Today was Poppy's first proper 10k race. I decided to take her at the last minute after seeing dogs were allowed. We left Teddy at home with a pile of squids chews as
It was a lovely, low-key event with about 200 local runners and a 5k attached for the children. It started in the village playing fields, crossed a lane and wound up and over some beautiful Chalk countryside, including through bluebell woods and along the edges of fields. There were some challenging hills on the 10k course which Pop and I kept going up. It has turned out to be one of my top three favourite races to date.
We set off at the back of the field so we wouldn't get in anyone's way (Pop unsure why we weren't at the front where clearly her ability and speed ought to place her), and got stuck in a mass of fairly slow runners as a result. Everyone was lovely as always, smiling at Pop and chatting away. Things eased once the first hill bit, sorting the fitter runners from the slower, and we moved steadily up the field from then on, enjoying some steep hills where our six legs were working well together.
Each time we ran past someone they exclaimed oh no! beaten by a dog! but we all know that, despite small appearances (and very short legs), Poppy is a tough-as-nails JR lass who takes no prisoners and is perfectly capable of running 14 miles without blinking. This general underestimation of her abilities was particularly noticeable when we finally caught up with and overtook a couple of blokes I'd been steadily gaining on for a mile up a long, arduous hill. Once the land levelled out and began to go downhill (through gorgeous bluebell woods) Pop and I picked up the pace, caught up with the two blokes who very kindly stepped sideways on the narrow woodland path so we could pass. Clearly, they hadn't realised I was running with a pooch because as we shot past them they started laughing and bemoaning the fact a tiny dog was running faster than them. I had a chat with them at the finish where they congratulated Poppy on a terrific run and I reassured them that she's fit as a flea from running with me and marathon training with M, which I think made them feel better.
By now were were about 5 miles through the race and it was getting hot. There was a water stop with drinks for the runners and a bowl for dogs ahead. I didn't need any myself but I was worried about Pop so we stopped briefly and she drank thirstily. Then we were off on the final stretch, leaping over fallen trees (a photographer told me he hoped he'd got the pic of the two of us in the air together- it will be one for the running gallery on the wall if he did), round a bend, up a hill, into a field where the views were breath-taking, then on the home straight which was a big whoosh downhill over the Chalk back into the village and the finish.
Some runners who'd already finished were back out on the course cheering people in and they all said well done to Poppy, which she loved. We overtook the man in front then there was no one else ahead as we careered through a farm yard and out into the final field. As we approached the finish tape Poppy saw her dad, standing off to one side. She made a bee line for him and got her legs tangled in the lead with the result that she ended up trying to gallop along three-legged. She'd run the best part of six miles with no lead entanglement at all and one sight of dad and that was that. I stopped (twice) to unwind her legs and we finished in a time just shy of 56 minutes, which for a hilly 10k and Pop's first proper race was pretty good I reckoned.
I was SOOOOO proud of her! We had a lovely cuddle at the end to celebrate and lots of people who we'd gone past on the race came up to stroke her and tell her how well she'd done.
She may even get into the local paper after she was part of dad's running club group photo at the end, along with Alice's dog who'd run the 5k. She's been telling Ted to expect reporters lining up to interview her for Dog Monthly as a result :o).
When we got home she had two squid chews as a well done, told Teddy all about it and then fell fast asleep in her bed, bless her. I think she is well on her way with her running career now and I certainly loved every minute of racing through the countryside with my furry daughter.
Hope you've all had good weekend,