My running buddies need thick skin

dog_runI learned two things this weekend. Number one: my dog is a traitor.

A couple weeks ago I had drinks with a good friend and a couple of her friends I’ve been getting to know. When we were done talking about anything and everything remotely related to our kids, we talked about running. This is a group that runs together.

“You run?” One woman asked me. “Why didn’t we know that?”

Probably because I run mostly solo, and really, really slowly. Joining any running group might require I step up my game a little bit, or risk holding a whole bunch of moderately capable runners back.

“Oh,” she said. “I thought you were going to say it was because you run really fast.”

That’s funny. No. I’m so slow, I make pretty much anyone putting one foot in front of the other for any length of time look good. Your average, garden-variety slug on Quaaludes looks fast next to me.

Persistent, yes. Fast? No.

That being the case, I’m definitely not a jogger. No one “jogs” anymore. Not that there’s any real difference between what I do and jogging, except that I’m not wearing leg warmers or running in place with a perky smile when I have to wait for a stop light. I’m just standing there in my ratty leggings and the most expensive pair of shoes I own, looking pissed. Like any respectable runner.

Any last shred of doubt as to whether I’m a jogger? Check your calendar.

Does it say 1986? No?

Not a jogger.

Anyway, these same friends texted me this week to see if I wanted to run with them on Saturday. I was kind of surprised, since I’d given them the disclaimer.

I’ve had running buddies before. Mike’s the best. He’ll run whatever pace he wants and then circle back to find me at regular intervals. If he tries to push me to go faster, he knows I’ll trip him or draw on his face with a sharpie while he sleeps. So we run “together,” which means he runs somewhere ahead of me while I huff and puff along behind him. It works well.

I know that running with faster people could make me a faster runner. It also has the potential to inspire a full-on cardiac event on my part, where someone has to whip out the defibrillator paddles. I am really not all that much of an athlete, when it comes right down to it.

I was pretty clear with these ladies that I am really, really slow. Still they invited me.

“I’ll be bringing the dog,” I told them. “She’s really slow.”

So what if the only reason she’s slow is she’s normally on a leash tugging my carcass along? Slow is slow, and I’m not above using my canine companion as a crutch. That’s what dogs are for.

Of course, the minute we get out to the trails first thing Saturday morning and head up the most grueling, god-forsaken steep grade you ever laid eyes on, I let Penny off her leash and she takes off like a shot.

She’d never really been off leash before. Most of our runs are on the street or a paved path along the river, and she sticks right next to me. Unless she sees a squirrel, that is. She will knock me over like a bowling pin to go after one of those dirty rodents.

But these trails were leash-optional, and one of the other ladies had a dog off leash, and I didn’t want to die if mine took a notion to go after a squirrel.

It was pure doggie freedom. She took that hill like she was turbo charged, then ran laterally across the trail, back and forth like the Tasmanian Devil on speed. On the one hand, it was glorious to see her having so much fun.

On the other hand, dammit, there goes my excuse.

“Did you say your dog was slow?” someone asked up ahead of me.

Oh, did I? Maybe I meant my other dog.

The one who’s not a traitor.

Which leads me to the other thing I learned this weekend, which is also about my dog. She’s been feigning slowness all this time, quite possibly because I’m the only one who’ll take her for a run around here. She must recognize a good thing when she sees it.

… And, my threats to draw on her face with a sharpie while she sleeps don’t scare her at all.

So, I guess make that three things.


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  1. I\’m not usually much of a runner, but the weather where I live has been so beautiful that I thought I\’d start giving it a try. I run around the track at a park near my house. It\’s about a quarter mile loop. The first time, I couldn\’t even run the whole circle. My kids laugh hysterically as they fly by, run backwards past me, or hop on one foot past me. Free entertainment to make me happy while I \”run\”. The important thing is that I am doing something to keep healthy and feel good. Just like you, with your dog who makes fun of you like my kids do to me!

    1. Keep it up! When I started, I would just run until I felt like stopping. I still do that, but every time, it gets a little longer. The kids still laugh at me, but they\’re couch potatoes. If they tried to run a mile, they\’d probably melt.

  2. I also have a traitor dog. Simon is stiff and arthritic (he\’s old) but let a deer be in our yard or any treat be thrown for him to catch and he\’s a young, spry pup again. I don\’t get this selective agility when it comes to animals.