Life doesn’t stop just because you want to keep running.
I have become what amounts to a surrogate papa to my girlfriend’s son as his bio dad lives in Colorado. There are interesting parallels and divergences in this set up as my own son lives in North Carolina and I, at times, feel awkward about caring for one child directly more than his father while I am finishing things up here to finally be with my son for good. Don’t get me wrong, I love my “sorta son” Noah and we are all a solid family unit that will remain this way as we head out to add August (my son) into the mix. However, I can’t deny that the connection I have with my son and the comfort and safety he finds with me isn’t so readily there with Noah. And rightfully so, I’m not his papa even if I am a part of his life everyday.
Lately, Noah has been going through a “Mama” phase and has wanted nothing to do with me, breaking down if we even so much mention hanging out with me alone or doing anything without her. The nights she goes off to school have been an utter mess as he clings desperately to her neck and wants to go to bed the moment she leaves so that he doesn’t have to be with me. I won’t lie that it does affect me emotionally when he rejects me like that, even though I know he’s just a developing toddler and this is a relative phase. We still have good moments in between all this, but overall it has been pretty rough the last month.
Then something changed. First he got chicken pox and then Michelle got something akin to the Swine Flu, or at least it seems that way. So this meant that he had no choice but to stay indoors while I was at work and Michelle laid on the couch half-dead. This worked for about the first day as he watched movie after movie after movie (a rare treat), but he quickly grew tired of the routine of boredom. That’s where I stepped in.
Knowing Michelle needed to rest and wanted a break from worrying about Noah, I offered to take him out on my runs in the jogging stroller like I use to do with August when he wasn’t even 1 year old. The first day he resisted for about 15 minutes, even going to his room to hide, but when I entered to pretty much physically put him in the stroller he had already made up his mind that he WANTED to go on a ride. I was a bit taken aback but said nothing in fear of sparking some inherent resistance on his part. So in the stroller he went and he enjoyed himself for the first 40 minutes before he finally fell asleep.
Then two days later I came home from work and got ready for my training run, but this time, with the promise of stopping at Good Earth Health Foods for a treat, he was so ready to go that he was impatient with me for taking so long. He, again, was thrilled with the trip as he played “motorcycle” as we sped up the Monon trail. Despite the obnoxious out of true wheel that pulls the stroller sharply to the left whenever I let go, I was enjoying his company as he took my mind off the struggle of running by talking to me about the various things we saw. “Look! Squirrely gray! And another squirrely gray! Look! Another squirrely gray!” He gets stuck on repeat sometimes.
So then today I come home and Michelle alludes to her desire for more privacy time so that she can finish some work and without any struggle really, he actually stops playing on his computer (another rare treat) and gets all excited about jumping in the stroller. It’s almost like a routine for us now. And today, for ALL 11 MILES, he was non-stop talking, not even pretending to take a nap. Today it was all about being in a spaceship, calling aliens on his cell phone, running to the north pole, running to the south pole, running to the west pole, water monsters who eat cookies and not people, etc. etc. etc. It was cracking me up and, again, taking my mind from the effort of running. I was actually having a pretty good time.
It feels pretty awesome to have a few straight days of good ‘ol fun with him again, not grabbing his mama’s neck for dear life, not breaking down into tantrums whenever he has to be near me, and to top it all off, doing it while training for the marathon.
See, running came back into my life after my son was born, so I can’t help associate it with the positive feelings I had as we grew together. It was running with him that kept me from absolute boredom from being stuck inside a house all winter. He was my excuse to get out into the world. Then running with August in the jogging stroller was my first venture into 1/2 marathon distance runs during his naptime, which turned into successful 1/2 marathon racing, which turned into more miles, which turned into a Top 100 classification for Chicago. But sometime before that happened, he was gone, off to North Carolina with his mother. And I was running by myself.
So now, a few jaunts out with Noah is something of a conflict of emotions. It’s really nice to share this whole running thing with a son and “sorta son”, and these past few days of running while watching a youngin’ amuse themselves while amusing me, all the while trying to steer some broken wheeled stroller around the canal (the stroller I had with August veered to the left as well) and passing pretty much everybody while they stare in relative disbelief, well, it’s all really nice. But it’s also kinda heartbreaking, because this time, however comforting, is not with my son. I miss him everyday and it sucks that I can’t share this interest of mine with him, that we can’t have these mutual experiences. My ability to run at this level is incredibly unexpected and I’m going to make the most of this, simply because I don’t know where it’s going to go or how long it will last, so to think that it might end before I get to share it with my son gives me a sense of urgency and desperation.
Still, I can’t help but appreciate these past few days with Noah and hope he continues his interest in hopping in the stroller to run around the city. Granted, he’s a toddler and basically works in two-week phases, so I know this won’t last for good, but it sure is nice for the time being.
To think, not only am I able to keep training for the Chicago Marathon, but in the process I get to offer Michelle some respite during her bout of sickness and solidify a bond with Noah doing something we both really enjoy. I’m a pretty fortunate guy if you ask me.
11 miles with a non-stop babbling toddler – relatively easy run before pre-race fartleks tomorrow
Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, flax seed, raisins, almonds), coffee
Lunch – Stir fry w/ homemade thai peanut sauce, water
Dinner – Pasta w/ nutritional yeast, coffee
Snacks – coffee, water, orange, apples, hot grape nuts cereal, pb & j, post-run smoothie
Melvins – Nude boots