Monday, 22 May 2017

The Dreaded Lurgy and New Puppies

I was meant to have raced the Adrenaline 27km Night Race on Saturday evening, but instead I was at the cinema watching the new "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie. It wasn't intentional, but last Tuesday I had a terrible sore throat and by Friday I was snorting out lots of the green stuff and had lost my voice. I was actually feeling ok and went to bed Friday night with every intention of racing but on waking up on Saturday morning, I started to question whether racing would be wise.

Since the Whiskey Basin 88k at the beginning of April, my focus has been on the San Diego Marathon. The Aravaipa races have just been part of my preparation for the marathon and whilst I love to race and be competitive whenever I can, I haven't really been out to win these races but rather used them to gauge my current fitness levels. 

The plan had been to run the Adrenaline race at my marathon pace, or at least as close as possible given that I would be running in the dark on trails, but I wasn't sure what effect a 17 mile all out race would have on my body and it's recovery ready for the marathon. It took a lot of discipline to say, "No, I'm not doing it", but with the support of Andy and coach Adam, I felt much better walking away - better to have a DNS than a DNF, and it also means that - fingers crossed - I can run again this week and get back on track with things for San Diego.

The marathon is just 2 weeks away and training had been going well until the minor blip this past week. My racing had gone well, my tempo runs were giving me confidence every week, and having done a steady 20 miles on the road the previous Sunday at a comfortable 7.26 minute miling, my goal for the marathon changed and I felt capable of an even faster time.

The good news is that even though I haven't ran for the past 3 days and despite missing a run last week, I still believe that I can hit my goal. I wasn't feel great on Thursday or Friday last week but I still did a couple of 6 milers and was surprised at the pace  - even with the heat, the brisk breezes and a throat that felt like sandpaper, and even though I was trying to control things and keep the heart rate low, I was still knocking out 7.30's.

Enjoying an evening run at dusk - my favourite time to run :-)

Normally when I don't run, I'm like a bear with a sore head as the saying goes and I have to keep myself busy doing more mundane things to pass the time of day. However, just over a week or so ago, we had a new addition to the family and she has kept me - and the rest of us! - extremely busy.

We didn't intend to adopt another dog - Wilson and Brandy are absolutely amazing and I love them more than words can ever express. They go everywhere with us and we have a very strong bond with them - we had no reason nor need to change what we already have with these two.

But those that know us will be aware that we also have a little cat named Khayman, and he's now 19 years old. He joined our family as a tiny, stray kitten back in 1998 and he's been in our lives ever since. Although Khayman is in excellent health for his age, we don't know how much longer he will be with us, and we had already discussed that when he departs this crazy world, we would look into having another dog but one of the smaller breeds. 

As a result, we - or rather I - had been keeping an eye on the rescue centres in the Phoenix area, just to see what the more common breeds were and how likely we would be able to find the right dog that would match Wilson and Brandy's personalities, as well as fitting into our lifestyle. 

Arizona seems to see more Pitbulls and Chihuahuas at rescue centres, neither of which we personally felt would fit into our lives, but then I came across a picture of a little Italian Greyhound Mix that was up for adoption with Caring for Canines. I shared the link with Andy whilst he was working in rural Iowa, and on his return a couple of days later, we contacted the rescue centre to see if this little puppy was still up for adoption. She was, and we arranged to head over to the foster home that was caring for her for a meet and greet that evening, not only with us, but also with Wilson and Brandy.

When we saw this little gingery, tanny coloured little pup, our hearts melted. She was so timid and frightened, and she had bite marks all over her forehead from where she had been attacked during meal time at the foster home, but she was such a sweet looking, lovable little girl.

Tillie's first night with us and nervous at the dog park

They knew very little about the puppy - they estimated her to be around 4 months old and came from the very south of Arizona - quite likely originally from Mexico with being so close to the border. She was in a shelter down there but they were bringing in 5 Pitbulls and needed the space - this little Italian Greyhound wouldn't have coped with such large, boisterous dogs and without another shelter taking her in, she would have faced the unfortunate outcome of so many other dogs here in the US - a life that ends far too soon simply because of over-breeding or because people still don't neuter or spay their dogs, which only increasing the problem. The shelter staff had a hard decision - it was either save this little girl and lose 5 others, or save the life of 5 other dogs and .... well, you get the picture. 

Thankfully Caring for Canines were able to take her in and she spent almost 3 weeks in a foster home before we eventually spotted her and were able to welcome her into our home.

The initial meeting with Wilson and Brandy went  really well and whilst it wasn't exactly love at first sight for the 3 of them, they got along absolutely fine even if they just tolerated each other rather than became best buddies straight away.

The little pup had been named Sonia by the rescue centre but it didn't seem to suit her quiet and timid demeanour so Andy and I spent the next couple of days trying to decide what to name her. We eventually agreed on Mathilda - or Tillie for short - taken from the movie Leon. The name stuck and Tillie already responds extremely well to it and knows who she is.

Since Tillie arrived, things have been a little more chaotic than normal. She was terrified of going out on a leashed walk and it has taken a lot of patience from Andy and I, and quite visible reassurance from Wilson and Brandy to get to head out on her morning walk, but she now walks with her head and tail held high and only hesitates occasionally - the 3 of them now walk 3 abreast and look like the heavy mob walking along the street - watch out Phoenix dogs! 

Family Time in Prescott

She also seemed to struggle in controlling her food intake and would literally wolf down her food, perhaps for fear of not knowing when her next meal would come. She now takes her time and even leaves a few chunks of meat at the bottom of her bowl although she does find Wilson and Brandy's dinner far more tasty whilst they have both become huge fans of puppy food again!

The sweetest thing is watching how she tries to play with Wilson and Brandy. She will roll over on her back and try to get their attention right in front of their noses, she will jump on them, she'll even drop a toy on their front paws, but the older pups are playing hard to get, much to the frustration of Tillie. But when they do play, they play, and Brandy is being the most excellent "big sister" - watching carefully as Tillie tries to climb out of the car, keeping tabs on her when around other dogs at the dog park, and nudging her and giving her a gentle nip when she steps out of line.

Trying to get Wilson's attention to play

Following her big sister and learning so much!

The dog park has now become one of Tillie's favourite places along with the park just across the street from our house. She loves rolling in the grass and digging in the sand at the kiddies park and does a little skip and spins around when she wants to play with Wilson and Brandy, both of which she has become somewhat dependent on for reassurance.

The dog park was initially a little overwhelming for her but this past couple of days have seen her trying to initiate play with the other dogs, and last night, she spent a good 20 minutes playing rough and tumble with a 6 month old puppy named Bailey - it was fantastic to see and wonderful to watch :-)

There are a few that have said we are crazy to have taken on another dog, but I have to say it is the most wonderful thing ever. We had 3 dogs many years ago and have experienced it before, so had no doubt that we would be able to cope - the difference this time was having a puppy. But to see Tillie integrate with our family and to watch her grow in confidence everyday is fantastic and even with the daily poops and pees on the carpet, the chewed shoes and shredded kitchen towel, even with the corner of books being chewed off and maps having to be taped back together, the potpourri strewn across the floor and the loosened stitching in the odd pair of shoes, we wouldn't change a thing.

A far more confident and happy Tillie :-)

Of course, we head off to San Diego in the next few weeks and I can't wait to spend time with Andy and the dogs - and of course Khayman will be coming too! I'm looking forward to spending time on the doggy beach and watching how both Brandy and Tillie react when seeing the sea for the first time, I'm looking forward to letting Wilson stretch out his legs properly and have a good sprint across the sand, and of course, I'm looking forward to racing the marathon and getting the result I am looking for.

I may still have a cold as a type this and will once again miss my run today, but life is good and we are all very happy right now :-)

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