Friday, October 31, 2014

My Running Partner Has Four Legs Link Party

Hi! This is Henri! He is my running partner! *whispers* He has four legs!

If you search through different parts of this blog or read through my blog posts, you will learn a lot about Henri and the adventures we have had over the last several months since I started blogging, but since this is meant to be an introduction post for anyone who wants to connect through the My Running Partner Has Four Legs Link Party, I will give you a brief synapses.

Henri is a two and a half year old Shepard mix. He was born in a shelter nearby and advertised as an Australian Shepard mix. Mixed with what, we're not sure. He has a tail that makes people think Husky. I think German Shepard. We could all be wrong and he's part Chihuahua (but I doubt it).

I started this blog in hopes of connecting and inspiring others to run with their dogs. I, personally, believe that there is no better running partner. I have attempted to run on my own several times. I just never got into it. I had a roommate that ran, but I couldn't keep up and that did the opposite of motivate me. I ran a few times before I got Henri, but I never felt like I was any good at it or that it was really worth my time.

Then came Henri. This bouncing ball or fur and energy that I could not wear down. If we did not go to the dog park, it was not going to be a restful evening. He wanted to play non-stop. Just when you thought he had calmed down, you moved your legs to a different position on the couch and there he was, springing to your side with a toy because, obviously, you were playing a game.  

It was around this time, two years ago, when there were just days we could not go to the dog park. It was raining or it had been and it was muddy. The time had changed and it was too dark. Something had to be done with Henri and a walk just wouldn't cut it. That's when we took our first run. The look on his face when we were done...whether I was good at it or not, we were runners.

This summer, because Henri hates anything over 40 degrees (only a slight exaggeration), I decided that the dog park was out and running was in. We got up early in the morning, Monday through Friday, and went for a 3 mile run. Then I would blog about it. This was about our time together, just the two of us, and how our bond and love grew.

If you've ready the blog you might know that I got injured. I rolled my ankle. This has slowed us down exponentially, more than I thought it would. I'm getting back out there, a little at a time and Henri is patiently waiting, with a smile back at me when I need it most. 

Thank you, Lea, for giving us another way to connect and share our stories of running with our dogs. I hope to read and follow many of you and hopefully, you will follow us, too. I can't wait to read your #happytails!

You can follow Henri and I, here on our blog, or on twitter @6legsarebetter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


It's a weird feeling to be nice and toasty, but then you touch your own skin and you jump from the chill of it. 

I fear this is our running life now. It was 50 degrees today, so not bad at all. We've run in colder temperatures, and we will run in colder temperatures over the next several months, but it's still a bit of an adjustment. How many layers go I put on? Do I wear long sleeves or short sleeves and a jacket? Do I wear gloves or no? Am I going to be cool enough while we're running and warm enough while we're walking? 

I tweaked my ankle a little bit on Saturday. I wasn't even running! I stepped unevenly on the ground and it turned again. It didn't feel great, so I put off running for a few days, just to give it some time. I considered not running today, but I think I really wanted to as I couldn't seem to make myself stick to "I should skip today," or "I'll only go running if I get the Pro Compression socks I ordered." and Henri really wanted to. He was running and jumping around when I came home. I can't say 'no' to him!

So, we went and it was good! I think my shoes are really good for the state my ankle is in right now. I felt a little wobbly when we started, but I just kept us at a slow pace and it felt better after awhile. We even pushed it to 2 miles again (I don't remember if I mentioned that last time). I know Henri wants to keep going, especially since it feels awesome outside to him. We'll keep working on it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy Howloween

This weekend was packed with Halloween festivities! PetSmart had their "Frightfully Delightful" event this weekend, a boarding/training facility down the street had their "Howl-O-Ween Bash" and the Champaign Dog Park had their "Howl'oween" Event!

The first year we had Henri, he was Indiana Bones. We didn't go anywhere and he really only wore the costume so I could take his picture. Last year, we found out about the Dog Park Costume Contest. I think we found out about it kind of late because I remember not having much time to come up with something. There were several categories, one of which was the Best Group Costume, in which the dog(s) and human(s) coordinate. Henri was The Big Bad Wolf and I was the Third Little Pig. It was clever and Henri didn't mind wearing a sign and having the first and second little pig dangling around his neck. Perhaps my artistic interpretation just doesn't translate super well. We didn't win anything, but we were super cute. At least I thought so. I was able to see what we were up against though, and knowing that, I was able to think bigger this year. Still striving for the Best Group Costume, I came up with Henri as a scuba diver and I was a jellyfish. My husband could pick something else to coordinate with us if he so chose.

Scuba Diver, huh? Yeah, simple. The hard part was sewing a scuba suit, because I'm not very good at sewing yet, but I'm going to have to learn if these are the types of things I come up with! So, I worked several late nights, creating a scuba suit for Henri, finding just the right supplies to make his oxygen tank and flippers. I put the goggles around his neck, making sure he was okay with them hanging on him, because there was not way he was wearing them on his head. He fussed with them at first and then he was fine. I tried his suit on earlier in the week, to make sure it fit and he was okay, even running after a toy while wearing it. Friday night, I finished his tank and put it on him and he froze. He didn't like it. I had made it as lightweight as I could, keeping the hose from dangling off of him, attaching it all to a harness that he was already use to, but he was not happy. I didn't know what to do! I have just spent all that time on a scuba suit, a jellyfish umbrella and even a shark hoodie for my husband and Henri wasn't going to wear his scuba tank! What was I going to do? I couldn't scrap everything and come up with something new in one day! The PetSmart event and Dog House on the Prairie event were Saturday, the next day. I could skip them and work on new costumes or I could just forget the whole thing.

I've mentioned I'm stubborn before. I decided we would take in one event at a time. If Henri would just wear his tank for a picture at PetSmart, if he would just walk through the store in his costume, we could skip the afternoon event if he was miserable. Guess what? He wasn't miserable! Once I got him to move, he was okay. I think he liked the attention he was getting. 

After PetSmart, I drove him out to a lake to take some pictures of him by the water, as if he had been scuba diving. I then proceeded to buy him some McDonalds, which he shared with me, as reward for doing so well. He really did do well! I was so proud of him! 

We went to the Dog House on the Prairie, which was a new place so I knew he would be nervous, but he even lay down at one point, relaxing a little. Yes! This was going to work! Just one more event!

There we were, Henri the scuba diver, my husband the shark and me, the jellyfish. Henri did surprisingly well with the fact that I had an umbrella, but my jellyfish tentacles did not do very well in the wind, which there is always more of out in the open area of the dog parks. The got tangled and snagged, some ripping off. We didn't even get a picture of the three of us. In the end, Henri did win Best Costume on a Dog. So, my hard work paid off. Maybe we can get Best Group next year. Hmm...what could we be?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Wish

Tonight we ran close to two miles before we slowed to a walk. My foot didn't bother me as much. I'm hoping that trend can continue.

I'm going to miss the sun casting a silhouette of Henri and I as we run by fences. I wish I could take a picture of it. It's motivational for me. I don't look as stupid as I think I do! 

The weather in the Midwest is that you can start off running, needing a long sleeve shirt, but you're going to be too warm once you get going. Then the sun is really going to be going down and you're going to be cooling off, really fast, thanks to not knowing whether to wear short sleeves or long sleeves. Really, either way, it's not enough. It does feel good while you're running though.

I wish the weather would stay like this another month or so. I wish that it wasn't going to be dark every time we go running soon. I wish I could run more now, before all this "fall" happens. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Shoes Work!

In case you missed it, I got new shoes!

They're pretty! That's a very important feature of my shoes. Yes, it was extremely important that they where right for my feet and my ankle, but after that, "Do you have anything in blue?" The guy sympathized with me. He liked blue, too. He worked hard to find me some blue shoes. He had to special order them, but they are beautiful! And blue! Now I have two things to smile about when I look down while I'm running.

It was nice to run again. I was super tired after a long, exhausting weekend. I had a million excuses for not running after work today, but I had one really good reason to run, and it wasn't my shoes :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Ankle Update

We went for a mini-run today, but that was only because our walk was taking too long and I needed to get to my sports physical therapy screening. I was not prepared to run for even the few minutes that we did. I hadn't wanted to confuse Henri so I used a regular leash, as opposed to the around the waist leash. I had my iPod clipped onto my pants instead of in my armband and my keys (Yes, I'd brought more than just my house key this time) weren't exactly secured so they were jingling the entire time. It was awkward, but it did shave a few minutes off the walk, and if my GPS hadn't told me the place was on the right when it was clearly on the left, I might have made, I was still late. I hate being late.

Anyway, the good news is that she didn't think I needed an MRI at this point. She thinks I irritated the ligaments that connect my leg to my foot. I'm pretty sure she said irritated. My ankle is still swollen and I should still be icing it and elevating it. I need to work on strengthening and balance. 

I also need new shoes. I was trying to put that off until Christmas, but she acted like I should not run in those shoes ever again. That makes my shoes sound like they're in really bad shape. Sure, I knew I was pushing the limit of the miles on these shoes, but the tread still looks good. I don't think they're that bad. They are also colorful now that they went through the color run. 

I know, they have a hole in them and they're a little worn. Call me sentimental! They're my first real running shoes! I was going to ask for new ones for Christmas. That's just a few months away! Fine. Henri is worth it.

I think I've come up with a plan for now that it's cooling off, and now that I know more about my ankle. We'll run on Mondays and Wednesdays, the days that I get off work later and we wouldn't have time to go to the dog park before it gets dark. The other days will be spent at the dog park, unless it's rainy or muddy and running is the best option. I can go after work and we'll be safe. It will also be warmer because while it might be cooling off, at least it would have gotten to the days high rather than the evenings low. So, every once in awhile, we might get a bonus run, but for now it will be twice a long as everything goes well.

I do love running with Henri. I love his attitude. I love the way he smiles up at me. I love how he watches me for cues for our paths and turns. I don't think I would enjoy running this much if I didn't have him to go with me. I can't think of a better running partner!

Monday, October 6, 2014

So Many Decisions

You may have noticed, I did not blog on Thursday or Friday. We didn't run either, which hasn't really stopped me in the past, but I was feeling discouraged and frustrated so I decided that it was just time to take a break.

We did run today, this afternoon, after I got off work. We're getting to the point that we are going to have to make a decision about the adjustment to the cooler weather and the shorter days. The time changes this Sunday so it will be darker later in the morning and darker earlier in the evening. 

While I continue to figure out what to do about that, I'm also trying to figure out how to get my foot better, so that I can run my 3 miles again. I'm going to go to a sports physical therapy center this week. They can do a free assessment and maybe help me figure out what needs to be done next. My foot still hurt last Thursday from The Color Run. My ankle just feels weak, though I think some of that is in my head. It felt good to run today, but my foot still hurt and I had a little limp after we ran our 1.5 miles. Even if I can't run every day, it would be nice to have the option when it's been raining for days and the dog park is soaked, or I get off work too late for the dog park, but a run can still happen. Plus, I have this blog now. I don't want to give up on it yet!

All will be figure out, eventually. We'll see what runs this week brings. The point is that we enjoy it, Henri and I. It was good to run with my little buddy again. He makes it all worth it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What A Beautiful Dog

I don't know how to respond when someone compliments me on how beautiful Henri is, or how beautiful his coloring is. Of course I thank them, but other than that, I just feel awkward. This happened four times at the dog park yesterday, and it's just got me thinking.

Oh, how awful! Everyone compliments you on your dog. Are you bragging? 

Yes, I think Henri is a cute dog. I always thought that I just felt that way because he was mine. You know, like people feel about their kids. Your kids are always the most beautiful kids in the world, but that's a little different because they're also a reflection of you. You can see yourself and your spouse in their looks, their mannerisms and hear them in their laugh. I had nothing to do with how Henri looks. He does not have my hair or my husbands eyes. His beauty is not a reflection of me, unfortunately for as much as he is complimented :)

We picked him out of a litter of eight. I suppose he is a reflection of our taste, but we didn't really know how he was going to look when he grew up. I actually wanted him to be fluffier, have the longer hair of an Australian Shepard. My husband wanted him to be lighter, more golden like a Golden Retriever. He didn't turn out the way either one of us thought he would. Is he still a reflection of our taste when we pictured him looking differently when we picked him out?

What do I do when I'm so enamored with a pup that I just can't keep it to myself? I'm pretty sure I always tell the dog that they are cute, not the owner. Maybe that's just me being me and preferring to talk to the dogs over the humans. Maybe I feel awkward because I don't really know how to communicate with humans. I guess the dog has no control over how cute he is either, so am I doing the same thing to them that others are doing to me? Is he sitting there as I pet him, thinking, "I had nothing to do with it, Lady. Go talk to my mother...but, wait until you're done rubbing my face."

Sorry for making you feel awkward, Puppy. You're adorable! Henri is, too. I guess I will just have to continue saying, "Thank you," until I can learn to better communicate with humans.