Hiking

Have you guys ever heard of “hiking?” Hiking is like trail running, but without coaching duties and at a pace that’s slow enough to sniff all the gopher holes and deer poop thoroughly. I do lots of hiking when I’m at Bodie’s house, but I didn’t think that Mom knew how to hike. Sure, we walked in the woods sometimes, but I always thought that there was some other explanation; like Mom had dropped something and was looking for it. But this morning, instead of putting on running clothes, Mom bundled up and took our walking leash out to the car.

We went to one of the trails that I know really well, but we haven’t been to in awhile. I’ve been so busy with work, training Mom for the marathong that we haven’t been trail running in months. It was good to feel soft earth under my paws, and I realized that Mom was right, that we’d been working too hard and hadn’t done enough “fun runs” in a long time.

The last time we were at this trail, you had to get there before sunrise to find a parking space, but now because it’s winter it was practically deserted. Something must have been wrong with Mom’s hands, because she kept dropping my leash every time I was sniffing the news, which was wonderful because I got to finish each article before I had to run and catch up with her. At first she kept calling me back to give me cookies every couple of minutes, but pretty soon I figured out that it was just because she was lonely. So I made sure to stay close and come back for cookies without her asking every once in awhile so that she wouldn’t get lonely.

Mom says that we’re going to “slow our roll” next year. We may do the challenge again as a team, but she says that she doesn’t want to feel pressure to run more than 5 miles a day all year. She says that she doesn’t want to run any more marathongs after this one, and next year she only wants to do things that sound like fun. I love fun things, so I’m supportive. She wants to “get a six pack again” (a six pack of what?!), and ride her dumb bike more.

Even though I’ve loved going for all of our walks and runs this year, Mom’s getting on in years and I can tell that this year was hard on her. None of us enjoyed running outside in the rain last winter, but since Bodie and I don’t have treadmills of our own, that was the only way for us all to run together. When Bodie runs with us, she always gets the intervals wrong and sabotages Mom’s marathong training by bringing her on bunny sprints on the wrong days, dragging Mom into the trunk of a tree in the middle of a tempoo run, or “trying to kill her” on pretty much every run. Now that it’s cold and dark again I can tell that Mom prefers to run on her treadmill with me right next to her, cheering her on rather than running outside in the dark. Lots of times her front paws are white like mine when we get home after a run, and she always has to hunch in front of the heater before she can get ready for work. It’s kind of pathetic. Mom says that it’s important to make sure that our runs feel like play, not work. I always thought that my patrols on My Trail WERE my job! It didn’t even occur to me that Mom was doing it for fun.

We’ve been working on this 2017 mile challenge for almost 7 years now (that’s 1 year in human years), and we’re going to fall a little short on our miles. This is all Mom’s fault, because she didn’t pay enough attention in math class when she was in obedience school. She’s been using a spreadsheet all year to tell her what our average daily mileage needs to be to meet our goal. As long as we go that long or longer on most days, then we knew we would make it. What Mom didn’t know was that all the days that I was at Bodie’s house, or on my days off each week (when Mom went out on patrol on her bike instead), Mom’s formula wasn’t counting that in to the average. So we’re going to finish the year about 200 miles short. Mom and I have both run lots of miles without each other this year, but I promised her at the beginning of the year that I would only count the miles we did together. Because if this challenge isn’t about having fun, it should at least be about spending time togehter.

So we’ll keep running 5-6 miles a day until we earn our finishers’ medals, and then we’re going to take a rest.

-Oscar the Pooch

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