While it has become common knowledge that I love to run, the sad reality is that I have not been able to run for the past two weeks. A sliding rock that I stepped on resulted in a mildly sprained ankle that safely sidelined me for the past fourteen days. I would love to rant and rave about how terrible this experience has been on me, and how I wish I was back out running (coming soon), but instead I want to make a case for trail running.
Not through the eyes of myself though, but through the eyes of my wife.
I want to make something very clear: my wife hates running. We are talking a valid comparison of hatred in regards to my distaste towards canned tuna (there, I said it, fight me). It is a rigid bitterness that has been a part of our relationship for years. I like to run, she does not. I have nearly been left at road races because she drove off being in anger from our conversations on the topic. I take responsibility for these problems (note this moment in male history). That is my arm chair confession for this piece. Interestingly enough though, something has changed with my wife, and it is a very hard to describe.
A few months ago, my wife took a similar challenge to myself back in July of this year. She journeyed out into the woods with our running group and tried trail running. That is all. She just tried. She didn’t take off sprinting, she didn’t run without water, she was smart with her choices. The next day she was incredibly sore, but the company of runners warmed her heart. She hated the heat, but loved the woods. Something was changing in my wife.
As weeks progressed, slowly but surely, she started to stack on mileage. A mile here, a mile there. Nothing record breaking in speed, but record breaking in determination. As she continued to truck her way through, she started going to strength classes with a local running coach. Sure, she couldn’t walk normal for three days afterwards, but she continued to go back each week.
In October, she took a bigger challenge. She ran an actual trail race. She ran Rock Bridge Revenge out in the middle of Missouri. She was alone, on her own, and she finished the entire course. The craziest part? Listening to her talk about her entire journey three hours back home. Who is this woman? Surely this isn’t my wife because she is talking about running, and laughing, and having fun. The second craziest part was how she downplayed running 7 miles on a trail compared to the only other experience she had running was 3.1 on asphalt.
My wife ran a few weeks ago with me in Omaha, Nebraska. There, as many know, she left me at the start/finish line because she was “encouraging me”. She will never admit it, but you should have seen how happy she was with her little, wooden medal for finishing the race.
This is the same lady, that usually on average of once per week asks me the same question:
What day do you get off early this week? Think we could go to the trails and run a few miles?
As amazing as all these events have been; nothing has been more impressive, admirable, and uplifting then her latest feat. Three days after spraining my ankle, it was obvious that I was not running for a while. However, our running group still meets every Monday night, no matter what. With daylight savings time doing its random thing, all runs in the evening are in the dark because…hey…that is normal. My wife, a hater of running, and a person who cannot stand being cold or wet, chose, on her own, to drive to our running group while I rested at home. She ran in the dark with her headlamp, in the rain, in the fall temperatures. While I was falling asleep, she came home, legs covered in mud:
Look at me! I have mud up to here, I’m soaking wet, and…I’m glad I went…I had fun tonight.
I don’t know who my wife is anymore, and it is the most brilliant thing that I have
witnessed inside these past four months. Don’t get me wrong, I count down to my own adventures on the trails. While they are exciting, and memorable, they just don’t have the same flavor as being able to enjoy the experience with someone I love. My wife constantly wears her racing shirts from previous races, almost like a badge of honor. It is adorable. She talks to her coworkers constantly about her accomplishments, many in awe. Even my own parents noticed that she is excited about playing on the trails, traveling to new destinations, and trying out new adventures. Whether she realizes it or not, she is very much not the woman I married several years ago. She is so much more.
The humorous part of all of this is noting that one of us was obsessed with running fast, and can’t because…well…dirt logic. The other one did not care for running at all. Yet, somehow we are both counting down the days until our next excursion into the woods. Together.
My wife and I cut from different cloths in life. We are very much polar opposites in regards to several areas of our lives. Fitness, health, etc…are some of the areas that we find conflict in frequently. I make a case for trail running because rarely are we on the same page, but once we are both in the dirt, it doesn’t matter. We have the goal; to enjoy the ride.
Turns out we are just a dirt driven family.