This post was originally published on the iRun website November 2012.
I thought it deserved another look today, as Mike and I celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary.
Because I am a strong, empowered woman, I could live without him, but I wouldn't want to have to.
Love is not measured in affirmations of not being able to live without someone, it's about who you are with someone. I might be fine in the world without Mike but I wouldn't be the same person I am now. I like who I am with Mike by my side.
As I look back, I am grateful he stuck around once his beer goggles wore off. I knew early on that he was a keeper. He looked out for me and that was a full-time job. He also looked out for our friends. My dad actually went on to nickname him "mother hen". He's just that person who is willing to give up a bit of his own fun to make sure nobody loses an eye. He would co-ordinate cab rides to bars for everyone. He would make sure everyone had a drinking buddy to stay safe with and then at the end of the night, he would see to it that everybody headed home safely (with the exception of his bachelor party when the bar staff did their closing time bathroom check and found him passed out, sitting on the toilet; that time doesn't count, most of the time he was on duty)
Mike is a non-runner. He will hustle the 60 feet it takes to get to home plate to first base, but that's it. He is such a non-runner, that I suspect he actually avoids hitting anything other than singles in order to avoid running farther than he has to.
Being a non-runner and having no idea what it's like to train for a goal race, Mike is strangely, unwavering-ly supportive of my dedication to running. Most people that don't run, don't get it, somehow, because it's good for my recovery, Mike is all in. He gets it. He never asks "why?". He is my number one fan (he even has a shirt that says "go Christa go", I hate it when he wears that shirt to Wal-Mart).
My husband wears many hats when I run. During training, his job is part-time. His responsibilities are limited, but very important. His duties include knowing my weekly training schedule and not doing anything to screw it up! As soon as you start messing with the plan, you risk missing workouts. It's hard enough to plan them around work, family and life, let alone altering it once it's in writing; Job #1 - don't mess me up!
The full time responsibilities start the night before a race. He is in charge of travel details. He organizes the departure time, travel route, pit stops (nervous bladder pee breaks) and parking. There have been moments where he attempts to share details with me, to which I respond unfavorably. I don't want to know that sh*t. I just want to run. I am a bit like a running diva, I just want to perform. The deets are not my specialty; Job #2 - travel director
On race day, Mike's portfolio expands (without a pay increase). He becomes my organizer and odd job guy, tending to things like ensuring our dogs are taken care of before departure, making sure I am up on time and out the door on schedule; Job #3 - personal assistant. He will load the car with my shoes and clothes and race bib. He will recheck for a change of clothes and shoes for after the race. He checks my iPod and my Blackberry for charge; Job #4 - equipment manager. Mike checks if I have my food, reminding me not to forget a spoon. He will make sure a small cooler is packed with my pre-race drink and my post-race recovery fluids. Do I have enough gels? He makes sure my Fuel Belt is full; Job #5 - nutrition specialist. Mike works very hard on race day to see to it that I am allowed to keep my mind on the run. He is excellent at minimizing the pressures of getting to the race. If I start to exhibit some anxiety or doubt, he is quick to talk me down; Job #6 - sports psychologist.
Delivering me on time, in proper dress, adequately hydrated, and without undue psychological trauma, is Mike's light at the end of the tunnel. Most of his work is done and the rest is up to me. At the start line, he releases me from is care to look on with pride, as I do what I love; Job #7 - spectator (the worst job of all).
The sport of running must be the worst sport to watch... really, what's to see? The runners leave, the runners come back. There's no ongoing play by play, no line changes or substitutions. There are no glove dropping, bench clearing brawls. Fans and admirers like my husband stand out in the rain, the cold, the snow, before 8 am on a prime Saturday or Sunday, just so we know they are there. Beyond the anticipation of the horn blowing and the clock starting, hours pass until the next climatic incident, which is the finish.
The finish... Mike's near to last job; Job #8 - Cheerleader. When all things are considered, Mike deserves a raise and a promotion, except in job #8. In the last 100 meters of every big race I have done, I look for Mike's face in the crowd; I look for his kind eyes and encouraging smile to get me over the line and to know that I have done it! Poor mike, he misses my run up to the shoot every time. He is never in the right place at the right time and has repeatedly been distracted by other dramatic finishers. This fall, some guy was setting a record for running the farthest and the fastest in a superhero costume and he was doing that just as I was arriving at the finish. Mike's first indication of my finish is always a text from me saying "done", He is always disappointed.
His final function is getting me out of there, getting me dry, warm, and re-hydrated; Job #9 - recovery specialist. All the way back to the car he mumbles to himself "I can't believe I missed it again".Thank you for always looking out for me, Michael... in sickness and in health... in drunkenness and in sobriety.