|Doug Hildebrandt (left) his dogs and running friend Chad|
"I started running competitively in high school doing cross country and track. I soon learned that my gift was distance running, not track and field," stated Doug about his impending endurance sport lifestyle.
"After racing in the Whisky Row half marathon I was hooked on the longer distances. I trained for many marathons by running canals, trails and mountains. Stress fractures, plantar, torn meniscus, achilles, and a IT were all part of the years of running injuries.
"I started to run alone, as many of my former running partners were getting slow. I decided to get a dog as a running partner and got my first Vizsla. I knew this was the right dog for running when the research I did said that this breed needs an hour of exercise a day, and this didn't mean walking. My first Vizsla proved to be a very worthy training partner, giving me more than I could handle with her pace. 22 mile training runs were nothing for this dog, and she would further humiliate me by chasing birds for a good portion of the day when we got home from training runs. Photo of my newest running partner Sienna, her brother Rudy, and my part-time running friend Chad.
"At the age of 40 the pace began to slow quite a bit, and even more so when I turned 54. Over the past several years the distance became tougher to train for and the slower pace was frustrating to accept. I finally realized that the pace and 180 miles a month of training didn't matter anymore, it was the joy of just getting out with my dogs and running. I rarely run roads anymore, and have returned to my true love of running trails and mountains that were a staple for me in high school and college. I travel to several national parks every year and always have my trail shoes and hydration pack with me. The Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim is a punisher but fun, but Yellowstone NP trails are the most scenic thus far.
"What struck me with your blog was just keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is what I have been doing for the past several years on the trails and mountains in Arizona. I no longer worry about my splits, and a new personal record will never happen again. If you love running the time will come where you need to accept the fact that speed and PR's is no longer the order of the day. It is the simple pleasure of just getting out on the trail and being thankful that you can still run and enjoy Gods blessing that you can."
It's great to have others join in the effort, to promote the sport and demonstrate that even though we're getting slow and healing slower, we're still able to embrace out abilities and journey on. Thanks, Doug!