Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Running (and life) Partner

Included in my long list of excuses why I couldn't maintain a running routine in Iowa City was that I had not found a running partner the likes of which I had enjoyed at home in Oregon. Within weeks of moving to Iowa, I adopted a sloth-like lifestyle that comes with sitting in long doctoral seminars, camping out at Starbucks with books and papers while sucking down mochas, and meeting to vent about doctoral studies with other doc students at one of about 100 pubs and restaurants downtown. Never mind that there were a few rock star runners, cyclists, and triathletes in my program--I was consumed by the life of the mind. And cheese fries.

Woe is me, right? Wrong! Because, literally right beside me, was someone who was eager to get healthy too. My 6'5" husband also suffers from inertia brought on by marital bliss, parenthood, and the stress eating that happens after life events like when his fantasy football and favorite team's quarterback, Tony Romo, breaks his collarbone and shatters his dreams (my husband's, mind you, though I'm sure Tony was bummed as well) of winning his office pool for the second year in a row. He and I are also of the age where we know it would be a good idea to be fit for health's sake, not simply so we can look good in da club. So, we talk about getting healthy. We make statements like, "Babe, I feel fat." We have even gone so far as to join a gym, follow Weight Watchers, complete Jillian Michael's circuit training, and watch infomercials about P90X. And then we don't sustain it. And the reasons range from getting knocked up (me) to working nights (him) to just being lulled to complacency by our low cholesterol and blood pressure tests (both).

2010 brought some events that really made us want to change: He turned 40, I got cancer, to name a few. So, with the New Year came a new resolve to really do something about it this time. We were going to make the time to work out and when My Sole Sister was born, I suggested that we run together. After all, he had a running history as well. He spent 12 years on active duty in the Army, where he ran most every day, keeping fit, and even serving as a drill sergeant where he learned inspiring commands like, "LET'S GO, PRIVATE TACO BELLLLLL!" So he was all for it. In theory.  Enter last Sunday's assignment from Sole Sister #3 and me getting off the phone with my running assignment in hand:

Kyle (walking up the stairs toward the kitchen for a coffee warm-up): "Hey honey, what's the plan for today?"
Me: "I think we should start running. Right now."
Kyle (with incredulous look on his face and pointing outside): "Today? Are you crazy? It's 4 f*%^$#!ing degrees outside!"
Me: "Well, we live in Iowa, so we'll bundle up. Anyways, I'm going. I'm going to run 1 mile before noon, around our neighborhood and you're invited."

Now he's like an animal, walking toward the bait in a live trap. He wants it, I can tell, but he's also afraid. He begins to pace, flinging defenses left and right. He is grasping for control, but he can smell the tasty bait of longevity that awaits him in the trap. I continue digging through my dresser for my gear while he dodges the trap as best he can:

Kyle: "You realize I'm not going to be able to run the whole mile, right?"
Me: "Yeah, I figure we might have to walk some, and that's ok."
Kyle: "And my sweatshirt weighs a good six pounds!"
Me: "Really? I would have guessed around four."
Kyle: "And you do realize that when it's 4 f*&^%$!ing degrees outside, the sweat freezes to your skin and leaves you shivering?"
Me: "Well, don't forget to put a Dri-fit layer on under that super-heavy sweatshirt."

And then, he uttered the last stand of a not-so-fit guy: "Just so you know, I will never, ever wear running tights or other snug-fitting running gear. I'm just not going to be that guy." To which I replied, "And that's one of the reasons I love you. Now let's go."

And we were off. And the thing is, it was fine. We ran 3/4 of a mile and then walked the last couple blocks, no big deal, talking the whole way. And we made a date for Tuesday to do it again. And Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. No gym membership, no circuit training, no points-counting for now. Just a couple of happily-marrieds hitting the road.


  1. I love it! Congrats to both of you!

  2. SO inspiring. Really! I pretended yesterday that I received the same email assignment, asked my Grandma to stay an extra half hour with Zoey, and went out for a two-mile round-trip jog. It felt great...hoping to do it again tomorrow! Thanks ladies!

  3. I loved this slice of life story! I can just picture the scene:) I am glad that you are able to spend time together while also getting back into running.

    Caffeinated Mommy I am glad that you found a way to be able to go for a job as well!