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Watching Waylon

As Waylon nears his first birthday, I am feeling a little nostalgic.

Having two dogs has certainly been a great decision for our family especially since Waylon and Willie have such different temperaments. Willie is an over-eager pleaser and Waylon is well, most often known as grumpy dog. He goes at his own pace and hardly ever can be coaxed into anything he hasn’t already decided he is interested in…except walks.

When Willie and I first started taking him on our walking/running adventures, we had to revise our plan because after about half a mile, Waylon would get tired and literally sit in the middle of the path and not move. It cramped our style!

Waylon has come to love our runs and walks as much as Willie does, but he makes the experience interesting. He wants to be in charge and he really isn’t bothered if he has to drag his human and brother behind him. He is particularly hard to handle when he approaches the ¬†fence of another dog.

I am not sure how it happens, but he simultaneously runs towards the fence and away from the fence whining and whimpering the whole time. There is no way to tell if he was let off the leash if he would try to attack the other dog, lick the other dog, play with the other dog or simply run away. It’s as if he paralyzed in the indecision of which is the best option dragging his human and brother along on his path of indecision.

It made me think of this today as we walked because I saw all the signs…he ducked his head…raised his tail and began a slow creep. I racked my brain trying to figure out if there was a dog in one of the houses that we were passing, but there wasn’t. I followed Waylon’s eyes only to burst out laughing,

He was slowly tracking and beginning to growl at the wind chimes hanging from the tree we were passing. It’s easy to forget that the world I have experienced in my 28 years is full of just these moments of confronting something new and having to try to process how to approach this new thing.

For Waylon, the sound of the wind chimes sounded like maybe another dog’s collar or a dog’s leash or something else threatening. He decided to be cautious and watchful just in case.

I wonder if I do the same when I approach something new.

Running on History

Now, it might seem from the title that I was actually spent this morning’s run on top of a history book, but that’s not exactly what I mean. Since Willie and I have moved from Asheville, we have had to be a bit more creative about finding running spots. 

First of all, there is not so much of an opportunity to run without seeing people as there are three times as many people in Columbia as their are in Asheville. Secondly, Columbia is a capital city, which means that there are great trails, but those trails are nestled in the heart of the city. 

So, today Willie and I went downtown to try to find a new trail. And we did! We found a park that was in the heart of the USC Campus, but also had ample space to stretch our legs in between stoplights. The funny thing is that the park we chose has been a park in Columbia since 1911. 

For a hundred years people have been walking and running and biking in this park. There’s something powerful and wonderful about that. We are not the first and we will not be the last, but we were a part of history in a small part this morning. 

Roped Running

Ever since Willie was little, I ran with him on a leash that was circling my waist. Some people advised me against this, but I wanted to have a hands free running experience with my running partner, so I trained him not to cross and to run right beside me. 

He is really, really good on leash, especially when he is running; however, there are some non-negotiables including, squirrels, dogs that start towards him and little kids. He just can’t help himself, he has to go and check it out!

There is something wonderful about looking down and knowing that you aren’t in this run or this life alone.  

Rainy Running Buddy

I have to admit, I am one lucky runner.

Not only do I know have a four-legged companion to run with me, but he is so easy to run with. He didn’t balk when I changed our course. He didn’t even whine when the rain started. He ran by my side with his tongue hanging out and his ears flattened against his head. 

When his ears do that, I know that he knows that he is on duty, getting a job done and he won’t be distracted. I didn’t teach him that, that’s just him! 

Thanks buddy, for running with me!

Hiking Companion

As Willie sleeps on my lap, I realize I am just as tired as he is. The past two weeks have involved a trip to Nashville, a one week class and a presentation. This morning we did our regular Wednesday morning hike, but we were both out of practice since our weekly schedule has been off. I could tell he was excited to be on his trail again, but we were both dragging. 

I realized that I had unintentionally developed a routine with him because I wanted to make sure that he was getting enough outdoor time. I adjusted my work schedule to allow for hikes and afternoon trips to the dog park. I stopped running by myself and started taking him with me or hiking and walking again. Today, as we were hiking, I realized….Willie’s changed my life. 

I know that sounds dramatic, but it is certainly true. The time that I would spend alone is now spent with him. I take him to work and to run my errands a lot of times. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I can get so caught up in what we have to do and checking items off our to-do list that I forget that I am living and breathing in world surrounded by other living beings. I am interacting with people and living things all the time, but before I had Willie I rarely thought twice about what their lives were like. 

Now, because I am listening and watching out for him and making sure that he has water and food and time to hike and run and be outside, I am not just concerned with what I have to do. I am concerned with taking care of him, too. 

He’s become my hiking companion, but he has also become my life companion. He knows when I am upset or nervous or tired and he adjusts whatever mood he’s in to be with me. I hope he can say the same about me. 

Recovery

I have to admit I haven’t been very good at tending to my post-run body. I usually hop in the shower and then head off for work or the next item on the agenda. I decided if I wanted to keep running, then I was going to have to pay attention a little more and develop a routine. 

I’ve started to include a post-run protein shake to help my body’s recovery. I know there are mixed reviews about protein shakes and the time you should drink them, but this has been working pretty well for me. About 45 minutes after I run or hike, my body tanks, especially if it has been a hard workout. What I mean by tanks is my blood sugar drops so low that I almost faint. I know the pattern now and so including the post-run protein shake and getting a few sips in before I start to feel that way has helped balance my blood sugar so that it doesn’t dip so low. 

I don’t think this is the same for every runner because I know some who have to walk into the house after his/her run and immediately start eating. My body rejects food immediately following a run, so that coolness and the liquid form of a shake makes it a little easier. 

It just reminds me that no two runners are alike even in their recovery. I don’t have to try to be someone else, I just have to do what’s best for my body’s recovery. 

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Day After Race Run

Actually, this was two days after a race run, but the feeling is still the same. Although the Color Me Rad wasn’t a timed race, there is still something about race day atmosphere that gets into your veins and makes you run harder and faster, which inevitably makes the next individual run you do slower. 

Maybe it’s the lack of people. Maybe it’s the sore muscles, but whatever it is, it’s hard to get back to it. 

My day after race run was 4 miles and although this is usually not hard for me to manage I struggled. It didn’t help that my route was flater than the race or that every time I looked down, I saw the puff of color coming out of my shoes and remembered how fun the race was, especially with two people running with you. 

If you have found yourself in the same situation and feeling the same thing, don’t give up. Races are what we train for and having a post-race struggle run is completely normal. 

Fight through and keep running! 

Running with Asthma

I took me a long time to realize I was asthmatic. 

I remember in high school during the hot days of field hockey camp, struggling with tightness in my chest and thinking I was just out of shape. There was on sprinting drill in particular that would cause me trouble. I affectionately called it, “The Crying Drill” because more than once I ended up on the sidelines gulping and gasping for air unable to stop the tears from rolling down. I just assumed my teammates were in better shape than I was. 

It wasn’t until college when I started to stretch my one mile runs to five miles runs that I realized that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t my training, it was my lung capacity. 

No wonder I could never swim a whole lap in the swimming pool in one breath. No wonder I had to stop before others in choir to breath before the other people around me. 

No wonder. 

For me, every time I feel that tightness in my chest and have to stop to catch my breath before I want to stop. I’m reminded that I’m not invulnerable or invincible. I have limits and those limits remind me I am human. 

And that humanity makes those rare runs when I don’t have to stop and my lungs and legs are working in unison all the more unique and miraculous. 

Running on Empty

I checked into my hotel tonight and asked about a running path. I was met with, “Are you looking to put in some distance?” I nodded and then the most incredible thing happened…

She said, “I’ve got your covered.”

I was thrilled!

She pulled out a trail map and explained how I could lengthen it or shorten it. Now that’s what I am talking about! 

Kinda scared to write this….

because my training has been going so well and for the past year whenever I have hit this point, I’ve had a set back of some sort that doesn’t let me continue to train, but I wanted to share because we have been together on this journey for awhile now and you have been so supportive, so yeah sometimes training goes right and you are able to stretch and accomplish the mileage you want to. 

Oh, and if one of these comes close to you, you should sign up!