Sunday, July 10, 2011

This week's column

I t’s scary to think that one day I will be telling Quin how I remember a world with no Internet, email or texts. Heck, those may even be out of date by the time he gets to college. But it’s a good thing email was just catching on when I started at the University of North Carolina. Without it, I may not have met my husband, Jon, who was attending Wake Forest.
Most of the runners in the Atlantic Coast Conference were on a email list that contained lots of humorous back and forth banter, with some occasional trash talking. Jon, or JR as he signed off on his messages, was one of the best runners in the conference and did his fair share of trash talking. I admit that I was a little intrigued.
We did not end up meeting face-to-face until after graduation during the NCAA track and field championships. I was hanging out in the lobby of our hotel, playing cards, and someone invited him to join us. Though he remembers things a bit differently, the next day he followed me around, held an umbrella over my head during a rain storm, and went to buy me a cookie when I said I was hungry. I was hooked before the cookie, but that sealed the deal — this one was a keeper.
He invited me to meet his family on the Fourth of July in Boston. Apparently there wasn't full disclosure to his parents. They told me later they were pleased to see that the Blake he told them about was a woman — yeah, not the first time people have read my name and assumed I was a male.
So, we embarked on the post-collegiate running journey together. Right away it was obvious it was going to be a little easier for me since Jon was working a full-time job at a bank and trying to fit runs in before and after work. I was in graduate school with a more flexible schedule and was able to do more during the day. It also worked out great for me because when I ran with Jon and some of his buddies, I would chase them, pushing myself more than I might have when working out alone.
Most of the time it's great to be married to another runner. They understand the time commitment, the drive, and the disappointment after a bad race. But as Jon and I would discover, it was almost impossible for us to have a good race on the same day. At his peak, he was one of the best steeplechase runners in the country, but the event was starting to take its toll. Jumps into a water pit and over barriers all those years had wreaked havoc on his Achilles and back. He raced his first marathon the same time I did and suffered a partial tear in his Achilles during the race. I won the race. Looking back, it was a turning point. Jon’s racing days were over and mine were just gearing up.
I don’t think I can point to a running couple who can boast of success on both sides. Eventually, someone’s career has to take a backseat either by choice or injury. Jon knew at the end of that marathon that I had a shot at making the Olympic team, but I needed help. We made drastic changes in our lives to help me pursue my goals. I tried to work a few less hours to get off my feet and eventually migrated to the Peninsula.
Now, he enjoys running with friends mostly on the weekends. A few weeks ago Jon ran a half marathon in the pouring rain in Santa Cruz. He came home muddy and smelly, and Quin was intrigued. When Jon told him he had just gone for a run, Quin said, “I go running now” and went to get his shoes. I am glad he can show Quin how nice it can be, even in the rain.
We did have a nice family day at the Spreckles 10k this July the Fourth. I used it as a fun workout, and Jon used it as a nice change of scenery while Quin and Coach “Bev” sat on the curb and cheered us on as we ran.

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