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Let's Run a Race, She Said. It'll be Fun, She Said.

When my wife and I are on one of our many Sunday drives, we do a fair bit of vocal observation on the various items that cross our line of sight. “I’d never have painted my house that color,” I’ll muse, even though I’ve never chosen house paint in my whole life, and there’s an outside chance that I never will. “Our dog is cuter than that dog,” she’ll say, even though our dog is the by-default cutest dog in the whole wide world, and our time would be better served by choosing house paint than acknowledging the existence of another canine. We tend to agree on these things, as judgmental lovers do.

A different interaction happens, though, when we see couples running together. “Oh, look at them, Ty,” my wife will say. “I wish we did that.” And I recoil or feign deafness, because while I am a relatively active person, running is not something I enjoy. Even if I was being chased, I’d rather climb a tree or play dead than try to outrun my hypothetical pursuer.

The reasons for this distaste are stupid and paradoxical. I don’t like to acknowledge that my belly bounces when I run; of course, the best way to prevent this would be to run more often. I hate how sore it makes my butt and thighs; a base-level understanding of physiology would suggest that this would occur less frequently with each progressive mile. Yet, knowledge of these facts have done little to prod me to join my wife in track pants and tenny-runners.

And then the new year happened, and my wife came up with the most annoying of resolutions: she wanted us to run a race together. And bless her heart, she’s always been frustratingly good at making and keeping resolutions, as evidenced by the quinoa and so-called superfoods that have left a Dorito-shaped hole in my pantry.

Ever the accommodating spouse, I laid out the terms of me agreeing to such an outrageous proposition: find a 5k a few months out, talk me into some expensive but fashionable shoes that make me feel ten years younger, and then appeal to my competitive nature by suggesting that I might die mid-race. Truly, it was the only way.

So she found a race -- Stevens Point, March 3rd -- and I began training. I downloaded a gently motivating app and bought some socks that boasted of their “anatomical and anti-microbial” design, both of which sounded like good things for socks to aspire to. I even goaded my goldendoodle into joining me in my training jogs, since it’s important to have a fall guy if training goes tits-up. After a few weeks of running and no known microbials stunting my progress, I was as ready as I’d ever be.

Except I wasn’t. In the days leading up to the race, I decided to look at the course itself, only to find that the race I thought I’d signed up and trained for -- five kilometers, just over three miles -- was in fact a five-mile race. And while that extra 60 percent might not seem imposing to your garden-variety pacer, to me it recalled the Donner Party, who made it about 60 percent of the way to California before their glutes started burning.

In the end, I ran the race I thought I’d signed up for. I kept a nice pace for the first five kilometers, and then took my sweet time with the rest of it. I backpedaled down the homestretch, as one does. And in the process of helping my wife with her resolution, I knocked off one of my own: I made her proud of me.

Next year at this time, I say we paint the house.

April 2018

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