I can no longer count how many times I’ve run, and I have the sneaker soles to prove it. I am many things: a mama, a writer, a knitter. I wasn’t expecting runner to become a description of me.
It began a few months ago when I entered a ladies only 10k, a fundraiser for a mama-friend who couldn’t run, a mama-friend whose post-baby bliss was stacked with an intensive-care hospital stay. I was expecting to stroll six miles along my island’s north shore and ended up jogging most of the way with an inspiring mama-pal. I was surprised to have run at all as I crossed the finish line, fittingly and promptly rewarded with a donut.
I’ve found a fabulous running partner in our family dog.
I adopted her when she was only ten weeks old, ears swaying across paw’s front with chest’s white star melting hearts at first glance. She joined our family of four when my middle babe was eight months old. She and her mom, along with four litter mates, were found in a field. They’d been on the run, and unfortunately had run into some bad situations.
Once home, Tilly melted with love. Tilly gained five ponds a week and quickly revealed her animal shelter breed secret: Great Dane. In her first year, we fetched, played in beach’s surf and practiced doggie obedience while our two little girls napped.
Everything changed when I became pregnant with our third baby. I was horrifically nauseous for the first five months. What little energy was left, fell upon our then two and four year old daughters. As soon as I felt better, I went on modified bed rest.
Tilly took her place on living room’s dog bed and familiarized herself with side yard’s dog run. My dog-loving hubby began work on house’s addition and renovation. Tilly sat and watched. Admitting this in print takes the wag from my heart. At least our girls took great joy in dressing her up in costumes, performing puppet shows at her paws and practiced reading’s early skills by wag’s side.
I feel like Tilly has waited patiently as our third babe has grown into an ambitious, independent year-and-a-half year old.
Each time her sad doggie eyes watched from behind window’s containment I’d look as if to say, not now. I’m just going to the grocery store/baby play group/library story hour/a classroom to volunteer. Tomorrow, I promise.
Tomorrow came, and I’d find another excuse to not attend her dog park play date, her beach-y fetch session. I owe her this: running partner’s title.
It’s clear to me in the number of times Tilly has run off that we can’t break the runner inside her dog-self. She always comes back, and I have our island’s tiny stature to thank for that. When I watch her dream, I feel her earliest memories are of running in fields and valleys, endlessly and at all times.
The other morning, with sneakers on and babes in Daddy’s care, I grabbed the red leash. Tilly’s ears perked, as if to remember this color in hikes, beach-y fetches and island walks. Tilly’s tail wagged, as if in acknowledgement of my newly-found strength, my appreciative independence.
Tilly stands almost at hip’s height. I’m pretty sure she could pull a rickshaw. Her tail clears coffee tables, whacks toddler foreheads. For the first 1/8 mile, she almost tripped me twice and welted my thigh in wags at a front yard Golden Retriever. I told her flat if you want this, show me. I know you have it in you. As we rounded block’s corner to harbor’s view, something clicked.
She kept pace, heeled, wagged. Her gigantic tongue nodded in agreement with my thoughts: it’s about time. We ran up all the hills we encountered, went beyond our target mileage.
With playlist perfect and skies blue, my mind cleared. For the first time I got it. So many of my mommy pals run. My confidence grew in distance gained, my mood brightened. I finished all my thoughts and cleared a path for new ones. I wrote bits of this and that, then committed poetry, prose to memory. Before I knew it, I was home. I could hardly wait to put works to paper, to tell of her new dog skill: running mate.
Are you my new running partner? Tilly gave the thumb’s up equivalent: a slobber from hip to achilles tendon.
Tilly slept for nine straight hours. I’m thankful to have found a partner.
Equally, I feel happy when I write regularly and think in images. The interruptions and obligations that come with a Stay at Home title often push ink and paper to the side. Running makes time for my thoughts, my images.
I am a runner, in wags and scribbles.