back down. The pair we'd battled pulled ahead, and just as we approached the finish, the other two pairs passed us and crossed the mats too. I wondered how it would have ended if we'd have started like we finished, but I was proud of Amanda's little yellow dog.
I was really surprised when they handed me a trophy just across the finish line. We'd managed just under an 8-minute mile, but I wasn't expecting a trophy. But there it was...10th place male with leashed pet. Sandy, in her first race, had run well enough to win a trophy! I know Amanda had to be smiling down at us from Heaven.
If you've never run this race, you're missing out. It's a great race, put on by a great bunch of folks, for a great cause. There's plenty of fun and food for everyone! We didn't participate in it, but there's even a pet costume contest. There are door prizes and all sorts of stuff to enjoy. It's one that you really should put on your calendar for 2015.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.