Racing my Retriever

I love running.  Well, at least most of the time I do. Sometimes, I’d rather get my wisdom teeth pulled, be tickled nonstop, and chat up an infomercial salesman at the same time than go for a run. But I do it anyway, and then feel great. Thank you, endorphins.

For most of my life, running has been a pretty solitary activity. I started running with my dad at seven, but eventually scrapped it for basketball for a few years. Once I started back up, my dad was forced to travel more and run less. I began getting comfortable running solo, which I did for the majority of high school. Cross-Country wasn’t a big sport at my high school—having five girls race at a meet was a feat—so I initially ran most of my runs solo.

But I eventually realized that, sadly, staying silent for seven-plus milers is significantly difficult for someone who enjoys talking as much as me. The solution? Run with other people! (Duh). Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury, being that there clearly wasn’t a Cross-Country waiting list. It wasn’t until college that I found the pleasure—and push—of running with other people.

Then, my four years ended…and my rehab began. Unfortunately, there’s no nicotine patch for curing group running. Eventually, I amped up my iPod and solo running no longer sucked. Until my dad made a wonderful discovery…my golden retriever, Blake, could run. And liked it.

And so began my project.

I started running Blake a little bit. More accurately, he started running me. Like elementary school kids, he initially thought “going for a run” meant sprinting as fast as you possible can and then passing out. Eventually, though, he got the idea. Well, actually, I forced him to get the idea. We’d sprint a few blocks in one direction, forcing him to get the message that, sorry buddy, we’ve gotta make it back. He quickly became tired of pervasive panting (as I became tired of pretending I could sprint).

So I started small: Let’s run a mile. A mile became two, two became 2.5, 2.5 became 3, and, today, we made it 4.05 (I am not that obsessive, I’m merely quoting a loving tool called mapmyrun.com. My mom and I used to manually map out my runs. What gas guzzlers.)

I can’t help but be pleased with my “pet” project. Not only have I found a running partner (he can pretty much run my exact pace), but it’s also my first endeavor as a running coach.

I’m like a proud parent. I can’t help but reveal his feat (as noted on this blog). Just please stop me if I start to show you wallet-size photos of every single run or create a doggy medal and trophy to show off his triumphs.

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