Thursday, March 13, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Three times a week, my husband gets up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the YMCA and run on a treadmill. Since I am often just going to bed at 5:30 a.m., this creates some interesting situations with him yawning a "Good morning" to me while I scratch myself and yawn "Shut up" back at him.

Three times a week, I wake Meelyn up at 7:30 a.m. and patiently listen to her whine her way into her gym clothes, reminding her that her friend Matt, the swimmer, gets up for practice at some vile hour nearly every morning of the week to go do laps in that wet, wet water while she gets to run on a treadmill with a built-in fan, watching Fox & Friends and listening to her MP3 player. Matt cannot listen to his iPod while swimming, so just give it a rest already and put on your shoes.

Every Sunday afternoon, Mee and her dad go off on one of their long runs. Last Sunday was their first day this training season to be able to do that outside. They did six miles on a new route that takes them through town rather than out through the wind-swept prairie they were running last year.

They came in the house all rosy-cheeked and cheerful, throwing off gloves, hats and sweatshirts and smelling of fresh, cold air. My husband is stoked because they're doing a much stronger pace than last year, doing very little walking. The two of them managed the six mile run in just a bit over an hour, which is a huge step for Meelyn. My husband generally has about a ten-minute pace per mile; he's holding back for now to coach Mee, but he tells me that with practice, she'll soon be able to leave his forty-one year old self in the dust. Or the snow, as the case was last Sunday.

They had to run on the city streets (into the traffic, single file, as is proper when on foot) because the sidewalks were still covered with piles of snow. My husband says its amazing how many people will see them running along the side of the road, yet won't move over into the second lane to avoid hitting them.

"Some of those cars come within inches," he said, making my mouth go dry and my heart momentarily stand still. "We're running as close to the curb as we can and the second lane is wide open, but theyll look right at us and refuse to move."

"But one guy moved into the other lane and gave us a friendly beep-beep and a thumbs-up," Meelyn said hurriedly, lest I think that all the drivers in our city are heartless monsters.

That's one reason why I didn't like them running on the prairie road last year. That road has a wide shoulder, but it is a state highway and people were flying by them at 60+ miles per hour. On this new route, the cars are much slower. But also much closer.

I'm thinking about taking out a big, colorful billboard along their route that says something like, "Please be considerate of runners -- sometimes the sidewalks are covered with snow or are in bad repair and they have no choice but to run on the street. Drive by them the way you'd want people to drive by your spouse or child."

I pray that God will keep them safe and protect them from careless, arrogant aggressive drivers.

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