Mars and Venus Go Running

“Mother Nature,” my husband said through a clenched-jaw in a tone he’d never used with me before, “is fraught with conflict.”

This was one of those comments that your spouse utters, and you just know it’s best not to respond to. After all, it was 90 degrees. It was noon. We had bugs stuck between our front teeth. We had already been running for five hours over gnarly terrain and I had just chirped for the millionth time that the woods were so beautiful and wasn’t it nice to enjoy the summer like this.

We were on our first trail run together, a 50K. This was Peter’s first ultra. And while we both enjoyed the suffering, it was not the height, in all honesty, of marital bliss.

You see, we love each other a lot. We both love running a lot. We have discovered, in the past five years, that we do not love running together a lot. Or doing other sports together, in fact.

He loves to row. On my first lesson, shortly after Peter sculled by and yelled “Hi Honey!” so proud of his wife and future rowing partner, I slipped on duck poop, landed on the boat, and split my ear open. As I drove myself to the ER, I saw Peter. I honked with the hand that wasn’t squeezing the bloody mangled ear. He waved and smiled. I burst into tears. I needed 22 stitches.

We’ve tried cycling together. It’s a sport neither of us specialize in. That hasn’t gone much better. He’s naturally gifted on the bike, apparently, and can’t understand why I lumber along so slowly. And I can’t understand why he abandons me. Or how he can go so darn fast.

Road runs together have also been unsuccessful. When his pace slips, I ask if he’s okay and he hates that. When I fall behind, I hate it that he doesn’t ask.

We’ve found that we function best as athlete and crew. He loves to watch the Boston Marathon each year, and be there at mile 22 with the towel and water. I love to watch his regattas, and be there at the end with the fleece and Clif bar. We both feel as if we’ve accomplished something important. I totally get the easy end of the bargain, as his regattas are 4-minutes long and 13 miles from home.

He, on the other hand, gets to spend our fifth wedding anniversary watching me run around a one-mile loop. I’ll be competing in the World 24 hour championships in Italy that day. Beforehand I’ll be an irritating bundle of nerves. Afterwards, I’ll be a moaning pile of soreness he’ll have to lug across Newark International Airport.

I recently reviewed our wedding vows to see if he’d committed to this. Our vows were explicit, specific, and witnessed by a federal judge. We promised to love each other through every bounced check, dirty dish, and every body part that surrenders to gravity…etc. etc.

Hmmmm. Nothing in there about watching your wife run in circles for 24 hours, and celebrating your life together over a family-sized tub of TUMS and a stale baguette smothered in raspberry-flavored Hammer gel. Poor guy.

Who needs a running buddy you’ve found a love like that.

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