Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Running and Life's lesson

Every run is like a life’s lesson. Some go by with little thought or consequences, while others have a more profound effect. Today’s run was more like the latter.

Everyday the routine seems the same. The alarm clock on my watch is set for 5:00 a.m., although my dog’s internal clock must be set for 4:59 because every morning at one minute to five, I get the signal that they need attention. I let the two of them out, feed them, and get my running gear together. I rinse out my water bottle three times and fill it to the brim. I then grab my Forerunner 101 changing out the re-chargeable batteries every second day whether they need it or not. I bring both dogs inside and take Ruth our Miniature Schnauzer upstairs to go back to sleep. She’s always more than compliant to nestle down and sleep some more. Back downstairs, I grab my Seattle Mariners baseball cap and my wrap around dog leash and head out with my faithful running companion Koda, our 2 ½ year old Golden Retriever. I walk to the end of the driveway and wait a couple of minutes for my GPS unit to grab a signal. Every run starts out the same; it’s something I take for granted.

The Forerunner 101 will die after 3 runs, Ruth will always go back to sleep and Koda will always be willing to run with me. It’s a given.

Very rarely do I run into people on my runs. I usually see the Fire Chief reading his morning paper on his front porch and on occasion I see this guy walking his dogs in the park as I make my way through. I always get a kick out of his dogs because one is an overweight Jack Russell terrier and the other an energetic retriever cross. His dogs are usually off leash but they’re friendly so no harm done. The gentleman is always very friendly with a wave and the token dog biscuit for Koda. Koda has got to the point where he recognizes him and looks for the cookie.

Today, as I ran down the trail I came to the narrow entrance of the school field where I met up with the rotund Jack Russell, alone.

'Where's your other dog?' I innocently asked, fully expecting the dog to come bounding out of the nearby woods.

'He died the other day,' the man replied painfully. In a cathartic purge he told me of his dog's brief struggle with cancer and his painful decision to put him down. I was floored, I don't even know this man but here we were sharing a very emotional moment on a pathway in the middle of my morning run.

His final words to me, snuck up on me like a snake bite. It stings at first and then courses through your veins unleashing its full effect. 'It's like losing a child you know', he said with an ominous tone.

All I could muster was a ‘Take care’ and a wave goodbye as I contemplated his words.

I wanted to stop and pause for a moment when I realized that’s not the message. The message is to savor the moment and appreciate what you have. Koda is going to run with me for many years to come. Enjoy his company now while he’s still young and vibrant and create the memories of the glorious runs together. So I ran with my dog and I’ll do it again tomorrow. Will I take him for granted? Not a chance.

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