Running an Obstacle Course

We all face obstacles when attempting to exercise. Just to get out of the door we may have to battle low motivation, uncooperative elements (wind, cold, rain), time that is limited or workout clothes that just really aren’t cute enough to be seen in, in public anyway.  But I think some of us have especially difficult challenges standing in our way of a good workout.  Literally.  Challenges that could be described as shorter than waist-high with sticky, slobbery faces and poor manners. (Dogs, children, or both.) 

At least that’s usually the case for me. 

But I have to be honest (not to brag or anything) that once in a while, I will have a great run.  Like this morning. 

I was alone in the frigid early morning air appreciating nature and thinking deep thoughts like, I wonder if the neighbors would call the police if I purchased a ski mask and jogged around wearing it?  Or, Wow, I never knew that a person could sweat in 21 degree-weather. 

Or, When I get back I can’t forget to put away the half-n-half that is still sitting on the kitchen counter.

I even had time this morning to thank “Big Mama,” the biggest hill on my route, because although she and I don’t get along very well, she is single-handedly transforming my secretary’s tooshy into one that more closely resembles Janet Jackson’s. 

As I trotted solo around my neighborhood I also congratulated myself after running a smaller hill (I still have to walk up Big Mama) and then I laughed on the inside as I jogged down Kanell Boulevard, also known as PP Highway.  (Get it?  I don’t think that joke will ever get old.) 

But this past Saturday was more typical.  There was no laughing involved.  No admiring of beautiful winter birds.  No deep thoughts.  That’s because I went running with a three month-old puppy and a two year-old boy.

Saturday went more like this:  Get two year-old dressed – two pairs of pants, two shirts, a hooded sweatshirt, socks, shoes, a winter jacket and hat.  Does he have his juice?  Yes.  His race car?  Yes.  Okay.  Out the door and into the stroller. 

Oops.  We’re missing Buzz Lightyear. 

Go back inside, grab Buzz Lightyear, and a sucker.  (I know. Genius, right?)  

Go back outside.  Hear two year-old crying, “Puppy, shoe!”   Observe that puppy is running around the front yard with two year-old’s shoe.   

Chase the puppy. 

Grab the shoe.  Return shoe to child’s foot.  Search garage for puppy’s leash.  Find it. 

Chase the puppy. 

Attach leash to collar.  While turning on new Blackberry app that will not only time my run but also track my route via GPS, drop end of leash. 

Chase the puppy again. 

Chasing faster this time, now that precious seconds are ticking by on my cell phone’s timer. 

Catch the puppy and place leash in firm grip.  Check to see that (my) shoes are tied and phone is safely in stroller pocket.  Look again to see that two year-old is strapped in. Happy to see that son’s shoes are still on and that he’s enjoying his sucker. 

Seconds still ticking.  Deep breath. 

Ready. 

Set. 

Moommmeee!” 

Learn that the trio of Toy Story movies don’t lie: Buzz Lightyear really can’t fly.  Rescue Buzz Lightyear from his not-so-soft landing on the concrete driveway. 

Go.  

I suppose it doesn’t take someone schooled in the science of nuclear physics to guess that I did not thank Big Mama on this run, as I tackled her steep face pushing a stroller and a twenty-five pound toddler while trying to manage a puppy that hasn’t yet decided whether she wants to run on my right side or my left. 

I am sure I don’t need to tell you that as we crested Big Mama I was not greeted by a handsome male Blue Jay adding leaves to his nest on top of a tall, bare Oak.  No, of course I was not.  Instead I was faced with something completely unnatural, and unforeseen – an auction. 

In front of me stretching down the entire block were cars and pickup trucks lining both sides of the street.  To my right was a driveway crowded with couches, tables, desks, lawn equipment and lots of people.

I decided to stop and look around.  (Who wouldn’t?)  Besides I needed to catch my breath.  As I was admiring an old antique school desk and pondering what place in my house would be the perfect spot for it, I remembered that minutes now, not just seconds, had been ticking by on my cell phone stop watch, AND that the GPS had been tracking my route as I walked in circles in a neighbor’s driveway. 

Resume running. 

Moments later I hear my own personal Jillian Michaels pipe up from his perch in the stroller: “Wun bastah mommy!  Wun bastah!”

This is not going well. 

I have never seen traffic like this in our neighborhood in the entire two months we’ve lived here.  The puppy stops every time a car drives past, which is like every four seconds.  As I begin to wonder if it’s possible to be reported for child neglect as my two year-old suffers from whiplash in his stroller, I decide that riding in the bed of a truck with a sixteen year-old behind the wheel (who is still learning how to handle a stick-shift) would probably be more pleasurable than this escapade. 

We finish the first lap and bag the second one.  As I reach for my phone to stop the timer, the worst of it dawns on me.  When I press the spacebar to end my workout, this fiasco will be recorded and published to my public profile for all the world to see (and laugh at).  Twenty-eight minutes to “run” two miles, with lots of stops and starts and a few mini-laps in someone’s driveway. 

This year I am asking Santa for a treadmill.

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