This is how Saturday mornings begin for my husband and me....
5am: Alarm rings playing some of my favorite music
5:02am: Alarm still playing some of my favorite music
5:07am: Alarm still playing some of my favorite music, however a different song than was originally playing
5:10am: I stumble out of bed, throw my hair in a pony tail, put on my running clothes and shoes, just in time to turn of my husband's 5:15 alarm.
5:25am: We both end up in the kitchen, miraculously avoiding stumbling down the 17 stairs that separate our room from the first floor.
5:40am: We fill our water bottles, grab our hats, sunglasses, and i-pods, and then make our way to the car to drive to our favorite running spot along the canal.
6am: We arrive at the canal after a 20 minute ride in sleep deprived induced silence, fire up the i-pods, check the shoes, and hit the dirt for the long, long, long run.
My husband and I run a 9 mile trail along the canal every Saturday morning.
You may be wondering why we do this, especially on a morning that we could be sleeping in. We do it because we are training to run a half-marathon on our 17th anniversary in January.
Now I don't run with nearly the efficiency, speed, or ease as my husband does. In order for him to run with me, he has to make adjustments. Because his stride is longer than mine, he has to adjust his steps so he is not running ahead of me. I don't have the same speed that he does, so he has to slow down his pace for me. When I am feeling like I have hit the "wall", he not only has to keep himself going, but also take on the role of being my cheerleader and encouraging me to continue. Conversely, I have to make adjustments for him too. My pace increases when we run together as I work to keep up with him. My steps become longer, more efficient and more fluid as subconsciously my body mimics his body movement. I become more self assured and confident in my ability to press on as he reminds me that I do have it in me to keep going.
I have to admit that it isn't always easy running together. There are times when I feel badly because I am holding him back and slowing his pace. I am worried that he may grow frustrated with me for being a burden- that he may not want to finish the race by my side. Sometimes, I feel that I am at my limit, and that gentle nudge of encouragement feels like it will push me over the edge.
But then, inevitably, he senses my feelings and frustrations. With just the right words - those he has learned through navigating 17 years of marriage to me, he helps me push just a little further towards my maximum potential. He assures me that he is in it for the long haul, every step of the way. He is there by my side, to cross the finish line with me at the end of the race.
In many ways, training for this race is a lot like our marriage. We each have different abilities, personalities, likes and dislikes. We have some viewpoints that are in line with each other and others that are in conflict. Through compromise and understanding, we travel the path of our marriage much in the way that we are training to run the half-marathon. We compliment each other in a way that allows us both to be the best we can be as individuals, as well as the best that we can be as one body in marriage.
We are as different as individuals as we are in our running abilities. But in the end, we have common goals and principles. Staying focused on our common goals keeps us strong on our journey, this long, long, long, run.