Monday, April 11, 2011

#316: Man's Soggiest Friend

I am Jake. I am excellent at running. I am
excellent at everything!
Jake was so very patient and good in the house yesterday while we were out of town, that I decided he deserved a chance to go out and run around. We went to the dog park. It had been raining steadily for most of the day, but when I heard it stop, he and I trundled off into the car with his "Park Bag." It's an old tote bag that contains a leash, a bottle of water, a plastic dish, and some plastic bags for collecting poop. He recognizes it and runs to sit by the front door knob as soon as one of us picks it up. We made our way to the car and pulled away from the house just as a light drizzle started up again. By the time we got to the park, it was raining in earnest. Jake an I sat in the car and read the paper while we listened to April showers on the roof. He likes the opinion section. I read the funnies. When it slowed down again, he and I made out way to the park. naturally, we were the only idiots there.

It's about half a mile around the dog park. He and I walked in the light rain, enjoying the gray sky and the cool air. I thought to myself, "This would be perfect for a run." I was scheduled to lift weights today, but I didn't feel like going in. I told myself that a man my age can't be too careful with his recovery time, and that convinced me to take the day off. (I'll probably need to be careful about over-using that excuse.) But out there, alone in the park with my boy, I really felt like a run. I checked my clothes. Polo shirt: unconventional, but passable. Warm up Pants: perfect for a chilly day. Old, squishy Nike trail runners: not what I'd wear for a road run, but serviceable on the grass path. I checked in with my workout partner, "Wanna run, Jake?" he winked his approval, so I stopped by the can to drop in a bag of doody and away we went.

Naturally, it started raining harder as soon as we made the commitment to another lap. The circle starts with a long climb, the only one on the circle, but it is fairly steep. Once you're over the crest, the rest of the loop is a gradual slope down and back around to the base of the hill again. It's a pretty place, you just have to watch where you step.

We did two miles together, four laps around. He kept up very well,and seemed to have a good time. I say he kept up. What I mean is he indulged me as I crept along. He may not be in tip top shape for a Golden Retriever, but he's still in better condition than I am. We took turns leading, with him detouring occasionally when a particularly important smell caught his nose. Each time we passed the gate, he made for it as if to say, "Hey stupid! You aren't going to keep running around in the rain, are you?" But each time I turned the corner, he gamely tagged along.

When we returned to the car, the windows fogged instantly. We waited for the defroster to clear the mist and warm us up, then motored back home to a dry towel for Jake and some dry sweats for me.

I used to imagine what it would be like to have a dog I could run with. Jake and I spent a lot of time together over the last year, and the hours in bed didn't do either of our bodies much good. Today, if felt as if we were helping one another. I finally have a running partner who I don't feel guilty about asking to slow down.

This may turn out to be very good for both of us.



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