Edmonton's Competitive Male Runners: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know
I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.
--Lynn Anderson, 1970
As the wife of a competitive runner, there has been rain. Lots of rain. I love Mark dearly but he loses his senses about 24 hours before a race and doesn't regain them until he crosses the finish line. Is this unusual? Are there others whose husbands are just as unstable? The answer, my friends, is yes.
I asked four "running wives" to dish about their husbands - to provide some insight, if you will, into what makes competitive runners tick. Naturally, there was some reluctance at first but then the responses poured in! Thanks to email, and under the cover of darkness (I read them when Mark was asleep), all was revealed. I have to say, their responses made me l feel better. Looks like Mark may be normal after all!
Now it's your turn to find out...
Do they all get neurotic before a race? Do I need to know Jonathan's PB in the marathon when I can't even remember my mom's phone number? Do you really need all those shoes? ...Actually, I take that one back.
Cheryl: Let`s talk pre-race rituals. We want to laugh at the ridiculous things our husbands do the night before a big race, but don`t in the hopes of appearing supportive. What ritual always makes you shake your head or laugh inwardly?
Liz: The night before a race, Jonathan likes to crumple up his race number so it's nice and soft before pinning it onto the top he'll race in. The race number is meticulously and loving pinned into the top, and the top is then tried on to make sure the number is perfectly positioned: not too high up the ribcage, not too low to make noise when the legs are moving, and of course, level. Safety pins are often saved afterwards, and accumulate in groups of four around our house.
Dorothee: The ritual is getting actually prepared for something way ahead of time. It is fascinating to watch, and a joy to know, there is a niche somewhere which allows a "no rush - all is there".
Tina: Steve frets over shoe selection, and clothes selection - deciding, then changing his mind (there is a plastic bin that accompanies him to the races just for all the running attire).
Christine: AJ lays out his things....you know..his stuff...in a certain spot the night before a race. He puts on his singlet and pins the bib so that it is exactly parallel to the hem of the shirt and doesn't pucker anywhere (difficult if you take into account his manly chest), double checks that his socks (which when purchased have the date written on them in laundry marker...eg. 07/25/10 'A' and 07/25/10 'B' to ensure that they are only ever worn as a matched set) are the newest and most comfortable pair that he owns, lays out the ugly hat, salt pills, gels, body glide, shades, chip and...the straw. The certain spot if it's a home race is on the chair in our bedroom. If it's an away event, it's usually the hotel chair. Yuck. Does he know what people do on hotel chairs? I've SEEN that episode of The Doctors. Once upon a time, in Ottawa, when I was relatively new to the game, I made the mistake of moving AJ's 'pile' from the germ/fecal bacteria/bodily fluids- contaminated chair to the table while he was in the bathroom. I think that's one of the only times he's ever yelled at me. DON'T TOUCH MY STUFF! He meant it nicely though. I'm over it. Germs. Whatever.
Cheryl: Running through an injury; our husbands know better but do it anyway. I`m not going to ask how the story ends because I know first hand and will just say one word - wheelchair. As a wife, how do you cope?
Dorothee: Since I told him 4 years ago I am merciless and have no pity left in my soul, he became really, really good in taking care of his precious running equipment. Smart training - smart resting.- no injuries.
Tina: I ensure all necessary insurance and other coverage is up to date....
Christine: Because it just wouldn't be a race without the ridiculous non-running related injury that occurs in the weeks before an event. Yes, it seems like EVERY time. The more important or costly the race, the more spectacular and bizarre the injury. Let's see....how about the volleyball injury 21 days pre-New York 2007? That resulted in a huge, purple and black ankle that was colorful enough to be photographed and put on the internet. There was the baseball injury that put him out of running completely for the season about 10 years ago. Then, of course, there was the phone call I received at work the week before we were to leave to run Berlin. "Honey, um...before you get upset....we're STILL going to Berlin, but I broke my hand." Awesome. Biking along, he had a head-on collision with a gaggle of kids. 'Cause we all know running with a cast increases your marathon speed.' Then, true to form, two days pre-Death Race, he does a beautiful swan dive (a 10 from the Canadian judge) from the high diving board at Fred Broadstock pool, and the board rebounds while he's in mid-air and takes a large-ish chunk out of his toe. You know, the one he needs to run Death Race with two days from now? I have taken the ostrich approach to the running injuries. I stick my head in the sand. Tap me on the bum when it's over...
Cheryl: What is the best excuse you have used to not go watch one of his races?
Dorothee: That I would be a huge burden since I always need tons of attention before and after a race - life is so much easier now : ).
Tina: 1) I must paint my toes, and 2) I have a family reunion. (They were separate events.)
Christine: Hardly ever happens actually, but I don't spectate the cross-country series because it involves a drive across town in rush hour, and traffic jams give me panic attacks.
Cheryl: How many pairs of running shoes does your husband own? Do you think this is a normal?
Liz: I'm pleased to report Jonathan only has three or four pairs of running shoes. He literally runs them into the ground.
Dorothee: Four pairs/different styles. Great way to not trigger injuries - so, yes, I think it is reasonable. Any older/more pairs get a nice Good Bye celebration; I mean one has to understand the bonding after miles and miles of company they keep - his feet and those many shoes!
Tina: I would never find them all to even count! They are everywhere - closets, basement, shoe boxes, under bed, car trunk, etc. Normal?? Not likely.
Christine: 31. I plead the 5th on whether or not this is normal. AJ and I don't discuss each other's shoes....
Cheryl: Pre-race sex. Yes? No? No comment?
Liz: I'll take whatever I can get.
Dorothee: Wouldn't you be completely surprised getting suddenly an invitation to McDonald's if you are used to slow food?
Tina: Yes, and the 4 housemates in Grande Cache had best watch themselves!
Christine: Yup. If we're still talking to each other the night before a race that is. I'm am allowed to touch some of his stuff...
Cheryl: We all know bacon is Mark`s Achilles heel. What food would your husband push old people out of the way for?
Liz: If it's sweet, expect Jonathan's nose to be right in the thick of it. Coke, condensed milk, corn-syrup-laced treasures from the nearest 7-11, cotton candy, white sugar on a spoon...
Dorothee: No doubt - protein powder aux cereal.
Tina: Probably chocolate...and those chicken pesto wraps from McDonalds.
Christine: Chocolate cake. MY chocolate cake.
Cheryl: Let`s say your husband is a (real) superstar. What endorsement deal would you like him to land? What endorsement deal would he like to land?
Dorothee: Free flights, accommodation, and 3 extra weeks off to spend time in the town/country of destination for the 3 of us. Plus enough income that we would not have to work any other job/but running and keeping a runner happy. I guess my running husband and I are pretty much on the same page here.
Tina: I'd like an airline company, or a kitchen cabinet company (I'm in need). Steve would love Porsche, or at least a car wash company - daily car washes for the rest of his life = happy place!
Christine: I would like him to land a Calvin Klein underwear ad campaign... Something a la David Beckham perhaps. He probably would like to land a contract with Nike. My idea is more exciting, though.
Cheryl: "Running wives" know way too much information about their husband`s running partners. What tidbit of information did you see a therapist for after you heard?
Dorothee: You certainly need a massage therapist for sore tummy muscles after not being able to stop laughing, but, you know, some things simply should not be posted!
Tina: So, not sure why this is, but Steve usually runs pretty much solo (except the occasional fast trax run). Any partner-running is with women so, occasionally, I hear about internet dating and the frequency of her pee breaks.
Christine: AJ doesn't dish. You're in the clear, boys.
Cheryl: If you had to give any advice to other "running wives", what would it be?
Liz: Don't mess with the running gear. Don't wash it ("I'll only have to wear it again tomorrow"), don't fold it, don't bleach it, don't tumble-dry it, don't stitch it, don't hang it up, don't move it ("Liz, have you seen my ....?"), don't put it away in a drawer thinking that's where it belongs, don't sniff it and definitely don't cut it up and throw it in the rag bag. I repeat: don't mess with the running gear.
Dorothee: 1) Don't ever feel sorry for the time you have to yourself because he is running - it is a real treat which some women don't get at all. 2) Don't be a nurse but always ask for support in activities you are interested in and soon there will be a balance in expectations.
Tina: 1) He could be doing something worse and getting into all kinds of trouble - this habit I can live. 2) Remind him to put his wedding ring on after he's done running (ask Steve)!
Christine: a) Never make him feel guilty about going for a run. Encourage it; it's worth it. Running, as crazy as it is, keeps your husband sane and happy. b) Join in. Seriously. We have had some of the best times together when we are running a marathon in a fabulous destination. He just arrives at the finish line hours before me. So what?
So it appears that Anderson's song is true, "Along with the sunshine, there's gotta be a little rain sometimes." Our husbands may be a tad neurotic when it comes to everything running, but if that is the biggest storm that hits our marriages, life's not bad.
Thanks for sharing, ladies!