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Walk your dog 100 miles (Day 21)

I’d forgotten how nice it is to run with my own dog.

During this challenge, Ace and I walked each mile until yesterday. I run other people’s dogs all the time through my dog running business and usually end up walking Ace to give myself a break. But I realized if I wanted to add up any kind of distance we were going to have to run. So Ace and I went on our first run together in a long time.

It’s day 21 of our challenge, and Ace and I have gone 42.5 miles, an average of about 2 miles a day. That doesn’t sound so good, does it? Considering we have 10 more days left in the month and more than 50 miles to go, I’m not too optimistic of reaching 100 miles. We’ve missed a lot of days, and then we end up doing six or so miles every few days. We had a blizzard and a cold week, and I let myself miss too many walks.

How are you doing for your distance goal this month? If you didn’t set a goal, you should try it for the month of April. Ace and I will set a new goal next month too. That number is yet to be determined. We’ll see how March turns out first.

After this weekend, my bike should be ready to go and the roads and sidewalks should be almost clear of snow and ice. At this point, biking is my only hope to make it to 100 miles with Ace, so I’ll try!

Runner’s high as a dog runner

The 3-mile run Ace and I started yesterday soon turned into a 6-mile run.

Ace trots along at my side, comfortably matching my 10-minute-mile speed. Hey, I never claimed to be fast! Our paces have molded perfectly after two years of running together. Even after taking several weeks off from running together, we ran as though we’d never missed a day.

dog-running

Ace is totally relaxed when we run. So am I.

Running is my time to think. I never wear headphones unless I’m on a treadmill. Instead, I am very aware of everything around me, including my dog. Ace appears to be deep in thought as well, but most likely he’s just taking in all the smells around him. He gets in a zone, just like me. His tail and head are relaxed and low. He notices everything, but nothing gets him overly excited.

Many dogs do not get out often enough.

These dogs are anxious over every sound, every car, every passing runner or even leaves blowing. We pass many dogs that come charging to their fence to harass us. I love when Ace barely lifts an eyebrow at them. It’s like he knows he’s somehow above the “dogs with the big yards.” They never get beyond their fences.

I react similarly when we pass other runners. People who I haven’t seen in months suddenly start appearing as the weather gets warmer. “Hi,” I sometimes say. But I’m thinking, “Hm, haven’t seen you since September.”

When Ace and I started our run I was wearing a hat and light jacket. After three miles I was down to my black shirt and pants – totally black just like my dog. We were passing people walking to bus stops dressed in winter coats and hoods. One man was even wearing a face mask, although it was 38 degrees, warm for Fargo.

When we made our 3-mile loop the second time, the snow piles had already receded. There was less ice, more puddles, more mud. The wind no longer felt cold. Instead it was cooling us. Ace was panting. Strings of drool wrapped around his nose like a muzzle.

It’s hard to motivate myself when I’m not running for anyone or anything but myself and my dog. We (Ace and I) are not training for a marathon this year. I’m not getting in shape for rugby or overcoming an injury. Instead, I just run because I can.

When there’s no one to motivate me other than Ace, I start telling myself little things like “Hey, what’s better? Quitting now and walking the last quarter mile? Or running the whole workout?” I’m usually able to convince myself not to walk.

In Fargo there are very few runner-friendly paths. All our bike paths are concrete. The parks have pavement, but most are less than five-mile routes. Because of this I’ve spent too much time running on concrete sidewalks. I’ve hurt my joints many times while overdoing it on the hard surfaces.

I was worried this 100-mile walking challenge would bring up old ankle injuries. Instead, my ankles and knees feel stronger than they have in a year. The extra walking, maybe, has made me stronger for running. Hmm, can we say cross training would be a good idea? The biking thing won’t be so bad after all.

Finishing our run, Ace and I were around the corner for the last stretch toward home just in time to catch the start of the NDSU/Kansas basketball game. His tail thumped while I wiped his paws and belly in the kitchen. “Done so soon?”

Within moments, though,  Ace was a pile of black on the floor, barely noticing me as I stepped around him and prepared my lunch.

No matter how many days I skip and don’t walk or run with my dog, he forgives me.

Your dog will forgive you too. He’s waiting for you now. How many miles have you gone?

March miles: 42.5

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Best outdoor dog pictures (week 3)