Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Christmas Gift: A New Running Partner

My $3.00 Christmas Tree
You may notice that I have not posted in quite a while. In fact, the last post (embarrassingly) is from Thanksgiving. That is because although I have been incredibly busy, there has not been a lot of running-related stuff going on in my life.  However, most of what I have been doing has been with an eye toward good running in 2014.

As many of you know, I started out a few months ago on what I had thought was going to be a year-long running adventure. Unfortunately things did not go as planned. My incredibly wonderful and tolerant husband, who is usually 100% behind my crazy adventures, decided that he did not feel good about going on the road for a year without a permanent base to call home. Plans changed, and we found ourselves buying a home in central Florida.

The new house is fantastic.  It is in a neighborhood with miles and miles of quiet roads, both paved and dirt, to train on. There are even a few slightly rolling hills.  A 45 mile Rails to Trails bike trail passes right through our community about a half mile from the house. There are also miles and miles of great trail running, as well as three rivers for tubing and kayaking and fishing. Plus it has a pool (triathlons in the future?).  In short, it is a great place to be.

There was just one thing missing.  I left all my running friends in California and Michigan. I had no one to run with. What I really wanted for Christmas was a new running partner...

I was not sure if I had been good enough for Santa to grant my wish, but apparently I had.  Meet my new running partner:

Merry Christmas from Bandit!!!
He is a six year old Australian Shepherd with a very rugged and impressive sounding name: Timberline Bandit Virginia Sly Hand. We call him Bandit for short.  Bandit came from a farm in North Carolina and is adjusting to life here in Florida with his new family.

This is not my first running dog. I had a great running partner named Rio who accompanied me on many runs, including some snowy runs in Michigan. Unfortunately, his hips no longer permit the running that he used to do (he is almost 11 now), so he just goes out on cool-down walks with me around the neighborhood. It is time for him to step aside and let the younger generation take over.

My trusty Rio
Bandit has already started his job as my new running partner.  Bandit likes to train twice a day. I am not up for that yet (since my running has been pretty hit and miss for the last few months), so we have been doing a running and walking mix, generally running a few miles in the morning and then walking another mile or so in the evening.  

Just like any new running partners, Bandit and I have to adjust to each others idiosyncrasies.  We are in that getting acquainted stage of our running relationship.  Bandit is more a “stop and smell the roses” kind of runner who is prone to forays off the beaten path. He has been known to cross the road (right in front of me) when something interesting catches his eye.  I, on the other hand, have the annoying habit of wanting to run a consistent pace and the desire to stay on one side of the road (and on both feet). We are negotiating on the above matters, and I am sure in a few weeks, we will be running together like a well-oiled machine, but for now a good run is any one where I manage to stay on my feet for the whole run and where we only need to stop a few times for an interesting new scent.

Over the next few months, Bandit and I will work together to try to revive the stalled running (and writing) routine.  In the process, I am sure that I will learn a lot about running with a dog. Of course, what I learn, I will pass on to you.

How about it? Do any of you run with a dog?