Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Runner's Widow

I mentioned before that I was helping Marathon Thomas on his first attempt to do Lydiard-based training. Well, two weeks in and I've lost him. At this time in his life, with a great wife and a beautiful young daughter, Thomas decided that running six or more days a week was just too hard on them. The first thing my wife said when she heard this was "Gee, maybe I should talk to his wife to see how she convinced him." Funny, but telling at the same time.

I think every coupled blogging runner has a post like this. One of the reasons I took on Lydiard training is that I wanted to really give running my best effort. A secondary reason was a hope that by learning to truly devote myself to giving my all in running I would learn to give more of myself in other areas of life.

To some extent this has happened. At work, where I sell artwork (not really that glamorous, I still take out the trash, "go-fer" lunch and other things), I am finding I am able to tap into some of the confidence I've gained through running to help in my salesmanship. I'm also more likely to go out on a limb and contact people about paintings, something I was more hesitant to do in the past. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, which is a lesson racing into the "unknown" (with regard to pace) has taught me.

Unfortunately, I sometimes find I don't give my best effort, and often it's my wife and family that suffers for it. This most often happens when family life and my running come into conflict. Andrew had a nice post where he talks about setting a "departure time" each morning, which for him is early, in order to get the miles in while he's "missed" the least. I started with this earlier in the year, when it was warm and light at 4:30 or so, and I tried to make it back to help with the kids/breakfast/cleaning up etcetera. Now that I can't run in the daylight on the river path until almost 6:45, I've been pushing back many of my runs. Finn waking up so often between midnight and 5 has exacerbated this, as I really feel like going back to sleep for awhile after my wife and I get up with him (one makes the bottle and feeds, the other changes him and hands him off).

Today I was bad, worse than usual. Kiera took the 4am feeding, then fed him some more when he kept grumbling and had us up into the "5's". We finally fell back asleep, with me re-setting my alarm for 6:15. I somehow managed to turn it off and didn't get out of bed until 6:30. I rushed to make coffee and an english muffin, knowing that 16 miles takes me two hours, and if I left at 7 I would get back with just enough time for a shower and a quick breakfast. You know what happens when you're in a hurry? Everything. First Haiden is up, so I tend to her and get her dressed. Then I deposit her in our bedroom, where the wife is still in bed and grumbling about wanting to remain there. Haiden wants to go on the run, Kiera wants to be left to sleep, and like a bad dad/husband I deny both requests. To make matters worse, as I'm heading for the garage to leave Finn is up again, this time for good so Kiera will be out of bed tending to both while I'm running.

A half mile out, I realize I forgot to take the recycling out (after sleeping through and forgetting to take the trash out yesterday), but I have a schedule to keep so I go on. The worst of it is I had a truly splendid run, the late start gave me the pleasure of feeling the warm Tucson sun, and the 16 miles flew by at a pace that should have been too fast but felt easy. No pain, no blisters, no one even tried to kill me with their SUV.

As I return at 9:01 the recycling bins have made it to the curb (through Kiera's efforts), loads of kid laundry are spinning in both the washer and dryer, Finn and Haiden have been fed, and the house looks pretty good. I make a quick "special milkshake" with Haiden, jump in the shower, then dress and depart for work.

I don't always do the right thing, none of us do. Hopefully Kiera understands, and I did make an offer for her to take the evening for herself for shopping or visiting friends (she won't, though she might take me up on take-out or dinner out with the family). Tomorrow is another day, and while there is another run at the start of it, there is also another chance to do the other important things right.

Training: 16 miles, 1:52:09, 7:01 pace. Floated


robtherunner said...

I am hoping your theory of being more dedicated to one area and in effect it spilling over into the other areas of life works out for me also. We are all human and sometimes you just got to stick with the schedule and ask your better half to take over. I understand the conflict and you seem to manage it better than I do thus far.

Andrew said...

Now this is a topic that we could all share a lot about. Call it "runner tension". We try to figure out ways "to get away with running". Trying to minimize the "running footprint" so to speak. If they don't know we're gone, it'll be ok. I get in trouble if I just talk about running too much since there is supposedly other topics that can be discussed (though I'm still trying to think of one). Oh, and don't eat a lot and still lose weight. Or at least don't let other household occupants know about this. Bad. When Marc & I first started long runs (and took the rest of the day to recover) we almost lost the privilege! Close call. The only solution is to run high miles, act like it's nothing, keep the chores up, bounce the kids on your knee, and when she's off to the store, put out some cereal for the kids and steal a nap. Nobody the wiser.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Oh, man, I know what you mean! I try to fit my running in at lunch, at 5 a.m. or on weekends (Johnny and I take turns - we each get four hours each day to go for our long runs). I don't want my running to take away from my time with Ash. It was much easier in the summer, when it's warmer and there's more light. I can only manage to get myself out of the house at 5 a.m. once a week now that it's winter. Yikes!

Hey, I read in the Tucson Citizen today that you are the men's titlist in the S AZ Roadrunners Grand Prix - Congratulations!

tb1 said...

I can relate. I also do my running early in the morning. If I do it any other time it has to be at the expense of another one of my weekend enjoyments....watching the NFL. For some reason my wife thinks it's OK if I run instead of watching football. However, family comes before running if I have to make a choice. I try to make up for it with a more intense workout the next time I run. That is one reason I am hesitant to engage in a Lydiard session. But with the results you are achieving, I at least would like to try it out.

Good luck to all of you.

brian said...

It's good to know that I'm not the only one who has these issues with running and family. I'm trying to manage it well, but it doesn't always work out.

Jack said...

Hi, I wandered over from Thomas the Rubbish Runners blog. I can relate to your efforts to run at times that least effect family life. I try to run Monday and Wednesday night's when my wife has school - and I get up early Saturday morning to try to complete my long runs before my wife finishes her coffee and newspaper. It works most of the time, but gets a litte messy when I squeeze in a 4th or 5th day.

Thomas Sørensen said...

I miss running my reduced Lydiard schedule with the guidance of Mike. Life is not the same.

Thomas said...

That's the very reason why I do all my runs early in the morning. I even stopped doing long runs on the weekend to maximise the time spent with the family.

I still feel guilty when I come home from a run and see the lights on in the lounge, because it means that my wife had to deal with the kids on her own while I was out running.

Zeke said...

Mike, that's one of the nice things of having snow, it illuminates the trail all night long.

Have you thought about running with a headlamp? They cast enough light to see in the dark.

Mike said...

Thanks everyone, I had a feeling I wasn't alone in this. I don't follow any professional sports, though I do watch some of the Tour de France. When I bring up this tidbit to my wife, she says she wouldn't have married me if I did so no points for me!