Don’t worry, until yesterday, I didn’t know what it was either! I was doing some research on running with my dog. I was kind of thinking that I could try to do a ½ a marathon with her…I really should have been looking into this all along. Ok, it sort of just came to me!!! There is a running store, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a short distance from where we live that has canine cross country events…essentially, attach yourself to your dog somehow and run a trail run as a team. So that sounds fun, huh? The truth be told, I run with my dog, Trixie, all the time! It is one of her favorite things to do! She can go 10.5 miles, I don’t run in the humid or hot weather, because that’s just mean, but 10.5 miles is pretty impressive, huh? That’s all the water that I can carry for us, we both take a drink every ½ mile…I have it built into my running app to prompt me every ½ mile for sippy time and I taught her to drink out of a sippy bottle. She’s a border collie/blue healer, so it is easy to teach her just about anything! That is why I pick this breed. I also taught her left and right, so that when we approach an intersection, I call our “left” or “right” and she makes the turn on her own. She is so smart, during our runs, I’m the dumb one!!! Sunday, race day arrives and this is one of the easier race day commutes in that it is about 15 minutes from our house and Brian came along as crew, of course. I actually missed the deadline for signup, so I had to get there and sign up and pick up my bib and swag. The people were super nice and at 10:15 we were off to run a 3 mile lap. The race is designed in 3 mile loops with dog and runner running as many or as few as they want. Trixie and I were planning 2 laps. At the beginning a German Shepard broke his leash, so that distracted Trixie (had to say Hi you know), but we buckled down and followed the very well-marked trail. Not only did the trail have caution tape blocking the wrong turn, but it had bright orange arrows painted in the snow for the correct turns. Our first lap included Trixie pulling harder than she should and me reminding her to “not tug”, the path was largely snow covered, some ice, with lots of uneven terrain…but, Brian bought me trail running shoes, on Saturday and they were a lifesaver! Had I not had them to run this race, I would have been on my butt, face, you name it!!! The first lap went off great and we arrived back at the start where I adjusted my shoes and encouraged my dog to drink. She’s so into the sippy cup that she won’t drink out of a pan while on the leash anymore (spoiled much)! The second lap began and we were off to repeat on familiar terrain. The first lap done, I used that second lap to work on technique of running on these trail shoes that were a lot grippier (is that a word?). I discovered through trial and error that I need to run further forward on the foot to really access the backward facing chevrons on the sole of the shoe and I also need to take a shorter stride with quicker pull (that’s pulling the rear foot off the ground). Once I combined all of this stuff, the running really changed and the second lap was a vast improvement over the first…not necessarily in speed, but certainly in comfort and ease on the runner’s body! Now we are getting somewhere! I love a run that has a learning curve; the challenging terrain (hills, turns and unevenness), the surface challenge (bumpy snow and ice covered) and of course new shoes!!! The least challenging part of the whole race was honestly running with Trixie. She is soooo good at this, she always picks the best path (I just follow her, remember, I’m the dumb one) and she keeps enough slack on the line that we aren’t tripping. She’s awesome and we finished strong! I have no idea what our time was, nor do I care, we just had a great sunny winter run in the woods and got experience and a hat out of it! Our next Canine Cross Country – March 11th! As you can see from the picture, my dog was tired, but happy!!!