Sunday, November 1, 2009

Marathon Family

I'm in the hotel room. Joel rests nearby, taking a very necessary nap. I'm sitting here next to a lamp, attempting to type quietly. This is very challenging, because, as Paul will quickly attest, I like to "bang the shit" out of these keys. Apparently, I bang "N" with extra intensity, because it has lost half of its N-ness. It must be because I use so many "N" words like: necrophilia, neuter, nemesis, Nancy, and Nebuchadnezzar.

The rest of my family---Paul, Owen, my mother-in-law, and father-in-law--- are out having lunch to celebrate the successful completion of Paul's eighth marathon, (at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia). It would not be much of a celebration if our sleep-deprived Attila was along for the ride, so Joel and I gracefully bowed out.

Without further ado...The Race Report

Paul, once again, impressed me with his feats of badassery. You can review previous running exploits here  if that's your thing.

He continued to do well today, running this marathon in THREE HOURS. That translates to less than seven minute miles, I think. (I'm neither an athlete nor a mathematician). This is seven minutes less than his previous personal best of 3:07 (which he ran last April in Boston).

I know! Are you kidding me? It's absurd.

And you know what he said, as soon as he stepped away from the finish line? "If I had run 15 seconds faster, I would have done a sub-3 marathon."

"You have nothing to complain about here," I reminded him.

"I know," he replied. And with that statement, any disappointment or self-pity was removed from the equation. Already, I could see him thinking about the minor tweaks and adjustments he would make for his next training cycle, his next marathon.

We looked to see if he had placed in his age group, since he had come in 14th overall out of a field of 300. Nope. The third place finisher was three minutes ahead of him. Paul remarked, "If I was still in the 34 and under bracket, I probably would have placed second."

Like wines and cheeses, distance runners improve with age. I've said it before, but the most competitive bracket in distance running is 35-40. Crazy.

I'm humbled all the more with Paul's accomplishments when I actually run myself. I can do three miles consistently, and I've run up to fifteen straight in my lifetime. But, those miles were hard earned. I felt every step, and while I love the feeling of "having run," the actual running part can be challenging.

So, I ride the coattails of his achievement---writing braggy blog entires about his races, encouraging him to do the 50 State Challenge (completing a marathon in every state in the union), saying things like, "Paul only ran ten miles today. No big deal."

All the while, if I ran ten miles, it would be a big deal. A very big deal.

I speak the language of the marathon wife. I can talk in specific detail about splits, strategy, stretching. I know about Ryan Hall and Paula Radcliffe. I've made meals out of Teff because "That's what the Kenyans eat." I even suggested that we name Joel "Pre" (after famous runner Steve Prefontaine--Hello!). That suggestion was nixed along with the hilarious notion of "Miles." (Strangely, "Paavo," as in runner Paavo Nurmi was briefly considered.)

I remember sitting by the finish line at the Richmond Marathon. Owen was maybe eight months old. A mother was there with her two boys, and she turned to the older one and said, quite seriously, "You are not to bring up the B-word with Daddy." I understood immediately that she wasn't telling her son to stop calling Daddy a bitch. No, she knew, as marathon wives know, that her husband had missed his split time in order to qualify for Boston. Her husband's dream would be deferred for another day.

Kindly, yet firmly, she told her son that he was to remind his father of his achievement---26.2 miles--- not his disappointment. He nodded, already a marathon kid. He already understood the rules.

We are blessed to share our lives with a man who works hard, and then plots ways that he can work even harder.

Owen, Joel, and I are proud to be part of a marathon family.

1 comment:

Corrie Howe said...

Yeah, Paul! Congrats. My cousin runs marathons. She does full and half ones...several a year. She just entered the 50 plus group.