Tag Archives: Pacer

Powerlines with Unexpected Company

Ran the powerlines today. It’s a 3 mile unofficial trail that crosses a golf course and some neighborhoods. It’s pretty hilly. As I finished the first half of the first lap, I saw something move at the top of the hill. Got up the hill and saw that it was a dog in the street.

Black and white, medium sized, he was wandering around, looking lost, peeing on everything in sight. I whistled at him. He came over and let me pet him briefly. He had a collar, but no tag. I walked around the street looking for an open gate or a hole in a fence, but found nothing. And no one was outside. So I just let the dog be, and continued on the trail.

After a minute, I heard something behind me. I turned around – the dog was following me.

My unexpected pacer.
My unexpected pacer.

I was like, “Hey boy, want to go on a trail run?” And amazingly, that’s exactly what he did. He led the way and paced me for the next three miles. I was really impressed. He handled the rocks pretty well for going barefoot.  Sometimes, he’d stop and turn around to make sure I was still following him. When he saw that I was, he’d start off trotting again. He seemed pretty happy.

It was really cool running with this dog. It was nice having company that I didn’t have to try and make conversation with. He just led the way and I followed. And weirdly, although I’ve never been scared running this trail, I felt safer.

I’ve never had a dog before. Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting one, but my current situation doesn’t allow for a dog. But if I got a dog, it would force me to change my situation…  Hmmm… I started thinking what I would name him.

At the top of one hill, he was panting pretty heavy. I made a small ziploc “bowl” and filled it with some water. He drank just about everything in the bowl. As I was attempting to refill the bowl, the  water squirted out of the hydration tube like a little garden hose and the dog started licking the stream of water. I thought that was cute. I felt bad when I had to cut him off. Fortunately, it had rained the night before and we came across a few big puddles for him to drink from.

Puddle fountain
Puddle fountain

When he was drinking up the puddle, I noticed that his ribs were really showing. If he did belong to someone, they sure weren’t feeding him near enough.

We hit Babcock Road which completed a lap. The dog crossed the street and waited for me to follow. I contemplated what to do. Take him to a vet to see if he’s microchipped? Would he be returned to irresponsible owners?  Would he be put up for adoption? Would I be ready to adopt him? Do I take him home and put up flyers  in that neighborhood?

Handsome devil.
Handsome devil.

I hate to be the guy who “doesn’t want to get involved,” but that’s basically the route I took. I decided that I would run him back to where I found him. I figured at the very least he would be free to roam as he pleased, peeing everywhere.

We had to cross a road that had two lanes in both directions. It’s not terribly busy, but there’s limited sight and cars tend to drive fast. Instead of crossing the street, he was walking in the middle of the road, oblivious to an approaching semi truck. (And here I thought he was a smart dog.) Thankfully the truck driver was alert and was able to slow to a complete stop. I tried to call the dog to me so that I could grab his collar and hold him, but instead he took off. The driver waited patiently as I unsuccessfully tried to corral the dog. I wished that I could inform the driver this wasn’t my dog – no way I’d be dumb enough to let my dog run into traffic. The dog wandered onto the sidewalk,  and the truck slowly passed. When the coast was clear, I sprinted to the other side and the dog followed.

Right after, a lady in an SUV stopped and rolled down her window. As she did, I got really excited thinking she was the owner, but no such luck. She thought the dog was a Malamute.

Two miles later, we were back at the street where I found him.  I followed him around, hoping that he’d wander back to his house. Then I could just ring the doorbell and the dumb owner would come out and be overjoyed at the sight of the beloved dog. We walked down a few streets and by now there were people out and about. I asked everyone if they’d seen this dog before. One guy said he’d seen the dog wandering around all day, but that was it.

I got nervous when the dog started heading toward a mother and her three small children. As I’m running toward them, I asked the mother if she’d lost a dog. She said no, and her daughter said, “We already have a dog.” I jokingly asked if they wanted another. The girl says that she does want another dog. As I got further down the street, I heard the little boy say, “That’s a werewolf dog!”

Handsome devil.
Handsome devil.

The dog was going door to door at this point, every once in a while, he’d turn around to look at me. He seemed to be in his element. I figured it was only a matter of time before he got back to his house. That’s when I decided to leave him. I felt really guilty knowing that he was going to turn around and not see me. I felt like I was letting the dog down, and I didn’t want to be like his shitty owners. A dog this nice really deserves to be treated better.

I tried to help the dog, but I should have done more. I’m thinking that I should print up flyers and head back up there tomorrow to see if he’s still there. Who knows, maybe I’ll come home with a new dog.

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Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?

What’s the best thing to do in this sort of situation?






First Time Pacer


I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not, but it did; I got to be a pacer at Rocky Raccoon.

I had tried to set up a runner to pace prior to the race, but things didn’t work out. But everyone said just show up, and someone will take you as a pacer. So that’s what I did.

I rode up to Huntsville with Stefan. We got there about 3 or so and hung around the Start / Finish.  I got changed into my running gear and just sat around waiting. There were two races, a 50 mile and a 100 mile. It was hard for me to tell which race the runners were in. Usually, you can tell by color, but that wasn’t the case here. Like most races, it was a party type atmosphere. And unfortunately, since I wasn’t racing, I felt like I wasn’t part of that party. But that would change when Rachel showed up.

She was running the 100 miler and would be heading out for her fourth lap. Stefan told me to go with her. That way I could see the course during the daylight. I was nervous, who wants a green, untested, virgin rookie when they’ve just run 60 miles and still have 40 to go? Add to that the fact that we were virtually strangers. We’d both gone on a group run the previous weekend, and conversed for a few minutes in the parking lot after the run, but other than that… I’m not even sure if she knew my name. But off we went.

At first I tried to make small conversation, but that proved difficult. I couldn’t hear her because from the get go, I was following her. She was the pace setter. So whenever she said something, it was lost to the wind. I think she was smartly conserving her breath for more important things, like the remaining 40 miles. I wanted to figure out some way to help her,  but my idle chatter was probably not one. So I tried to converse only when necessary.

As keeping on her on pace was not an issue, then surely reminding her to drink and eat would be one of my responsibilities. Sort of. She didn’t eat anything. Not one morsel would cross her lips the entire night. Everything she consumed was in liquid form, occasionally with some Recoverite powder mixed in. She also had some Gatorade and of course water, and she may have had some soda/Mountain Dew, but absolutely no food. She mentioned that just the smell of food made her nauseous. Having spent a few minutes too long at an aid station, right after leaving it, she threw up. From the smell of the food. Meanwhile, I’m trying to scarf down as much as I can before I have to catch up to her.

And I was pretty sure she had a drinking problem – as in she wasn’t drinking enough. We filled up her bottle at one station, and it was practically full at the next station. She’d have a few Dixie cups of whatever, and then she’d take off. I asked if she’d peed at all. She told me twice for the day. I thought for sure she was going to be super dehydrated. But she kept chugging along. I timidly suggested she drink some of whatever was in her bottle. Often she declined and I wasn’t sure whether to press her or not. I figured she knew what she was doing. Later, she did start listening and would sip when I suggested. A few times, anyway.

I like to think that I did in fact help by providing light. I had bought a flashlight just for the race, 100 lumens. Once it got dark, I busted it out and it worked great. It made up for the dim headlamp she had. When she swapped that headlamp out for another, even with fresh batteries, somehow that turned out dim too. And since I’d forgotten to change the batteries in my headlamp, my headlamp was equally dim. The flashlight provided the bulk of illumination for the both of us. I was really happy I’d bought it… until it had a seizure. It started blinking rapidly. I turned it to the lower setting. That fixe– Nope. Still blinking. I turned it off and tried again. Same result. Later when I turned it back on, it would work for a while, and then seize up. It was like this for the rest of the night. I was tempted to throw it in the lake we ran by, but then thought better of it and would have to have to suffer and return it to REI.

*  *  *  *  *

{If I may digress into a brief product review of the Princeton Tec AMP 3.5, 100 Lumens Flashlight

This is the second Princeton Tec lighting product I have purchased, (the other being an inexpensive headlamp) and it is the second product to fail me. Chances are I could exchange the light for a new one and it would work fine. But the other major flaw is the design of the battery compartment. Which might not seem like a big deal, but trying to change these batteries during the race turned into an ordeal. At one point, a battery got lodged in the handle and took some persuasion in the form of pounding it against a table to release the battery. Even when I was sitting on the couch at home trying to figure out how to insert the batteries, I was stumped.

Bottom line: great when it worked, but bad design and a malfunction= bad product.

The issue with the other headlamp may have been my fault, but due to this recent incident, I’m going to blame the manufacturer.}

*  *  *  *  *

When we got close to finishing her fourth lap, I asked her who was going to run with her on her last lap. “Stefan?” More of a question than an answer.

I wasn’t planning on running 40 miles. In fact, the furthest I’d ever run was the 31 miles at the Bandera 50K. But then I thought I’m going to have to do this eventually, why not now? I told her I would run with her for the last lap. She said that would be groovy. Or at least I think that’s what she said.

I’m glad I offered because when we got to the Start / Finish, Stefan was in his street clothes. He wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t going to run. And what would be the point of pacing someone for the next to last lap, and then letting them run the last lap alone? So off we went. Again.

I was somewhat worried. My feet were aching. My New Balance Minimus gave me no cushioning whatsoever. I developed an unfamiliar pain on the top of my left foot and the ankle of my right foot. My hips were sore. My shoulders were knots. I was so ready to be done. All I could see was the trail right below Rachel’s feet. That’s all I saw for several hours.

I started to realize this was a personal undertaking as much as it was to help out a fellow runner. So I ate and drank more at the aid stations, and consumed several gels in between stations. What good would I be to my runner if I fell apart?

That’s when I told Rachel, “You know how earlier I said I envied you? Well, I take that back. I haven’t run even half of what you have and I’m ready to quit. You must be in some serious hurt, which I do not envy. What I would like to say is that I admire you. For being able to do this, for pushing ahead, for gutting it out. So good work.” At my first comment she had expressed confusion and bewilderment, on my amendment, she said, “Thank you.”

She had mentioned that she wanted to beat her time from last year. She told me her time, and I may have gotten it wrong, but I kept saying “22:33!” to motivate her. Whenever she’d start back running, “22:33!” I don’t know if that did anything for her, but maybe, in some small way, it did.

Throughout the night, I saw that Rachel was one tough cookie. She caught a few roots in the darkness and took a few spills. She refused help and got up on her own, dusted herself off, and kept moving. She threw up a few times, wiped up, and kept moving. Always moving, except for 7 minutes when she lied on the ground and I thought she was done for. But she got up, and kept moving. I couldn’t keep up with her power walk, I had to do a slow run. She didn’t eat anything, and rarely drank anything. I think she survived on sheer will power. I was impressed to say the least.

It was about 3 or 4 in the morning. We’d been running for what seemed like forever. We passed a small sign that said something about finishing with a smile on your face. I had no idea where we were until we came around a turn and I saw a familiar pile of cups. And then the lights. The lights of what would no longer be the Start / Finish; now it was just the Finish. Hallelujah! Trailing behind her I asked her if she was wearing her smile. She said she would be.

She finished 21: and change.