As promised - here is the guest post by none other than The Husband.
And I should mention that he sent this to me well over a month ago but I never got my shit together enough to post it. Until now.
You gotta love the man. He wrote A LOT. (Blogging brings out the limelight loving extrovert in us introverts.) He's a pretty good storyteller, too. So sit back, grab a cookie, and enjoy!
This is The Husband.
First of all, I believe some clarifications are in order. The Bitter Hag is truly neither bitter nor a hag. If you’ve read any of this blog, you know she’s quite amazing. She also claims to be an “introvert”. I think being a blogger sort of ruins that claim. And regarding her love of tequila and Oreos…she is actually understated in her writings.
So she asked me to write about my first marathon experience. I really have to go back 5 years to the genesis of this thing called “running”. So as I recall I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, eating chips and drinking a beer and TBH says “Hey, wanna do a 5k”?
Is this a trick question? Has she been drinking? Does she know that is like over 3 miles? Of RUNNING?
“I saw this plan on the Internet called Couch Potato to 5k. I think we could do it.”
When TBH gets an idea in her head, there is going to be earnest planning and inevitable action. And then I said the word that has serious ramifications in our relationship:
(This is how she responded when I asked her if she would marry me, but that is another story…)
I was pretty sure we’d try it for a few weeks and then the lack of time, or an injury, or the complete hatred of not being able to breathe would put a merciful end to this silly notion of being able to run for 30 minutes. In a row.
I pictured us in our Golden Years looking back at this:
“Remember when we tried to do a 5k?”
“REMEMBER WHEN WE TRIED TO DO A 5k!?!
“I don’t recall us biking.”
“NO FIVE KILOMETERS OF RUNNING!!!”
“Yeah, that hurt like hell. Why are you yelling?”
However, as it turns out, when TBH gets going, there is no stopping her. And since I like her, I tagged along. The Couch to 5k was actually quite difficult for us, but we did the program and achieved the (at the time) unthinkable.
Fast-forward a couple of years and there is a whole story about TBH and a friend signing up for a MARATHON. Tequila-based decision making is fun to witness. But I KNEW she was going to do it. And she did as fully documented in this blog. I was amazed!
So I’m watching this all take place and I see her sign up for a second marathon and I start thinking, what is it about these people that do marathons? It’s like they have this look in their eye like they know something that we don’t. They smile at the end of 26 miles. They put stickers on their cars with numbers. And clearly the “point two” is important (if the marathon was 26.23, I’m sure they’d include the extra digit). They buy funny watches with more technology than the first space missions. And they sign up for more marathons which seems counter-intuitive.
The mouse-click to sign up for the marathon was pretty simple. That was easy. Then the running began. It was pretty easy the first few weeks and even when the miles started approaching 8, 9, 10 I could still rattle them off on rainy or cold Saturday mornings. Then one day I started a run and went up a small incline and could NOT catch my breath. I kept trying for a week and it just got worse. Went to the doctor and he said to take a couple weeks off. I really had no choice, but that was going to put me way behind on my plan. So I became one of those first time marathoners who are constantly worrying that they aren’t training enough. I probably drove TBH a little crazy. She told me “everything will be fine”. That’s what they always say. I remained skeptical.
I started eating oddly named food call Gu and gels and chews in little packages during long runs. I began referred to food as “fuel”. I created routines that had to be followed. I analyzed the color of my pee. I went to bed early on Friday nights. I became crazy. I was becoming a marathoner.
I “caught up” the best I could on my training plan and after a 20 mile slog in 90 degree heat in Rochester, I figured I could finish Grandma’s if it wasn’t that hot. So of course I analyzed the average daily temperature and record highs for Duluth for June 16th…”honey, unless we have a record, I think we are going to be ok!” I shout from another room, which was met by “everything will be fine”. (If she rolled her eyes, it is understandable.)
So the race…we had over an entire day of waiting which was actually fun and relaxing. Life sort of speeds by and the next thing I know is I’m waiting to get on a bus and starting to feel like an imposter. Everyone looks so calm and is joking around. I’m getting nervous and am not looking forward to sitting for an hour in the grass until start time. We finally get off the bus and the throngs of people are milling about and doing the rituals they have to do (like putting on copious amounts of Vaseline, I swear a guy grabbed multiple goops the size of a baseball). The clock is ticking and I am getting antsy to go. A hard-to-hear national anthem, a fly-over, a tightly packed starting line, and Charlie Brown’s teacher saying something over the intercom, but we are off!
I didn’t think about the fact that I was trying to run 26.2 miles or that it was certainly going to take roughly 5 hours of running, I just ran one mile at a time. Self-coaching takes over. Don’t go too fast. Enjoy the day. You only have to do this once. People are rooting for you. People aren’t going to believe I finished. One mile at a time.
The initial miles flew by. The first 5k was a blip and we were going at a good pace (for me at least). TBH was going to go for a 4:30 time and I told her to run her race, but she hung back with me and was helpful and it was awesome to run with her. The first 10 miles were over before I knew it. It was fun to run over the mats that you knew meant text messages were being sent to friends and family. In the first half of the marathon I don’t remember much other than the women dropping their shorts and peeing on the side of the road. That’s pretty hard core. I guess the REALLY hard core ones just let it rip while running.
So we are half done with the marathon and our time is 2:20. I’m thinking to myself that my secret goal of finishing in under 5 hours is going to be super easy. I was going to be fine if I ran a 5:10, but still though under 5 would sound better. But the first half was much easier than the second.
The miles started to take their toll on my knees. I was looking forward to the mile markers a little too much, and they were certainly feeling like they were getting further apart. We walked the water stops and around miles 17, 18, 19 it was painful to convert from running to walking, and I was downright Frankenstein-like changing back into running. TBH gave me her last 2 Advil (I dropped mine somehow) and the race support was awesome with the bananas, oranges, ice and water. The 5 hour marathon was starting to be doubted.
Making it to mile 20 was huge. I knew I could finish if I could get to 20. The crowd support got a little rowdier which was good (but no thanks, I’ll pass on the bacon, beer and the cigarette that was offered). Each mile the pain got a little worse, but was bearable and I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS DAMN THING.
Snaking the way around downtown Duluth to the finish is every bit as annoying as people had warned. But I was getting close. I’m wondering what to do for “skeleton pain”. And I’m dreaming of an ice bath. And a martini. No, two martinis.
Over the last mile I was looking for one of my sons who surprised me with a text message at 4:30 in the morning that read “I’m in Duluth!”. TBH and I made the last turn to the straight-away and I saw him and his friends cheering wildly. I teared up, high fived him, and ran the final .2 feeling great. And we beat 5 hours. It was very, very cool.
I ran a marathon.
I am an introvert, but I wore my medal to dinner. Maybe the marathon changes you a little bit. Oh yeah, I put one of those 26.2 stickers on my car. I don’t care if people think it’s bragging, I earned it. The marathon was hard, but easy compared to the training. I used to think “I could never do that”, “that will ruin my knees”, “I don’t have the time”, but I know that anyone can run a marathon if they put in the time. But one training tip - it does help if you have a smokin’ hot running partner!