I was at the vet’s office with Bailey when I noticed a flyer for a 5k sponsored by a Golden Retriever rescue group.
“Ya wanna run another 5k, Bailey?” I asked.
I don’t even think she looked at me. She was too interested in all the dog smells.
I impulse-registered for the race, which at that point was only a couple of weeks after the first one I had completed.
What the hell, I thought.
On race day, I was more concerned with how Bailey was going to deal with being around so many dogs. Bailey is incredibly friendly so when she sees a dog that she believes is her new best friend, Bailey MUST. GO. MEET. HER.
It’s also why I have an appointment with a trainer next week.
Unlike my first 5k, the morning was about 20 degrees cooler, hovering in the upper 50s. I was one of the only people rocking a tank top, because I’d rather be a little chilly than too hot.
I positioned myself in the back, knowing all of these real runners and their dogs were going to take off sprinting the minute they got the OK. That’s what happened and we watched as they ran off ahead of us. Bailey tried to pull ahead, clearly angry that her human is far too slow at this.
Soon, the crowd of runners who are also dog owners was far in the distance and Bailey and I could handle the rest of the race at our own pace.
Unlike the other race, I was familiar with this route on foot and I knew that it was mostly flat with some short hills here and there. I had never jogged it, but I knew it would be similar to our route at home.
Our chip time clocked in at 43:16 for a 13:57-mile.
If you remember, just a couple of weeks earlier, our chip time was 45:42 for a 14:44-mile.
The clock says we improved our overall time by about a minute and a half, but realistically, we did even better.
We had to stop twice. The first was a quick bathroom break where I lost some time cleaning up after Bailey. No biggie.
The second was much longer. Bailey became a stone when the smell of something awesome was just way more overpowering than jogging with me. Her harness became tangled as I tried to pull her away from whatever was mesmerizing her. After one failed attempt of fixing the harness without taking it off, I ended up having to do just that.
I was half annoyed, half thankful for the excuse for a break.
I was absolutely certain that we added a few minutes and wouldn’t beat our time from our first race. Needless to say, I was incredibly surprised when I got a look at the clock as I ran toward the finish line and realized that we had actually beat our time from that first race.
I’m looking forward to the race in November. Since I’ll be doing it alone, I’m really interested to see what my dog-less capabilities are.
The Kindness of Runners
We were about a half-mile away from the finish line when I really started to feel exhausted and on the verge of quitting. Despite being so close, I just felt so far.
Another runner came walking in my direction, clearly having finished the race like 20 minutes earlier. I smiled and nodded, because I’m polite like that, and she responded with, “You’re doing great. You’re almost there.”
I choked out a breathless thank you.
A minute or two later, another runner came walking by, presumably heading to his car. “You’re doing great! Keep going! You’re almost there.”
Another breathless thank you.
These two perfect strangers gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace and get across that finish line a minute and a half sooner than I had just two weeks before. I’m not sure they know the difference their words made.
It’s not the first time this has happened to me. A few years back, I was jogging on a greenway near our apartment, feeling equally as exhausted, when someone running by said, “You’re doing awesome!”
I was so surprised, I nearly fell.
I don’t know much about running culture, so I’m left wondering if giving words of encouragement to complete strangers is something that you just do, much like how all Jeep owners wave at each other.
Is it proper etiquette, like saying, “On your left/right” when you’re passing someone? Or did I just encounter three really kind people? As a New Yorker, I’m still blown away by public acts of kindness.
I’d love if a runner would shed some light on it only because I’m curious. As someone on the receiving end, I can tell you that these words mean the world. They seem to come when you need them the most and remind you how far you’ve come.
So if this is just a thing you runners do, I hope you keep it up. It makes a world of difference.