For Better, Worse, or !00 miles

            A friend once asked me if my husband Mark really exists, or if I made him up.  The question caught me off guard, but it made sense, because it is rare for him to make an appearance at one of my races.  However, as I taper for my race next week, I have to reflect on how I know I couldn’t do what I do without him.
            His support usually starts at night.  He’ll tap me on the shoulder, “Tiggs, you’re doing it again”.  I’m running in my sleep.  That’s when I know the race has totally taken me over.  Mark will usually grab his pillow and head to the guest room, knowing that neither of us will sleep as long as I log nocturnal miles.
            He’ll understand as mid-sentence, I’ll stare off into space and go to check and re-check the tackle box to assure for the 100th time that yes, in fact, my head lamps do work.
            He tells me of "friends" to ask him why he "lets" me do the things I do.  His response is always "have you MET Eva?...go ahead, YOU try and stop her."
            He didn’t even blink an eye, when I ripped down the wallpaper in the study and started re-painting just because I had nervous energy and couldn’t sleep.  He didn’t leave me when I called a contractor because I had an “idea”. 
            I usually try to train during “down-times”----early am before everyone wakes, when Nat is at a camp or karate, when Noah has hockey practice, in the evening when everyone has settled in, but he understands when I just need to get out there and hit the roads to work through some technical aspect of my race that he doesn’t even pretend to understand.
            When we were in Cleveland last week, he volunteered to walk a loop of the North Coast 24 course with me.  He knew that I needed to return to a place of success so I could draw strength for next week.   He listened as I spoke in minute detail about my race strategy.  When we finished it, he said the words I’ve been longing to hear “do you think I could run a marathon here?”  I nearly fainted.
            He gives me a long leash for the many, many moods I go through as I obsess about this race.  He knows I’ll obsess about my hair (not vanity, just so I don’t have to think about it), my clothes, my shoes, my socks, my changes of clothes, body glide, bug spray, my food, my hydration, my tent and camping equipment and how I’ll transport all this stuff.
            He dang near kidnapped me today, and forced me to update my iPod with motivational songs.  My music man has a literal wall of cds that he can speak ad nauseum about.  When Noah’s friends see his collection the most common response is “oh sh*t-this is AMAZING”.  We entered musical negotiations and he added some obscure songs that are really great, all while pantomiming a running motion to assure I could in fact, run to it.  It was a way for his passion to intersect with mine.
            He may not be at the races, but he has the post-race down.   He is well versed in the drill.  He pulls me out of my disgusting clothes being cautious of my gear and shoves me into the bed in our study for me to sleep it off.  He grabs a bucket, a Gatorade (orange), and a towel.   When I wake, I know he’ll help me give into whatever food fantasy I have been fixating on.
            Tomorrow, he is taking me away for a few days to Lake Placid to do some hiking, swimming, and canoeing.  Not because he enjoys these things, but because I do.  However, he’ll tell you it is because I’m not fit to be around other humans as I taper.
            When my pacer fell through for the Dirty Girl 100 Mile Run next week, Mark (very reluctantly) agreed to crew/pace me, to assure I don’t get in my own way during the last 25 miles.  This is something that is about as far out of his comfort zone as he can get.
            So, Mark does in fact exist.  He’s the one supporting me, every step I take.


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