Friday, January 22, 2016

Treadmill Training

Dear Jules,
Not only is it heavily raining (at least not icing or snowing like in the rest of the country), but you are home sick with a particularly disgusting stomach bug, and so I'm consigned to treadmill training or, as my new friend Kate Dochelli from LuMind RDS Runners calls it, "dreadmill" training.

If the future you is a runner, you probably know what I'm talking about.  Mile after mile on a rubber track makes anyone feel like a hamster, and it's hard to stay motivated with no scenery, no wind, nothing but--in my case--garage walls and dead roaches on the garage floor.

Yet it's treadmill training that makes me feel closest to you, mainly because my memories on this particular treadmill are so irrevocably tied to you.  To begin with, I was given the treadmill by our generous neighbors after I had you.  In between pumping and breastfeeding and trying to take naps, I found it impossible to get to the gym, so the Burches gave me their treadmill and got me going again. I like to look at life in metaphors, so I think this was also the point when I began to deal with my postpartum depression, realize that Down Syndrome is really not such a big deal, and, instead, spend my energy bonding with you.

Literally, it got me back on track.

Then, when you were close to one, your physical therapist recommended treadmill training to teach you to walk.  It's quite ingenious, actually.  We put a stick (in our case, a hockey stick) across the treadmill so that you could grab onto it.  Then, we put the machine on it's lowest possible setting--like .3 miles per hour.  One of us stood in front of you and sang to motivate you, the other held you upright, and you walked.  You began walking at 18 months, far earlier than lots of children with Down Syndrome.  I could take that hockey stick off--we sure as hell don't need it anymore--but I don't because it reminds me of how hard you worked in order to learn to walk.

And the other thing I like about treadmill training is that I can decorate the room (since it's a garage) any way I want to: post inspirational things on the walls or put, as you can see, a picture of you up by the machine itself.  When I'm running, I love to read quotations, my favorite being "you can't find your strength unless you're looking for it."  In fact, the entire garage door is plastered with these things:
For the most part, I train for half-marathons (and, right now, a full marathon), outside, sometimes with you and the jogging stroller, but days like today are actually good for me because they remind me of why I'm training: to be strong, brave, and resilient, just like you.

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