Jingle *&#%@!

The UND Wellness Center announced a while back that they would be closed all day on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Since I’ve been doing most of my winter running inside the Center, I decided to run outdoors on one or both of those days, if the weather wasn’t absolutely terrible.  As we got closer, the forecast was for some nice temperatures, so I started to get excited about returning to the outdoors.  I started to plan out a blog in order to share with everyone the joy of running outdoors in the snow on Christmas Eve.  I was going to call it “Jingle Bells.”  I was even thinking of incorporating some appropriate lines from Christmas Carols to bring everyone greater cheer.  It was going to be fantastic!

Then I decided to expand the idea a bit further and take my dog Maxie along on the run.  She could be my reindeer, and I could be Santa Clause, running by each house in a blur, as we shared Christmas cheer.  I even asked Sue to take some happy photos of us leaving the yard together, and some more of us starting our spirited run as we began down the alley by our house.  This was going to be fantastic!

I hadn’t taken Maxie out running with me for a few months.  I vaguely remembered that she was kind of a handful, and tired me out quickly with her antics.  I wanted to run about six miles, but thought I would return her to the yard after two, and run the last four solo.  I also kind of remembered needing to do that back in August too.  That was my plan:  Run two miles happily along the snow covered Grand Forks Greenway with my reindeer, then drop her off at home and continue on for another four or more miles by myself.  There were going to be imaginary sleigh bells ringing in my ears for the entire run.  This was going to fantastic!

By the time I made it to the end of the alley, I had a sudden return to reality:  I was in over my head!  Maxie is an extremely willful dog, and she is exceptionally strong.  She decided to head to a neighbor’s house that is home to a pair of small dogs, as I fool heartedly wanted to continue in the direction we were going.  The yank on my arm was tremendous as I reeled to the side and nearly fell on my face.  The battle was on!

Every few feet Maxie wanted to stop and sniff something.  Then there was a dog up ahead that she desperately wanted to catch.  She pulled like a tractor trying to run full speed, jumping up and down with each of her powerful bounds.  My arms were starting to feel like rubber as we neared the unleashed canine with his two human companions.  Maxie wanted to stop and investigate this other dog SO badly, and it took every bit of my strength to pull her past.  To add insult to injury, the loose dog made two steps towards us as we passed and all the owner had to do was utter a soft “no” before it returned obediently to his side.

I won’t go into too much detail, but will simply say the run went downhill from that point!  I tripped over Maxie on two occasions when she stopped suddenly right in front of me to sniff a yellow urine spot.  I pulled a muscle in my groin when one of her sudden lunges caught me mid stride while turning a corner.  She jumped into the deep snow on numerous occasions and leaped up and down like a rabbit before stopping suddenly to rest.

We returned to our house after getting in 2.24 miles.  I was hurting, exhausted, and out of patience as we walked through the gate.  I didn’t continue on my own.  I wasn’t in the mood to write a cheery Christmas blog.  I commented on “Face Book” that I returned, a broken man.  Maybe I will try running again by myself tomorrow, if the weather is still nice.  I told Sue that perhaps by next Christmas I will forget how difficult it is to run with Maxie and take her out again.  If you hear me even considering this insane endeavor again in the meantime, please knock some sense into me:  A fist to the head will be a lot less painful than what I experienced today!