Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marathon Dog

Yesterday I had scheduled a long run of 26 miles. A marathon. I wasn't very inspired to run a marathon. I have a rule about not wearing any event clothing if I wasn't part of the event. No race t-shirts if I didn't race it, etc. However, in June at the end of the WS100 I found a pair of running shorts with Western States 100 written on the leg. I've never done WS100. The closest I've gotten to it is to be a spectator the last 2 years. But I decided to buy the shorts. I wanted to have them as motivation. I know I will have days when I don't want to train and all I have to do is put on those shorts and instant motivation. So that's what I did yesterday.

Hitting the trail

Pat's working quite a bit of over-time because so many of the other firefighters are down south and daycare was scheduled for the girls so I was on my own. Well, me and Yuba. Yuba did so well on our last long run that I decided he could handle a marathon. I planned a run on the Pioneer Trail which is right out my door. I would run 13.1 miles up the trail and 13.1 miles back. So after I dropped the girls off I drove up the trail to a couple different spots to drop off some hand-held bottles and water for Yuba.

So, with my family safely evacuated from the fires down south, my parents almost home from their 8 week trip driving across the country and back, Pat at work, girls at daycare, water bottles strategically placed, absolutely beautiful weather, and with my motivational WS100 shorts on, I ran out of excuses and hit the trail.
Trail meandering in and out of old water ditches

It took about 3 miles to feel warmed up and 7 miles before I really started feeling good. I ran into a group of mountain bikers, they would ride ahead then stop and regroup. Every time they stopped, I would catch up to them. Finally, one of the riders said I was the fastest runner she had ever seen! I laughed so hard I almost choked on my Shot Bloks. Little did she know. I didn't have the heart to tell her I'm not fast, they're just slow :)

Yuba, leading the way

The trail is heavily forested with few open areas. It's mostly non technical singletrack with only one rocky section. It parallels Hwy 20 and you can hear noise from passing vehicles on most of the trail, only occasionally getting far enough away for quiet. Despite that, it's a wonderful, family friendly trail (the lower part is good for kids, the upper part gets more technical with ups and downs).
Trail entering rocky section

I was hoping 13 miles would come at Skillman but it turned out to be 12. So I had to continue running (uphill) for another mile. By 13.1 I was ready to turn-around. The trail is pretty much all uphill going out so it stands to reason it's mostly downhill on the return. Starting elevation is 3500 ft, turn-around 4800 ft. Negative splits are pretty much the rule. If you leave enough in the tank. I did, but barely. By about 5 minutes.

One of the few views along the trail

Cooling off

About a mile from the finish is the Harmony Ridge market, a great place to stop and grab a cold drink if you're smart enough to bring money. I wasn't.

Harmony Ridge Market

So, about the marathon dog. Yuba is incredible. I've been building up his long runs so I knew he was ready for this. He stayed right with me and even had enough energy towards the end to chase a couple squirrels. He managed to keep cool in the occasional puddle which would invigorate him and he'd go tearing down the trail. I'm not sure about taking him on runs longer than 26 miles tho. Anyone out there have any thoughts on this? What's too far for a dog?


Leo said...

Wow, that is so cool. I know that this is one of your older posts but I was searching for information on running long distance with a dog and what that would entail. Well when I read you post, the really cool part is that you are in nevada city and I have ran on the Pioneer trail. I grew up in nevada city but now live in FL (not nearly as nice).

Anyways, I don't know how much running you have done with Yuba since then, but with training, dogs can handle it. Think about the sled dogs in the iditarod running all that way. As long as it isn't running on pavement, you should be good if you build up.

What type of dog is Yuba? I am impressed to know that your dog can do that because it didn't look too big.

Great job!

Catherine said...

I wanted to comment on your blog but couldn't access it. Hope you read this reply.

Yuba is about 50lbs, beagle/terrier mix (so I was told). He's now about 3 years old.

I haven't run with him as much lately since I've been injured but my husband has taken up running so he takes him out on short runs. He's a great training companion.


Catherine said...


That's funny that you grew up in Nevada City. I'm NUHS class of '89. How bout you?

adhiguna.mahendra@ieee.org said...

I run with my friend's dog, a Dobberman, accoss the Alps mountain, around 40 miles. Day and night.

He is 2 yo and very strong, I am so proud of him. Just bring enough water for both of you.

phoenixgenesis said...

I run / hike with my 3 yr. old cat, Harley. When she gets tired, I either place her on my shoulder, carry her, or put her inside my backpack or messenger bag. Of course my cat weighs only 8.2 lbs. and your dog is 50 lbs.

I think working as a team, building endurance and mileage is key. Also, making sure your pet is hydrated and not too cold or warm. If your pet runs and hides when you pull out the leash, that's perhaps a sign that the hike / run is not enjoyable. I also monitor my cats sleep patterns, how she walks, and food / water to see if something has changed.

Finally, I bring along a small digital photo / video camera and record our training to see how my cat responds (attentive vs. exhausted, excessive panting, etc.) If she looks relaxed and happy, she probably is.

Hope this helps. Yuba is adorable.