The Connection Runners + weight loss

Married To The Marathon

I've been blessed to meet some amazing people since returning to Austin. My friend Shelley is one of them. She was kind enough to write this guest post for me while I was taking a blogging break. However, I hung onto it because I wanted it to have an audience. Her life is SO interesting to me, I bet you'll feel the same way.As runners,we know all about the logistics of racing,but how does it feel from the flip side? What would it be like to be married to a Marathon Maniac? Shelley is here to share.

Disclaimer: I feel like somewhat of a poser writing a post for a fitness blog. I'm not really an athlete, nor do I have an amazing weight-loss story to share. I'm an average 30-something chica (though I do have an interesting health/fitness story of my own for a later date) who happens to be married to a marathon maniac.

My husband, Frank, started running marathons in 2002. Actually, he started running again the year before, when I was pregnant with our son, which I thought was a dirty trick. The bigger I got, the slimmer he got. What happened to that so-called sympathy weight? Bah. Not in our house.

His first marathon was our hometown race, the 2002 Austin Marathon (then it was the Motorola Marathon). I went to the finish line with my mom, our 5 month-old son, and my friend Alyn, not knowing what to expect. I saw people limping, people with bloody nipples, people sitting on the curb with their heads between their knees. Then we saw Frank finish, and what were his first words to us? "Wow, I really could have run that faster." Yowza. And an obsession was born.

Now, 120 marathons later and counting, he's proven that he can, in fact, run the races faster. And slower. And longer. And all over the country and beyond. His best time so far is a 2 hours, 54 minute finish at the St George, Utah marathon. His slowest time was at the Pike's Peak Marathon in Colorado - a 5:50. He's qualified for the Boston Marathon more times than I can count. He finished his quest to run a marathon in all 50 states + DC in May 2009 (his 50th state coincided with his sister's first marathon - pretty cool). He's run them in several countries in Europe and even in Australia. He's completed two IronMan triathlons. He's a Marathon Man. So is my brother, and now my dad, and Frank's sister is now currently training for her third marathon.

Rome Marathon

Alaska Marathon

People have mixed reactions to hearing about all the marathons. Some talk about how cool it is that we travel all over the darn place for races. Some ask if it gets to be too much sometimes, or raise their eyebrows and suggest they wouldn't be on board with such a time-consuming hobby. So, which is it? Fun and exciting, or a tedious time suck?

I'm happy to report that about 90% of the time, I'm completely happy being what some call a marathon widow.

It might be important to mention that the men in Frank's family typically haven't lived all that long. His grandfathers died at 63 and 73, (though New Orleans cooking might have been partly to blame) so it's hard not to be on board with my husband having a hobby that might help extend his life. He's not out golfing, or playing poker several nights a week. And because he runs marathons so often, each one serves as the long training run for the next, so although he runs every day it's usually just a few miles at a time. He walks our son to school, goes for a run, then comes home to get ready for work. The bottom line is that for us, the training itself tends not to take up too much family time.

Probably the most exciting part of Frank's "hobby" is the adventure of seeing new places. We really enjoy traveling together, and we've been to some great places we might not otherwise have because of marathons. Last summer Frank, my brother Scott, and my dad ran the Deadwood Marathon in South Dakota. We turned it into a fun family trip, and got to see Mount Rushmore and the Devil's Tower (of Close Encounters of the Third Kind fame.) Since we're not big road trip people, had there not been a marathon we probably wouldn't have seen these places. We've also been whitewater rafting, hiking, gambling, and wine tasting on various marathon trips, often with a dozen or so of our running friends from Austin.

Often the trips are already planned before Frank decides to run a marathon. It's a pretty sure bet that if we're traveling somewhere, Frank's checked whether there's a marathon in said place (or a race of some sort, such as the 5k from hell in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago: read about it HERE). In 2004, our two extended families took a trip to Hawaii over Spring Break, and Frank discovered that the Big Island Marathon in Hilo coincided with our vacation. Because of the marathon, we stayed an extra couple of days and visited one more island than originally planned - and LOVED it. We've also tacked on marathons to business trips. Twice my brother and I joined Frank for a business conference in London, which was fun in itself, and then flew to Switzerland and the Netherlands for satellite marathon trips (air prices within Europe are usually cheap!), and we've done several marathons around Frank's NYC business trips.

I'll admit that sometimes, it feels like the entire trip revolves around the marathon - especially when it's a weekend trip. For a long time, Frank didn't usually like to walk too much the day before a marathon, so that sometimes put a damper on our activities. Plus, we'd need to eat dinner around 5:00 and head to bed early so he could be rested for the big event. For a two or three day trip, this sometimes was a bummer. On quite a few of these trips, at some point I've usually wondered why we bothered bringing me along - especially if it's a trip where Scott was with us as well, because they'd be talking running almost the whole time. Sometimes I'd feel like Frank had sold me on the trip as a way to see an exciting destination, but we'd end up seeing a bit more of the hotel room than I'd have liked. Happily, after a while I declined to go on a few of the less exciting trips. Also happily, they're such marathon veterans, they no longer really need to prepare carefully, leaving the formerly sacred Day Before now free for just about anything. Last summer, Frank did what we called a triple marathon - one Friday, one Saturday, and one Sunday. Even though this is obviously insane in itself, in between marathons he also went horseback riding and hiking. Can't complain too much about that.

The only other real downside in my mind is that I feel a bit of pressure to stay in shape. NONE of this comes from Frank, except that you can't live with a Marathon Man and not feel compelled to be active. I have some pretty unique pulmonary issues, so I don't have to feel guilty about not running marathons (some marathon spouses do), but I do feel guilty if I've gone more than a day or two without being active. Like the first 'downside', I know it's not really a downside. I'm supposed to want to stay in shape, and i'm lucky to have a spouse whose actions spur me to keep myself fit as well. Well, semi fit, anyway.

So, that's it. I'm married to a Marathon Man, and I'm pretty happy with his choice of obsession hobby. We see the world. We eat. We sightsee. And on Saturday or Sunday morning, my husband runs while I take pictures. All in all, a hobby that brings new experiences for everyone is a pretty good one.

Frank's semi-updated running

Shelley can be found at:

cooking, fitness, guest post, HAPPY, health, marathon, pretty, race, road, running, training, travel, and more:

Married To The Marathon + weight loss