Houston marathon, long blog posts, sleep problems, super cool husbands

Testing our limits.

My husband ran his first marathon this weekend. How boring would it be if that was the entire story? Luckily I have two young children so that is never the whole story…

My husband has been running since last spring (and we don’t know where is! {Ba-Dum-Pum-Ching!}). He only decided a few months ago that he would run the Houston Marathon (he ran a half marathon in October and some other longer races since then). Him running a marathon is something that has always come up in our conversations over the years, but not something that was ever a “for real” goal until recently. It is so awesome that he decided to do it – and that he stuck with that decision. Especially because prior to being a “runner” he was “someone with a bad back.” In the last five years or so there have been several occasions where his back was totally out – like in a “can’t move” kind of way. Since he started running and focusing on his technique, I can’t think of any back problems that he’s had. That he kept going with his training and with his running goals is a shining example of testing the limits of your body (in a good way) and taking full advantage of your health and the body God gave you to do something super cool. Or, doing something simply because you can.

So this marathon was kind of a big deal.

It was big for all of us, really, because we have been supporting his habit this whole time! His training affects our time as a family since he does his long runs on a weekend morning. He gets up early on those days so it has the minimum impact on us, but we still schedule and plan around it. So the girls and I wanted to be there for his first marathon.

We drove down to downtown Houston Saturday afternoon to check into our hotel and check out the expo they had at the convention center. We decided to stay downtown (even though we don’t live that far away)  so we would already be there in the morning since we had no idea what traffic or parking might be like the morning of the races with all the road closures, not to mention the uncertainties of getting two small children out the door on time by myself. We were a little hesitant to go forward with our plan of all sleeping in one room as we had done that the night before my husband’s half marathon in October (also downtown) and we had a HORRIBLE night – my sweet baby wouldn’t go to sleep so of course neither could we. We really didn’t want a repeat of that experience, so our backup plan was to call a friend of ours who lives nearby to come pick up my husband if she wouldn’t go to sleep. This was a good plan, because we were all going to bed early and it would give us enough time to ascertain how well she would sleep. She fell asleep without too much difficultly around 8:30 – later than her normal bedtime, but as early as we could manage being away from home. So no need for the backup plan. Right? WRONG.

What we really should have made was a backup backup plan…

Our sweet baby girl slept pretty well from 8:30 – 12 or so. A few disturbances, but within normal limits. However, after midnight, the night just went to hell – but too slowly for us to realize just how crappy it would be to do anything about it. She’d sleep for 30 – 40 minutes, then wake up and cry or babble, but then go back to sleep (I guess? she was quiet) for 30 – 40 minutes and wake up and cry or babble, and on. And on. And on.  So at this point, two things: 1) Every time we figured she’d finally gotten it out of her system and would be fine; 2) It was so late, we didn’t know if the original backup plan would work. Oh, and while all this is going on, our five year old was sleeping between us, periodically hitting me in the face (while sleeping) and waking briefly to freak out about how much of the blanket was or was not on her.

Finally, when my sleep challenged toddler was in the wake up and talk part of her cycle around 5 AM (maybe? I was so tired and distraught I can’t remember) she was saying, “Help please.” So what the crap do you do with that? She was just saying it, very matter of factly. Not crying, or upset. So instead of waiting for the “she’ll work it out herself” part of the cycle, I got up, laid her back down in the pack and play, and put my hand on her back to try to get her back to sleep. And she got very quiet and still – you know, like normal people do when they are sleeping? But I would remove my hand and slowly go back to the bed, and a few minutes later she’d be talking/fussing/crying again. I was determined to let my husband get at least one last uninterrupted cycle of sleep before he had to wake up for the race, so I continued this routine with my daughter. I have no idea if he got any more sleep prior to his alarm going off.

His alarm went off and he got up to get ready, so I followed him to the bathroom to profusely and tearfully apologize for having such horrible children – I felt like I had ruined his whole race already. He assured me he got enough sleep (which is kind of believable considering he often sleeps through her crying at home) and went on his way. After he left the room, of course she wasn’t asleep, so I got her out of her bed and changed her diaper as a last ditch effort for sleep (all while my five year old was snoring in bed). She was soaked. This was probably part of the problem. I should have just changed her earlier. I am an idiot. But in my defense, since we were just in one room, I would have had to risk waking everyone in order to change her diaper – which could have been fine – and I believed *every time* that she would go back to sleep. Yes, I know. Idiot.

After that she went to sleep. Thank God. By this time it was about 6AM. My alarm was set for 8:00. At 7AM my five year old wakes me up with, “When can we get up?” So not kidding. It took everything I had in me at that point to not just push her back down and say, “Shut up.” I know that sounds horrible (and I did not do that – I just wanted to) but I was so. freaking. tired. And I didn’t want her to wake up her sister! I told her she needed to go back to sleep for one hour and then she could watch television. This was enough of a bribe to get me nearly an hour of sleep. Thank God.

I cannot believe how much of this story is still left. Ridiculous. But it’s better when it’s all together so I don’t want to split into two posts. Bear with me. Now would be a good time to go pee. I’ll wait.

OK. So. My big girl and I got up at 8AM while the little one was seriously snoozing so we could start getting ready to head down to the race. During this time I started getting text alerts about my husband’s progress – both from the race folks (I signed up for alerts) and from my friend who was at home checking his status online. She and I had also downloaded an app to track runners, but it wasn’t really working. The first few updates showed what I was expecting – he was running at a pace of around 9:09 per mile. This was his plan, so it was good news, especially since he wanted to finish at 3:59. I took a shower while my five year old sat in the bathroom and read and the baby was still asleep. I finally woke her at 8:30 so we would have time to eat a little before we walked down to the race and the VIP tent we had passes for, which also had bleachers near the finish line. At the 30K mark, I got a text alert with a time that was faster than I expected so I was very surprised to see he might be finishing a little sooner than I thought. I had such a huge headache from lack of sleep so just gulped down whatever coffee I could, made the girls finish their breakfasts, and we started walking.

While we were walking, I got a text from my husband (yes, the same one running the marathon) saying he was NOT going to make it in four hours, but he was going to make it. I thought that was really weird, because the text alerts reported that he was picking up his pace, not slowing down. Obviously, I couldn’t really have that conversation with him since he was busy, so once we got to the VIP tent we all shoved down a little more food and I gulped a little more coffee and we headed out to the bleachers so we wouldn’t miss him. This was at about 3:45 into the race, so I figured that was enough time to find a place to watch and get settled in. Well, the “special” bleachers didn’t come with “special” people, so we had some difficulty finding a place to park the stroller and get my five year old to a place where she could see. I got zero help or sympathy from our fellow spectators, so it was a bit frustrating. I would have been fine with even a sympathetic look, but I guess they were all too taken with the race action to care. (You know how people are zooming by after four hours of continuous running…) The announcer started to make kind of a “last call” call for those who were going to make it at or under 4:00, so I got to the fence and started looking for my husband. I picked up my toddler so she could see, too, even though she is supremely heavy and I am supremely weak. This was a big deal and I wanted her to be part of it!

Well, Miss Cranky Pants (who was going on 2.5 hours sleep) didn’t care so I decided to put her back in her stroller with a snack so my well behaved (no, really) five year old and I could watch the race. I looked all the way down to the corner to make sure my husband wasn’t coming and quickly got my toddler settled. As soon as I turned back to the action, I got a text alert saying my husband had finished! I was SO upset! And confused. I wasn’t turned around that long, so I didn’t understand how I missed him. I had to break the news to my daughter, who started crying when I told her we missed him. I was also crying. (And nobody around us could give two shits – who were these horrible people?) I was completely perplexed – not only at how I could possibly have missed him, but also at how he finished ahead of his goal time when he had texted that he wouldn’t. So I texted him. I wanted to hear back from him that he finished and decided to wait there until I heard from him. Except his stupid Blackberry is about to crap out and pretty much never gets texts in a timely fashion. But we waited. We waited for a good five minutes and heard nothing. My poor daughter was so upset and confused. So was I, really. I had no idea what to do. So I assumed the text alert was correct and assumed my husband’s phone was acting up again and left the bleachers to find the reunion area, which is what we had agreed I would do when he finished.

So the girls and I finally made it to the reunion area, and I still hadn’t received a response from my husband. Now I was starting to worry. So I called hoping that his phone might actually work – and he answered, completely out of breath, and tells me he just finished. Five minutes ago, not twenty plus minutes ago like the text alert said. And we missed him. We missed him because we were walking to the reunion area because I got a text alert that said he had finished already.

I wanted to die. I was surely the worst wife and mother ever, or certainly the stupidest.

I broke the news to my daughter. She was crying. I was crying. She was mad at me. I was mad at me. It was just entirely awful. My husband had just done this super cool, amazing thing, and I ruined it for everyone. I felt so helpless and disappointed. (And if in your mind my toddler is just sitting in her stroller happily and minding her own business during all this, you are imagining it wrong. Instead picture her throwing a fit while yelling, “Eat!” over and over.)

Finally, he found us. I’m sure he thought we had lost our minds. And maybe we had a little. He was tired but happy, and despite us not seeing him finish, we were so proud of him. He didn’t let our little mishap bother him – he was just focused on the fact that he just ran a marathon! (Probably the appropriate response.)

“My Daddy is off the hizzy!”

Oh, and our shirts. He was focused on our shirts. The Friday before the marathon, as a surprise for him, I made shirts for us girls to wear to show our support. He thought they were pretty cool. (At least I got one thing right.)

Going into this marathon, we knew my husband would be testing his limits. I never could have imagined all the ways my limits would be tested.

I know this was his big moment, and it seems like this is all about me, but this is my blog. Of course I am super proud of him and recognize what he accomplished. Of course. I’m sure his story of his marathon weekend will be very different from my version. I just hope his version doesn’t include the words “helpless” and “disappointed.”

 Her shirt: “Run Daddy Run!”

So there is a lesson with every experience, good or bad, right? Here is what I learned from our marathon weekend:

1) Runners are crazy.
2) Don’t trust technology.*
3) Children ruin everything. (Oh my God – Calm down. I’m kidding.)

*His “official” time as posted by the race is the incorrect time I was texted. He actually finished at about 4:22, but the record shows 3:53.

5 thoughts on “Testing our limits.”

  1. Congrats to your Hubby!! I was a long time runner forever…. until I had kids. Now I’m lucky to get three miles without dying. What an inspiration! And you’re right. Runners are crazy. I know first hand.

    1. Thanks, Sara! I will pass the congrats along to him. He’s trying to me to become a “crazy runner”, too. He hasn’t convinced me yet. Yet.

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