Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Ploys of Running

When I go for a run, I often imagine writing about my experience as I make my way along the Chicago lakefront. I always come to the same conclusion, however. Anything I write about the joy of running, will be just as God-awful boring as anything I’ve ever read about the joy of running.

So instead of pontificating on my “rave run” or espousing the virtues of fartleks, (which I never do in polite company.) (Hey, you should never get too old for a good fart joke!) I’d like to talk about my children as the motivating factors in my workout regime. No, they don’t motivate me because I don’t want them to be able to catch me, but because they truly motivate me.

My morning routine when school is session begins with me crawling out of bed after the alarm goes off, usually for the third time. Without my kids, I wouldn’t have to get out of bed at all. See how already they’re motivating me to action?—And they’re not even awake! As I contemplate my morning, I have to decide if I should jump in the shower and start my day—or sleep for another seven minutes, then throw on my running clothes. I usually opt for instant gratification. Seven more minutes of sleep.

After I drop the kids at school, I park the car, and the dog and I take off for a run along the lake. It’s an incredibly time-efficient drill: by 9:30 a.m. I’m home, I’ve worked-out and so has the dog. And I get to run the lakefront, which I normally wouldn’t get to do much of, it being a fair distance from our house.

My boys are always interested in how many miles I go. For years I ran a loop that was just shy of three miles. (I’m slow, so this took me about thirty minutes.) Why don’t you go four miles? Four miles? What, are you goofy? That would take me until lunchtime! Their math is sadly (sadly?) very quick and they promptly inform me it would only take me forty minutes. Hard to argue with logic like that. So, in the fall of last year, my loop increased to four miles. Until Ethan said, Why not make it five?

Why not start saving now for my knee replacement surgery? But I think, well maybe five. Then soon, Why not five? These old knees feel okay and besides, I would be doing it for him.

As a city mom, I worry my boys don’t get enough outdoor exercise. At least not like we used to as kids, roaming free throughout the neighborhoods. I don’t know any city moms who let their ten year-olds play outside without supervision, and we don’t live on one of those blocks where all the kids run up and down while their parents sit on porches. It’s like pulling teeth to get them out most days, even just to the backyard, which they don’t like because they might see an actual bee. Their fear of bugs cracks me up. Makes me want to taunt them with a cry of “City boys!” (But secretly I’m proud they’re such city boys.)

While I can’t make my kids want to run up and down the block, I can lead by example. I really do love running and they know this. As a kid, it was hard for me to imagine anyone ever enjoying exercise, especially one as grueling as running—just look at all those unhappy faces on all those runners.

But my face is always smiling as I complete my run along the lake, my dog by my side, a breathtaking view of the city and water that motivates me almost as much as my sons—for six breathtaking miles.

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