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A Human Race

April 11, 2011


Not quite the exuberant smile I was hoping for.

I’ve been composing this post in my head all week; Grant, my husband, ran the Platte River Half Marathon this morning, and I wanted to write about being on the other side. It’s been so long since I wrangled kids and felt dizzy from looking for one specific runner on a race course, I was excited to write–and think–from a fresh perspective.

After we drop him off at the starting line this morning, I sugar up the kids with hot chocolate and shortbread cookies from Starbucks, and we head out to mile 10. We got there around 9:30, and Grant thought he’d be passing through around 10:20. So I chat with the aid station volunteers, I try to discourage Amelia from using the port-a-potty but she really has to go, and I help the kids gather sticks for a made-up game I don’t really get.

But mostly, I worry about the wind. The wind feels crazy strong to me standing still, and worst of all, it’s a headwind. Because it’s a point-to-point course, I imagine the runners battling the wind for all 13. 1 miles, and I know what kind of mood that will understandably put Grant in.

Trying to show how strong the wind was. *Really* strong.

Grant, a devotee of Run Less, Run Faster, is primed for this race. He usually runs at lunchtime, and when I ask him at the end of the day how is run was, his reply is typically something in the good/great/amazing category, and then, because I can’t resist, I ask him what his splits were. “I held 7-minute miles for a 4 mile tempo run,” he reports in a contented tone. I’m a bit jealous: Running seems to come so easily to him, but I’m mostly proud.

Back to race day. 10:15 comes, and I pull the kids over to the side of the path I’m on, and get them ready to cheer. I put my camera on sports mode, and hope I don’t miss him; he, like most of the males out there, is wearing mostly black (maybe they think it makes them more stealthy?).

10:17. 10:18. “Just two more minutes, and he should be here,” I tell the kids, who are anxious to get back to their stick project. 10:20. No sign. His “A” goal is a 1:40 finish, and his “B” is 1:50. I know 8-minute-miles land him in that range, but I’m not sure how far over 8 he can go.

10:22, 10:23, and no tall guy in black fighting the wind. Ugh.

Where is he? Finally, around 10:25, we see him off to the side of the path.


Which is, of course, way worse than a headwind. I tell him to run for the camera, and he takes a couple steps, but is wincing in pain. His knee buckled at mile 9, and he walked from 9 to 10. “I tried to keep running,” he says, “But it just hurts too much.” He doesn’t want to walk the last 3 miles, so we pile in the car.

And even though I want to cry for him, I also realize his (smart, yet painful) decision is why we’re such a good pair. I would’ve kept running with a very screwed-up gait and likely done major damage. “I’ve got another half of my life to live,” he tells me later. “It’s not worth screwing  up my body just for one race.” Grant naturally thinks long-term, whereas I can barely think through a week. He is patient to my haste, mellow to my manic. Even though I wish I organically had his perspective, the fact that his thoughtful presence will be forever in my life makes me feel at peace.

He was obviously bummed, though, especially when he starting clicking around on his Garmin as I drive us home. I rub the back of his neck as he reads off his splits: 7:23, 7:17, 7:30…he was on pace for a 1:40, even with the crazy wind. “You ran 9 amazing miles,” I say, trying to soften the blow, but I know he’s not buying it. I wouldn’t either. I can tell he mentally replays the race all day long. “Sweetness, I was running so fast,” he says over dinner.

Instead of a nice neat ending like “hey: I can’t wait to be back racing again! it’s much easier!” there is no simple one for this unexpected entry. The plan for now is to take a break from running, let his knee heal, then ride his bike, strength train, and see where that lands him. Hopefully in a good place.

For my part, all I can say is that I’m anticipating writing that entry I thought I would write; the three of us will be back out there cheering for you, speedy guy, when you and your knee are ready.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2011 4:38 am

    Ahh man…I was bummed just reading this. I love the way you ladies write. It is nice to be on the other side sometimes – especially when you know they really want it!
    I love to use my husband as my pacer but I encourage him to leave me in the dust if he really wants to be completive in a race – I offer this every time and he has never taken me up on it…so when he gets home from this deployment I am insisting that he run a race alone and let me be his cheerleader!

  2. April 11, 2011 5:39 am

    It’s difficult not to offer platitudes in this situation, but since you’ve been on the other side of a less-than-ideal race AND an injury, you knew how to shoulder the disappointment with the right balance of sympathy and solitude. Good luck to Grant on the road to recovery and good luck to you in being the support crew!

  3. LaurieA permalink
    April 11, 2011 5:40 am

    Healthy thoughts for a fast recovery to your husband and my heart goes out to you as well. I’ve been the spouse trying to buck up my husband who has been injured in a race and there’s just no right thing to say or do.

    My husband ran the Platte Half yesterday as well, for his birthday. Thankful he had a terrific race. I was manning a water station at Mile 8 with my six-year-old and it was a terrific alternative to standing by the side of the road waiting for him to come by. We will definitely be doing that again. Something you may want to consider with your kids. It was a lot of fun, even in that BRUTAL wind.

  4. Momma please run home permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:04 am

    Why is it running seems to come so easily to guys?! I train and train to crank out 9-9:30 min/miles and these guys seems to effortlessly run so fast. I am so envious. Speedy recovery to Grant!

    • Sportsmama457 permalink
      April 11, 2011 10:14 am

      I hear you! I cross train, lift weights, do yoga, interval train, and hit my hill repeats – and I’m thrilled when I hit 9:30 splits. My husband runs the same 3 mile loop every other day, with absolutely no other training, and regularly finishes in the top 10% of every race he enters. If life was fair, mothers would be able to shave a minute off their mile for every child. Dimity, great job! It’s hard being on the side lines!

  5. Amanda permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:07 am

    Aw, poor Grant. What a disappointment. Take care of that knee.

  6. CarrieP permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:26 am

    Awww, your Grant is my Bernie! I hate not being able to run right now (even though I tried jogging on my last walk and it was an epic fail). But my Bernie keeps telling me he can’t wait to see me run again! He goes for a weekly walk with me on Sundays to keep me motivated, and he constantly tells me I’ll be back to running before I know it. If it wasn’t for him, I might just stop walking. But he reminds me that there is life after pregnancy, and that I’ll get out there and run soon enough. He keeps me focused on the big picture… my body is performing it’s own marathon of forming my baby, and in no time at all, I’ll be back to training for my first marathon!

    • Niki permalink
      April 11, 2011 6:34 pm

      Carrie- I am in such the exact same place right now. I am preg with my 4th and officially sidelined until after she’s here. It’s so frustrating and though I’ve tried running a couple of weeks ago (also an epic failure) I’ve set my goal to run my first marathon next year. It definitely helps. My hubby is supportive too and he and the boys have been at all my races to cheer me on. I will be a complete mess to see my brood when I cross the finish like of the ‘thon.

      Hang in there, mama 🙂

  7. Lisa permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:27 am

    Disappointing, but very, very smart.
    Why are husbands so smart about this stuff? It usually drives me crazy (and I would have finished and hurt myself, too, Dimity.) My husband doesn’t even RUN (he bikes) and he knows what I should do.

    Hoping he has a speedy mourning/recovery period!

  8. C G-C permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:35 am

    Sounds like you’ve got a smart sweet husband. Mine would have carried on trying to get that 1:40 and end up worse off….. Then I get to help him heal with some home physical therapy before sending him out for more races.
    Hope it heals fast! Get him to a good physical therapist (one who does some manual fascial release) and strengthen him up.

    Here’s looking forward to the next post that shows his victory.
    We all love to hear about our supportive husbands staying heathy and active…. So that we too can stay healthy and active.

  9. Katie permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:42 am

    Dimity~ I had no idea you and I were married to the same man! John’s copy of Run Less, Run Faster is dog-eared (one of his first comments after crossing the finish line was “the book was dead on about my pace!”), running comes easier and he has the long range viewpoint. With that said~ I like my laid back approach to running better.

    I digress~ POOR GRANT!!! I hope he’s feeling better this morning about his 9 solid miles and that there isn’t serious damage to the knee. Good job, Grant!

  10. Tryna permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:50 am

    Condolences on hubby’s knee, and wishes for a speedy recovery. Most impressive, the already put together plan on how to get back out there. I agree, there will always be another race.

  11. Christine McDuffie permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:55 am

    Great story Dimity. Huge bummer for Grant. He made a really smart and HARD decision, it’s good advice for all of us.

  12. April 11, 2011 7:59 am

    Dang. He did AWESOME. So wish it would have happened for him. I was there, battling the wind as well … I set a new (much slower than his would-be) PR but it was a bit brutal. Can’t imagine pulling those kind of splits. Awesome! His attitude is good. Hope he heals well/quickly.

  13. Michelle permalink
    April 11, 2011 8:07 am

    Like usual, I can totally relate to your story here. My husband and I both run too (not that common really). He also had great success with RLRF, but I found it too challenging! For our anniversary last year, we ran a marathon together (his first). At mile 15 his knee buckled on an uphill. Rather than let him quit (maybe I should have??) we kept going for over 11 miles, with him in severe pain the entire way. Not exactly how we pictured our big anniversary run! We made it to the finish, and when our kids ran across the finish line with us, the announcer commented on how cute it was to see these kids cross the line with their GRANDPARENTS! (For the record, I’m 34, so a 7 year old grandchild would be nearly physically impossible). Anyway, we have our second marathon planned together for three weeks from yesterday – in Big Sur!! We have already made a deal though, if one of us is in severe pain…we’re hitching a ride to the finish:)

  14. Bente permalink
    April 11, 2011 8:23 am

    I feel for Grant and truly admire his ability to know when enough is enough. I’m sure it kind of put a downer on the whole family for the day so I hope he sees your post to him as a big understanding gift! I had registered (way too early) for the Portland marathon (which would have been my first) this fall and after injury and now only very slow running for 2 miles at a time, I know I won’t be running Portland. I was/am bummed but like Grant, I realize I want to be a lifetime runner and not be sidelined like this again for one race. Happy healing to Grant!

  15. April 11, 2011 8:39 am

    Oh, that stinks, but yes, good, smart and hard decision and to make it while in pain is most impressive. Good to have a thoughtful husband with long term vision. I have one of those, too and am very lucky for it. Speedy recovery to Grant.

  16. realrellim permalink
    April 11, 2011 9:16 am

    So sorry for Grant. That stinks. I was running that same race yesterday, and yes, the wind was awful! The flag pic doesn’t do it justice, though I’m not sure anything would. Here’s how bad the wind was: I usually don’t mind the wind, but after this race I hid in my house the rest of the day rather than work in the garden as planned ’cause I just couldn’t face the wind anymore.

    Hope he recovers quickly and kudos to you for being so supportive for the race and for the DNF. (Was my husband wrangling my kids and cheering me on at the race yesterday? No. Always no.)

  17. Terry permalink
    April 11, 2011 9:33 am

    Call me sentimental, but I teared up when I read this. I can totally relate! Best wishes for a fully recovered knee and back to racing again Grant!

  18. April 11, 2011 10:05 am

    Made my heart ache to read this… then, made me smile as you described his personality to yours. Love the blessing of a spouse that balances us out. Looking forward to you writing the post of his triumph when his knee is ready!

  19. Isabel McDevitt permalink
    April 11, 2011 10:48 am

    Oh Dimity- I feel for him and admire the decision to be smart. I also feel for you- being a supportive spouse and mom on the course is no small task especially when things don’t go right and there are “what ifs…” He is luck to have you!

    On a personal note, thanks for cheering me on. That head wind was terrible! It helped to think you were at mile 10.

  20. AngG permalink
    April 11, 2011 11:40 am

    My own Speedy Guy is currently laid up with a ruptured Achilles. Very timely post for our family, thanks for sharing with all of us. I wish your husband a fast and thorough recovery.

  21. Robin permalink
    April 11, 2011 12:27 pm

    Oh, I can so relate to this post. As I run more and more, my husband’s goals become all the more meaningful to me. Last fall he was shooting for a sub-2 half. The kids and I were there at the finish waiting…and waiting…and waiting. I was getting increasingly anxious for him until he came through about 5 minutes later. He had gone out too fast and the race wasn’t what he’d hoped and worked for. He is now seeing a trainer I found for him as a Xmas gift and working even harder on what has really become our shared goal. Good luck to Grant in his recovery, he made a good choice.

  22. April 11, 2011 2:51 pm

    My husband Dan is also injured (Achilles tendon thanks to an ultimate frisbee game) and also very sensible about it. He has been swimming for months now, hoping the tendon will heal on its own, but every time he tries to run it bugs him. I think he needs to see a doc–I want to run w/ him again!

    Good luck to your husband–I’m hoping he’s up and running again soon. BWT, I’m with him on Run Less Run Faster! I love that program. I’m hoping it will get my untalented bottom to Boston in the next two years.

  23. Susan Terrell permalink
    April 11, 2011 4:02 pm

    *He is patient to my haste, mellow to my manic. Even though I wish I organically had his perspective, the fact that his thoughtful presence will be forever in my life makes me feel at peace.*
    ❤ So sweet! By far, my favorite part of the whole post….sorry 'bout your knee Grant! At least you have a WONDERFUL wife to hold you up!

  24. Kdubs permalink
    April 11, 2011 6:28 pm

    Oh no! I gasped out loud! The poor guy and man oh man, so smart. I am more like you and my husband is more like yours– I totally would be in some sort of removable cast if that had been me LOL. I have now learned the hard way that his statement, ” I have the other half of my life to live..” is so very true. Way to support and encourage your hubby– give him a fist bump from the East coast 🙂
    ~ karen

  25. Danielle permalink
    April 11, 2011 6:34 pm

    I totally agree with the above poster. You made me smile when I reaad you are at peace knowing your husband’s thoughtful presence will be forever by your side.

    I also enjoyed reading about how the kids kept busy. The stick game… whatever they can make a game out of to pass the time by while on a spectator gig works great 🙂 My son opted for puddle jumping at his Uncle’s LA marathon a few weeks ago.

    Hope your guy feels better soon!

  26. Sonia permalink
    April 11, 2011 6:34 pm

    Poor Grant! Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery. At least he knows that his fan club will be waiting when he is ready for the next one.

  27. Erica Richards permalink
    April 11, 2011 6:35 pm

    I wish I had Grant’s courage.

  28. April 11, 2011 8:13 pm

    This makes me feel so much better. I just hurt my knee about a week ago and trying to talk myself into running. I was running a 8.30 min mile and loving it. Thank you for helping me rethink running.

  29. April 11, 2011 9:51 pm

    Ah…tough day, tough guy! The disappoinments are the best lessons. Rest up, rest easy and come back like a rhino!

  30. Shoshanna permalink
    April 11, 2011 11:49 pm

    Ouch … as The Fray say, sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Sounds like Grant knows that intuitively, unlike us manic types who would drag a broken leg behind us to the finish line, long-term impact be damned. BTW, I love that he calls you “sweetness” — and love reading about what a good partnership you have (and so clearly treasure).

  31. Kesha permalink
    April 12, 2011 6:56 pm

    I just love your words to describe you two, and can so relate w/ my own man. So well put! “He is patient to my haste, mellow to my manic. Even though I wish I organically had his perspective, the fact that his thoughtful presence will be forever in my life makes me feel at peace.”

  32. April 15, 2011 8:51 am

    Wishing him a speedy recovery. What discipline it takes to listen to your body and put health ahead of ego. I like you would have trudged on, been unable to run for months simply to say I completed it. Enjoy the bike until you hit the road running again my friend!

  33. April 18, 2011 7:43 pm

    Being sidelined for a year from running, I can relate to the bummed factor! Hope his knee heals quickly!!

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