November 22, 2009 although already happily married at that time for four years, I took another wife.
The courtship was about twenty minutes long. There she was, literally right in front of me, keeping pace with my every stride. It was a very romantic setting, the historic streets of Philadelphia. We were passing City Hall and William Penn gave me the nerve to reach out and approach this beautiful lady.
“We seem to be running the same pace, but I was just a small length behind you, so I thought I’d introduce myself before you thought I was a stalker. I’m Derek.”
She quickly sized me up, saw my marathon bib and said “Excellent – you can be my running husband. I’m Stacy.”
I do. The vows were spoken and we were wed. My first running wife. I introduced her to my father as we passed by Independence Hall and he assumed we were old friends and by that point we were. More than a couple miles went by easier with someone to talk to and distract us from measuring every step of 26.2 miles. I must admit, like my two ex-wives, I let Stacy down. I bowed out at the half-marathon turnoff and left her on her own for the last half. I believe this is the only wife I still owe alimony for having left her in such a lurch.
I have had a few running wives since then. Some “marriages” have lasted just one race, others have lasted a couple seasons. We have laughed, cried, snot-rocketed, hobbled, held each other accountable, cheered each other on, bandaged our wounds and tipped our glasses. I highly recommend this. Whether it’s guy friends working out (Jock Straps), lady friends running together (Sports Bras), running wives or husbands or just your race crew who will cheer you on at the tough parts of the course and drink beers with you afterwards, make sure you are putting together a support system that will get you through training and across finish lines.
Of course, you can be a lone wolf, running across the tundra, forging ahead through arctic vortexes, caring about no one and no one caring about you. You may have the individual drive and singularity of purpose to do that. I do not.
I believe in the pack. I believe in a tribe. I believe in balance. Once upon a time I was self centered enough to try to create a tribe of me. We would have been burned at the stake and I hold onto just enough self loathing that I would have been the one to light the match. I now understand that everybody has something to contribute. Everybody has a role to play and those roles may change as time goes by and character evolves. Everybody you come in contact with is part of your tribe; you have no idea what role they can play in your life and what seemly insignificant word or action from you could change their life or vice versa.
I urge you to call upon your tribe to support you. You may feel all alone. You may feel wronged by the world or that you have burned every bridge you ever crossed. I am here to tell you that someone believes in you. You have changed someone’s life for the better with a word, a smile, or a moment. If you have a dream of something better, someone will listen and someone will believe. Maybe it’s a family member, a spouse or significant other, a close friend, an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, the guy in the next cubical over, the gal you sit across from on the bus, who knows? You have no idea the power of sharing a dream that is in your heart. If all else fails, tell me. I’ll believe in you.
My past week went very well except publishing this blog on time. To rectify that, I will start my post before the last day of the week. I lost another two pounds and now stand at 281 lbs. I actually got five runs in, ran with multiple running partners, stretched six out of seven days (not quite to goal), did my first runner’s yoga (disaster), worked out with weights twice, swam 3 days, and ate very few cookies.