Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Dogs I've Run With, part 1

Today: 9.12 miles over hills, 8:34 pace

This morning I was up at 6:45am and out for a nice 9 miler.  The original plan was to get up at 6:05 and drive down to Town Lake to run along the river.  However, when my alarm went off, I rebelled, reset the alarm for 6:45 and decided that if I didn't drive and started my run from home, I could probably still finish around the same time or earlier.  I got out the door just after 7am and it was nice and cool, still a little dark out and quiet - my favorite!  I ran west and crossed under the MoPac bridge, headed towards Mt. Bonnell's Covert park.  For those of you familiar with Austin, west = hills, lots of hills.  I found myself on a lot of rollers and a few big climbs before reaping the benefit of the run - a picture perfect view of the Colorado river.
Whenever I do this run, I allow myself to stop for a few minutes once I've reached the top of the trail and I just take in the scenery.  This morning it was perfectly clear, the water was still, and the million dollar homes lining the river front looked as ritzy as ever.  After a few minutes, I head back down the trail and started the steep descent along Mt. Bonnell Rd.  Eventually I started heading east and ended up back home, hungry and thirsty.  Yay long runs!

I love running with dogs.  Not all dogs, but the ones that like to run - no chihuahuas here.  An athletic dog is really the perfect running companion.  They don't bother you with talking, so you have uninterrupted thoughts.  If you want to talk, you can talk to them, just make sure no one else is around.  They are usually faster than you, so they keep you from getting lazy.  They are always excited for a run, so they motivate you to get out the door.  As a woman, you can feel more comfortable running at night or in secluded areas.  And, let's face it, sometimes running alone can get...well...lonely.

As I have previously mentioned, I started running when I was 11.  When I was in 2nd grade (7 yrs old I think), my parents got our first family dog.  Her name was Brandy and she was half Irish setter, half Golden retriever.  At full size, she was about 75-80 lbs and she was beautiful!  She was red-gold in color with the feathering characteristic of both breeds and the long pretty ears of an Irish setter.  She was also very graceful and she loved to run.  My dad was a weekend runner and always took her along.  She would stay on the leash for the first 3/4 of a mile.  Then he would reach a trail that went around a pond in my home time, at which point she would come off the leash.  This was her sign that it was time to flush the birds and she would take off, making sure every goose and duck and squirrel knew this was her territory and they needed to leave.  Then she would run back to my dad and run alongside him for about a mile, at which point she went back on the leash.  When I started running, I commenced this ritual with Brandy and took her with me.  She was very well behaved on the leash.  Sadly, at the young age of 7 yrs, Brandy developed cancer that stiffened her leg joints and prevented her from running.  The cancer quickly spread, causing seizures and other side effects.  When I was 13, she was euthanized.  My dad still does that run, as do I when I am back in Mass, and we have forever named it the Brandy Memorial Run.

Here is a picture of Brandy when she was a puppy, along with my sister and I.  Thanks to my sister for providing it!

When I was a sophomore in high school (16), we got a second dog, Cella.  She is a black lab mix, about 60 lbs of pure muscle.  Cella is much feistier than Brandy, but what she lacks in grace she makes up for in spunk.  Cella is a born runner.  She loves to chase things; birds, squirrels, people, rocks, you name it.  When Cella joined our family, I was halfway through high school and running all the time.  Of course, I couldn't take her to official practices, but any other time I ran, on the weekends or off season, she came with me.  We ran anything from 3 to 6.5 miles back then.  Sometimes when I did track workouts, she would come with me and run around the fields while I did my hamster loops.  When I went to college, Cella stayed with my parents for the first two years.  Whenever they went on vacation, I would watch Cella in my dorm room.  This was not exactly a legal move, but all my dorm mates loved having her around and I was very discrete.  In the mornings, I would take Cella for a run around the Charles river or somewhere else in the city.  This prepared her for the long day of sitting by herself in a dorm room.  I once took her on my 10.5 mile Fresh Pond run, which she completed as happy as ever.  This is the longest run I have ever done with a canine companion.  Cella is a rock.

When I was a junior, Cella moved up to Vermont to finish college with my sister.  My sister now lives in Salt Lake City, and Cella lives there too, so I don't get to run with her anymore.  However, Cella still lives a very active life, with lots of doggy friends, hiking and swimming (see picture below).  She just recently got a new brother, Muscato, who I am eager to meet.  
So Brandy and Cella are the only two family dogs I have ever had, but they are not my only running companions.  I'll expand in my next post, but in the meantime, consider finding your own running companion.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful sunrise picture of the Colorado!

    Some of my happiest childhood memories were similarly running with my unleashed German Shepherd. Her joy in running free and experiencing all of the the smells were contagious.