“We’re” training for “our” first 10K, though on Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll be running without my furry companion. The race, organized by Lehigh Valley Road Runners, is already sold out. I will be one of 500 people running on the Lehigh Parkway, just four months after giving birth and two years after a scary bout with pericarditis that sidelined me from competing in the LBI Sprint Triathlon.
I deposited her in the back of my SUV for the ride to the entrance to Sand Island. There, we pick up the towpath and get going. I underestimated how much mud and snow we’d find on the path. Not to worry, Stella’s tongue is hanging out, her curly tail salutes the sky. She’s nudging the leash – let’s go, Mom. A half an hour later we are in Freemansburg – I can see the Hogar Crea building across the canal – and the path is now completely covered. I’m holding the leash to keep her from pulling me on the hard, icy snow. “That’s enough,” I say to Stella, and we turn back. It’s quiet, just a few other friendly bikers and runners and dog walkers hardily navigating the trail today. Every four minutes and one minute, the watch beeps a countdown: get ready for the next interval. Our feet make rhythmic squishing sounds every muddy step. We are covered in mud and if I had a tail, I’d wag it, too.