A doggone good running story
In the early morning dark, I lay motionless as I open my eyes and diligently try not to alter my breathing. I sense movement in the room as a warm, humid odor infiltrates my sinuses and my face is barraged by wet, slurpy dog tongue. Even though I feign sleep, I have been busted by my black lab, Sadie, who is there to make sure I do not renege on our morning run.
Canine halitosis is a harsh way to wake up.
Susan and her canine running partner, Sadie.
Our morning routine is predictable: I check the weather to determine how many layers of clothes I will need; she wolfs down breakfast as if it is her last meal and pretends that dry, crusty dog food is her favorite; we hydrate, stretch and adorn our special run-in-the-dark apparel. Mine is a running vest, she has LED collars in orange, blue, green and pink. Because Sadie is the color of night, the collars are the only way I can track her whereabouts. Sometimes she wears more than one, creating a psychedelic orb of dancing colors.
In spite of wind/snow/rain/ice, conflicting schedules or (my) sleep deprivation, Sadie ensures her days start the same way every day. If not me (her favorite), she picks my husband as her surrogate running partner. We are merely supplements to her fitness routine.
Sadie after inhaling her breakfast in anticipation of her morning run with Susan.
Although I have always been an early morning exerciser, I have never really enjoyed running. I don't consider myself a "runner," but more so one who plods through neighborhoods, unabashedly singing along to her iPod.
On the other hand, Sadie's runs are like a kid on a Ritalin holiday. Where I run straight paths, she repeatedly zig zags in and out, back and forth, stopping only briefly to smell HERE and HERE, pee HERE and HERE and OVER THERE, before running in a dead heat to a tree where she spots a SQUIRREL! Sadie's boundless energy and unadulterated joy are infectious, and in spite of my efforts, I become connected to her vitality. Gradually my heart smiles and my pace quickens.
Sadie in her day-glo collars that keep her safe in the dark morning hours.
We finish tired, happy, thirsty, satisfied and perhaps a little sore. For this owner and her dog, finding pleasure in a schleppy run and in never, ever catching a squirrel, reminds us that the journey is more important than the destination.
And if we attack it with dogged determination, most days that is enough.