I started going without him a month or so ago. The first few times, the guilt outweighed the pleasure. I would think of him and wonder if he was upset that I had left him behind. I tried not to talk about it afterward, even though he knew full well where I had been. He never appeared sad, disappointed or jealous. In fact, he encouraged me to go.
Before you start speculating about the state of my marriage, let me clarify that I am not hitting the singles bar with my girlfriends; I am training for a marathon without my husband. It might sound crazy, but I feel as if I am cheating on him every time I lace up my Sauconys. I know how much he misses running, and heading to the trail without him seems like a selfish, insensitive betrayal. I remember how bittersweet it was for me two years ago when both of us signed up for our second Chicago Marathon, but only one of us crossed the finish line. As happy as I was to be there to support him, I envied him and all the other runners as I watched from the sidelines. I also know firsthand what a frustrating letdown it is to get injured while training for a marathon, which is what happened to my husband this time around.
Although I feel guilty running without him, this next race means a lot to me. I hurt my foot 11 weeks into training for my first marathon back in 2011. I ran it anyway, but my time was nowhere near what I had anticipated because I missed so many of the long training runs. Since then, I have quit smoking and gotten smarter about incorporating strength training and yoga into my workout schedule to prevent injury. I am healthier, stronger and faster. And I am ready to prove it at the Portland Marathon, or at least I will be when race day gets here in October.
As much as I want to run this race, I offered to skip it when my husband learned that he won’t be able to join me. It will be a big expense for us to travel from Chicago to Portland, and we are trying to be (at least somewhat) more budget conscious with college just three years away for our oldest child. Plus, it is not my nature to spend a large amount of money on something that will benefit only me. A family trip to Europe? A must. A weekend in Portland for me to run a race? An extravagance.
I am happy to say that my husband did not see it that way. When I mentioned us canceling the trip, he insisted we go. “You are running for both of us,” he said. And that is my plan. I remember how happy I was when he finished his second Chicago Marathon and set a new personal record. It may not have been my year, but I was thrilled that it was his.
I am sure I will feel a little sad when I enter the start corral without my running buddy on race morning, but I also know how much he wants me to finish and do well. Yesterday, when we were planning dinners for the week, he offered to make a meal with pasta on Thursday, the night I usually rest and carb load in anticipation of a long run Friday morning. We may not be able to run together for a while, but I appreciate how lucky I am to have his love and support as I head out the door on my own. It makes what I initially perceived as cheating feel a whole lot more like winning.