When my wife and I were dating, I accidentally beat her at a board game. I could tell by the look in her eyes that was a grave mistake, and I ended up running for my life. I soon learned not to play games with my wife lest I lose (which is what normally happened), or I get beat up.
We had been married about a year when we went to Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore, Oklahoma for a day of hiking, swimming, and exploring. She suggested that we run on the trails. “Sure,” I said. “Sounds fun.”
Since I ran a little high school track and cross-country and had entered a few 5k’s, I thought myself the running expert and was prepared to let her keep up with me. Instead, after several minutes of watching her backside I was gasping for air and crying for her to slow down. She wasn’t winded the slightest and turned to laugh and taunt me. “Come on, you big baby!” she called.
Over the next few years, my wife ran a little. Usually it was on a treadmill in the living room where she could keep an eye on the babies it seemed we were always having. When there was a local 5k, she would enter and win. She’d always insist that she only won because there was no competition.
In 2012, my wife entered the Cowtown Marathon, which would be her first time to run 26.2 miles. Her goal was to run under four hours. With an injury around mile 20, she still finished at 3:55.
Runners qualify for the Boston Marathon by running a certain time based on their age. For women in her age group, the time was 3:30. When I suggested she make that a goal, she said that was absurd.
“Boston is for real runners,” she said.
A few months later, she ran her second marathon in Omaha, Nebraska, where she finished in 3:36. After that she decided to make qualifying for Boston a goal. In December of the same year, she again ran a 3:36 at the Metro PCS Dallas Marathon. She came home upset and frustrated even though she finished 16th out of 1904 ladies in her age group.
“I can’t run any faster than I did,” she told me.
Two months later, again at the Cowtown Marathon, she won first in her age group with a 3:25 and qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon. And two months after that, the bombing happened.
Amanda’s best friend also qualified for the 2014 Boston. They applied, were both accepted, and traveled to Boston a year after terrorists changed the history of the race.
Despite injuries from overtraining—her weekly mileage was close to 100 by the end—Amanda ran a 3:42 at Boston.
Ankle surgery followed the next December. Since then, Amanda has generally kept her runs below ten miles at a time.
In the last several years she has competed in triathlons and Spartan races and trail races and all manner of horrible activities “for fun,” always reporting that she didn’t do very well. I’ll look up the results and say something like, “Well, 3 out of 33,456 doesn’t sound too bad,” and she always acts surprised or like I must be mistaken. But I know the girl who can’t stand to lose at Rummy Cube; she’s probably really fuming about the two people who beat her. Especially if they were wearing matching cute costumes—that really makes her mad.
It is hard for me to live with such an athlete. When I was still trying to win my age group in road races, her advice was always, “Just run faster.”
I am a normal person with normal genetics, and it is impossible for my wife and daughters to relate to such mediocrity. I have zero talent, work hard, and kinda like to try to win, yet seldom expect to. She has talent, works harder than anyone I know, and kinda wants to hurt something if she doesn’t win.
Being married to super woman is good for me, though. I can’t get complacent. I’m probably much stronger and more fit than I would be if I were married to an average person. I’ve ran marathons (more than an hour slower than my wife) and done other things I’d never done had it not been for her. You can’t survive in this family if you don’t stay in shape.
I’ll never beat my wife in a race, and I’m too scared of her to try to beat her in anything else. Which is one of the reasons I stick to weight lifting—she hates lifting weights. And I’m thankful she does—I’d be embarrassed for my wife to bench press more than me.