When Your Husband Means Well…

Who doesn't love roses?

A couple of disclaimers:

1.  Before the race a couple of day ago, my husband and I had never run together.

2.  I am not a natural athlete.  He is. 

When I started running about 6 months ago, he was there with our dog to witness my first half block.  That was it.  A half block and I went home—wheezing, sweating, but elated; I did it.

Another time, again with our dog, he walked up and down the adjacent boulevard at night to keep me company in the dark as I ran for 45 minutes.

He’s also been there to cheer on my three triathlon finishes.  (For more info, see Three Triathlons…)

But we’d never run together.

I’ve been working really hard to increase my speed.  Between the first and third official triathlon results, I improved by 2.02 minutes per mile.  (I’m still very slow; my time went from 15:31 minutes to 13:29 minutes but I’m satisfied with my progress in two and a half months.)   

Tick, tock.

As part of my training, I signed up for a local 5K (3.1 miles) race.  So did he. 

His ankle had been bothering him, so he thought it would be a good opportunity to “hang out” with me.

For this race, there was no chip; everyone started in a layered pack.  The organizers called for the seven minute milers at the front; then the 8 minute ones, the nines, the tens; then lumped everyone over eleven at the back.  That’s where I positioned myself and obviously, this was not a place he was used to “hanging out”.

He urged me to move up. 

            HIM:  Don’t you want to start at the front?

            ME:  I’m not that fast.

            HIM:  Are you sure you want to start this far back?

            ME:  This is where they said to be.

            HIM:  Always the rule follower.

            ME:  Let’s just stay here for now. 

            HIM:  You sure?

            ME:  You know, honey, if I’m going to hold you back, go on up.

            HIM:  Seriously?

            ME:  Yes.  I’m used to running alone.

            HIM:  Thinking, tempted.  No.  I said I’d run with you, and that’s what I’ll do.

The run was on the community walking/biking trail.  At the start of the race, an announcement was made to watch out for the center posts.

            HIM:  Honey, make sure to watch out for the posts.

            ME:  I think I can avoid the posts.

Yes, I’d run into one with my bike, but that had been months ago, and I wasn’t on my bike.

The race started and the pack slowly started moving forward.

            HIM:  Are you excited?

            ME:  No, I’m a little nervous.

            HIM:  You’re doing great.

We started faster than I’d ever run before and within minutes I had a hitch in my side.  Then we went up a hill.  I was breathing heavy.

            HIM:  You’re breathing awfully heavy.  Are you okay?

            ME:  I’m fine.

            HIM:  Let’s pick up the pace, okay?

            ME:  I’m going as fast as I can.

            HIM:  Maybe you could straighten your posture and lift your legs higher.

            ME:  I’m going as fast as I can.

            HIM:  Okay, okay.  I know you are.

Finally we came to the one mile mark.  A volunteer yelled out our time as we passed.  12:30.

I knew it.  I was going a LOT faster.  A whole minute faster than my previous time only a couple of weeks earlier.  I looked down and noticed an untied shoelace.

            ME:  Darn it.  My shoe lace is untied.  I have to stop and tie it.

            HIM:  It’ll only take a few seconds.

            ME:  It’ll ruin my whole time.

            HIM:  I don’t know why you didn’t double-knot your laces.

Inspected before the race.

There were more hills as we approached Mile 2.  I could feel myself running slower.  Volunteers held out cups of water.

            HIM:  Want some water?

            ME:  No.

            HIM:  You sure?

            ME:  Maybe on the way back.

We ran on.  We were warned to watch out for uneven terrain.

            HIM:  Honey, watch out.  The ground’s going to be uneven.

            ME:  I heard.

            HIM:  Just watch out, though. 

            ME:  Grunting as I’m trying to breathe.  Right.

A few steps later.  I mean, a few steps.

            HIM:  Here’s some rough ground. 

The concrete was crumbled in places…

            ME:  I see it.

            HIM:  Just be careful.

            ME:  Okay!

            HIM:  Sounding hurt.  I just don’t want you to fall.

            ME:  I know.  Thanks.

Finally we turned around heading back; over halfway.  This time, I grabbed some water and promptly choked on it, but ran on, spitting and coughing.

            HIM:  Do you want to stop?

            ME:  No.

            HIM:  Are you sure?

            ME:  No… keep… going.

I could hardly breathe.

Finally we entered the third mile.  I was huffing and puffing, and I couldn’t remember my legs feeling this heavy ever before.  We went up a winding, turning hill that seemed to go on forever.  At the top of the hill was a bridge. 

            ME:  I have to walk.

            HIM:  What? You can do it.  Keep going. 

He was already walking to my labored run.

            ME:  Just across the bridge.  Can’t move.  My legs.

            HIM:  You sure?

My answer was to walk across the bridge, breathing heavy.

As soon as we crossed it, and I started a very slow recovery jog, my effervescent husband tried to encourage me.

            HIM:  Okay, let’s pick it up and see if we can double our pace.

            ME:  No.

            HIM:  Come on; you can do it.

            ME:  I’m going as fast as I can.

            HIM:  You’re exerting way too much energy for how slow you’re going.

            ME:  I’m doing the best I can. 

            HIM:  You’re pumping your arms too much.

            ME:  Stop.

            HIM:  Well, I just think—

            ME:  Gasping.  I don’t want to talk… about—it—right—now.

            HIM:  You don’t have to snap at me.

            ME:  Sorry.

The sweat was pouring down my face and stinging my eyes.  My husband looked fresh and cool conversing with all the volunteers encouraging us to finish.  It was an effort for me to smile at them.

Finally we could see the crowd near the end.  I knew what my husband was thinking, but he didn’t dare say a word.  Something else pushed me forward as I tried to go faster.

            HIM:  Hey, you’re kicking it up.

            ME:  Uh, huh.

            HIM:  Good for you, honey. 

            ME:  Uh, huh.

He purposefully crossed the finish line after me and I had a new personal best by one second:  13:28.  Darn the untied shoelace, the water-choking incident, and why had I succumbed to walking across that bridge? 

I accepted a bottle of water from a volunteer and collapsed on the grass.  My husband danced from foot to foot and told me I needn’t be so cross with him; he was only trying to help. 

Dear man, I know he’s always thinking of my best interests, but… what could I say?  Discussing my shortcomings and how I could improve my performance when I could barely utter a grunt was not on my race agenda.  I apologized and thanked him all at once and asked for another bottle of water.  For the first time after an event, I thought I might throw up. 

My husband flashed his brilliant boyish smile—the one I fell in love with.  “Hey, I hear they have some killer chili dogs.  You hungry?”   

Maybe not right after the race...


Next weekend we’re both registered for a 5.5 mile trail run in a beautiful park.  We made a mutual decision not to race together. 

…but maybe someday when I get faster.  🙂

~ JD here.


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10 Responses to When Your Husband Means Well…

  1. Candace says:

    You get a commendation for being a good sport and becoming a lady jock!

  2. Don-san says:

    Great story. You shoulda had the chili dog.


  3. Janean says:

    MEN!!!! ACK!!! I love you. I know he does too. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey too. I can so picture it. You are brave and brilliant and my hero. *even though I’m not going to take up running, no way, nuh huh, no how*

    • JD says:

      I love you too, Janean! Thanks for your support, making me laugh, and confirming I am NOT alone! I didn’t start this particular adventure until, well, I guess I was still 55. So… no pressure from me to run! 🙂

  4. Judy says:

    Gayla…keep going….at your own pace. So proud of you.

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