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I have spent a lot of time recently remembering my pre-child life. For most of my youth, I was under the mistaken impression that once you became a parent, you magically forgot that you’d had a whole life before them.
Not so. I remember and I remember well. And from what I remember, we never ran together.
This in spite of the fact that my husband ran Division 1 track. This in spite of the fact that I was just as into running then as I am now. This in spite of the fact that we have always run together in various 5ks and 10ks and the occasional 5-miler. In spite of all these facts, my husband claims to hate running.
We go to the gym together and he chooses a mile run on the treadmill followed by an hour of lifting and a half hour of basketball while I slog out all two hours of gym daycare time on the treadmill. My very own husband finds running “boring, repetitive and painful.” Traitor, thy name is Rob.
Despite his protests, I want to be one of “those families”--the ones who run together on the bike path on Saturday afternoons, who fill up all of their leisure time with outdoor family fun. Of course, to meet this Hanna Anderson-catalog-launched goal, mommy and daddy have to have been one of those couples first.
So I have taken to training my husband. In three weeks Rob will run our town’s Christmas-themed 5k together and I have volunteered to get my man all spiffy and race ready.
His 5k PR is around a 25:30 with zero training beforehand, so both he and I are hoping that we can get his time down into the 24’s. As for me? I am hoping to go sub-22. It is a huge (5,000 person) race and for the first time, I planning to run in the front of the pack in order to try to meet my time goal. Rob’s plan is to run alongside me for as long as he can.
Our training thus far has consisted of one side-by-side treadmiller. He ran about a 6.3 with 0 incline with me screaming “FASTER, FASTER” while wildly flailing my arms and saying things about losers and winners and quitters that he did not hear because he had headphones covering his ears anyway.
Clearly, I made an impression (or didn’t) because he was willing to run with me again a few days later when we were at my family’s lake house for thanksgiving.
We ran 10-miles total in head-to-toe orange blaze (yes it is hunting season in rural Maine) and although I spent much of the race wishing someone would accidentally shoot me so I did not have to spend another living moment in fluorescent orange, the runs were productive for the most part. Or, at least mine were. Most of Rob’s time was spent complaining about his knee pain and trying not to look as annoyed as he probably felt.
“It gets easier,” I promise him as we huff up the longest hill known to man, which is about one mile into my favorite lake house six-miler. It doesn’t really, but I want to give him a reason to hope.
I am pretty sure trainers aren’t supposed to lie, but this is when I like to invoke my wife status, which trumps trainer status. A wife can lie.
“Don’t worry honey, you are doing great!” I tell him, again invoking my wifely right to fib.
“Is it normal for my foot to stick out like this?” Rob asked later as we both notice the fact, which had somehow escaped his notice for the previous 32 years, that his left foot is almost completely turned to the outside. Who knew?
“Ignore it,” I say, less like a trainer and more like a giver of really bad advice.
We press on.
A couple days later, on our four-mile run, Rob loses all form and starts complaining of cramping. “I think I drank too much water,” he says gasping for air.
I am reminded of the 15-mile hike we did in Alaska two years before. We left ourselves about 5 hours to hike all 15 rugged mountainous miles and brought neither food nor drink. My kind of hiking. Rob, on the other hand, was delirious by the end and had to drink about 32 lemonades while lying half naked in the car complaining about his ears ringing. Not a trooper, my man.
I blow past him, pumping Lady Gaga.
“Move it, sissy!” I yell wondering if the gravel hitting the back of my knees is from me kicking it up or him throwing handfuls of it at my back.
When I complete my run, I am home for 20 minutes before my tall, orange-clad hubby returns to the homestead, dragging his lame foot with him.
“I’m done,” he says.
I, however, refuse to admit defeat. He will run again. He will train. And he will meet his goal.
We both have new goals, too. I am working on not letting my insane flag fly QUITE so high and he is learning not to whine quite so much. I am fairly certain that when our 5k comes, we will both be pleased with our progress.
On the other hand, our new regime has perhaps uncovered the sad true reason he never runs with me: our marriage would never survive it.
Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer, a mother and an unabashed, unashamed runaholic. Check her progress each week as she trains to qualify for the Boston Marathon.