Thursday, July 05, 2007


I've had this post rolling around in my mind for a while. I haven't quite figured out what to say or how to say it, but it feels like something I need to write about.

Part One:
Steve and Rob were surprised when Eric and I told a story about the Vancouver Marathon and how irritated I was with Eric after the race. They remarked that I didn't put stuff like that in my blog - and it's true. I don't give every gory detail about our relationship out to the blogging world. And why should I? After all, it's our relationship and it's private. It is just like any other healthy, normal relationship. We have ups and downs, we snap at each other and get ticked off, we let it go and move on. We tell stories on each other and we laugh and sometimes we get ticked all over again. We are two people in a marriage and as far as I can tell, that's the way a marriage works. I don't think it would be fair or respectful to Eric to tell the whole blogging world if I'm mad at him, and I hope he feels the same when he's mad at me - that's a private part of our lives. I used to look around me and see other people's marriages and think "oh, they have a perfect relationship - they love each other and support each other, and never get mad or fight". I know better now. So, part one of my post is this: yes, we have arguments, yes, we get irritated and grouchy, and yes, we get busy with work and kids and stress takes over. But we work it out. Love trumps all. And when we do get mad, you won't be reading about it here.

Part two:
I've received a lot of very nice comments regarding the support Eric and I give each other in our running lives. It's easy for us to support each other because running is a shared passion. We both love it and live it. Now, let me tell you, ten or twelve years ago, we weren't as good at it. I totally understand the spouses who get upset over running. When we first started running, our children were small and I stayed home while Eric raced. I got ticked when training runs took him away for two or three hours on a Saturday. I didn't like it when I had to haul kids and dogs to a dog show alone so he could get in a training run. From my perspective it seemed like I was always having to give up my runs to take care of kid things, because I wasn't training for anything and he was. I can only imagine what it would have felt like if I didn't like running at all.

Eric and I can do what we do now because we are both runners and because our children are grown. Let's face it, running is a selfish sport - long hours alone, races where you are seen for brief seconds, intense discussions of strange things like puking and fartleks and splits. Some of us pour money into shoes and clothes and races and trips. What does the rest of the family get from it? Maybe a happier runner, but is that pay off worth the hours spent without the runner? (Which explains why so many runners go out early in the morning before the family gets up).

Let's imagine for a minute that you have a partner that loves to knit. They want you to go to knitting stores with them, to talk knitting, to understand when they need to put everything else aside - and have you take care of the home front - while they put in some knitting hours. They gotta have that new, lightweight set of needles and the very best wool yarn to knit with. And, most of all, they want you to come to the big knitting competition and watch them knit. Maybe even bring them food, drink and a new pair of needles when they need them. And they get irritated with you when you grab the wrong color yarn, or drop the ball and let it tangle. And then, after the competition is over, they want to spend the drive home talking about how fast they purled, and wasn't it cool when they switched yarn mid-way? And did you see that other guy over there? His needles were flying, but by golly, your knitter turned on the burners and finished two rows ahead of them. Could you do it? Could you stand to see your money go into knitting, knitting and more knitting? Would you get ticked when weekend after weekend brought knitting practice and knitting tourneys? Could you give your whole-hearted support to your knitter and follow them through it all?

Frankly, I don't think I could. I can do it for running because I love running. If I didn't, all bets would be off. Yes, I have empathy and sympathy for all those non-running family members out there. Sometimes balance isn't just about finding balance for yourself and your life, but about finding balance for your family. It's something we work at in this house - and something we haven't done very well in 2007. This year has been all running, all the time. That's something we talked about on our vacation - how to get a little balance into our lives. How to run as much as we want, how to get Eric to a couple more 100s and still get me to marathons. How to do that and finish the bathroom projects and paint the bedrooms and get new carpet. How to spend time with our parents and boys and neighbors. We're working on it - it's a work in progress - a journey. We are lucky that it's a journey that we are both interested in and a journey we want to take together.


Darrell said...

Maybe I should take back part of my last comment. Just kidding. You two seem to have something pretty special.

We are at a similar point in our lives family wise. Having the boys almost completely grown has definitely given me the freedom to pursue this running gig further than I could of 10 years ago. I feel very fortunate that Lisa enjoys going to the marathons with me and turning it into her own little adventure trying to follow my progress on the course. Turning each state into a mini vacation has been very enjoyable.

We need to redo our bathrooms too. Want a make a wager on who gets to it first?

Jack said...

Very good post, I found myself nodding my head in agreement or just totally following what you were talking about as I read.

Having a non-running wife I am constantly trying to balance out my running with the other things in my life and that of my wife which are important. Some weeks I do better than others, but at least my wife sees that I am trying.

Thomas said...

Some runners indeed go out early in the morning before the family gets up. I'm one of them, and it simply wouldn't work any other way. I wouldn't want to leave Niamh alone with the kids for hours every day - not that she would let me.

Interesting knitting analogy. As much as I love talking about running, I have the fixed rule that I never bring it up in any conversation. If someone else starts mentioning it, that's different.

Randy said...

Michelle, the depth of your blog posts is astounding. It's perfect timing for what you say and when it is posted. I find it so incredible that you and Eric have built so many incredible years around something that is obviously so special to you both. You run at different levels with different goals, but at the base of things, at the deepest are both runners, entwined in a marriage that has perhaps surpassed today's norm and flourished because of what you have become as runners. True champions that recognize and promote the other's strength and listen to the details when necessary.

The couple that I have directed to your email, blog and to Eric's blog are young and both appear to be runners, though I believe the wife to be the more experienced of the two...they are both runners, I saw that this past 4th of July, she ran with her hubby, and I'm sure that she could have run ahead, alone but chose to support her mate. I hope they both read this post of yours and realize what they have ahead of them, and see that running can and does lead to better health...but it can provide the path to a healthier marriage as well. I'm not suggesting that they have any problems, but rather perhaps your post is meant to help them towards a future together that might have otherwise gotten misdirected.

Wonderful post....awesome words... thanks for putting your thoughts and feelings into the blog. Thanks for being here for so many others.

JustRun said...

What an excellent post, Michelle! I completely agree. I don't think any of us tell the WHOLE story and why would we?

I think it's wonderful and actually, very unique, what you and Eric share with running. But to think it's without it's challenges would be silly. Running and races and travel is still life.

Very nicely written, Michelle. Thanks!

psbowe said...

I loved your post, very well written. I too feel very fortunate to have a spouse that is supportive of my running, although like you say, there are times when he starts to feel like I'm married to 'running'.

Anonymous said...

It's a sign of a good relationship when you don't air your dirty laundry. Yea, everyone has their moments, but good for you two for supporting each other's running! My husband isn't a runner, but he is understanding and supportive. (He knows what a grouch I am without my running!) :)

Wes said...

Michelle, AWESOME :-) Ther perfect marriage is just as you described it. It is NOT a fairy tale. I'm just fortunate to have the same kind of support from Dee Dee. She's even talking about leaving me and doing a race without me!! Oh the humanity!! LOL.

robtherunner said...

For a minute I thought you were going to tell the whole story about Vancouver, but good call on leaving it private.

A thought provoking post. You made knitting sound kind of exciting.

olga said...

Ditto on first part. And knitting was a good choice to pick - I used to do that and cross-stitching, and got about same excitement from a family as I do know. A food for thought - why would it be any different for them?

Try@thlete said...

Wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully said in all respects.

I hope you both have more running journeys spent in each other's company as well as in an activity that means much to each of you.

Michelle Sarabia said...

Michelle...When I was reading your blog, I felt like it was directed at me and the trouble I am having balancing my need to have me time(aka running time) and the new role of single parent for a year. It hit so many true notes. Then I read all of these wonderful responses and realized how much you touch everyone with your words.
As far as the marriage and relationship thing, the people I thought had it all and were the happiest, are now divorced. Everyone has struggles and bad times and it is how we make it through that brings us even closer.
Michelle S.

Robb said...

Sometimes there is ugly stuff...just like rotten bruised toenails eh? Best part you say, Love Trumps All. Here! Here!!

Excellent post (I can relate).

Mama said...

Well said. Life and marriage is all about balance and the journey. We thrive when there is balance and we learn from the journey, I hope.

As the wife of a runner I do sometimes get tired of hearing about the details, but the running and the telling make him so happy, and I like a happy husband.

Anonymous said...

I'm running leg 9. I'm trying to figure out how you guys will know me. Your husband suggested I wear a sombrero. I'm thinking I'll just carry a single red rose. :) (Ha!) Hmmmmm. . . maybe I'll have to break down and post a picture of myself.

Ryan said...

Great post yes balance is very important in any relationship and also in sports. Funny perspective on the knitting! On days when I have my long runs I often think about being home and when I’m home I think about running….life is funny!

Enjoy the journey

Sarah said...

One reason why I switched to focusing on late spring/early summer races is that once summer hits there are so many other things I want to do too!

Since the little guy is still young, Marc and I are at that phase where we have to negotiate our "me" time. Week days work out fine since Marc has no interest in getting out early. But on weekends we often trade off and one will go out when the other returns. Not something I'd want to do all the time!

Anyway, thanks for the post. You put into words what a lot of people are thinking about in their own lives. :)

Joe said...

Terrific, thoughtful post, Michelle, thanks.

Demographically speaking, I do wonder if this is part of the reason there are so very many people in their late 40s and 50s doing distance running. The kids are older and the time for training is there?? I have a post brewing in my head on this topic and I'll link back to this one of yours when I do...I'll welcome your comments then.

Great choice of using knitting as an analogy!!!

Anonymous said...

Michelle, you are a role model for me in so many ways.
Its nice to know you have ups and downs but I agree that keeping your personal woes is respectful to your partner - I don't always do that mostly because not having my mom to talk to I use my blog to vent.

You are also lucky that you both run. Tom hasn't run much since the marathon and I kind of feel like I'm a solo runner.

Loved the knitting analogy.

shawn said...

Michelle, I've been thinking over your post for a while. You're right, running is selfish. I rationalize that so is devoting yourself to tv and video games :)So in my book, in my situation, I feel I am trying to be a good role model. We don't have children, but it is still difficult to balance running and life. Thanks for the post.

scott keeps running said...

thanks for writing this. i've forwarded it to my wife and it's just something good to dwell on everyone once in awhile.

Chad said...

Wow - great post! Of course my wife doesn't like knitting or running (yet).

I did do the knitting thing with my daughter, as well as many other things that I wouldn't otherwise think to do, but kids are a different story - you know those moments are going to be limited and soon they will be off and gone - so they seem special regardless of the activity.

Sarah Elaine said...

Fabulous post, Michelle. I think I'll be digesting it for a while. :-)

TX Runner Girl said...

Hi, I found your blog while reading Scott's blog. This is a great post. You're so right that running is selfish! I have a small kiddo and a non-running hubby, so it's hard to fit it in. I find myself getting up early just so I can have time with the people who matter the most. :-)

Steve said...

Hmm, this knitting thing sounds related to your clothes obsession.

As for your spats with Eric, you can't hide those. I've seen the scratches and bruises on Eric's arms and legs. Don't try to blame that on his running and falling ...(ahh, never mind, ignore this comment).

Anonymous said...

I think I will recognize you guys from your pictures. (Hopefully!) I will be in a silver Grand Caravan. (Team name: Hoof-Hearted.) I plan to be wearing blue. I know it's not too helpful, but I have yet to getting around to getting a picture posted. See you soon! :)

GotLegs! said...

Wow Michelle - this is deep! Seriously, I understand what you're saying.

You mentioned balance and I think that is key. I stayed out of WS until my kids were grown for that very reason ... and all but 4 of my 100 ultras were done here in the NW. And I don't obsess over gadgets or video games ... but that's just me.

Eric asked me what kind of shoes I was wearing the other day. I told him they were called Leona Divides and yes, I bought them before he started running ultras. So tell him to quit making fun of my old shoes and I'll stop making fun of his Garmin (that can't keep track of mileage on Tiger - ha!).

Oh wait, you're on his side ;-) and good for you - we all need more couples like you two!!


RunnerGirl said...

I love this post. It is soooo on the mark. I guess I never really put much thought into it being a runner, until you put it out there. I took my passion for granted... in the way that everyone else should *obviously* have the same passion, for my passion at least!

This is a wake-up call... and just makes me appreciate what my support crew goes through!

And GREAT analogy with knitting. That sort of put it all into perspective.

Great post Michelle!

Anonymous said...

Well said Michelle. Sharing the private stuff is actually a kind of betrayal. If there is ever a time when a person should be able to keep a confidence it's with a spouse.

I often find that couples begin at some point to pursue seperate interests and gradually grow apart. You guys are blessed to have found a shared pursuit that keeps you spending time and communicating together.

King Arthur said...

Nice post Michelle. And I thought I was lucky with the amount of support I get from my wife.
The “girl” helping Jenn last year at CCC was my maniac pacer “Possum”.

Meghan said...

Thanks for a great post, Michelle!

So, you're saying that you and Eric really do have a human, normal marriage afterall? ;)

I think you're right, the key to it all is balance. Balance on a variety of scales, day-to-day, year-to-year, and etc.

If we keep our perspectives and our lives in fair and logical balance, I do think that our life partners/close friends/family should support that which we are passionate about, be it something they are interested in, or not. I think our passions give us much of the character/personality that these close people love about us.

I've so far known two people who've wholeheartedly supported my interest in running, my dad and my sweetie. With my dad, he didn't actually run himself!


runliarun said...

Knitting tourney? Only you could have come up with such a term.

My boyfriend is angelic in his patience with my running. At least if I were knitting, he would get some sweaters. Then, he does not like sweaters either. I am fortunate he just takes me as I am.