Since Tony likes to say “bam”, it seems fitting that it would be the name of my first event during this round of 90X. My friend Mike told me recently that he needed “an eye opener” to motivate him to train so he had signed up for something that would destroy him. Last weekend I heard about an off-road duathlon called the BAM (for Battle at Midway). Since I hadn’t been able to run and had not done a single run this year–since hurting my ankle in India–it didn’t seem feasible but I had been getting better and decided to peruse the race web site anyway. As soon as I saw there was a dog division I was sold. If I could run at all, this would be my eye opener.
Not only hadn’t I run but I hadn’t mountain biked but once, and this hurt as my now 6 week old surgery has me in a state sensitive to jarring movements). Furthermore, I was swapping out my Anasazi frame to turn my “silly” 69er into an actually usable 29″ squishy geared bike. Beyond that, I’d never run with Beata. Tuco’s beyond his racing years but B would be psyched, for sure. But since I hadn’t been running, and Romney doesn’t run, well than neither had she–at least over distance with a leash. So my first race of the year would include three milestones: first run of the year, first run with Beata, first ride on my new hippie bike. I think this qualifies it as an eye opener.
Sunday morning we lined up with a small field of dogs behind the main pack of competitors and waited for that cannon to go off. If you’re thinking that a cannon might not be the best device to start a race with dogs you’d be right. One dog got away from the owner, who had to chase it down and then run back to the start. Beata was clearly confused but happy. We were running with a pack of dogs and chasing a bunch of people. Woof.
Soon we’d moved ahead of all the dogs and were passing most of the people. B looked a little uncomfortable and kept looking back for other dogs. Around a mile in a couple of dogs pulling their owner made a move and passed us. Beata seemed a little more at ease racing from behind.
By mile two they were a ways out in front and she began to sense what we were doing. Instead of running at my heels she moved up, looked at me, then up the trail. “Want to get ’em?” She looked enthused. We picked up the pace. We were about to catch them when one of the dogs stopped for her morning dump, which thrust us into the lead. B seemed pretty pleased about this and we headed towards the transition near the front of the entire race.
I handed her to Romney and took off on the new hippie ride. With 1,200′ of climbing in 12 miles I figured this would make or break the race. By the summit I’d created a gap, which I held all the way to the second transition. Our race was still up in the air, however, since Beata had never run this fast over this much ground. I had no idea how she’d be dealing.
“How’s she doing?” I asked entering the transition.
“She’s can’t wait to run,” replied Romney.
Apparently, as the other dogs came in B’s eyes where glued out to the course awaiting my return. Romney was stellar as our team’s director sportiff. She hydrated B, let Ratso intimidate the competition, and made sure B had taken care of her business so we wouldn’t have to stop during the race. As I approached she was fired up to get back out there.
We began the final run slowly. This is always the case in du’s as you need to get your “sea legs” back after being on the bike. in spite of her protesting to go faster, I walked B on a couple of steep paved sections because pavement can be hard on paws and I was tired. Well before mile one, however, I noticed her look back with a sense of urgency. Some dogs were gaining on us. And quickly.
I’d hoped for a cruise home but it was not to be the case. I was hurting but we weren’t going to let this one go. How many chances do you get in life to stand on a podium with your dog, anyway? We picked it up and B did fine. We increased our lead a bit so I stopped at an aid station to see if she wanted anything. She looked at me, then back down the trail, then up the road again and accelerated. She knew we were racing and didn’t want anyone getting back in it. At the next one approached I pulled us near the “doggie pool” just in case.
“Need a drink?” A glance at the pool, then eyes fixed straight ahead and another acceleration. By the finish we’d put an extra two minutes into our completion. Beata then ignored a dog who ran up to us on the finishing straight. She was like a race horse running for the wire and nothing was going to interfere with her concentration.
She seemed really pleased when I placed the medal over her neck and revelled in all the attention. She like the medal ceremony, too, but I think her favorite part was when Tuco found the pizza delivery guy before it was announced and brought her over so they could score a bunch of pizza before anyone else.
We were a pretty happy family. Romney was like a proud parent and wrote this race report. Tuco may have lost his physical dominance but can still work a crowd. And I think I’ve found my new sport. I wonder if it has a world championship event?