Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Endurance: There Is No Crying In Training

I do try to let the Joneses be, but sometimes the urge to keep up with them gets the best of me. I knew a family once, a beautiful, intelligent, kind family, led by the dad who could remodel his own kitchen with a hammer, a tree, and a pocket full of granite and the mom who could run a marathon while breastfeeding the 2-year-old and never lose suction. Our beautiful, intelligent, kind little family calls repairmen to change lightbulbs and dreads even driving 26.2. They taught their youngest daughter to rollerblade and play street hockey at the age of 3; we taught our youngest daughter to sit, stay, and beg at 3 (actually, she learned that on her own).

But this summer I’ve turned to my own personal Joneses for inspiration, rather than self-deprecating envy, as I train our 5-year-old diva, Caroline, to walk an entire mile in preparation for an upcoming hiking trip in Colorado.

No, it’s not a kitchen remodel or a marathon. It’s much, much worse.

Our training regimen began not long after sunrise, at about 9:30 or 10. I rounded up my team of Ellie (11), Amelia (9), Luke (7), Caroline, and our impulse-purchase labradoodle named Mack for the first of our one-a-day workouts.

After pre-walk stretching and a brief, but moving pep talk, my team and I took to the pavement that first morning. We packed lightly for the 1.1, no water bottle, no energy gel. We didn’t want anything weighing us down on our first time trial.

The first 50 feet or so were pretty rough. The sun came blazing out from behind our house as we emerged from the garage, nearly blinding my vampire children.

“I’m hot, and that sun is too bright!” declared the diva, right out of the gate as we crossed the street.
I tried a little distraction.

“Caroline, what kinds of things do you think we’ll see in Colorado?”

“Ugh! I can’t make it!”

“Won’t the mountains be beautiful?”

“It’s too sunny out here!”

“Do you think we’ll see any elk?”

“Elk?!? Do they eat people?”

“Only little kids who whine too much.”

She gasped only slightly as she threw her chubby hands over her mouth.

While she weighed the probability of an elk zeroing in on her for a snack we steadily made our way down and then up a hill. So far the others were sticking with us, but I sensed they were eager to pull ahead.

“Can I bring my scooter next time?” Luke asked.

“Probably not,” I answered the lone boy.

“Why not?”

“Because these are training walks. We’re getting ready to hike in Colorado.”

“But I could go faster if I had my scooter,” he reasoned.

“True, but you won’t be able to take your scooter on a hike.”

“Why not?”

“Because there aren’t any good paths on the Rocky Mountains for scooters.”

“Why not?”

“Because the park rangers ran out of federal funding.”

Caroline chimed in, “yeah, and if you whine too much the ELK will EAT you.”

And that added wisdom got us all the way up the hill and part of the way back down to the main road. This is the point when Ellie realized she was about to turn left along a busy street - with her family. Ellie is going through this really cute phase where she doesn’t want any of her friends to know she has parents who live with her. She’d prefer they all believe she doesn’t even have parents and she lives on her own. We were about to blow her cover, so she asked if she could take the dog’s leash and motor ahead of us.

“I’ll go on ahead so Mack can walk faster and get more exercise,” she explained.

I nodded, making mental note to wear my “Ellie’s Mom” tank top on our next walk.

Caroline spoke again, “Mom, my tummy hurts now.”

I tried to explain the stomach cramping phenomenon with what little I retained from my biology degree the best I could as we made it down the hill and turned west onto the main road.

“…so the more we exercise, the less that happens,” I finished.

“Good…” she said. She had been listening after all! “…the sun is finally out of my eyes.”

We only had .6 more miles to go when Caroline and Luke began their simultaneous and independent litanies and Amelia ran to catch up with Ellie. I wanted to run away to Ellie too.

Caroline began, “Ugh! I’m still sweating!”

Luke followed, “Look at this giant stick!”

“My hair is sticking to my head!”

“Can I keep it?”

“My underwear (sigh) is sticking to my fanny!”

“Can we go to the pool today?”

“My legs are broken!”

“Can we have a lemonade stand today?”

“I have sweat in my eyes!”

“Can I have Spencer over today?”

“I’m running out of breath!”

“Can we make pizza for lunch today?”

“I’m hungry and I’m tired and I have an itchy spot in my armpit!”

She was hitting the wall hard, and I needed to intervene, so I pulled out highlights from the pep talk we’d had minutes earlier. I gave her my best material for nearly .2 miles, quoting all the greats from Lou Holtz to Mary Lou Retton. It seemed to work, as she did, indeed, quit crying for the love of the Almighty and sucked it up and kept walking.

Soon we were moving along the home stretch with Ellie, Amelia, and Luke jumping up and down all the way up the single step to our front door, cheering as the theme from “Rocky” resonated up and down our street.

Breathless and dripping with sweat, we burst into the house to check our time.

1.1 miles in exactly 45 minutes.

Forget about the Joneses, maybe we should look into horseback riding instead.


Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,
I sure loved reading both your posts. They made me laugh and remind me how much fun life with kids really is. Wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.
Kara Lynch

Melissa said...

These are hilarious! I think you have found your new career as a syndicated columnist! You are the next Erma Bombeck!! Enjoy your time!
Melissa Grelinger