Meet Monte, the Amazing Running Pug!
So, though I love running in the company of my good friends, I've really only run with others for about 6 months. Before that it was, for the most part, alone or with Rick. Now that it's light out by 5:30 (my criteria for running alone), I have tried some solo runs. The most obvious benefit is the efficiency in time--I can leave right from my door instead of driving to a meeting place, which means more time to sleep in! But I also enjoy setting my own pace and distance and being lost in my own thoughts. And a really strange thing I like to do when I run solo is try to keep my mouth closed for the entire run (that tells you that I'm not really running all that hard!). I listen to 88.1 (Christian radio) or other songs on my MPs player (Mandisa and others, really a big mix including a bunch of preschool Jack Hartmann songs on there that I have to keep forwarding!). By listening to the Christian songs and running in such pretty surroundings (the creek is on my route), I end up feeling closer to God and more focused on Him.
I've also decided that I should include our first and most neglected baby in on my runs. Monte is our nearly 6 year old pug and was a pretty good runner back in the day. He used to run LONG with us--like over 10 mile runs, and he also ran trails quite a bit with Rick while I was pregnant (I was the jealous ex who got replaced!). His run always looks like a casual jaunt, and he saunters along like he does this every day. It is especially funny to see him to this on the trails, like going up Waterline on Monte Sano. He barely looks winded as he races in front of us, but his is shorter. I think his height and his four legs to our two are quite an advantage on the trails. Anyway, if you know anything about pugs, you know that they are not meant to be outdoorsy dogs. They were bred to be lapdogs, and, with their little pug noses, they often can't even breathe all that well when they get overexerted. So we never went into the adoption of Monte thinking that he would ever run with us (even though he was named after our favorite mountain to run on, Monte Sano). Surprisingly, we found that his smaller stature than most pugs (he was bred to be leaner than your traditional pug) and his HIGH energy level made him the perfect running companion. I love that he provides a little company while on the run, and some security too (he pulls when someone approaches from behind). And running gives him some much-needed exercise (he gained 4 pounds on his 15-pound frame the year after my daughter was born and all of our running suffered). Back in the day, we dubbed him "Monte the Amazing Running Pug," and I think this little guy (who came on my 6-plus mile run with me today) still deserves this title!