The ‘M’ Word

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a while, almost three years. Recently, he brought up the “M” word.
I guess I can’t say I’m surprised — I’ve sensed it coming for a while.
We talked a little bit about dates and locations, probably staying close to home here in Louisville.
Oh — you don’t think I mean — ha!
The “M” word in this house — at least right now — is marathon.
It’s been a while since he’s run one — the last being the last leg of Ironman Louisville 2009.
In 2010, he was forced to drop out of his fourth Ironman on the bike portion.
Since then, I’ve waited for his comeback. A highly-competitive person — even more than myself — I figured he couldn’t resist.
Instead, he’s spent the past few years beating me at every other thing he could find, mostly darts during football game watches. (I don’t recommend playing darts against a former collegiate tennis player, by the way.)
In 2011, we went with some friends to run a half. It went okay, despite both of us originally planning to do the full.
And he hasn’t, much to my chagrin, raced since.
Last year he started to build his mileage back up, then got sick and was out for a couple of weeks.
He also doesn’t like to run outside in winter and had cancelled his gym membership.
And forget about long runs during football season. Almost fortunately, his alma mater, WVU, had a somewhat abysmal season followed by an even worse basketball season.
As he started hitting double-digits on the weekend and in the 30s for his weekly mileage, I started paying attention.
Buying new running clothes because he needed more gear was another heads-up.
So the other day, when he said he was thinking about running the Louisville Marathon in October, where he BQ’d in his last non-Ironman marathon, I silently fist-pumped in excitement.
Then, just as quickly, he is way faster than me.
His 13-miler last weekend was at a pace I’d struggle to hit as an all-out race pace.
Now, I’m both happy he’s running more and jealous of his innate speed. My athletic ability is mediocre — I have to work hard and put in a lot of miles to stay afloat.
Then there are people like him, who are good at everything. I lose at darts, cornhole, bocci and any other backyard games.
At least when he wasn’t running, I had that going for me.
Now, he’s back — and I have to keep an eye on him. Not because I’m trying to stay ahead, but because I have to make sure he keeps it up.
After absolutely killing his long run last weekend, his knee started to hurt — an IT band-type issue, it sounded like. I sold him running shoes for years before we started dating and know his wear patterns and tendency to keep his shoes too long.
So I trot over to the shoe rack and pick up his shoes — shoes I bought him around the beginning of December because he was resisting replacing the last blown-out pair.
Sure enough, both heels had disintegrated on the outer edge, worse on the aching leg.
Forehead slap. Boy. Car. New shoes. Now.
For the next few months, I’ll be in charge of keeping not just myself in one piece, but him, too. His comeback marathon will be a year after mine; I’ll be training to run one a few weeks later. (I was all but set on Columbus again, but they’re the same day and what kind of girlfriend would I be if I wasn’t there cheering?)
Meanwhile, I’ll have to keep track of two people’s shoes, remind him to use the stick, make sure he wears sunscreen, carry water to the track when it’s 95 degrees.
I’ll be part coach, part mother — isn’t that what spouses are for?
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