I love my husband, I do. He truly is my best friend, love of my life and all that other cheesy stuff that makes people roll their eyes. But when it comes to running, the gloves come off. There is no sweet talk, no terms of endearment, just me versus him (and of course thousands of other people) on the open road. We are serious about our competition, so much so that we even compete over who has the better GPS watch.
When I first met Jeff in 2009, I was on a brief break from running. I had developed intense IT band pain while running the 2008 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, so running any distance was unbearable and I chose to just take a break. But Jeff was training for the Sporting Life 10k and on our fourth date – the night of that race – as he was talking about the event, I realized that I wanted to get back at it. So we started having running dates to train together for the Zoo Run, which led to the 10 miler, and so on and so on. We started out being friendly with it all. He would be there by my side pacing me, encouraging me and not letting me quit. That all changed the day I ran a 10k race without him and finished 15 minutes faster than I had in our training runs. Ever since it has been all about who will run stronger and faster. We always start in the same corral, but we won’t stand together. We kiss each other and wish one another luck and then one of us will walk off and find our own starting spot. Once we cross the finish we meet each other to swap times “race stories”.
Now here is the reality check, he is a man, I am a woman…..yeah, obvious right? He is also 5’9” and around 180lbs. I am 5’2” and…..well let’s just say substantially less. I mean it is simple science that he is stronger and faster because of his weight and height alone so I will always have to pump my legs much harder to get a faster time, the same time or even a time that is anywhere close to his. So he may always get a faster time, but when it comes to placing, he’s got nothing on this girl. I always place higher in my age group (and sometimes even win!).
Once I got pregnant and I had to get used to running while growing a human inside me, my time slowed down and we started training & racing together again. We knew that opportunities to go for leisurely training runs together would be few and far between once we welcomed the new addition to our family, so we wanted to take advantage while we could. The last race I ran before I had my son was the Zoo Run (at about 17 weeks pregnant and under strict instructions from my doctor) and I had to slow my pace down drastically, but running right next to me was my guy. He had come to the race with a goal time and totally let it go once we got to the start. He ran next to me every step and even insisted that we cross the finish line at the same time – to avoid one of us beating the other by mere seconds. At the end of that run, I had the fabulous idea that we should run compete at the Scotiabank half marathon the fallowing fall. I had grand visions of me being on maternity leave and training everyday while I pushed our son in the jogging stroller. That dream quickly came to a halt when, after finally recovering from child birth enough to start running again, we were told that I couldn’t run with said jogging stroller until our little man was 7-8 months because – duh! – He needs to have enough neck strength to be able to hold his head up as I am speeding around Toronto. I think I ran maybe 20k total(!) during my training for this 21K race, so I was basically going into it with zero training. We woke up on race day and while he felt amazing, I was a nervous wreck. Once again, Jeff gave up his goal time to drag me through 21k and once again he held my hand as we crossed the finish.
I am happy to report that the competition is back on track. I renewed my dedication to running after that race and got really serious when I signed up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon earlier this year. Our little guy has had lots of strong muscles for quite some time now and loves yelling “FASTER!” when getting pushed in the jogging stroller. When I ran a half marathon by myself earlier this year in a time of 1:42, the look on Jeff’s face said it all – “Oh dear God, she might actually run faster than me”. He literally got up the next morning and still gets up 5 days a week at 5:30 am to get in his training runs. So of course I get up as soon as he gets back and head out for mine. You can smell our determination, neither one of us refusing to slack for fear that the other will outrun the other by a drastic amount. We are both training for the Scotiabank Waterfront in October, he is running the half, and I the full. So as far as I am concerned, I win no matter what J.
In all seriousness, I am thankful that while my father inspired me to start running, my husband (along with our little man) inspires me to keep going, getting stronger mentally and physically every day. We may not be racing together on October 20th, but I am looking forward to seeing him waiting at the finish (because he is running half the race 😉 ), cheering me on and when we run into each other’s arms, the first thing I will say to him will be “what was your time?”