“Free to a good home,” I typed on my Facebook home page. “One BOB running stroller. Well-loved.” I sniffled a little as I thought about that BOB, and the miles my girls and I had put in it together. Although I spent a lot of time excited for the days I could run without it, now I’d do anything for my kids to be small enough for just one more lap around the block with the BOB.
When my oldest daughter was born, the thought of putting her in the gym childcare center made me physically recoil. At odds with my desires to get some much needed exercise and to keep my eyes on her at all times, one sunny afternoon I strapped her car seat into my Jeep jogging stroller and pushed her around the block.
What follows is a familiar tale. The walk became a run. A short run became a long run. I got faster and stronger, and by the time my baby was two, a daily run in the stroller was part of our routine. I got acclimated to running with her just in time to get pregnant with my youngest daughter.
After my youngest was born, I forked over an embarrassing amount of cash for the Cadillac of jogging strollers: the double BOB. Although expensive, it ran like a dream. I could turn on a dime and push the stroller with one hand.
Every day, I stuffed both kiddos into the stroller, gave my oldest some raisins and my youngest a binky, and we walked/ran the same five mile loop from my house.
It wasn’t always picturesque; once the safety leash fell out and I stepped on it, jerking both kids out of their naps. And once we were almost done with our run when a neighbor came out and yelled, “Look out! I just saw a mountain lion!” … I think I broke a double stroller world record that day.
Although I often bemoaned its size and weight (between both kids, the baby’s car seat and all their accoutrements, it weighed almost 90 pounds), the BOB became a part of our family. It traveled on multiple airplanes so I could run at my parents’ house in Maryland. It was one of the first things I unpacked when my family moved to a new house across town, and it was what we used to explore our new neighborhood and meet our new neighbor … a giant feral hog.
The contents of its pockets changed as my kids grew, holding first pacifiers and teething biscuits, then bags of cereal and wildflowers that I stopped to pick for them along our runs. I often took full advantage of the quick braking system when the kids were potty training and had to stop to pee in the woods. I also stopped a few times, especially in the early postpartum days, so I could pee in the woods. The BOB’s enormous size was perfect for one of us to crouch behind.
The BOB acted as a bassinet for my newborns, a library for my learning-to-read preschoolers, and a personal trainer for me; just the act of pushing it every day made my arms and abs stronger than they’d ever been.
Other people had strange reactions to the double BOB. Since I ran the same loop every day, I also passed a lot of the same neighbors. A well-meaning but kind of pervy older guy always told me to “Go on and get sexy!”
A woman who cared for her invalid father in a motorized wheelchair often struck up a conversation. “Are you an Army Ranger?” she once asked, explaining that the only other person she knew who’d train with a double stroller was an Army Ranger (I’m not by the way).
Once, a driver passed me and for some reason felt offended that I had the audacity to attempt to share the road with her. She slammed on her brakes, got out of her car and yelled “Get out of the road!” at me. My kids were unfazed, but I finished my route in tears, wishing I’d had the courage to do something besides stare in awe.
I sometimes passed people running on a local running trail, and once a man stopped me at the end and said, “I can’t believe I just got passed by a mom with a double stroller.”
Last week, my now eight-year-old and I were walking the dog, and she stopped to pick some flowers. “Remember when we used to do this in the stroller, Mom? And you’d help us count all the deer we passed? I miss that.”
I smiled and gave her a hug. “Me too, love. Me too.”
What are your best memories from stroller running? If you’re past it, do you miss it?