I have been in love with my husband for 15 years and married to him for 10 of those years. Many of my own "firsts" can be dated back to around the time our relationship began. The first year of my career, my first completely new car, and even my first attempt at running all occurred about the same time this seemingly tough guy first caught my eye. We have known each other since we were kids, but it wasn't until much later into adulthood when we actually started seeing each other as something other than platonic former high school buddies. Back in those early days together, I was overweight (yes, more than I am now) and was intensely involved in a love affair with pepperoni pizza and Starbucks frappuccinos. My husband, on the other hand, has been a dedicated gym rat since his early teens. He is one of those old school original health nuts that shuns all the new age fitness fads and prefers the smelly funk of a weight room any day. Looking back, it seems ironic that a weightlifting fitness fanatic fell for a chubby chic without a fitness clue. He was a protein shake carrying workout guru and I was a wannabe feminist, too afraid to sweat out a good hair day. We evolved, thank goodness, and now we both follow an active lifestyle that will hopefully rub off on our children as well.
Juggling jobs, social outings and workout sessions has become trickier since the kids have come along. When my boys were babies, we took turns with our respective workouts. While hubby and the babies were still asleep, I would wake up at the butt crack of dawn on the weekends to get a run completed before the oppressive sun made the temps unbearable. Upon my return home, hubby and I would switch places and he would head out to the gym for his own private time. These days we can take the kids with us to workout excursions if they are so inclined. Child care is not nearly as stressful as it was back in those early days but we still have to schedule our workouts ahead of time until the boys are more mature. I still usually workout during the early morning hours and he prefers gym time later in the evening.
I took you down this nostalgic stroll on Memory Lane because a new wrinkle has been added to the fold. Hubby is now a new runner and cyclist. Although I recognize the symptoms, it is still hard to believe he caught the running and cycling bug like so many others. When he first spotted his most recent pair of running shoes, he got all giddy in the store as if he'd just eyed his first big boy train set. When he was shopping for his bike, he courted it the same way he courted me in the early days of our relationship. Now that he has all his shiny new gear, he handles the stuff with kid gloves like he once handled our newborn babies. Oh yeah, and I am having a blast teasing him about his behavior. To get the full picture, you have to understand that this man does not lose his cool often. He prides himself on his tough guy demeanor and does not let too many people see the chinks in his armored exterior. However, watching him jump in his car like a whipped little girl every time the bike store has a sale is better than watching a classic Saturday Night Live skit. He loves his new hobbies and I love seeing him happy. He deserves it.
All of this has propelled him to register for his very first triathlon, scheduled for late September. Registering for a race in September is deliberate because it coincides with the one year anniversary of his kidney transplant. This is his way of bringing things full circle after a year of so many heartbreaking challenges. Thanks to his athletic background, the training has not been too strenuous for him. He just has to get into the practice of doing three different events in one race. He has hired a swim coach, connected with some cycling buddies and actually came to me, of all people, for running advice. Imagine that...the master has humbled himself to seek instruction from a mere mortal. Don't think for one minute that I won't use this as fodder the next time he makes fun of me and my off beat running quirks. He has now achieved his first running injury and his first big fall on his bike. Both seemed to have injured his pride more than his body, but at least it has loosened some of his newbie tensions.
I have to remember my role of support while he enjoys this new transition. In the early days, hubby accompanied me to every race and cheered for me at every finish line like I was a world class athlete. His unconditional support was the one constant I could count on, even when my running performance was uncoordinated and unpredictable. Before my confidence grew as a runner, I was childish and superstitious and sometimes down right bitchy when things did not go my way. Hubby was on the receiving end of a lot of that bad behavior and I feel like I never completely made up for it. Now I get the chance to repay him for all the times he put his workout plans on hold just so I could take an evening run on the trails. I can now properly thank him for all the times he played Mr. Mom on his own while I took weekend trips away with the divas to run whatever race of my choice. For every time he remembered on whatever gift-giving holiday that I am not a "flowers and candy" kind of girl and bought me running shoes instead, I can now show my true appreciation. I still have to correct myself sometimes, but overall it feels good to give him first pick when it comes to scheduling our workout times.
Even if he only acts like he wants to go for a bike ride or a treadmill run, I try to prioritize his time ahead of mine because it is his turn to come first after playing a supportive role for me so many years. He is happy and carefree on his bike and it is a beautiful sight to see someone you love light up that way about something so simple. Hubby has always been that type of supportive and giving guy to a lot of people in his life. He does not ask for anything in return. However, I want to make sure he holds on to his new hobbies for his own selfish reasons. His cycling and running doesn't have to benefit anyone but himself. It can suck time away during his leisurely weekend hours just because he wants to. He can splurge his extra dollars on new gear just because it makes him happy. But most of all, I hope he is able to lose himself in a carefree stroll just for the chance to make his spirit a little lighter. It's his turn to let go and his time to feel the joy of a great escape.