At some point in your life, you simply can't do it all by yourself. For me, this happened about the time my first daughter was born. And it was well after that I started running.
The "shorter" distances were no big deal. I could sneak out at a lunch break and no one would notice. The help was needed when it was race day. Races always seem to be on the weekend and sneaking away wasn't always a reality. My lovely wife was happy to let me get out for a couple hours early in the morning to knock out a 5k, or a big 10k. The first year or so of my adult running was done almost 100% on my own - training, racing, all of it.
It wasn't until I started pushing the distance to something that couldn't really be categorized as a long lunch that I needed help. As a parent of young kids being worn out is just not a viable option. This is where it takes two parents. Sometimes, after a long run, you just really need a nap.
I was able to do the bulk of the training for my first full during the week. Yes, even the long runs. But that meant Friday night date night pretty much never happened, and at that point Saturdays were spent doing mostly kid stuff. But on race day my family really shined. A picture is worth a thousand words, so...
Somewhere around mile 18 I had a pit crew helping me change socks and replenish my supplies.
At the time, the little one was about one. She really wanted me to run the last 8 or so miles in flip flops Tarahumara style. The big one would have been six. I don't think she tried to help me tie my shoes, but maybe my hamstring would have felt better if I had asked her to do so.
The whole crew was able to chase me down the course by car. They found the best spots to stop and cheer. (My mom and the littlest.)
I forget when in the race this next one was taken, but since I'm on the concrete I have to assume this is somewhere in the mile 22 range. I think the smile says it all.
Knowing my family was at the finish made my low points in the last 10K bearable.
Not long after the race my mom sent me an e-mail saying how proud she was of me and what I good example I was for not quitting. (And I stopped and thought... I could have quit?!?!?! That never occured to me! I bet I still would have gotten pizza!)
After that full, I distinctly remember offering my wife the chance to "do something" similar the next year. She blew me off a bit.
Training for my second full is when things got interesting. I decided to run with Team in Training. I have to confess that I did not really consider the ramifications when I signed up. Specifically that the group long runs were on Saturday morning and most were nearly an hour away. This meant I would be leaving my wife and two small kids for half a day on the weekend. To top it off, my race was a thousand miles away, so I would have to travel for several days to get there, race, recover a day, and then come home.
For the most part my wife put up with it. I was up and gone before the kids were awake (Most days. Dang kids get up early.) And most days I was pretty functional when I got home. There were several days when I put the littlest down for her nap and I would crash with her only to wake up with two wide awake kids running amok in the house and my wife wondering where I was. And we managed to even get out to a couple of dinners with friends, and some pleasant Friday night dinners out.
Race week came. I went through my typical taper induced tantrums. My wife took it all in stride. I went, I ran, I came home. (It's a long story, there's not time for that here.) And I was welcomed with open arms and the understanding that I would probably want to do it again.
And this summer, I get to return the favor. This summer I gave my wife the opportunity to train for something big. And she is. Oh boy is she ever. Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC by bike. About 190 miles over two days. (And she mocked me for running 26.2 miles.) Saturday mornings the kids come and wake me up. We do Saturday morning things involving bad TV and too much sugar. Some days mom is home in time for lunch. Some days not so much. When I think of it, I leave out a fresh water bottle and something that can be eaten quickly during the short walk from the kitchen to the shower. Sometimes Sunday is a reapeat.
I try hard to take it all in stride. I don't think I've complained out loud yet. (Because the complaint isn't really real. It's just the emotion of being with two young kids all day.) But I just realized I have only another month or so until her ride. And I think I'm hanging in there pretty well and maybe even having a bit of fun.
Sure, I'm not putting up enough firewood yet, but there will be several weeks to get that done in August and September. In the mean time, I'm having fun with the kids and watching my wife enjoy being awesome.
And it's my turn soon too...
This is the long way of saying a little bit of help can go a long way. I know there are several of the Run JunkEe club members who do not have support from home. I read their posts and I just want to give them a big hug and offer to have them drop the kids off at my place on Saturday so they can go race or enjoy a long run without the worry about what they might come home to find.
Seriously, it breaks my heart to think of these people out there getting in an honest sweat with people at home not only not understanding and appreciating the work, but resenting the time and effort being "wasted" running. This is what I think about when my wife's four hour ride pushes out to six hours. Sure, I'm irritated that my plans have to change, but I get it. I've been there. I try not to make a big deal out of it.
I know I'm not the perfect husband. I know my marraige isn't perfect. But I know I could not acheive what I have done (in running and in life) without the support of the woman I call my wife.
And if you're one of those with the unsupportive significant other feel free to use the Run JunkEe's group to vent. We can't fix it, but we can comiserate and offer a sounding board. And if you can't bring yourself to post it up, feel free to message me privately. Again, I can't fix it, but I can listen.
Run on friends. And help someone else run on too.