And so today it became official: my daughters run.
Or, at the very least, they've both been taken for runs by their father. And, thankfully, they seem to enjoy it. At two-and-a-half, Lily Harper has been out with me in Pennsylvania's unpredictable spring, the all too predictable heat and humidity of summer and the cold chill of autumn and winter. She's accompanied me on empty and crowded paths. Even raced (if you checked my times, you'd challenge my right to use the term) in a 5K that began with an after-the-gun-had-fired-dash-from-the-men's-room start (a candidate for its own post).
This afternoon, (almost) eight month old Piper Bea experienced her first run on a cold and breezy November day. I'm actually disappointed and slightly embarrassed that this is the first I've gotten Piper into the jogging stroller and out on the trail. Lil and I used to get out frequently and today served as a reminder to not allow Piper Bea to miss out on special experiences now that my home and schedule have become even fuller.
I've had Lily laugh and chatter throughout a full run, but often early enthusiasm fades to a rhythm-induced nap. Such was the case today for Piper and it was a blessing for us both.
Poor Pipe has had (count 'em) one, two, three, four baby teeth pokily creeping toward poking through for what's now going on three weeks. In the last day or two Piper's discomfort has increased tremendously and she'd struggled with a restlessness that has taken a toll on her, Lindsay (her mother) and myself. She hadn't gotten the uninterrupted naps that she craves and requires at this age. Between a busy week of pre-holiday work, Thanksgiving engagements and attending to Piper, I hadn't been in running shoes since last weekend and both my mind and body were all too aware of that fact. With big sister Lily away for the weekend on a trip to the mountains with her Memma (my mother) and Lindsay putting in a rare weekend shift at the hospital, Piper and I had the afternoon all to ourselves.
All to ourselves and the teeth.
And that's when the solution became obvious. A quick trip to the local gas station and its "free air" reinvigorated the tires on our lovely jogging stroller. While Piper wasn't exactly laughing and chattering, she had stopped crying and was watching quietly and curiously as I hung up the air hose and lifted the stroller back up into the van.
A few moments later we arrived at the Lancaster Junction Rails-to-Trail to find a nearly deserted trailhead. With a stiff breeze making mid-40's temperatures feel closer to freezing, I tucked a blanket around Piper (which initially made her angry), affixed the transparent weather shield to the stroller and off we went. Settling into a comfortable pace and paying close attention to the path which fluctuates seasonally from a muddy track to a pitted, hard stroller-bumpfest, I attuned my ears for the sound of crying that thankfully never came.
We put in a slow but steady 4-and-a-half miles, cheerfully (and in my case, proudly) accepting the "isn't she adorable" compliment from the sole dogwalker braving the wind. After a bit, traffic thinned out entirely and we had the path all to ourselves. I heard barely a peep out of Pipe and suspected that she'd been lulled to sleep somewhere along the way.
I reveled in the fact that much like Lily and Daddy, Piper seemed to find her own brand of escapism in logging a few miles. There's certainly a chance that neither one of them will have any interest in running as they get older and perhaps its being "Dad's thing" makes that likely, but I hope they'll at least have warm (even if foggy) memories of our time together.
I know I will.