We met in the wake of a hip injury. I was in my last semester of undergrad at a small university in Hawaii, and in an attempt to promote recovery, he was cutting his collegiate running mileage down from 115 miles a week to 6…as in “six”. We spent our days lying on the beach, surfing and lazing around town on our beach cruisers. Our nights were spent marathon-watching 24 and Iron Chef, eating Big New Yorker Pizza Hut pizzas, completely oblivious to time.
Then his hip healed, and the truth came out: underneath the injury-induced guise of carefree nonchalance was a hardcore endurance athlete. And not just a endurance athlete hobbyist- he had plans of making a career of his athletic talent and passion.
By the time he came out of the closet about his athletic orientation, it was too late. I had already fallen in love.
Our days quickly transformed from lackadaisical freedom to rigidly scheduled time frames. “I’ll wake up and run to Waimea bay (13 miles). Can you meet me there with my bike at 9 am? We can hang out for two hours, then I’ll bike around the island (100 miles) and meet you at home for dinner,” he would say, but not before reminding me to bring him two bananas, a handful of almonds and a red Powerade. Oh, and maybe a whole, baked sweet potato or two.
Similar to the sudden metamorphosis of our days, nights went from pizza-and-TV-show-marathon-relaxation to eating fish and vegetables and him falling asleep on my shoulder at 9pm. Of course my waistline thanked this conversion, but I desperately missed Jack Bauer and the elusive mystery ingredients as my exhausted man snored away on my arm.
I can’t say it was an easy transition, but I was so in-awe of his dedication, his determination, his steel-cut abs and bulging quads that I went along for the ride.
Six years later, and I’m still on board. We got married, had a daughter (and another on the way) and moved from tropical Hawaii, to the high altitude mountains of Flagstaff so that he could pursue the life of a professional endurance athlete. I quit my job as a college professor to become a waitress. We have four college degrees between the two of us, and we live paycheck to paycheck in a rundown two bedroom home on “the wrong side of the tracks.” People think I’m crazy, but I do it because I may be the only person who believes in him as much as he believes in himself.
And I remain his biggest fan.
Just as it takes a special person to habitually wake up at 5am in a snow storm to swim 3 Kilometers, or run 22 miles in the rain, or bike 75 miles on an exceptionally windy day, I believe it takes a special person to be married to one of these crazies.
Sure, I roll my eyes when he reminds me not to put his stretchy shorts with the padded bum in the dryer. I smirk when he laments the fact that I’ve baked chocolate chip cookies during a gluten-free phase, or asks why I don’t bake more often in the weeks following a big race. I laugh when he’s standing on our front lawn wearing nothing but compression socks and short shorts, oblivious to the fact that this is a strange outfit to the general population of planet earth. I shake my head when he writes his daily mileage or desired splits with dry-erase marker on our entryway mirror. I shrug my shoulders when he’s snoring with his mouth agape at 8:30 on date night.
But for all of his idiosyncrasies and particularities, rigid scheduling and hours away on the road or in the mountains, I wouldn’t trade him for a “normal” husband (most days).
Six years have gone by, and I’m still awestruck by his perseverance, his self-motivation and borderline-crazy passion for endurance athletics. I love taking road trips with our four-year-old daughter to watch him race, or following his splits online when he’s racing far away. I love that I never have to complain about my husband being lazy, or video-game obsessed or unhealthy. I love that he finds solace in solitude, that his spiritual communion is found in the trees and wind and mountains.
I’m not going to say that being married to an endurance athlete is an easy road, but at the end of the day, it’s the only road I want to travel.