Love around the block

“Remember when I first met you, I couldn’t even run a block?” – my husband asked me as we were enjoying a recent post-run brunch.  We immediately had flashbacks of the scenario in 2004 that went a little something like this…

During my visits with my guy friends (my husband and his roommates) on a popular Halloween street in Louisville, KY, I would often run on the sidewalks of this eclectic neighborhood. I was about to take a jog one day when my complicated relationship buddy (my husband) asked to join.  I told him that I would love to have a buddy to run with, but don’t hesitate to stop if you need to.  I didn’t run with a Garmin or have fancy technology, so I never knew how many precise miles I would run or what my pace was.  After all, I was a girl working hard at 3-4 jobs who would use Christmas money to buy new running shoes each year.  Few minutes into the run I heard him breathing a little hard.  I asked, “Hey, are you doing okay?”  His response was breathless, “Yeah, I’m good…keep going, don’t stop.” And he waves his hands.  He is clearly not okay!  I suggested a break, but he refused. He fought to keep going and I was concerned for his health thinking he may have asthma.  I cut the run short and brought us back around to the house (only a few blocks).  At this point, he was hardly breathing.  I was scared and he assured me he was fine and waved me to go on. 

Today, my buddy is now my husband and my new inspiration…at 3 days shy of turning 34, he finished his FIRST race!  As we arrived to the start line, he looked at me and said, “Tell me, how did I get into this and why did I say yes?”  My response, “You’re doing it for Stan Musial!” In case you didn’t know, my husband has been a baseball fanatic since a little boy and knows a lot about the “old” Greats – Don Mattingly, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ozzie Smith, Stan Musial, and more.  The night I signed us up for this race, The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge 6K Run, I asked if he wanted to do a “fun” run – as a prep for his first 10k at Memphis in May.   I told him about the run and how it’s on the new Stan Musial bridge prior to opening it up to vehicle traffic.  It’s for the experience…and the medallion (to add to his baseball memorabilia).  He may not have said, “yes” but his half-paying-attention “sure” was a yes to me.   Later, I discovered it was an actual race, uh-oh! 

The night before his first race, I wanted to prepare him mentally – “Okay, this is NOT a race, this is only practice.  There will be ‘serious’ people out there and they may be intimidating, but you have to listen to yourself.  Start slow (something my daddy would always tell me) and don't rush it.  We are going to have FUN regardless of the outcome.  In fact, if we ever have kids someday, this is something I would do as a family.”  I think he got the idea. 
Step 1: making it to the start line!
As we crossed the start line, I’m pretty sure I was more excited and I kept hugging him and congratulating him for even making it to the start line.  He was smiling and deep down, I could see he was excited, too.  I started my Garmin and kept an eye on our pace (his goal was an 11-min/mile).  I never mentioned our pace, mile marker or time and he never asked.  He was doing this himself and I couldn’t have been more proud of him for listening to his body.  I’d check in every so often asking how his body felt and he knew exactly how much was in his tank to gauge his pace.   He was consistent!  Although, it was 18 degrees cold, the scenery was beautiful.  I reminded him to take his inhaler before we left knowing that the cold triggers his asthma symptoms.  He wasn’t huffing and puffing like he was in 2004.  He was STRONG!  I got excited as we made it over half-way and had him pause briefly for a picture in front of the Stan Musial bridge sign.  I took a picture of us in motion.  He laughed as he told his dad, “Yeah, I’d be running my heart out and she’d disappear somewhere taking pictures and run back to where I was.”  They’d joke about how pickles aren’t made to run.  As we made our way toward the finish, I reminded him, “Now that you’re over halfway through, you know how much of the run is left to gauge how much you can pick up your pace.”  He yells, “I’m good, not much left in the tank though.”  I told him it’s okay and to not change a thing and stay under control (in physiological terms).  At that moment, I shared a quote with him I saw on Facebook, “No matter how slow you go, you’re passing everyone still on their couch.”  He got a laugh out of it.  As we approached the finish, I got so excited and didn’t care how geeky I looked following behind him holding up my phone to record the first finish line of his life!   He was my inspiration!  When we looked up his time, I was even more excited to see that he reached his goal pace!  I told him not many people can achieve more than one goal the first time.  As an athlete, there is no greater joy than to be next to your loved one as they accomplish their goals. 

The words from my triathlon coach, who is a wife and a mom, couldn’t be any truer, “The key to a successful marriage as an athlete, is to do things like this (referring to taking time to race together and support one another)!”  Spouses or significant others of athletes work just as hard supporting their loved ones throughout training and racing.  It's much like a date.  Racing may not sound like a fun date, but sometimes, it really helps us get through challenges with someone by your side.  Encouraging and supporting one another on and off the sidelines creates a strong bond.  While on a girls’ weekend trip, I overhead a husband on the elevator mocking how ridiculous it was to pay $85 to run a Rock-n-Roll marathon to his wife (who clearly wanted to run the race!).  While I was hoping they weren’t newly-weds on their honeymoon, it took all I had to bite my tongue, but then later wished I did say something!  Sure, races are expensive but it’s part of the fun and motivation for us to stay active and nothing compares to the overwhelming sense of emotions when accomplishing our goals together!  Interestingly enough, we have seen a boom of significant others join our triathlon club this year (including my husband).  In fact, we have several married couples who compete together from newly-weds finishing their first Ironman to couples who have shared a weight loss journey together training for their first Ironman!  There are so many inspirational stories and these moving stories do not require finishing an Ironman.  It simply requires faith, determination, encouragement and love to accomplish these goals.

As we finished our brunch, a recurrent discussion came about.  We are in this for our health.  Coming from a health professional and research background, there are MANY reasons why fitness or physical activity is vital to our daily activities and an important piece of our lives.  The health outcomes of physical activity far outweigh the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle by reducing several risk factors.  As my husband would always say, “meat and potatoes, Tiff” so without getting to the nitty-gritty scientific meaning of various studies, here are the meat and potatoes to some benefits from adults being active:

1.     Improves or prevents chronic diseases/illnesses – cardiovascular-related illnesses, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, stroke, etc.
2.     Known to prevent some types of cancer
3.     Improves cognition and motor functions – including delaying onset of dementia and improves speed reaction
4.     Helps control weight and lowers risk factors associated with obesity (i.e., heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.)
5.     Promotes better sleep
6.     Reduces stress

NOTE: Please seek advice from a physician before performing any form of exercise.  In addition, the Surgeon General’s Healthy People 2020 recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity/day for adults and 60 minutes for children to reap the health benefits.

Cheesy video, I know -- but these words describe the love between us and the strong bond we share as we encourage one another to chase our dreams.  Plus, it's my husband's birthday on the 11th, so I would like to honor him and his accomplishments...

Quote of the day:  You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.  ~ C. S. Lewis

Bible verse of the day:  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, is it not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8


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