Friday, August 01, 2008

Ten

I've said before how I stick mostly to triathlon in this space. This might make it seem that it's all I do - eat, breathe, sleep triathlon. True that it is important to me. I choose that. Where it pervades my other space, I choose that too. But I am something else, too. I am a businessman. I am a father. I am a husband. Among a million other things, just like you, that I could probably keep equally exhaustive blogs on if I chose. So where there are better forums for much that I'll want said, this is the right forum for this that I want said.

I didn't know, when I saw a poster in 2004 for the Lifetime Triathlon. I didn't know when I went back into the bike shop because I didn't know how to inflate my tire, or that very first bicycle ride in more than a decade, when I flatted and had to walk a few miles back in my cleats. Not that I knew you called them cleats.

So here we are, and it's a big part of my life - our lives. In my choosing that, I've chosen it for us, and I understand the potential for...what's her word? - inequity there. You could resent that, I think, and somewhat rightfully. Rarely sleeping in together on weekends, not eating whatever kind of junk might seem alluring, stopping in at bike shops like how other people browse The Gap - I know that's all stuff I brought onto us. I should have probably asked, when I started. But I didn't know. I just had no idea.

Sure, it's not without an occasional conversation. I'm capable of losing a shred of perspective now and then, believe it or not, and sometimes we recalibrate. But there is no passive aggression, there is no nuance of resentment or frustration, when she asks, "Do you have to run today?" or "How long is your ride tomorrow?" just as there's no hidden message in, "Can you run later so I can have a nap before Dakota wakes up?" We make it work. She makes it work.

And on race day, she's there. Always, she's there. Time or two she hasn't physically been able to, but in my head she's thick. I wait to turn the corner and see her there. I'm in continuous movement - but she waits. Always with just a touch of nervousness that I'm okay. At Ironman, in the cold and wet and wind, when it all went south I waited for her, too. I wanted to cry once or twice, and melted a little in relief to turn the corner and know I wasn't alone out there. She was still there. I was never, ever alone.

I'll never forget it when she said to me, "It's all will from here, babe!" And she was right. It was. Not just mine - ours.



It can be difficult to understand, I think, this becoming Ironman. Difficult for me, for we who are Becoming, but for those around us, especially. Sometimes those people don't understand, and you can't fault them for that. That it's a line item on life's bullet list, to be checked off. That it's a phase of some kind. It can be hard to understand that it becomes part of us, like all the other parts of us. Maybe it always was, only this is how we found it. She's never questioned that. Not once. I've never been audacious enough to exclude her in the decisions - but why would I want to? 140.6 miles is too far to go alone.

So while she could be bored, or irritated, or resentful - while the early morning races, made especially difficult now with our daughter in tow - could be more trouble than they're worth, her perspective, as she commented here after Racine, is this:

I'm always amazed and still get choked up when I see parents and kiddos supporting their athlete. The amount of energy put into just entertaining the kiddos during the race, hauling all their gear, walking back and forth, is astounding. I've missed three glances at Chris this year, just because I'm reaching for a sippy cup, bent over finding a dropped piece of cereal, or singing the Itsy, Bitsy Spider. Despite the small stressers, I'm so glad that our daughter will grow up seeing such strong, determined, dedicated athletes. Though the races seem a bit longer with a little one in tow, one can't beat the smile of a nine month old when she recognizes her Daddy after a race. And the smile on her Daddy's face...really worth it all.

She could, if nothing else, choose no position. For it to be just some crazy thing her husband does. Probably the waters would be calm, in any case - I'd have this corner of my life where I was left alone to do whatever, and she could just take no opinion and we'd get back to our "real lives" afterwards. Instead, she's involved. So the waters aren't still - I have a current at my back instead. Ever the Team Captain. Ever my own hero.

So I want to fill this space today with thanks. 10 years ago I don't think I even knew this game existed. When we stood up there, prelude to myriad of mysteries, we had no idea that this would be a part of our lives. And it's only a fragment - just a shred of our tapestry. But that she's there so completely, so whole-heartedly, so truly through it all, makes it all worth it. I wouldn't do it if it were any other way. I wouldn't want to. What would be the point?

A friend said something recently that resonated deeply with me, and that conjoins with a philosophy I've carried for several years now. I've always seen me as just a representative of us out there. I happen to be carrying the baton, but it took all of our collective energies, sacrifices, and efforts to get to the starting gun - nevermind the finish line. But the thing that was articulated recently that I realize has been true all along, is that my purpose out there, my reason for putting one foot in front of the other, is to make every second spent away from you in getting to that point worth it. There's something of a catch-22 to that, I know. But I also know that you get it. And that's probably the distillation of the whole thing I'm saying here - thanks for just getting it.



Happy 10 year anniversary, babe. Thank you for sharing it all with me. Thank you for everything.

13 comments:

Borsch said...

Great Post!

Happy anniversary!

"thanks for just getting it"...that is love!

Erin said...

Awwww. I teared up a bit reading this. What a great tribute, to such a great woman. It's one thing to "get it"...it's still another to "get it" and invest in it -- and your wife does that better than anyone I've ever seen.

Happy Anniversary you two!

Megan said...

I am stunned at how beautiful that was. I barely made it to the last two paragraphs without wiping my eyes. Here's to another 10 and more.

Rainmaker said...

Congrats! Happy Anniversary!

KodaFit said...

Not sure what you can say after reading something like that, other than... WOW!!

Happy Anniversary Guys! You make an incredible team.

TriSaraTops said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Happy anniversary to you both.

Alili said...

What a beautiful tribute to your wife and your marriage. With tears in my eyes I wish you a Happy Anniversary!

TKS said...

Happy Anniversay!

Amy, you ROCK!

Pharmie said...

Happy anniversary! Supportive spouses are the best. Congrats to you both, and many, many more.

The Arnold's said...

You two have an amazing, awesome love, I knew that by just seeing you together--it is something beyond what most find. Happy Anniversary Chris and Amy.

Sarahspicer

TriSupporter said...

Happy Belated Anniversary!!

Again with the tearing up...I swore I'd stop reading you at work.

R. Jeffrey Davis said...

As I have commented before, you write very well. I always enjoy your posts. You are very lucky and thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us all.

Triteacher said...

Woooah... that was lovely. Congrats to you and Amy (and Dakotah for having such great parents)!