Running with the Bears is my favorite race of the year. It is one I will participate in as long as I can. Even if I couldn’t run it, I would go up to volunteer. This year was a bit different. I managed to talk the Dashing Sister to bring her family up to the race.
The Dashing Sister is one of the big reasons I do this race. The overarching organization is Mountain Circle, which is foster care organization that supports foster kids throughout Northern California and Western Nevada. The Dashing Sister is adopted. I know I’ve said this before, but not only is she adopted, but I have several other family members who are adopted. This race raises money for foster care kids. This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I don’t do as much charity stuff as I should, so I really pour my heart into this group, and this race.
I have been a charity runner for all three races, and this year we raised over $1200 as the Dashing Family. Actually, we raised over $1700 because a fan of Dashing Dad, Laura, joined the team with her $500+ she had already raised. Not only that, we brought up eight backpacks with school supplies to add to the other ten or so backpacks that other people brought for back to school items for the foster kids.
The race is out in the middle of nowhere (which I really like), has great volunteers, great organizers, and is overall a great experience.
While all of this rang true this year, it was also the worst of the three years I have done the race. This has nothing to do the race, the organizers, packet pick up, after party, aid stations, or anything like that. Most of it was my own damn fault. And, really, calling it the worst of three years is like saying the Porsches aren’t as fast as Ferraris. Porsches are still awesome and fast. Hopefully, you get my point.
It started two weeks before the race. I rolled my ankle running with my son. It wasn’t a little roll of an ankle. That happens more often than I care to admit. But I have rolled my ankle three or four times during a race and finished strong. It hurts for about ten steps, then it goes numb, and I can keep going. This was worse. I heard an audible pop. I knew I couldn’t keep running on it. Luckily, my son and I were only a half mile away from our starting point. I hobbled for a couple minutes, and the numbness started. I was able to walk normal-ish. About a quarter mile out, I was able to run again – ish.
I took a full week off of running, taped my ankle, and did everything I could to rehab it. It was okay on race day, but I had lost about 20 miles of training runs because of it. Not only that, the Dashing Dog lost a bunch of her training runs too. Dashing Dog’s lack of training will come up again later. However, we did get in a 14 mile run two weeks before the race, the day before I rolled my ankle.
While Running with the Bears is the third Saturday in August, the Dashing Son started school 10 days before the race started. So there was the whole fiasco of pulling him out of school the day before the race, so we could get to Plumas County at a decent hour. Then on the way up, about 30 minutes to the hotel, he got car sick from playing on his games on the windy road.
The hotel in Quincy wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the greatest place. But a hotel room is a bit cramped for two adults, two kids, and two dogs. Anyway, we go to the hotel, unpacked, and then my brother in law and I went to the packet pickup to drop off the school supplies and get our stuff. We weren’t at the pasta feed for very long, just enough to say hi, drop off stuff, and get the seven bags of stuff with our packets. That is two charity runner bags and five normal (but still awesome) bags, plus two bear defender (running dog) bibs.
One of the issues, that actually worked out in my favor, was that the medium charity runner shirts got messed up. So, I got to pick out a shirt from the purchase table. I got me a nice, super bright, yellow shirt. I really like it.
I wish I could have hung out at the pasta feed, but it was 40 minutes back to the hotel, I needed to eat and get ready for running the next day. Oh, and go shopping for food.
I also ran into a friend of mine who forgot all of her nutrition at home. So, I also had to run over to her hotel and hand her the little bit of stuff that I had, which was a couple of gel packets and a powerbar.
That night, there was a whole drama about the kids sleeping in the same bed. “He’s on my side! She won’t stop touching me!” that kind of fun stuff. So I got to share the bed with the Dashing Son, aka, whirling dervish MMA sleep fighter. Needless to say, I slept like crap.
We got up, and left (later than I wanted) and drove to the race start. Due to the predicted heat, they let people start early, so we did see a few of the marathon folks out on the course already. We showed up at the race start, parked, and I had enough time to clean up after the Dashing Dog, use the bathroom myself, and get to the race start.
I lined up in the front, because I figured I would be finishing in the top 10. I also wanted to run a little bit with my competition, Rodney and Molly. These two held the doggie record for the half marathon. The Dashing Dog had the marathon record, and we were going for the half-marathon record as well.
At the start, we took off like a shot. Both dogs were excited at the race start and were doing sub-7 minute miles, with Rodney and I trying to keep up. We both settled into our desired pace about a quarter mile in. Unfortunately, Rodney was pacing a friend and we couldn’t run together. For another quarter mile, I was the lead runner, then the eventual 1st and 2nd place guys passed me.
Dashing Dog and I ran well for the first few miles. We were pretty much alone for until mile 4, when I caught up with my friend who took my gel stuff. She and her husband started an hour early and were walking the half (she was coming off of surgery). But the tradition continued as I had passed her while running the marathon the last two years. It was good to get my traditional hug.
At the Flinstones aid station, one of the ladies caught up to me. We ran together for a little bit. This was her first time at this race, so I warned her about Bear Bait Hill. The only real climb of the course. She took off after the next aid station (the car hop aid station – with the old cars) around mile 7.
It was warming up by this time, and Dashing Dog starting slowing down. So did I. Not that Dashing Dog and I weren’t used to the heat, we do run in Sacramento most days, but I think both of us were dehydrated.
We kept going, did the turn around, and kept slogging on. I could tell that Dashing Dog was getting tired. I am also glad I had my hydration pack. I forgot that there wasn’t an aid station for nearly 3 miles after the turn around, and we had to climb Bear Bait Hill.
By this time we had been passed by a couple of folks, we had passed a few walkers, and absolutely walked up Bear Bait Hill. We actually caught one of the folks who passed us running up that hill and finished way before them. That hill is a killer. I don’t run up hills unless I have to. And even then, I do intervals.
Dashing Dog was dragging along. We were still on pace for the record, as well as a PR for her half marathon time (even in training). But we had to stop and walk a few times to get her rested and water.
The heat was really getting to both of us.
At mile 11.5 or so, some old guy saw us and was calling his dog back. His dog wasn’t listening, and had to sniff my dog. She doesn’t liked to be sniffed, especially when she is running. Running is her job, and I know I don’t like my butt to be sniffed when I’m working. Luckily, the dog wasn’t mean, and left us alone after that.
We had to stop and walk a couple more times, but the last stop was about 1 km to the finish. Luckily the Dashing Dog knows distances once I start counting them down (more likely she picks up on my body language), and picked up the pace a little bit, and once she saw the finish line she did even better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to stay ahead of the guy who passed us with 100 yards left to go. We finished, and not only set the doggie half marathon course record, we did set a PR for her by a few seconds.
After the race, we got our medals (she got one too), and we got some water and snacks. I also shook the hands of the guy who passed me, and the lady in pink who I ran with for a bit. Then I walked around a bit, got the Dashing Dog some water, and started chatting with folks.
Now, while I was running the half marathon, the rest of the family was doing the 10k, including the 9 year old Dashing Son. The 10k started 45 minutes after the half marathon. The Dashing Son wanted to run the 10k on his own. This would be his fifth official 10k race, and Running with the Bears is a small enough race out in the country that I had no problems with him being out on his own running. That said, I wanted to beat him to the finish line.
As I was talking to somebody, I hear the announcer (I think it was Shauna – the director of Mountain Circle) say, “We have a little 10k runner, and he is passing everybody! Look at him go!” If there is one think I have taught my son about running is that you give it your all that final mile, and you keep pushing faster as you get closer to the finish line. I knew this had to be my son. My boy has one hell of a finishing kick. (Apparently, he tried to be like me and lead the pack at the start.)
Sure enough, I see this streak of yellow (unfortunately for him, he got my fashion sense too) come barreling around the final turn and up the hill to the finish line. He was flying. He ended up getting a 6 minute PR on his 10k and was the youngest racer of the whole event. I congratulated him, hugged him, got him some water, and went down to the course to cheer other folks in.
It was around this time that I noticed the Dashing Dog starting to limp. I checked her paws and they seemed to be fine. I knew the distance was no big deal as we run 14 to 15 miles together all the time. True, we ran a bit faster, and we were at altitude (3500 feet), but she seemed to be doing okay.
The Dashing Son went over to the 100 m to go mark and helped the other kids spray down runners with squirt guns. I am glad they weren’t there when I went through, they would have scared the dog. I chatted with other folks while I waited for the rest of the Dashing Family to finish.
Dashing Brother-in-law and niece-in-law finished pretty soon after, and not that much longer later, the Dashing Wife, Daughter, Sister, nephew-in-law (actually it was the Dashing nephew-in-law’s cousin who used his bib) and Dashing Boy Dog finished their 10k.
I jumped into the ice pool to cool off. I only got in waist deep, but a couple of the marathoners dunked themselves completely underwater. It was hot, so I would have probably done the same thing if I had ran the full.
We all hung out because a bunch of us got age group awards. The advantage of a small race is it is a lot easier to get an age group award.
The Dashing Dog was moving a little slow as we walked to the car to leave. We went back to the hotel to get the dogs some water, take showers, and play in the pool (and take a little nap). Then we drove back to Greenville for the Ho’down/luau after party. We had to bring the dogs because we weren’t allowed to leave them in the hotel. Dashing Dog was limping and moving even slower. Which was probably a good thing as she can be a bit rambunctious in crowds. That evening, she pretty much laid at my feet.
During the party, I was given two awards. Since I was the captain of the Dashing Family team, I accepted an award for raising the most money as a team (with help from Laura) and we got some olive oil and a couple other things. I got another award called the “Welcome to the Bears Family Award”. I got this for being awesome or something. In reality, I helped organize the back to school drive and I’ve been a charity runner for three years, and have done a few other things to help out, so they gave me a bear statue to welcome me/us to the Bears Family.
Overall, the charity runners raised nearly $50,000 (ignore the sign).
We had dinner, watched the turkey bingo (where a turkey poops in a square to decide the winner). As with last year, the turkey had stage fright and they had to call in a duck as a substitute. Then we were all getting tired and went back to the hotel.
In the morning, we had breakfast at Patty’s Mountain Thunder Café, which is our regular place to eat in Quincy. Biscuits and gravy!
We drove home, and the Dashing Dog was in a bad way. She was limping still and just moving really slow. Turns out she had torn one of her pads during the race, and she was running differently to compensate for it. She had some severe muscle stiffness, so much so that I had to carry her up the stairs to bed. I also think she didn’t get enough water before the race. The water was in the bathroom at the hotel, and I don’t think the dogs realized it was there.
I gave her some massages to help loosen up her muscles, and by Monday evening she seemed to be okay. When I went out for my usual 4 mile run on Tuesday morning, like a true runner, she comes hopping over to me, with one paw up, ready to go running. “I’m fine! Let’s go running! This? No, it isn’t injured. It’s uhhh, all the new rage in Paris. It’s how all the cool dogs walk these days.”
I didn’t take her that morning. I gave her a week off to make sure she had healed.
Anyway, while the Running with the Bears weekend didn’t go quite as well as I wanted, it is still a great race, and we are all going back again next year. Again, as charity runners. Dashing Dog and I are going for the doggy record in the 10k. Actually, we are going for the human record too. So, if you are going to do Running with the Bears, be sure to say “Hi”.
If you are fast, be sure to run the half or full marathon.