The Dawg Dash used to be an event in October that I’d always have on my race calendar (unless it was the day after my birthday). I’d done the 10K race four times and the 5K once before this year.
I wanted to do it again this year, after injuries and schedule conflicts had resulted in a hiatus since 2007. I wanted to do it especially if the Ducks beat the Huskies again in 2013 (for the 10th straight year). We did, so I vowed to wear Oregon Duck yellow-and-green in a race that roams through the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
I did (see pictures), but I probably won’t again because I’d rather fit in. The Oct. 20 event attracted nearly 3,000 runners and walkers, and almost all wore purple — either the nice-looking race shirts or some other UW ensemble. I enjoyed seeing the incredible spirit and loyalty for the school, even after a resounding loss to Arizona State the day before. And people tolerated my Duck outfit. There were smiles, stares and good-natured ribbing, but nothing that a Husky fan running a race in Eugene might get.
The Dawgfather’s death
This also was the day that the great University of Washington football coach Don James died. The good vibe from doing the run turned sad and somber in the late afternoon when I heard the news. I used to be a sports writer who covered the Huskies for several years in the 1980s and 90s, and I got to know James and felt I had a good working relationship with him, in spite of minor run-ins and disagreements.
Don liked to manage the media, as he did the Husky program, but he also enjoyed getting to know writers. He treated most everyone fairly and with respect. I came to appreciate my relationship with him, so his death due to pancreatic cancer — the same devastating ailment that took my mom — hit home with me. At our most recent Casual Friday at work, I wore my purple Dawg Dash 2013 shirt, largely in tribute to James.
About the run
In all the previous years of doing this event, the 5K and 10K races both started and ended in Husky Stadium. Because of stadium construction the past two years, the start and finish lines were moved to in and around Red Square on the UW campus.
The campus is beautiful, but I didn’t like the course. I don’t mind hills and inclines, but I dislike running up steps. Most courses don’t have steps (which I walk up, to avoid a misstep or mishap in a crowd), and these were more annoying than off-putting. But if I pass up this event in the future, it’s because of the three or four sets of steps you must navigate.
I finished in 39:46 (12:48 per mile), my third-fastest 5K in 2013 and third one this year (out of seven timed) under 40 minutes. Full results are here. On a roughly similar course for this event in 2007, before my ankle problems, I ran the 5K in 26:24. (I got my 10K PR of 51:44 in Dawg Dash 2004.)
Though my Duck outfit didn’t ruffle any feathers, it did give a woman neck-and-neck with me heading to the finish line some incentive to turn on the jets. As she blew past me, she pointed back at me, as if to say, “Watch this Husky beat a Duck!” It was fun.
Well, six days later I did the Puget Sound Heart & Stroke Walk in downtown Seattle, joining seven of my co-workers from Zones. I had to run about a mile of the 5K walk to take a mid-walk potty break and then catch up with them. It was fun to do a team event, and a good cause.
I am looking forward to doing the Mustache Dache 5K on Nov. 16, again with some fellow runners from Zones. In the meantime, I must train a bit more to get ready for the Seattle Half Marathon Dec. 1. I am signing up for the Walk, but hope to run a good share of it.
Then there are holiday races. Got to make sure my bad ankle can handle all of this.
Thanks for reading. Till next time.