My husband is a runner; I stop my car at the end of the driveway to get the mail. I consider myself efficient. He has a 26.2 sticker on his car; I have a 0.0 sticker on mine. His idea of stress relief is hitting the pavement for a dozen miles; mine is reading a good book or playing my piano. When we travel to a new place, his first priority is finding a half marathon to run; I’m looking for good shopping and scenic views. He pours over every issue of “The Roadrunner”; I play Bingo on my Surface.
Running has been the best thing my husband has ever done for himself, except for marrying me. He has lost eighty pounds, gained a ton of self-confidence, and probably added decades to his life. His passion is greater than a hobby; it has become a lifestyle. He used to be more introverted; now he has been on a two day run with eleven strangers and lived out of van. Our daughter run-walks 5K’s with him, and she has even won a medal. He has motivated more people than he knows to get off the couch and lose weight. He has inspired me to find and pursue my own dreams.
When he first started running, I faced a never-ending stream of “Why don’t you run?” and “Oh, you would LOVE running!” I was incessantly being proselytized, and I resented it. I was there, supportive, cheering all the runners, and I did not want to feel I had to defend my lack of interest in participating in it. At first I ended up facing the same thing at home. My response? You have what you love, I have what I love, and we support one another. I’m not going to nag you to take piano lessons!
I have learned to adopt a different attitude with other runners. I know you love what you are doing; it gives you so many positive things, and you want to share that with the world. But now my answer is simple and unarguable. “I don’t run because I don’t want to.” People cannot argue with that.
I have learned so many things from his running that have benefitted me. Some of the warm-up exercises, the diet changes, the salves for aches and pains, the better shoes…these have had a positive impact on everyone in our home. We take better care of ourselves.
So, while I may view running as a medieval form of torture, the sport has had a tremendous influence in my life. I have met new people and made new friends. I love being at the start line and the finish line. A few years ago, my husband ran his first full marathon. I was at the 17 mile marker, completely oblivious to his breakdown, cheering the hundreds of runners coming by. We waited and waited, and I started worrying. Then, finally, I saw him. Hobbling, walking, drained. We gave him a huge pep talk, screamed his name and cheered him on, and then went confidently to the finish line to wait…because we knew he would finish. When he did, we celebrated.
I have jumped off the sidewalk and yelled positive affirmations to a runner falling apart within sight of the finish, and felt the inexplicably personal satisfaction of seeing him pick it back up and finish. I stood at another finish line and cried at the overwhelming emotion I experienced watching a Boston Qualifier fall just yards from the finish, struggle to his feet, fall again, and have three people assist him to walk the final steps just under the required time.
Although I am out there for my husband, I am also oddly vested in the success of every stranger. From the ten year old who finishes fifth overall, to the lady running barefooted, to the man with neon green knee socks…I am out there rooting for everyone. So I can look forward to seeing you all at my next piano recital, right? Just remember not to cheer until the end!