High: 66° FAri and I were halfway through our morning run when the groundhog (Marmota monax) raced across our path. I’m enough of an amateur runner to not use that last verb lightly. Racing is what you do when put speed and stamina to the test in search of a personal best. I don’t know that the groundhog was necessarily doing those things, but I want to believe he was—mostly because he ran a heck of a lot faster than I ever could.
Low: 40° F
Conditions: Mostly sunny and calm.
That’s not saying a huge amount, of course. I’ve always been a tortoise kind of girl in a sport filled with long, lithe hares. That’s suited me just fine, and even Ari feigns patience with me as we churn out our 9-minute training miles for an hour or so every other day. If dogs could break a sweat, this one certainly wouldn’t when out with me. Still, running together is a great way to see the world, and I at least believe one of us is getting exercise—even if that person will never compete with those lean runners in the front of the pack at any race.
Being bested by a lissome coed in matching shorts and jogbra is one thing. Getting smoked by a pudgy rodent with squat little legs too small for his body is quite another. Still, that’s precisely what happened today.
As usual, it was the caninaturalist who first spotted the only other runner on the road. She took off in bounding pursuit, trailing me and my exercise induced asthma loudly behind. For the briefest fraction of a second, it looked like we might be gaining on Mr. Groundhog. But then he was gone. Or he should have been gone. No, this brazen icon of spring was so confident in his speed that he opted to slow down long enough to stare us down from a nearby rock wall. Nature trash-talking, if you will. Naturally, Ari and I were both furious. We barked in unison, but to no avail. This groundhog was smug—you could tell.
We’re used to rodent bravado around here. Unlike Punxsatawny Phil, who finds himself pried out of burrow each February, our groundhogs lounge deep underground until about this time every year. Then, they start popping up one by one along the local roads and highways, surveying their fiefdoms and chastising all who pass by. By the height of summer, it’s not uncommon to pass 20 of them on a drive about that long in miles. We’ve always been amused by this assertive sense of self—this projection of confident entitlement. That is, until it clearly critiqued our morning exercise regimen.
The groundhog waited until we were almost on top of him before leaping into his giant hole. Ari was halfway inside herself before I had enough oxygen to persuade her come back out. Frankly, we’re both still smarting over the incident. Tonight, we carbo load. Tomorrow, we will be avenged.