Monday, January 3, 2011

The Puppy

As I finally settle down with my laptop tonight to write this, it occurs to me that I am very, very tired.  Mentally, sure.  Physically, definitely.  I was riding the high of the race winner’s honeymoon, which I used up last night in a 4 mile speed run on the treadmill (bad idea the day after a race).  Then, today’s lunch time 4.5 miles just zapped out any remaining drops of energy I had left.  And finally, did I mention I have a ***puppy***?  A puppy!  He’s 36 years old, and his name is Todd.  And like any puppy, Todd is exhausting.
                A couple nights ago, my running buddy Ron and I got together for a few beers.  We swapped stories of running, plotted strategies for our upcoming race calendar, and when the conversation got really serious, we confided in each other some of our craziest runner’s thoughts.  Ron confessed, for instance, that when he’s running on a treadmill at the gym, he analyzes every other runner and tries to think of what animal they most closely resemble.  He exclaimed, in an oddly believable way, “You wouldn’t believe the size of the giraffe I was running next to last night!”  That’s when it occurred to me that my lunchtime running buddy Todd is, by all accounts, a puppy.  He’s playful, easy excitable, and with any luck hopefully he won’t pee on the floor.  He runs with such enthusiasm, I can practically see his tail wagging.  When we run at lunch, he sprints ahead - like a puppy chasing a ball - and then backtracks.  It’s like we play a game of virtual fetch. 
                I’ve become used to Todd’s unusual excitement, and now when he sprints ahead I don’t try to keep up.  I maintain my pace, knowing that eventually we’ll reconnect.  I have noticed lately though, that in spite of my best intentions to run a consistent pace, I’ve unintentionally nudged my speed up a bit.  I guess it really does help having something to chase.  Today however, Todd switched up his routine which, by association, switched up my routine.  This time he preferred to lag behind, then sprinted to catch up to me, then lagged behind again.  He repeated this throughout the entire course, which left me constantly wondering where he was, and having the unusual front position.  Now I was the one with no one to chase, and it was a strange feeling.  At one point I said to Kerri, “Where’s the puppy?”  She responded, “Your puppy needs a shorter leash!”  Then, like puppies do, he came sprinting up behind us and sped off chasing a car or ball or maybe even a bunny.
                Later this afternoon, fighting to stay awake, I told Todd how tired I was after today’s run.  He was tired as well, at which point I reminded him that he’s just a puppy, and puppies might bounce around a lot, but they also need lots of rest.  As for me, lying in bed with my laptop, a dull throb in my thighs and lower back, it has become very clear to me:  Puppies might be cute and fun, but they are, indeed, a lot of work.

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