Song: The theme song to “The Andy Griffith Show”
RALEIGH, N.C. — As I turned yet another corner of the 2012 Raleigh Fall Festival 10K, I saw him.
Atop a hill, clad in black running shoes and navy blue running shorts layered over black compression shorts was my husband. Standing and waiting.
We were in the same race, at the same time — a rare feat at my house — as my parents and brother watched our three children.
As I met my husband on the top, he restarted his watch and ran beside me the rest of the race.
Part of me was fuming — mostly because my side was killing me and I wanted to walk and die under the Southern sun in the neighborhood beside N.C. State, my alma mater. With him beside me, I couldn’t do it. If I walked my kids would know I was a quitter. My husband would hang it over my head until the day we died.
At least that’s what I thought.
We ran up more hills on our way toward where I thought a water station would be. I was about 35 minutes into the run by then, our 6-year-old’s permanent marker “tattoos” began melting off my husband’s back and chest. His left arm kept motioning as if to say “Come with me” though I was afraid he’d hit me with it.
The course was hilly, but I underestimated it. As a mountain mama, I’ve run up and down all sorts of inclines. But Raleigh was different. The hill went up but not always down. Often you’d hit a plateau and then another incline. This went on for nearly the entire six mile course.
After being mad at my husband, I loosened up some. Near the 4 mile point some preppy college kid talked on his cell phone and complained how he couldn’t go see his friend because of “some damn Raleigh runners race or something.” I quipped back something under my labored breath that my husband heard and started laughing.
I could get use to having someone run with me, I thought. Then the race became fun again.
We looked at the changes in the neighborhoods near my alma mater. We cursed the organizers for having an online race map that didn’t match what we were running. We haltingly talked about Smithfield barbecue, Lilly’s Pizza and other tasty morsels awaiting us after we crossed the finish line.
“Need (wheeze) pizza.”
“French fries before race (wheeze) bad idea.”
“But (wheeze) they were (wheeze) best ever.”
“Course hard. (wheeze) Where do we go?”
Finally a cop told us we had one more
turn to go. With the finish line in sight, we began running as hard as we could. Well, I did and he kept up with me. Our 4-year-old joined us for the final 50 yards. It was pretty cool. My goal was to finish in an hour — mission accomplished.
It was the first time I finished/ran a race with my husband. In the past, my training was sporadic, so at times I felt that he perceived some of my accomplishments as dubious at best.
We did a race “together” the day before, but he smoked me in the first 10 yards. I finished three minutes after he did.
Having my husband admit that I work my butt off means a lot more than that I can express in words.
Not quitting, achieving my goal and seeing my family cheer us on at the finish line was absolutely priceless.
On Veterans’ Day and now as Thanksgiving looms, the race reminded me of all the things I have to be thankful for. During the race here were a few that popped into mind:
- A brother who serves in the Air Force and isn’t afraid to show his oldest sister some support;
- A sister who serves in the Navy who I hope is as proud of me as I am of her;
- Parents who always are willing to help out and cares about what my family does.
- Two legs that are able to carry me on great adventures;
- And a great husband.