Feb201427

GAR

Running in Hawaii

My husband has been gone for the past ten days traveling for two different races. This makes 7 races in the last 5 weeks, 3 of which were marathons. (Not recommended, but sometimes necessary to bring home the gluten-free vegan-bacon, of course.)  His absence has allowed me to keep the house a little cleaner, but it’s also reminded me how much I love and appreciate his sport-related eccentricities.  With him gone, the kitchen seems bare without his stash of four water bottles huddled near the kitchen sink.  The doorway looks lonely without his two-to-three pairs of muddy running shoes drying against the wall.  The house is too quiet without the click of biking shoes or constant hum emanating from the trainer in his Man Cave, (at times known as “The Kona Pain Cave”).  The washing machine looks hungry for clothes saturated with beautiful man sweat.  The bedside table is too clean without the remnants of midnight snacks.     

When he’s gone, I realize that the things I roll my eyes at are the things I miss the most.  My standards of normalcy have been so redefined that a reprieve from this life of athletic oddities seems bleak and bland.  I miss the weirdness that has become the new normal.

And with that, I bring you the latest “redefinitions of normal” in the life of an endurance athlete’s spouse that have become apparent in the wake of my husband’s absence.  Previous chronicles here.

4)      Be Prepared to Have Your Home Commandeered by Athletic Gear

man cave

On the bike trainer in his training room with our daughter

I think one of the first protracted conflicts my husband and I ever engaged in was pitted around the storage of his road bike.  At the beginning of our marriage, I was ignorant enough to believe that bikes could be outdoor creatures.  I quickly learned that such a precious specimen could not be subjected to the harsh elements of wind and rain, even if covered by a concrete awning.  Instead it deserved a place next to the bed- on my side, actually.  She was a sleek and beautiful Bianchi aptly named Biancé.  I stumbled over her when I woke up in the morning.  She was  always there, always in the way, leering at us incessantly through the night like a jealous mistress.  I hated that B-word.

Endurance athletes may have you fooled into thinking that they are “minimalists”, but live with    one for an extended period of time, and you will quickly learn the truth: they have a lot of crap.  Really expensive crap.  Apparently it takes an extensive amount of gear to live minimally.

As such, be prepared to devote at least one room to the amalgamation and proper storage of your athlete’s “minimal” sporting accessories.  He may deny that it is an actual room, deceiving himself by calling it a Man Cave so as to minimize its superfluousness.   You may expect to    have this room filled with a vast array of athletic necessities, such as 15-20 water bottles (some  of which will be filled with months-old electrolyte drink that have morphed to resemble the mother Kombucha), 10-15 pair of shoes (half of which have not been worn in nearly a year,  but  heaven forbid you suggest disposing of them), a shelf or two devoted to a stunning display of  GUs, bars and electrolyte powders, and at least one shelf to store your athlete’s medals, trophies and other assorted strange-yet-novel “finisher” prizes (bowls, bricks, cowbells, etc.)

helmet

So much gear …

Items that may seem trite or useless should never be thrown away or relocated.  As I mentioned   earlier, endurance athletes have a lot of crap, and it’s all very important to them.  If you feel the    need to “de-clutter” by tossing an old, moldy water bottle, be prepared to have your athlete morph into Golam protecting The Precious from the fires of Mordor. 

You may also expect to habitually see various athletic garments hanging from doorways, ledges,   and shower rods.  It will not be uncommon to have your face unknowingly engage in an intimate encounter with a pair of running shorts that have not been sweated in quite enough to warrant a trip to the washing machine.  Your athlete may think it has a similar appeal to finding    your own sexy minimalist clothing hanging around the house.  I assure you, it does not.  Sweaty stretchy pants are not the equivalent to Victoria and her elusive secret.  

Lastly, be warned: your athlete will be sneaky in his or her pursuit to pirate portions of your home.  It may start with an unassuming bottle of supplements in the cupboard, but soon your entire collection of plates and bowls will be cowering in a stuffy corner to make way for your athlete’s “minimal yet necessary” collection of valuable dietary supplements. 

If you’re pregnant, he may also consume all of your prenatal vitamins, then wonder why his fingernails are growing so fast.  “But babe, I need the folic acid and the Iron.  I’m growing a body just like you.”

5.      Be Okay With Being Alone

 

Scout is our protector when daddy is gone

Scout is our protector when daddy is gone

Endurance athletes tend to be lone wolves.  It takes a certain mentality to be able to endure, let alone enjoy endless hours of solitude in the mountains, on the road, or in the pool.  If your athlete leaves you for hours at a time (which he will), you must remember that it is a true case of “it’s not you it’s me”.   Endurance athletes are wired differently than most ‘normal’ folk, requiring extended amounts of “me” time, usually in the form of physical exertion.  You might be tempted to think that his or her lengthy absences are the result of a desire to be away from you.  This is not the case.  Endurance athletes are a lot like Border Collies; highly intuitive, extensively energetic, task-driven and prone to melancholy and/or running around the house in circles if not given adequate exercise. 

It may take a few years to detach yourself from the notion that your athlete’s extensive workout  schedule is not a reflection of your relationship. Allowing them the freedom to commune with the elements makes them happier people, better in tune with their own cosmology, and less likely to be found gnawing on furniture or chewing your shoes. 

Your athlete may also need to travel a handful of times per year in order to race (and in our case, to supplement the income that my pregnant waitress body can no longer make.)   If you do not like being alone at night, it might be a good idea to get a dog (preferably one that isn’t prone to chewing on precious shoes and water bottles.  You already have one of those).  We adopted a friendly pit-bull with a ferocious bark to quell my lonely nighttime fears. 

post run napYes, if you pursue a relationship with an endurance athlete, you will be alone a lot.  But fret not- there will be perks to your athlete’s leaves of absence!  This week I acquired a wonderful assortment of hotel soaps and body lotions from my husband’s recent trip. I also got caught up on my girly TV shows and put eggs and butter in the muffins I made.

As you can see, being in a committed relationship with an endurance athlete requires a substantial reassessment of normalcy- and life in general.  There will be difficult transition periods (like when I learned that going through a 6 pound bag of almonds in ten days is “normal”, or when I discovered that 18 miles is not considered a “long run”).  But if the two of you reassess and redefine ‘normal’ together, you will both be better for it.

 

mohawk mamaStephanie Catudal is a freelance writer who lives in Flagstaff, AZ with her husband and their daughter, Harper.

15 comments

  1. Jason says:

    I have enjoyed reading your blog. My wife and I are both endurance athletes (not as accomplished as your husband) with 4 kids. It is fun (and funny) to experience the same experiences you have (x/2) but as you say, I wouldn’t trade it for “normal”.

  2. Adrian Perez says:

    Nice blog! These chronicles does redefine what is considerd “normal”. If I do get into a relationship, this will definitely be my go-to blog reading.

    • Steph says:

      Haha, the pressure is on for me, then. I’m sure you’ll find someone crazy enough to put up with all of it, and appreciate you for all you do.

  3. Very entertaining piece!

  4. Marcus says:

    Great blog.

  5. Karen Fountain says:

    Love your inciteful comments and sense of humour. Love your daughter and how you both are bringing her up. She is quite the free spirit.

  6. Great series. Both my wife and I have enjoyed reading them!

  7. Darcy says:

    You are a saint – I hope your husband knows what a treasure you are! Thanks for a very entertaining a truthful post… I will have my husband read it. He needs to know that there are others with strange shoe/finisher award/energy packet obsessions like me!

  8. MJ says:

    I LOVE this. Not sure if I should send it to my DH though (I’m the longer distance endurance athlete in the family, and guilty on all charges you lay out, I think!). I appreciate you giving me insight & perspective into the other person’s view – so easy when we spend so much time in our own head and focused on our own goals & needs to forget the effect we have on others, especially those nearest and dearest.

  9. Steph says:

    Writing this blog has actually been very helpful to both of us, because it forces us to constantly reflect on our priorities and attitudes. I think that’s the most important part to maintaining this sort of relationship!

  10. […] Good read: Chronicles of an endurance athlete’s wife, part 2. […]

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