So a few years back, The Husband became possessed with the idea of running a marathon. Now, he’s an athletic guy (football, baseball, basketball, bike riding), but I had never known him to be a runner. I having been running my entire life, and it is one thing I can do relatively well … but even I know my limitations. No marathon for this girl. I would be cheering from the sidelines because the furthest I had ever run was 10 miles, and that was about four too many.
Books about training were purchased. Special foods and healthy snacks were procured. The merits of various running shoes were compared on the internet. Fancy charts were printed to explain to me his Training Regime (if you talk to anyone who has run a marathon or is planning to run a marathon, they can talk all day about their special Training Regime). He was quite insistent about how his training of running 10 or 15 miles per day was not going to impact our lives at all. (Did I mention the ages of our children at this point? I didn’t? They were three and one.)
The Husband was getting up at 5 AM to drive to a nearby area with waterfalls and running paths. He was running in the evening after work. I’m not 100% sure, but he was probably running on his lunch break at work.
He liked to drop the fact of his running into casual conversation whenever he could. It was sort of like bragging. The phone would ring, and I would hear him chat merrily for a couple minutes and then he’d say to the caller, “Gosh, you know, I’d really love to, but I can’t. I have to run because I’m training for a marathon. Sorry.” He’d hang up the phone and I’d ask who he was talking to. “I don’t know, it was a salesperson.”
This went on for a good eight or nine months. I was not happy. Remember, I also like to run, but my running suddenly became a lower priority because I was not training-for-a-marathon. If The Husband came home from work at 5 PM and I went to hand him the crying baby and tell him the toddler needed a bath and could he please accomplish all this while I went for a 40 minute run, he would give me that look (you know the one: like you are extremely forgetful?) and say, “Uh, Hon, remember I’m training-for-a-marathon. Today is my ‘on’ day, so I gotta get in a quick eight miles, at least.” End of discussion.
I did the baths, I did the dinner (even though I don’t cook), all the while I could feel my thighs morphing from semi-acceptable to just plain fat. Grrrrrrr.
The day finally came, the day of the actual marathon, and no one was happier than me. I thought that once he ran it, he could finally abandon his Training Regime. Because the marathon he chose happens to be world-famous, the crowds were ridiculous. We agreed that my in-laws would come to our house to babysit the children while I would meet up with The Husband at the finish line. He gave me strict instructions to bring several liters of water with me in case he might be dehydrated after the long race.
I dutifully stood at the finish line looking for him at the appointed time. (He had told me that in all his practice runs, he was able to easily complete the distance in about four hours, so I should be there maybe a few minutes before that.) I cheered on random runners as my eyes scanned the crowd looking for The Husband. I saw young people, old people, military people, handicapped people, but I did not see The Husband. I kept thinking, he will be in this next group for sure.
Two hours went by. I was convinced that I had somehow missed him (had he completed the race in only three hours due to the adrenalin rush?). I was just about to leave, when I finally saw him, limping along to the finish line. I ran over near him and started screaming, “Yay! You can do it! You are almost there! You’re doing great!” as he crawled across the line. I handed him some water and gave him a hug. He seemed in a daze.
“I don’t feel good,” he said, as he drank the last bit of water I handed him. Well, yeah, you did just run a marathon. I don’t think you’re supposed to feel good.
We got on the metro with all the other runners and their families and headed back home. The in-laws handed off the kids and congratulated The Husband for achieving his life-long dream.
The Husband lay in bed for a long time, his marathon medal still around his neck. “Hon?” he called out, “I really don’t feel good. I, uh, I think you might need to call an ambulance for me.”
Since I myself was a runner, I thought The Husband might be overreacting a teensy bit. “Sweetie,” I heard myself say, “Just drink a little more water and I will go Google your symptoms.”
I went to the computer and typed in “marathon” and “feeling sick.” 152,000 results popped up. Seems like it was pretty typical for people to feel ill after their first long race.
In the meantime, The Husband stumbled out of bed and called 911. A fire-truck appeared in front of our house in about two minutes (we had the good fortune of living near a fire station).
Our older son, Tall, was at the window shrieking. At first, I thought he was upset about this nasty turn of events and his father being ill. No. Turns out he was just excited that the fire truck stopped at our house. “Can I see all their equipment?” he asked sweetly, “And will they let me turn on their siren?”
The paramedics were fabulous and quickly loaded The Husband into their vehicle. I phoned the next-door neighbor Helga to come watch our children so I could accompany him to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, the wonderful doctors asked a million questions (which I had to answer because The Husband was so out of it—this should have been a clue for me that something was frighteningly wrong) and ran a million tests. They determined that he had OVER-hydrated and flushed all the crucial electrolytes right out of his system. (All this time I thought I was being helpful by giving him more water, I was actually killing him.)
Five saline solution bags and one overnight stay later, The Husband was back to his old self. The doctor had said she could sign his release papers if he could eat a big breakfast (he ate two) and walk unassisted (he did).
I drove The Husband home, and as we pulled into the driveway he said, “I think that was my last marathon.”
Good, I thought, that makes two of us.
A few weeks later, his special plaque arrived in the mail. There was a lovely photo of The Husband running the marathon, and his name and running time were engraved under the name of the event. I handed it to him when he got home from work that night.
“Wow,” he said, while he lovingly caressed the shiny plaque and a dreamy look came over his face. “You know, the race wasn’t that bad … maybe I’ll do it again.”
("Marathon's Objectionable Victory")