In the midst of packing up everything we own and moving apartments, Chris ran a marathon. We drove up to Burlington on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend 2012 to pick up his race packet, hop in a photobooth and wander around one of our favorite cities. Then, bright and early Sunday morning, I gave Chris a kiss and he set out to run 26.2 miles.
WHAT?! I distinctly remember each of us finishing our halves of the two-person Vermont City Marathon relay and saying to each other, "Wow, I never want to finish a half-marathon and then have to do it all over again." Yet here we are. Chris is a runner. He doesn't slug through it the same way I sometimes do, willing each mile to be over and reminding myself of the decadent dessert I devoured last night. Chris is more zen about it. He puts on the mileage even when I shamefully try my best to convince him to just skip tonight's run and watch a movie with me instead. He'll squeeze in a nighttime run after getting home from a twelve-hour work day or quickly before we're about to meet friends for happy hour drinks. So when Chris decided to run a marathon, he did so quietly and easily. One night I noticed that he had been gone for awhile so when he got back I grilled him on how far he ran. "I think it was around 13 miles." A nonchalant Thursday evening half marathon?! Shut up.
Anyway, that's how the training went. He ran a lot, as he had been doing for awhile, and hunkered down on the weekends to complete long runs of up to 22 miles. I kept telling him what a big deal it was, because A) It was a big deal, and 2) Should I ever decide to run a marathon, I want everyone to know how big a deal it is. So I wasn't being completely selfless, but I was doing my best to not sabotage his plans.
Then on May 27, Chris ran that pesky marathon. I can't speak for him, but I had a really lovely morning. I had planned out different spots along the route to watch him and had a time chart so I would know when to be in position. I kept thinking to myself, "Wow, I've done so much this morning and Chris has just been running the entire time." I walked around, grabbed breakfast, stopped at the car a few times, enjoyed an iced coffee and generally had a very pleasant few hours. It turns out the being a race spectator is really satisfying. I love cheering for runners and shouting and whooping for them. This particular race has relay-ers running alongside marathoners, meaning that some people were running 26.2 miles, some were 13.1 miles and others were running shorter legs ranging from 3.1 to 5.8 miles. Fully appreciating the shorter-distance runners, I still gave a special WOOT when a marathoner passed. I had no idea how emotional I would be! Each time a marathoner passed, I thought of how hard they must have worked to get to that point. I was proud of complete strangers. I was nervous and giddy at the same time, and I wasn't even running.
He finished in a spectacular time. Once we found each other, I gave Chris a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of Battenkill Creamery chocolate milk that I had been keeping cold all day and we sat on the grass before meeting up with his parents and grama for our traditional lunch at The Skinny Pancake.
Now people ask me when I'm running a marathon. Seeing Chris' race inspired me but it also gave me pause. There were a lot of very fit-looking runners hobbling around with contorted faces of pain. 26.2 miles is a long way to run. I'd love to tackle one in the next few years, but only if I've slowly and safely built up a zen running program and perhaps whiddled down my pace a bit so it doesn't take me half a day to run it. We'll see.
A final note on Chris' marathon: As most of you have noticed either from the types of recipes showing up here or watching us eat, we are basically rocking the vegetarian lifestyle. Chris is yet another example of a successful endurance athlete following a mostly plant-based diet. I'll save an in-depth discussion of this for later, but I just wanted to put it out there. Yes, he eats enough protein and carbohydrates and fat and nutrients. He had enough energy to train intensively and log high weekly mileage following full work days, without eating meat. It can be done, and it can be done well.
And then! The day after the marathon, we began hauling our belongings out of our old apartment and into the new place...