Now that you're over your initial shock, your next thought may be "why is she pondering anything at 5am??" Because mother nature does not bend to my will and I now have two temperature sensitive dogs. As Bess has gotten older, she's not as thrilled to go running in "warmer" temperatures. Heffner never was. Back at the beginning of the month, we had a slew of warmer than average days and my only option for going running with the dogs was to do it before work, which meant heading out at 5am. I will tell you this, I'm not a huge fan of having to be completely functional and exercising at 5am. The dogs do not have this same problem. As a matter of fact, they have a spring in their step that they certainly don't have later in the day. Bess in particular gets all kinds of sassy. If I weren't trying to stay upright, I'd think it was down right adorable. As we're running along, my mind tends to wander. Or at least it does until Bess snaps me back to reality.
For starters, it's REALLY nice out at 5am. There's one main road that I have to cross to get to any of my running routes, and after work it's pretty busy and a total pain in the butt to get across. At 5am, there is no traffic. As a matter of fact, I can saunter across the road at whatever leisurely pace I want to instead of having haul balls across during a brief break in traffic. Of course, the dogs are so used to always running across this road that they automatically start jogging across once we get to it. Whatever. It's also generally the most perfect temperature for running. Heffner really can't even do a short 3 mile run when it's 60 out without starting to over heat. Most mornings are in the low 50's at most. Perfection.
There's also a total lack of people and other dogs out. Sweet!! As the weather was getting nicer, there were more people out walking and jogging with or without their dogs. It is seriously irritating for me to constantly have to dodge people and redirect Heffner when he spots another dog. There were days that I just wanted to stop and scream at the sky "I just want to go for a run with my dogs!! Everyone go home and leave us alone!" I realize that's a little ridiculous given that I'm running in very public areas and it's my choice to be there, but seriously, there are days where I wonder if someone isn't just sitting back and laughing while they throw one irritating obstacle in our path after another. You know those days where you just want to be out with just your dogs and not have to worry about anyone or anything else? Admittedly, I get those a lot, but I'm sure everyone can empathize and understand how irritating it is when that doesn't work out the way you wanted it to.
With all that great weather and solitude that abound at that glorious time of the morning, I am usually able to let my mind wander a bit. Naturally, it tends to revolve around my dogs. I think about plans for the future for them. What am I going to do with them performance wise? How am I going to tackle certain difficulties in our training? How am I going to juggle everything with all three dogs in addition to work and personal life? Am I doing what's best for my dogs? Is there more that I could be doing for them? Are they happy? The stream of consciousness goes on and on. Inevitably my thoughts go down a path that I am more resistant to think about.
My dogs are getting older. Bess' increased sensitivity to temperature is about the only sign with her outside of the grey in her mask. Heffner turned 7 in January. I've already retired him from the performance sports that we were already participating in. What other concessions am I going to have to start making. Structurally, he's not put together as well as Bess and I want to look out for that as much as I can. The sad truth is that I will most likely start cutting back his running mileage next year when he turns 8. He won't like it, but I also have to be careful with him because he will go with me anywhere until he drops. He won't make the decision himself that he needs to hang back. I'll have to make that decision for him. I want him around, healthy and happy for as long as possible. That means that all too soon he won't be going on these long runs with Bess and I. I think our shorter 3 mile runs will still be okay for him to do once a week, but at some point those will have to go too. And eventually Bess will get to the point where I need to start cutting her back too. Hard to imagine Bess ever slowing down, but it will happen eventually. At least I think it will. ;)
So yeah, sometimes my mind wanders in directions that I'd rather it didn't. The thought of not having a running partner is just inconceivable (Princess Bride reference ;0) ). I'm so used to running with my guys that it honestly looks weird to me when I see someone out running by themselves. Why on earth would you go running outside if you didn't have a dog to run with? It just seems so weird to me. Just a totally different frame of reference I guess. ;)
And the final pondering at 5am, how do I solve this dilemma with my aging running partners? That's an answer for another post. ;)
I hope everyone has been having a great week so far. Tomorrow's Friday!! Here's a couple of snippets of the dogs that I took on my phone. I really need to pull my actual camera out more.