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Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Most Faithful Running Partner

Tuff! I ran as a young child, maybe around age 5, in community track meets and all the way through the middle of high school where I burned out. I got married and had my two girls. It was then that I realized I missed running and wanted to get back into it. It happened about 6 years ago.

I was a casual runner, 3 miles on the treadmill. A long run was 4 miles. I turned 30 and told a close friend, and ultra runner, that I would run a marathon by the time I was 40. That was all it took. I opened up my big mouth. "You can do it now. You're ready!" So I bought a book, and trained for my first marathon completely alone, using a book to answer questions and guide me.

At the time we had an older dog, a Dalmatian named Anni. She was about 11. I TRIED to take her on some of my shorter runs, but she would sit down and the dreaded day came when I had to drag, and it looked pathetic, I mean drag her back home. She didn't want to run. During that marathon training, my long runs were actually long, and I would run in "convenient" locations versus beautiful. One day, I was running 17.5 miles for the first time ever in my life (something you never forget) and a man, with gloves, was sitting under a bridge, in summer. I was about 15 miles in, and ran my fastest last miles of a long run EVER. I went home and told Marc that I needed a dog to run with, that would protect me. We asked our friend, a vet, what I should get, and he thought a boxer would be a good fit. A few weeks later Tuff came home to live with us.

He didn't "run" until he was almost one to allow him to grow properly. He had a full year of training. We ran early in the mornings in the neighborhood when I was freaked out because I was sure that Leather face from Texas Chainsaw Massacre was going to attack me. We ran on desolate trails when I was sure a wild animal was going to lurch at me and chew me to pieces. He ran with friends and I in fog and darkness, when we couldn't see a man out in the middle of nowhere. I still wonder what he was doing out there. He ran with me on sunny days when there was nothing to fear at all. He ran with me in the snow and buried his face in it as he patiently waited for me to catch up. We ran and ran together.

Unfortunately, Tuff has not gotten to run so much lately. When I first went on crutches, I came down stairs, ON CRUTCHES, but I was wearing running clothes (probably for a bike ride) and he got all excited! I looked at him as he was bouncing around and said, "Tuff, I can't go running, I'm on crutches." I think we laughed together.

In the last few weeks, he has developed a tumor. He was looked at by our friend who said it needed to be removed and it was a higher grade than Chewy's tumor that was just removed at the beginning of July; however, he was leaving on a week long trip. So we waited. In the meantime, this tumor is now bleeding, Tuff has to be bribed to eat, he is irritated by it, and you can almost watch it grow! As of today, we bumped up surgery to get him in on Monday. Bill, his beloved vet, will be back on Sunday. I have told Marc that my PT goal may be changing. I would like to run with Tuff again. He has always been my most faithful running partner.

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