Tag: ultra-running couple

Ultra Love

Ultra Love

Love was in the air these last couple of weeks, particularly with last Wednesday being Valentine’s Day.  During the week, I got thinking about how “love” and Valentine’s Day probably look a lot different for runners than for the average person or couple.  As part of this in depth analysis, I made a list of how my husband shows his love for me in a way that only an (ultra) running couple could understand.

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”

  1. When you let me have the first shower after a long muddy trail run.
  2. When you show sympathy and don’t laugh when I squeal like a stuck pig as I find all the chaffing during said hot shower.  And how you’re kind enough to help me apply neosporin to the places that chaffed because I couldn’t reach them the first time when applying body glide.
  3. When you never complain that I use nearly all the hot water on the block during the aforementioned hot shower (I know, I really love the shower thing).
  4. When you carefully sort all of my precious running gear out of the washer and hang it on every spare surface in the house because you know that it never goes in the dryer.
  5. When you grab my manky wet shoes and fill them with newspaper to help them dry faster.
  6. When you’re willing to wait an extra 45 minutes after a race for me to also be hungry before we stop to eat, even though I know you’re starving.
  7. When your answer to a meal is always pizza and beer or nachos.
  8. When you humor me by wearing hat, sunglasses, bug spray, sunscreen, and even padded shirts during runs because you know I just want you to be safe. . .even though the guys tease you by saying you have to wear a corset.
  9. When you understand that even though you love nothing better than to run and talk about puppies and flowers and cowies (apparently when you frolic on a run, all animal names must end with “ies”) during a run, that all I want to do is to kick you in the shins if you tell me about another tree, and then remain quiet for the remaining miles.
  10. When you don’t mind that our car smells like old feet.
  11. When you give up the last gel, gu, or electrolyte mix because you think it might be my favorite.
  12. When you wait for me at the finish line, no matter how far behind you I might be or how grumpy I am post race.
  13. When you agree to run every crazy, stupid, foolish race I find on ultrasignup and never complain and always see it as an adventure waiting to happen . . . even if it’s 50 miles on a beach, in the hot sun, and we’re still cleaning sand out of unfortunate places a year later.
  14. When you know that bringing home a single rose with an “I love you” teddy bear, a box of donuts, and a bottle of strawberry wine for Valentine’s Day will win my heart every time.

It is true that we runners (and especially ultra-runners) are strange and fierce and wondrously made creatures.  And in this world, we two creatures have made a life together out of trail dirt, tech fabrics, blisters, running gu, and liters of sweat.  And after sharing so many miles with my husband and the promise of so many more, I can say with great confidence say, “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach . . .” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning).

Frosty the “Joel Man”

Frosty the “Joel Man”

So being the Ultra running couples’ blog, it was time that Hubs stepped up to share his “pearls of wisdom” with the virtual running community.  Joel felt particularly motivated this week to share his experiences with cold weather running after much whining in our household about having to go out to run in the single digit and teen temps, with possible snow and gross temperatures on the horizon for this weekend.  And naturally, the treadmill is never an option.  What follows is from the Joel Man, describing his experiences with cold weather running during Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K.

“The recent Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K may have been the coldest run I’ve ever done.  The temps that morning put a little hesitation in me as I’m sure it did to others who showed up for the run.  As with all other cold runs I’ve done, the hardest part was just getting started.  Just getting past the dread.

When we began running at 8:00 am my toes and hands were in a lot of pain.  I wondered if I could do this and wondered why I was even there.  But as all runners know, the coldest part is the standing around before, and especially after.  After about 2 miles my hands and feet felt okay.  I was sweating.  My body was warming up even in the 6 degree temps.  That’s when I felt, “I got this”.

For most of the 3 x 10 mile laps (we refer to each 10 mile lap as a ‘Dirk’ in honor of the founder and race Director, Dirk Hayes – to complete a full “Fat Ass 50K” – you have to pay homage to Dirk three times), I was running with the legendary David Jones.  He was wearing black and I could see he had ice all over his back.  In all honesty, I saw a lot of his back on that day.  I felt my own shirt and found that it too was frozen (like a wet towel stuffed in a freezer).  It may sound scary to think of being in 6 degree temps and covered with frozen sweat, but in reality, the ice probably provided an extra layer of insulation (think – Eskimos build their houses out of this stuff).

This day reinforced my philosophy that if you are facing a cold run, just get started!  You are much colder just standing around dreading the experience.”

Preach Hubs!  The hardest part is just before the beginning.  It isn’t getting any warmer folks and the Spring Races will be here before we know it, so in the multi-billion dollar words of Nike – “Just Do It!”

The “Two-Body” Problem

The “Two-Body” Problem

“In classical mechanics, the two-body problem is to determine the motion of two point particles that interact only with each other”.  In academia, the two-body problem (career) refers to “the difficulty of both spouses obtaining jobs at the same university or within a reasonable commuting distance from each other”.  So what is the two-body problem for runners . . . other than the motion of two people that interact only with each other?

When both partners are runners and compete and train together, there are a number of dilemmas that can develop.  In this post, I will address the challenges and triumphs of having two runners that run and train to compete in the same  ultra/endurance events.  Let’s start with the frivolous:

1.)  With both partners intensely training for ultramarathons, the level of laundry that is produced and needs to be completed each day is astronomical.  And don’t get me started on the water bill associated with long hot showers/baths.

2.)  The cost, that equates to two sets of EVERYTHING.  Two sets of fancy shoes, wool composite socks, hydration packs, tech shirts, moisture wicking shirts, race entries, goo, gels, hats, sunglasses, liters of sunscreen  . . . the list is infinite.

3.)  The chores get away.  Nobody likes chores.  No matter how many blisters I have, I will always prefer a run to mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom.  My husband is the same . . . the lawn sometimes gets scary and we may have misplaced one of our dogs last summer.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper.  How does running and training affect the marriage/relationship?  I think if both halves have the right mind-set, then the value add of sharing racing and training can be enormous.  But if either partner loses focus on the relationship, then things can become dicey.

First, the good:

4.)  Running together can produce endorphins, which leads to arousal, which is definitely good for a relationship.

5.)  Sharing a victory or a tough race builds memories and teamwork for us, particularly on challenging races where the possibility of failure, injury, or getting lost is very real.  We have had races where we work together to stay on course, help an injured runner, or just plain survive the nastiness of blackberry thorns, muddy ATV-shredded hills, and cold, dark night runs.  Those are the races we always remember the most fondly.

6.) We bear witness to the essence of our partner. Susan Sarandon’s character in Shall We Dance states, “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”  Running allows us to bear witness to both the greatest triumphs and failures of our partner.  I have DNF’d while my husband has run the greatest race of his career.  We have shared bruised ribs, debilitating blisters, chaffing of parts unspeakable, dry heaving, and conquering races that have tested our limits as people and runners.  In these moments of triumph and spectacular failure, I know my husband and he knows me.  We know each other at our most glorious and most unlikable.  So be assured, when life throws us curve balls of sickness or lost jobs, debt or despair, we know how the other will react, and that we will handle whatever comes our way with dogged determination.  That knowledge of the solidity and resilience of our relationship is a gift.

The not so good:

7.)  Competition.  A little bit of spousal competition is good.  It breeds more focus and determination and training, which leads to subsequent excellence.  But too much competition and things can turn ugly.  In a marriage, to compete with your spouse is to know that by you succeeding, your spouse is failing.  In racing or in life, I never want my spouse to fail.  When he fails, we fail.

8.)  Misguided expectation.  When couples don’t set reasonable expectations for a race or training run, there can be resentment.  If one person expects the other to stay with them no matter what . . . and they get dumped halfway into a run, it can get ugly.  My husband and I always try to set reasonable expectations.  If my husband is running well, I want him to drop my like I’m hot and run.  I want him to run without consideration of how I will feel without him.  I want him to run his race.  I also want him to give me the same freedom to run unencumbered and without obligation when I hit my stride.  By letting my spouse run the race he has in them that day, we allow ourselves the ability to be our best.

Cheers to the runners

Cheers to the runners

Whenever you begin a new journey (or run) there must always be a first.  A first step.  A first introduction.  A first foray out into the unknown.  This year has led to many firsts for my husband and I.  We have run our first multi-day event (the Jackals Marathons – 5 marathons in 5 days), this will be our first year as official Marathon coaches for our local running store, this is my first year as a manager, and my first year as an InknBurn brand ambassador.  And more pertinent to this moment, a first blog post.

My husband and I have shared many wonderful and daunting moments in the 6 years we have been married and through it all, our old friend “running” has kept us moving forward and connected.  We hope to use this blog to share some of the comedy and crazy that comes when you have two ultra-runners sharing the journey together and how sharing thousands of miles  and bearing witness to the other’s life on our journey has led to a connection beyond any  we could have imagined.  So on this, our inaugural blog post, we propose a toast:  “Cheers to the runners, a community like no other.  You have given us far more than we could have thought possible and have taken us to places both physical and mental that we did not know existed.  Bring on the miles and the smiles as we begin another foray into the unknown.  Cheers!” Continue reading “Cheers to the runners”