The back roads

I’ve been running for half of my life. I figured this out half way through this morning’s run. It instantly made me feel old.

For me, running started as a way to stay in shape between swimming seasons. It quickly turned into a passion, outlet for stress and a daily must-do. Anyone close to me can tell you I’m just not the same if I’m not running. And it’s a blessing that I continue to run because I also continue to eat – a lot.

But during my 10-mile morning run, I also got to thinking about my running buddies and the roads I run, how they’ve changed over the year, and how my morning run covered roads I never thought I would find myself on.

Through middle school, high school and part of college, I was part of a track or cross country team and had a built-in team of running buddies and running friends. After college, I joined a running club and realized just how much a 12-mile morning run can bring a group of girls together. Once back in McPherson and with no one to run with, my mother became my sudo-running buddy. Every morning at 5:30 a.m., I would lace up my running shoes and she would hop on her bike and we would log miles while watching the town wake up. Our routes were winding and covered nearly every inch of McPherson.

But then I left town to become a country girl. I traded my street lights for sun rises and my front lawns for wheat fields. I have my own corner of the country that I cover and no longer have team mates, running girl friends or a bicycling mother to accompany me. I’ve ask my husband to join me but so far, he hasn’t taken my up on my offer.

So I’ve found myself a new running buddy – sometimes buddies. My four-legged, furry, stinky farm dog Roxy. No human can mirror the excitement she shows every morning when I walk into the garage with my tennis shoes on. She understands what “going for a run” means and takes you up on the offer every time. Roxy and I logged almost 40 miles last week and so far, I haven’t found a morning she isn’t up for a run. As I make my way down the road, Roxy darts from side to side, exploring, hunting and sniffing. Every run is an adventure and a chance to catch a rabbit, scare a bird or meet a new doggie friend.

If I’m lucky, my husband’s dog and my in-laws two dogs will join me so my running buddy becomes a running pack. It’s a hodge-podge group, one that meets the description of all bark and no bite. But they too enjoy getting out, seeing the sights and the doggie treat that comes at the end of every run.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of listening to music when I run and instead enjoy the sounds of nature. Roxy keeps me entertained with her attempts at catching birds and hunting for rabbits and there is always something to watch and study. The routes are simple, the roads straight and unpaved, but the runs are enjoyable, the sunrises always worth the early waking time and the running buddies, always eager to join you.

Running has led me to so many great people and opportunities but it’s funny to see just how much my routes have changed over the years and how today I putter down roads, I would never dreamed I travel.

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