The Family that Runs Together Gets Blisters
by Charlene Paul
My husband runs marathons. Yes, he chooses to run 26.2 miles for the fun of it. After his first marathon, he came home with blisters on his feet, scabs on his nipples, and black toenails. His knees were swollen and his gait was that of an 85 year-old double amputee. He was dehydrated, sick to his stomach, and so tired his eyelids refused to withdraw from over his eyeballs. I was certain he was finished, that he would never want to compete in another marathon. I was wrong.
He told me, while sticking a hot needle in his toenails to relieve the pressure, that he had only just begun. He loved it. It was fun. He was hooked. Running was now part of his life. At least it would be once he could walk again. He begged me to join him, but I had no intention of waiting for my toenails to fall off as the price for experiencing so much fun. He tried to guilt me by asking, “If you died tomorrow, wouldn’t you feel like you cheated yourself if you never finished a marathon?”
I didn’t even have to think; I looked him squarely in his droopy eyes and replied, “Nope!”
Fast forward a couple of decades. He is still running marathons, and after each one he promises himself that he will actually train for the next one. Oh, he does train a little here and there, but that training generally involves eating, drinking, and making merry, and then going into panic mode three weeks before the race.
This May, however, he and several of our kids will participate in the Odgen Marathon. They have been competing there for several years, although they haven’t been too dedicated to training. But our youngest daughter, Heidi, decided she and her dad would not only compete this year, they would run it in under four hours. That adds up to just a few seconds over nine minutes per mile. She found a training schedule and has been a brutal taskmaster. They run a set number of miles per day for the first two weeks, with one longer run at the end of each week. The miles and long runs increase every two weeks until just before the marathon. My husband has been more devoted to training this year than he ever has in the past.
Heidi has been vigilant with her training. She gets out whether it’s rainy or sunny, calm or windy. She gets a little discouraged, but unlike her dad who runs alone, she runs the same distance while pushing about a 50 pound load of two little boys in a double jogging stroller. The boys love it and yell “Run faster, Mommy.” “Go! Go! Go!” “Are you tired, Mommy?” “We wanna go home now!” I think it would make the time go by much more quickly. She disagrees.
Our youngest son Ben, who is in the Army, will also be running the full marathon with Ken and Heidi. He is in the best shape of his life. He jumps out of planes, goes on rigorous training missions, and runs a LOT. He did an eight mile ruck run in the woods in full uniform, boots and helmet, carrying a loaded rucksack, water, weapon, and other stuff that weighed approximately 42 pounds. He completed the run in one hour and 30 minutes. He will probably fly past his dad and sister. His goal is to beat them badly.
Our other daughter, Emily, and her husband, Chantz, will compete in the half marathon. Two years ago, Chantz decided the day before the race to run his first half-marathon. And he almost beat Emily who had prepared and was properly attired. They started out together at first, but he soon left Emily in the dust. Actually, since it rained the entire time, he left her in the mud. When she caught up with him in the last half mile, she was determined to beat him. She tried to sneak by him, but he and his long legs kept up with her. What happened next is unclear. She claimed he dropped his phone and had to stop to pick it up, so she beat him by a few seconds. He says she knocked his phone out of his hand. He is ready for a re-match.
Our second son, Dallas, and his wife, Jaycie, are also competing in the half marathon. Dallas isn’t a fan of running, so Jaycie signed him up and then told him about it later. Jaycie is a dedicated runner and if anyone in the group stands a chance of beating Chantz, is it her.
Our third son, Adam, will also run the half marathon. Since working so hard to lose weight and getting back into shape, he has been running and working out, dazzling his sweet wife, Catherine, with his speed and finesse. I don’t think he will beat Chantz, but I think beating Emily is a definite possibility.
And what will I be doing while they run? I will sleep in while they are being driven up the hill at four in the morning. Then I will take a shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast with Catherine, and Heidi’s husband, Jeremie. When we are finished, we will drive to the covered parking garage so we can whistle and yell at them not to give up as they run the last few yards. We will wait for them to come hobbling up the stairs so we can drive them back to the condo.
They will have blisters, scabs, and sore knees, and will walk like little old men, but after hot showers, naps, and a good, hearty meal they will swear they had the time of their lives, and they will make plans for next year.
Oh, yeah. I get to spend time with all nine of their kids. That’s my marathon, one which I would definitely feel cheated out of if I never had the opportunity.