The start was less than a quarter mile from my front door, so team ChuckElly and I headed over for the year’s first racing action. Incredibly low-key – it was actually free unless you wanted a shirt (in which case it was $10) – the race benefited the local elementary school and was made up of just maybe 20 runners and 50 walkers, most of whom were kids and their parents. I wholly expected we’d win, but we were gapped pretty quickly by eventual winner and never in the lead at any point. The winner probably finished in 18-something. Through the first mile when he was in view, I was feeling nostalgic and competitive, just kept thinking that without the dogs I could make up that 200 meters he had on me in about 30 seconds. Really though, three minutes in, I thought we might have to DNF. Elly takes off at such a dead sprint, one-stepping Chuck, that she is panting a little too loudly for comfort. I was somewhat afraid that the cops working the race would arrest me for animal cruelty. Elly soon settled down and about halfway through, we were firmly in second, but stopped at the water stop for the dogs to refuel. It was a necessity on the warm morning. Third-place caught us while we were in aid and we dueled for a bit over the next stretch. At the 16-minute mark, Elly had had enough and took a break. She was quite wiped out and I was a bit worried, carried her while walking for a bit. We surrendered second-place then and eventually leashed back up and jogged it in to the finish in 21:40, third-place. Second place managed to put two minutes on that last half mile for a 19:40 finish, which is about what I thought the team would run. It’s kinda disappointing that we’ll likely never touch that 17:20 from last August when everything was clicking and in much cooler temps, but we had a good time. We’ll just be careful of race day temps more going forward to make sure we get through it comfortably.