For four weeks, I’ve been trying to be a runner. I started a beginner running program and, through horrible pains in my feet, ankles, and calves, I have managed to stick with it. I won’t say there hasn’t been whining because there has been considerable whining. I hate running. It hurts. It goes against the pleading of every cell in my body. But, I’m doing it anyway.
I give all the credit to Hank.
Hank is one of the new additions to my family. He is Ben’s dog and a genuine angel. He’s the sweetest, kindest, gentlest dog I’ve ever met. And, thankfully, he likes to run at a very slow pace with me. Hank is the ideal personal trainer.
• He times his potty breaks to my walking breaks. This week, I’m doing intervals of five minutes running and one minute walking. Hank is perfectly happy with that arrangement and makes pit stops accordingly. (Sidenote: When Barley and I used to run together, his breaks were his breaks and he wouldn’t lower himself to observe my schedule. He also had no patience for my pace. We went his pace, no exceptions. He was such a stubborn little dog when he was young. He always took life on his own terms. I love that little turkey!)
• When we get close to home, Hank gently picks up the pace, a technique that helps me “dig deep,” as my old rugby coach would say. I’m sure I’m in full-on Zombie Shuffle mode by the time I hit the home stretch, but Hank makes me feel like Rocky.
• He’s mindful of the timer. When the alarm signals a running interval, Hank starts the run. When the walk alarm signals, he pulls back. He’s so smart and he keeps me honest.
• He never barks at me when I’m having a bad day. Barley was really sick on Tuesday and I was having a hard time with it emotionally. Hank and I went out for our scheduled run and it was a disaster. I was plodding along even more slowly than usual, which seems impossible considering I practically go in reverse when I’m at my top speed, and I wasn’t meeting my time goals. Hank just adjusted. He walked with me, let me cry it out on public streets, and brought me back home safe. An angel.
In a lot of ways, it’s hard for me to run with another dog. Since I was 22, Barley has been my running partner. To see a brown dog trotting by my side feels like a betrayal of my oldest and best friend. But, I know in my heart it’s okay. Hank is helping me through Barley’s illness and, for 30 minutes three times a week, I can let a lot of that pain and grief go. I can leave it at the front door and have my Hanky time.