Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Munchkin

Dear Munchkin -

 You weren't so sure you wanted to run this morning. When I started to get you dressed you flopped backward onto the floor and started flailing your legs around making it all but next to impossible for me to get your jeans on. Not that I could blame you as the sky was (and still is as I write this) a cloudy gray and when the wind would gust I could hear it whipping by the screen in your window. Eventually, with the promise of fruit snacks you kept your legs still long enough for me to get you dressed and as I tied your shoes you smiled at me and said, "We run?"

Yes, Munchkin, we ran. You are too little to understand right now, but hopefully someday you will have an appreciation for just how much we have. Since the summer of 2011 we have logged more than 400 miles together and I'm certain that by the time the end of this summer we will have surpassed 500. Over the last couple of years my running has changed. YOU have changed.

Your dad will someday tell you that I hadn't been across the finish line of an 8k more than 10 minutes when I asked him what had happened to the jogging stroller that he had bought me when your older sister was born. He smiled at me, laughed, gave me a look of resignation and told me after he saw a guy pushing a jogging stroller cross the finish line he knew that it wasn't a matter of if I'd ask about the jogger, but when. We got home that afternoon, fished it out from where it had been sitting in the garage for more than 4 year and dusted it off. Your old ride was okay but it pulled hard to one side and made running more of a challenge than it should be. Despite this, we started logging regular miles and before long we were lucky enough to upgrade to the wheels you have now. 

Our miles that summer were sometimes a bit of a challenge. You always enjoyed the first few miles and they would pass with giggles and laughter. Sometimes you'd become quiet and listen to the birds or babble to yourself but no matter what the distance, about halfway through our run you'd start to scream. It would be so loud that I used to joke with others in the training program if they needed to find me to just listen for you. I'd do my best to get you settled down but most of the time I just had to hope that you'd eventually fall asleep. Thankfully, fall asleep you usually did. As you've gotten older there have been times when if it weren't for your asking me if we could run, I never would have gotten myself out the door. And the expression on your face when I pick you up from daycare after a long day at work and you see me and say, "I run?" makes me smile every time.

I have spent some of my best moments with you when we've been running. We've talked about trees and birds. You've waved to dogs and people or pointed out bunnies and squirrels as they scurry across the trail. On long runs your small hand will often reach up through the jogger canopy to hand me a grape or a cracker or the occasional empty fruit snack package that you no longer want to hold. We've laughed and sang and otherwise just been silly - and when you've slept I've glanced down at you and wondered how in the world I will ever be able to tell you how much our runs mean to me. 

This year you've started running with me. I usually stop about a half mile away from where we started, you hop out of the jogger and will start trucking up the trail under the power of your own two feet. Last Sunday, as you began running you turned around, smiled at me and squealed, "You can't catch me!!!" For now, I'm grateful that I can but I'm fairly certain that my days of being faster than you are numbered. As I watch you there are times that I start to wonder if maybe you will become a runner on your own. But until then I'm happy to take your hand when you reach for mine and run with you.

I love you, Munchkin. Thanks for being MY running buddy. Thanks for being my inspiration.

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