Journal entry 011311: Running with Madden

Wednesday morning before Christmas I had the good fortune to run for 45 minutes with my 10-month-old granddaughter, Madden. Actually, I was the only one running; she rode the entire time in her BOB stroller.

I started planning this run months ago, as soon as we learned Madden would be spending the week with us. I hoped to be able to fit in at least one stroller run. They didn’t have cool strollers like this when our own kids were babies and Cyndi and I had to take turns staying home while the other ran.

Running with Madden brought back a lot of memories from those old days. I remembered how I’d take Byron and Katie to the playground at Essex Park while I ran laps around the park boundary, about three laps to the mile. It wasn’t easy. Every time I passed near the playground, located on the north end of the park, I heard, “Daddy watch me swing,” or “Daddy watch me go down the slide.”  Later, I tried the same routine at the Windlands Par Course but the playground was too far away from the trail to feel comfortable about safety and all that.

Cyndi used to take both kids with her to play in the sand box, otherwise known as the long jump pit, at Memorial Stadium while she ran intervals on the track. Sometimes the sprinklers would be on and the kids had more fun running back and forth through the water.

When they got old enough to ride bikes they would often ride alongside when I ran. That didn’t last long, though; they soon lost interest in riding five miles without the promise of a coke or ice cream or snow cone.

They both spent too many Saturday mornings in our Astro minivan while Cyndi and I set up equipment for a morning race. They ate cold pizza for breakfast, leftovers from the previous night’s packet-stuffing party. That is, until they started entering races themselves, when they learned that old pizza was not the best pre-workout meal.

So back to modern times, Madden and I had a great run together. She won’t remember much about it, though, since she fell asleep as soon as we left the house. She finally woke up crying about two blocks from home. Maybe she was cold, it was 38*F and I’m certain I didn’t bundle her up as much as her mom or grandmother would’ve, or maybe she was disappointed in my slow pace. She is used to going out at her mom’s quicker pace.

Last year I went through an exercise with several of my best guys where we wrote down 100 life goals, and one of my goals was to go backpacking with my grandchildren. Wednesday morning’s run was a long way from backpacking, but it was a move in the right direction. I can’t wait to do more things together.

Dr. Leo Cooney, founder and director of the Section of Geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine said, “Exercise is not the Holy Grail (of graceful aging). If there’s a Holy Grail, it’s relationships with other people. In fact, if you have to decide between going to the gym or being with your grandchildren, I’d choose the grandchildren.” I don’t know if Cooney is a runner, so I can’t know if that was actually a hard choice for him to make. However, I can say Thanks to Madden, for allowing me to do both. I hope it’s not our last time.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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