1st Annual Bulldog Dash Charity 5k
Saturday August 13, 2011 Vancleave, MS
I first heard of the Bulldog a few months ago and I was instantly intrigued. It was in May that we moved from Vancleave after several years and as hard as I tried I could not imagine a race there that would not involve me trying to dodge cars across a busy highway. Vancleave was the town where I had trained for my first couple of races, it was also the town my wife had grown up in. In fact the start of the race was her old high school. The race was being organized by one of her old classmates, and all the proceeds were going to Home of Grace which is a local charity we were very familiar with. With all these elements considered, the wife had decided this was going to be her first foray into race walking.
If you follow the blog you know that last Wednesday as I was crossing the bridge I came up short with what I thought was a bout of the cramps. My ribs and side were still hurting days later and we came to the conclusion I had probably pulled a muscle in my rib cage. This had put running the race in jeopardy. I had decided to give it a go, see how I felt, and if the pain was too much, I would slow down and walk the race wth my wife.
We arrived at the high school just after 7am to get registered, I debated as I signed in whether to register as a runner or a walker, and decided to go ahead and register to run. After getting registered we mingled a bit, the wife knowing far more people than me. As the race got closer and everyone lined up we made our way to the back of the pack. I normally try to get in the middle of the pack, but since Reagan was walking and I wasn't at 100% I figured it was better to start at the back than to get ran over. A brief invocation and some race instruction and the the horn sounded and we were off.
As Reagan and I walked across the starting line behind the rest of the crowd, I told her I was going to try to run for a few minutes. I had no intentions of setting a personal record, in fact I wasn't concerned about my pace at all, I just wanted to see how my body would react to the impact of the race. Yard by yard I maintained my slower pace but I began to pass people and my body seemed to respond. About a half mile into the race I wasn't feeling any pain in my side and I begin to pick my pace up a little, still in no danger of winning.
The course had some rolling hills and stretched from the high school back into a subdivision where there was not one, but 2 turnarounds. As I was making the second turnaround, which is somewhere around the halfway point I realized I was feeling pretty good and that I probably had another gear I could shift into. Picking up to more of my race pace, this is where I would find out how my body would truly react.
As we came out of the subdivision and began approaching the turn back to the high school I saw a sign indicating we were at 2 miles and I started trying to figure out where the last mile would take us. Then I looked ahead at the fast people who were now making a loop around the elementary school and realized there was still a good way to go. It was about this point when I came upon a man a little older than myself who I noticed wanted to run, but kept stopping to walk, he looked like he had ran himself out the first 2 miles and was now struggling to finish. I am not sure why I did it, but I shouted ahead to him " let's go man, we are almost there", and then paced beside him for several yards trying to keep him going. He turned and thanked me and kept up with me until we got to the water station.
The last mile my body felt great, but I was having to hold myself back to keep from kicking in to my last burst too soon and blowing myself up. I focused on my breathing and tried to run through the 3 to 3 breathing technique in my head as I was rounding the elementary school. Finally coming to the final turn of the course and heading back to the finish line I reached into my reserves and found I had a lot more left than I thought. I ran this potion harder than I thought I could. I heard foot steps beside me and I saw a shadow to my right and something inside of me said "finish strong, don't let this person pass" We got side by side and ran as hard as we could to the line.
As I crossed the line I was surprised to see my time. Despite starting in the back of the pack and babying myself throughout the race, I was in at 27:56; not a great time, but a good time that I am happy with. After catching my breath and shaking hands with the guy I sprinted to the end with it was time to make my way back on to the course to find my favorite race walker.
I wanted to show support and encouragement, but didn't think about the fact that me coming back for her would make her feel bad. Anyway I am so proud to say that despite the humidity, and despite her shoes being worn out target shoes, and despite discomfort of blisters on her feet, Reagan was undeterred. I thoroughly enjoyed walking cross the finish line with her, and she may never know how proud of her I truly am.
Overall, it was a very good race day. we had fun and we overcame. I want to Thank Hunter Henly for putting the event together and thanks to the Jackson County Multisport Club and Run-N-Tri for their support