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Running to Stand Still

I took a picture recently and I can’t stop staring at it. I get lost in it. My daughter’s pony tail caught mid-swing as she comfortably strides at her perfect pace. My puppy chasing her, eager to catch up, mid-air, sprinting. Their shadows are crisply cast. The photo tells a story, not only of what’s happening but of things to come.

Penny and Mallo running

I’m not a photographer, by any stretch. I just snapped a bunch of shots with my phone, hoping to get something good. I tried to get my own shadow in the picture, because how cool would that have been? Couldn’t do it. Even if my shadow didn’t quite make the cut I know I’m there, just behind them, smiling like only someone who is completely aware of the moment can. Looking at the picture now, I know who they’re running with and it makes me smile all over again. It’s also making the outermost corner of my left eye slightly moister than usual. It doesn’t bring a tear to my eye or a lump in my throat; I’m not that big a sap. It just makes me sort of exhale a little louder, almost a sigh, but not quite.

Left on her own, my dog, Mallomar, could outpace my daughter and me with no problem, at least in relatively short distances. I could totally kick her puppy behind in a 10k! (Unless there was a squirrel pacing her.) It’s fun to hold Mallo back when we run with Penny. All she wants to do is run alongside her girl, our girl. She practically pulls my arm off, her front and hind legs working in unison and straining against her leash and my shoulder socket. Finally I let her have at it. I have to go full 100-yard dash mode to keep up with her, bounding, practically bouncing, in an effort to catch up to Penny. (I say “effort,” but nothing could be easier for Mallomar.) She practically gets a foot in the face from Penny’s carefree kicking, but she doesn’t seem to mind. As soon as she catches up, she slows down. Everything slows down. I’m not normally one of those “Life is Good” bumper sticker people. But…Life. Is. Good.

All of that is captured in the photo. All of that and so much more.

I look at the picture and I already feel nostalgic, even though it’s from like a week ago. Who am I kidding? I felt the pangs of a moment gone forever the moment I took the photo. It was already in the past. But it also gave me a glimpse into the future.

I saw it all very clearly, as I blinked my eyes my baby girl was 17 years old. 10 years away. More time than she’s spent on the earth thus far, but it happened, will happen, in an instant. I saw her heading off to college, but humoring me with one more run together before shipping out. I even joked a little bit about it that day.

When you do you think you’ll be faster than me? I asked, purposely goading her.

I’m already faster than you! She paused for dramatic effect . Because I cheat! 

That’s why you’re Cheater Girl.

I’m Cheetah Girl, daddy. Chee-TAH.

That’s what I said, Cheater Girl. Chea-TER, right?

It’s only funny when she says it, so she tried give me a little jab. Too bad I’m too fast for her! For now. In 10 years, who knows?

I think running together is going to be our thing. I hope so. Like most runners, I have a love-hate relationship with the sport. It’s annoying, frustrating and brings me so much pain. Kind of like Penny. But it has also afforded me some of my proudest, most cherished moments. And there is almost nothing in the world that makes me smile more. Exactly like Penny. (And her little brother, Simon, but he’s not running yet. Yet.)

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Published inHealthy Livin & Muddy FunParenting & Humor

5 Comments

  1. My 11yo daughter asked me to do a color run with her this spring at her school. While she’s been doing cross country for the past few years, ad we’ve run a couple of 5ks together, every time she asks, I get that same slightly moist corner of my eye. I don’t get to run with her often during the school year, but I just heard my 7yo son went out to run with her today to start training, because he wants to run like dad (and sis). Even if race day hits, and they are slow, and I am sore, this run will be one of the best days of my life so far.

    • admin admin

      Nick, that’s awesome! Have a great time! How could you not? I have my first race with Penny, a 5k, in June. I cannot wait.

  2. Dan Dan

    I have to agree with you that runners have a love-hate relationship with the sport, yet we continue to run. I’ve also realized that running is one of the best sports for bonding. You can run slowly with friends, loved ones and even strangers. Have you tried running with a stranger? So yes, in 10 years time, we might not be able to run fast, the only thing that matters now is: how we can pass on the sport to the younger generation (since they are all busy with their gadgets and social media)?

  3. Dan Dan

    Quick update. Just got a dog! You’re right, it’s really fun to run with your dog. It doubles as your time to take them for a walk too. Yes, life is good!

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