Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Number One Supporter

{warning: high sap content}

The Running Blog Family is a great community of blogging runners (or running bloggers) and the support we give each other is outstanding. But as good as it is, it's not the same as what I get from my biggest supporter. Of course, my parents were always great supporters of everything I did, and since my father passed away last year, my mother is still a tremendous supporter of all her kids and grandchildren (Thanks, mom! -- I know you're reading this). But she is not my biggest supporter either. My kids? When I told my daughter I was going to lose weight and run a marathon, her words were, "Yeah right, Dad." (She's a believer now.) My son says he'll go out for a run with me as soon as I can beat his high school 5K PR. (I'm gonna hold him to that.) Let me tell you about my number one supporter.

I met Anita in college; a time when, though I was interested in running, I had hardly ever run more than 2 miles at a time. Anita took a running class from Ed Coyle (now a somewhat renowned exercise physiologist). She "got it". She loved running. She ran her first race, the 15K Tucson Sun Run (5K's were almost unheard of at the time). She talked me into running it the following year. I trained by running 3 miles each day for four or five weeks. That was it. But I did the race. And I finished. And it wouldn't have happened without Anita.

My usual runs became 3 or 4 miles. One day Anita told me she was taking me on a run.

I ask, "How far?"

"Oh, about 5 miles."

"I don't know if I'm ready for that."

"You can do it. Let's go."

(40 minutes or so later)

I say, "I think we've gone about 5 miles."

"Yeah, well it's not too far back to my house."

She totally kicked my ass for 7 miles. I was duly impressed. She said she thought that someday she might do a marathon. No arguments from me. But a bicycle accident and knee surgery soon after have precluded that goal for her (so far).

We were married a couple years later, and in the years since then...

When I did my first triathlon (2K/50K/10K) in the desert heat and ended up totally drained, she was the one who walked with me the final miles of the 10K.

On my second crossing of the Grand Canyon (South rim to North rim in one day -- 20 miles), when I got badly dehydrated, she was the one who hiked down 2 miles to find me and walk with me back up to the top.

Through countless injuries (adductor pulls (twice), plantar fasciitis, groin pull (that was the worst), stress fractures (3 different times), and ITBF syndrome), she is the one who has put up with my whining, my depression, my crankiness.

As I gained more weight than I ever should have, she was the one who accepted me for who I was, as I was, and never hounded me about it.

As I lost that weight I never should have gained in the first place, she was the one who encouraged me through the whole process.

When I ran the San Diego marathon and got dehydrated (I've had this problem with hydration) and spent 40 minutes at the mile 22 medical tent and then walked the rest of the way in, she was the one who waited for me to finish my 5 1/2 hour marathon (well, actually, everyone had to wait for me on that one) and showed nothing but encouragement and concern for my well-being.

As I've trained for my races and marathons, and continue on my quest to eventually qualify for Boston, and slowly increased my weekly mileages higher and higher, and run intervals at the track on Tuesday evenings, and insisted on Sunday pancakes after a long run followed by a lot of lounging around on the sofa, and as I've obsessed over nutrition and hydration and electrolyte balance, and spent money on shoes, shorts and shirts, and jackets and gels, and energy drinks, race entry fees and airline tickets, and as I've spent time blogging about all of this, she has never complained (well, hardly ever -- airfare is expensive -- and "get off that &*#$ computer!").

And of course it's not just me. As both of our kids went through 4 years of high school cross country, she was the editor of the cross country newsletter and later president of the cross country parent booster club (it was a big program). She volunteered at the San Diego marathon and when her assignment was complete, she joined in to help some more at the finish line. One of my highlights from the Boston marathon was standing next to her and listening to her explain things about the runners and the race to the kids who happened along to watch. She is a tireless supporter of all things running.

She is my biggest supporter and I am so lucky to be married to her.

Thank you, Anita. I love you.

"Who is (are) your greatest supporter(s)?"


Blogger D said...

This is one of the sweetest posts! It is great when someone that is close to you supports you in your running insanity!

4/26/2006 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Audrey said...

She sounds amazing. I want to be like her!!!

4/26/2006 5:00 PM  
Blogger E-Speed said...

awwe. You've got a great wife Kurt! I am sure she is very proud of all your running accomplishments!

4/26/2006 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tribute to your wife Kurt. I'll be thinking of my greatest supporter on tomorrow's run.

4/26/2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Ooooh. I'm at school w/tears in my eyes. What a wonderful post!

I had the intense pleasure of meeting Anita (oh, and Kurt) after my first marathon, and she made an impression on me. I was "dead man walkin'" after my barely sub-6 hr marathon, but Anita engaged me in conversation on & off throughout the night. She's one of those rare people that when she is talking/listening to you, you know she is there... in that moment.. actually listening and interested in what you have to say.

4/27/2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Wow, Kurt. What a sweet way to pay tribute to a great woman. Some day I want you to tell us more about the Grand Canyon Rim Run. I've wanted to do a run out there but found the course quite forboding.

4/27/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Kurt in Boston said...

Yes, everyone, she is great.

Now what about you?

Let's hear from:


4/27/2006 3:28 PM  
Blogger E-Speed said...

Well I think my mom and dad have got to be the number one supporters. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with all my goings on and they have been to almost everything from middle school cross to adult traithlons and marathons.

David is definitely my biggest at home supporter though. He puts up with all of my crap :) But still tracks those splits while I am out busting my arse, all while terrified for my survival. He's definitely special.

4/27/2006 3:34 PM  
Blogger olga said...

Wow! That brought tears to my eyes. You are a lucky man.

4/27/2006 8:36 PM  
Blogger D said...

I've written a post about two of my biggest fans (quite a while ago) #1 is my daughter - I can't even begin to describe the feeling that I get when I am struggling late in a marathon and I hear "GO MOM" in that familiar voice that belongs to my baby ....she also makes the COOLEST signs for me....#2 is my sister...she tries to make it to every race and I can always hear her loud and clear cheering me on....

4/27/2006 8:53 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

OK, Kurt. My husband gets the nod. His dedication is nowhere near Anita's, but he's been there when I need him most, like to be dropped off or picked up during a local race. In the early days, I made him stand in some pretty crappy weather with two cranky kids while I did my thing. Then he found a guy at work to run with me, so he was off the hook for years. Lately, he's had to sit through rambling and varied renditions of the same runs as my endorphins and hormones struggle for supremacy. That's true love, let me tell you.

He cooks when I'm too tired. He massages my feet when I ask nicely. And he offers such encouragement as "Will you just get the hell out of here!" when I try to talk during a televised football game. Of course, every runner knows what he's really saying is "I love you, honey. Now go enjoy yourself with a good, long run."

4/27/2006 8:56 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I would be hard-pressed to come up with a short list of people who make it possible for me to follow my passion. Not to get too Bastyrian, but I believe in the connectedness of all beings, and as long as I stay open to being a part of that, things seem to go smoothly.

But, ok, short list:
The Akins' (family currently providing a roof over my head), my brother and his wife, my aunt Ann. But really, it's every single person in my life that makes it as complete as it is. :)

4/27/2006 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll find my list of supporters on the blog. I just logged in a post in an attempt to answer Kurt's question.

4/28/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger backofpack said...

Kurt, Craig mentioned your post in his post. It is a wonderful tribute to your wife. I'd have to say my husband is my biggest supporter, though all my friends in the running club are a close second!

4/28/2006 2:50 PM  

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