Well, it is official - my daughter has a pair of running shoes! Since she's been walking for a whole two months now, I figured it was time (I hope you are sensing the sarcasm here). They are toddler size 5, white with a splash of bluish-purple and pink accents - too cute. I havent even mentioned the best parts yet - they were on clearance and they are elastic, so they don't have to be tied!
There really was something magical about getting those shoes on her little feet. At first she just froze in confusion, only having experienced soft-soled shoes to this point. Then she tested them out, stomping around like Frankenstein. Within minutes she had them figured out and started zipping around, walking so fast that her movements could almost be considered a baby jog. Then we knew we were in trouble because she kept going and going and going. Really. This kid was on fire! She kept darting from one end of the house to the other, as if she was running basketball running drills! And the cutest part was that she was smiling the whole time. A silly, content grin spread from one cheek to the other. My daughter loves to run.
At this point, her running is a game - running away from me as we play chase, running away from her big brother as he tries to clobber her with a hug, running to burry her face in our black lab's fur (they're best buds!), running to welcome her dad home from work at the end of the day. That is the way it should be - and should remain! Watching her 12 month old self learn how her body moves and reacts to her will is a fascinating experience. I could just sit and watch her all day long - and sometimes I do take some moments just to observe her self-discovery.
I can learn from my daughter and apply her joy and freedom to my own running. It reminds me of the old Friends episode where Phoebe and Rachel go running together in Central Park. Free-spirited Phoebe runs the way kids do when they're playing tag - body loose, hands waving in the air, darting from side to side. Self-conscious Rachel is initally embarrassed by Phoebe's running style and shies away. But THEN she realizes that Phoebe's way is much more fun and might even be more exercise than the controlled, polished performance run Rachel is used to doing.
While I don't think I can run far with my hands over my head (for fear that I'll end up doubled over in laughter and not get anywhere!), I can still draw positive energy from the idea and let my spirit wave its hands as I run. Just thinking of my daughter's little shoes and the delight in her eyes as she learned how to make them work helps me sit a bit taller and lets her joy lighten my step.
Tomorrow's run will be a good one. If you spot me, feel free to wave your arms with me!