Chadd and I met in high school. This is the first picture of us together, taken my junior year or high school and Chadd's senior year. I look klutzy because we're on roller blades at my brother's 12th birthday party.
We dated from my Junior year until halfway through first semester of my Sophomore year in college. We were lucky enough to wind up (I assure you, accidentally) in the same city. When he broke up with me I was devastated for a few weeks, but then I was mad. How could he leave me? We'd dated for over 3 years. He'd told me he loved me, he cared about me, why would he do this to me? Of course, in hindsight, without him forcing us to take a break, we'd never have become best friends and have the healthy, balanced relationship that we do now. Don't let him know I told you he was right or I'll never hear the end of it. Anyway, I went from bitterly sad to raging angry in the span of weeks. And what did I do with pent up rage?
I ran laps upon laps around the GW soccer field by my dorm. I usually spent that time in burning anger or in silent prayer. About this time, Mom suggested that we consider doing a triathlon. The idea percolated in our minds, but by the time we decided to get serious about it, we'd missed the registration deadline. I was still running like a mad person, fueled by hurt and want and other icky emotions. One of my girlfriends half-jokingly suggested that I run a marathon to prove to Chadd that I was "over it." And so, I did.
I bought a book on running (Jeff Galloway's "Marathon - You Can Do It!"). I read maybe 10 pages of it, because I'm a Gryffindor and choose a training plan and went out and ran 9 miles. See yesterday's blog post about how that turned out. I started dating again (my apologies to those first men who were brave enough to weather that storm...) and by the time the Marine Corps marathon rolled around, I had a new boyfriend and was confident I could prove to Chadd just how "over it" I was.
I remember very little of my first marathon, but I do remember this one thing: somewhere around mile 11, I saw my mom (and Chadd). I stopped, hugged them both and shouted an "I love you" to my mom, and Chadd said, "I love you, too." He'll tell you this was accidental, the kind of auto-response that happens when you call your boss "Dad" or your coworker "honey." And perhaps that was true. But I held on to that for the next 15.2 miles. I crossed the finish line and the very sweet man that I was dating at the time found me sitting on a curb, near tears. He pulled me up, hugged me and, ugh, Mia, all I could say was "where is Chadd?"
So much for doing a marathon to prove I was "over" Chadd. I saw him in the crowd and lurched forward. He put his arms around me and I said "I did it. I did it in under 4:30. You owe me dinner." (we'd had a bet)
The demise of my relationship with then-boyfriend was inevitable and happened within a week or two.
A few years later (3), and a lot of support (regardless of relationship status), Chadd asked me to be his girlfriend (again).
And since then, we've been through countless races, bloody blisters, lost toenails, vomit, stinky shoes, lots of whining, driving a Ragnar van and a lot of other special things that come with running. And he's never once complained. He didn't think it was at all an imposition to take off my shoes and bloodied socks after I ran 20 miles. What a man. He's supported me taking on a half Ironman and aside from being upset that my bed time cuts into our X-Files watching, he's responded to my hours at the gym with support and love. In essence, my relationship with Chadd made me a runner, an endurance athlete. And that is a big, wonderful gift to have been given.
It's my turn to tell you how incredible Chadd is and brag about the amazing things that he has done. Last May, Chadd, myself and a few others did the Metro Dash race, which was punishing to three of us. But Chadd was energized. He sought out this horrific workout at local gyms and started going to Urban Evolution or Primal Fitness, spent hours lifting and running and totally transformed himself. He learned more skills in 6 months than I could possibly hope to obtain in 6 years. And yesterday, he turned in his video for the American Ninja Warrior competition.
This is his Ironman, his marathon. And I'm so proud and impressed by his dedication. I may deal with bloody blisters on my feet, but he's lost skin on his hands, spent several hours in the ER and weeks in a neck brace, and ices his arms almost every night.
We may have entirely different passions in fitness, but our dedication is the same. And since he's asked nothing of me over the past 10 years, I thought he deserved an unsolicited round of applause for all the work he's done (he made that video himself!).
Good job, Honey.