Galveston Sand Crab 5K

To mark our fifth year running the Galveston Sand Crab, we added an element: Bo the New Dog.

We got kind of a late start on Saturday, which turned a three-hour drive into a five-hour frustration fest thanks to construction on two major highways in Houston, then a several-mile backup over the Galveston causeway. We've only had Bo for two weeks so we weren't sure of his road-trip skills, but he was great, just chilling in the back seat the whole way.

When we finally got onto the island, we headed for Olympia Grill, a dog-friendly restaurant on the harbor side. Our waiter even brought Bo a doggie water dish!

Unfortunately Run in Texas only held advance packet pickup on Friday afternoon, which meant we couldn't get our stuff until we arrived at the race. So we checked in to the hotel and goofed off for a few hours before heading out to East Beach waaaaay early, trying to score a parking space in the free lot before collecting our packets.

We used the time to introduce Bo to beach sand and the Gulf. He was kind of baffled by sand at first, trying to shake it off like water. But a couple of warmup/test runs showed he was ready to race.

He was the only dog participant (but the Galveston Humane Society is a race beneficiary so we figured he was allowed), and he got lots of attention. We developed a quick answer to "What kind of dog is he?" Since he looks like a dachshund mixed with a larger (but as yet unidentified) breed, we call him "Dachshund and Sneaky Neighbor Dog."

Have I mentioned that my knee/hamstring/calf has been bothering me again? Not like it hurt last winter, but enough to make me wonder how well it would handle a beach race. So I took some Aleve and crossed my fingers.

Finally at 8:30, after the kids' race completed, we were off.

The sand was in good condition this year–it must have rained recently because it was pretty well packed down, even away from the water. This was good news for my leg, and so far it was holding up.

The first half of the race ran into the wind, and I dodged the usual sand castle obstacles. My headlamp is just one of those that clips onto my visor–every year I say I need to get a better one, and every year I forget. The guys carried a flashlight, and Bo was wearing a couple of glow necklaces. That made them easy to spot when they passed me going the other direction–yellow glow necklaces a foot off the ground could really only belong to Bo.

On the way back, I let a family of three pace me. Dad wore a nuclear-glow headlamp, so I just tucked in behind him. My music was kind of loud but I could tell that the daughter was struggling. I couldn't hear her words, but I recognized her tone. Mom matter-of-factly urged her on. And to her credit, at least while I was behind them she kept running.

I could see the flashing lights of the turnoff to the finish probably .25 away, and I picked up my pace, leaving the family behind. But the semi-packed sand had been churned up a bit by earlier runners (and one dog) so it was a little more difficult. The beach makes for a slower pace than usual, but I ran my fastest pace at the end, and I finished pain-free, about fifteen seconds faster than last year.

This race still uses a foot pod timing chip, so I had to stop and let the guy repossess the chip. I wish he'd have given me 30 seconds to catch my breath and walk it off, but I can see why they want to grab people before they abscond with the chips.

The first two or three years we ran this race, our registration fee got us beer and a plate of BBQ. Last year they still gave away beer but you had to buy BBQ from a food truck. This year, only beer. And a Kona Ice stand. Sign of the times, I guess. Still, we had fun.

Last year B placed in his age group, but this year he was fifth. So without food, we didn't have much incentive to stick around. We packed up our dog and headed out.

Bo did really well on his first road trip with us–and his first 5K means an automatic PR. Not only that, he finished first in his age species group. Win-win!

Dog to 5K

Our house has been dog-empty since September 2014, when 17-year old Shadow crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

We were lucky for a very long time–she was laid-back, gentle, and could be trusted in the house by herself while we were at work all day. Yeah, she ate an entire tube of toothpaste and a Crayola 64 (all but the sharpener) that were left out by a certain small person, and she was a runner if she got out, but overall we had it easy. You have the perfect dog for that long, it’s really hard to think about starting over.

So we hadn’t.

And it got easier to NOT have a dog. We didn’t have to rush home from work to let her out. We didn’t have to find boarding or pay someone to care for her when we took a trip. No yard cleanup, no flea treatments, no accidents in the house. Yeah, we still had two cats, but they’re much more independent, and since they’re inside-only cats, no one has to worry about letting them out on a schedule.

But The Boy desperately wanted a dog. And for almost three years he did not pass up an opportunity to remind us of that. However, we always had some reason not to–can’t do it during school, we’re going on a long trip for part of the summer, blah blah blah. They were valid excuses, to be sure, but also convenient. We just weren’t ready.

Until this week.

On Monday, I poked around on the website for one of the local shelters. So many sweet and earnest faces! I found a few potential candidates that met our criteria (<2 years old but not a baby, 20-50 lbs, good with cats and kids) and saved their info as a reference, but I couldn’t accurately gauge their sizes until I saw them in person. So we drove to the shelter with the understanding that we had to be patient–when you’re choosing a lifelong committment, you might not find the right match the first time out. I don’t know if I said that to reinforce it to the kid or to myself.

Anyway, we got out there and began looking around. The big dogs were housed in larger runs, and we walked through their area pretty quickly–the ones I’d identified earlier were just too big for our needs, but we still hoped to spot a medium-sized dog in their midst. Nothing doing there. Then I looked through the door to the small-dog room–I almost turned away, but something made me go inside anyway. And the bottom three cages held medium-sized dogs.

We read their profiles–the one on the right was a candidate I’d spotted on their website, but I was unfamiliar with the other two. B was kind of drawn to the middle one–a little brown 1.5-year-old dog named Bo. He seemed the right size and he was friendly to B through the cage, so we asked to take him out and play with him. B ran around the yard area with him while I asked some questions. I learned that he was classified as a “green dot” dog, meaning the best, easiest kind at the shelter. He’d been surrendered by an owner who didn’t want to fix their fence to keep him from escaping. She didn’t know how he’d behave with cats, but she offered to “cat test” him by walking him around the feral cat colony that lived behind the building. I didn’t know cat-testing was a thing, but it made perfect sense. So we walked him back there and he passed with flying colors.

He met all of our criteria. And because he’d already been neutered, we could take him home that day if we wanted to. Not only that, through the end of July the shelter was charging a discounted fee for dogs over a year old–he was only $10 to adopt.

So we did.

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Not sure whose grin is bigger!

True to the cat test, he’s fine with them. They are wary and annoyed, but when they challenge him, he backs down. He’s ignored lots of chewing opportunities (shoes, mostly) lying around the house, he’s housetrained, and it turns out he’s also crate-trained. He’s slept in the crate willingly and quietly his first two nights here.

We’ve run into our first dog-care conundrum though. Next weekend we have a plans to run a 5K some distance from home–what do we do with a new dog? He ended up at the shelter to begin with because he escaped someone’s yard–leaving him in our fenced yard is not an option. So he’s coming with us. B, of course, volunteered to have Bo run with him. But he’s little, with short legs (the dog, not B) and I didn’t want to just drop him into a 5K with no preparation at all.

Which leads us to Dog to 5K training.

He’s been on a dozen walks already–he’s only 1.5, so he’s energetic. I told B to start him out with an easy-paced half-mile run the first time out. Ha–they were so “easy-paced” I couldn’t keep up with them running my 5K PR pace! But he had no problem with it, so the second day we did the same thing. They’ll add a half-mile at a time to get to three miles by next weekend. But B doesn’t really care about his finishing time, so if Bo’s energy flags they can run-walk or whatever as needed.

I don’t anticipate taking him running with me on a regular basis–my distances are generally longer than three miles–but this will be laid-back and fun.

He’s already made himself at home here. And I somehow I think Shadow would approve.

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