I grew up an only child.
I never had to share attention, my choices were my reality and my actions affected only me. On nights when I was grumpy, I could curl up in my bed and shut off the world by simply pulling the blankets over my head. On sunny Sunday mornings when I woke up ready to tackle the world, I set my own agenda. I wouldn't say that I was spoiled or selfish, but I didn't know another way to live life other than the life I chose to lead.
And then I met "we".
When a we comes in to your life, you want to change. You want your choices to be their choice, too. You want share your sunny Sunday with them. You learn that your actions can create a ripple effect, and you begin to recognize that when you are at your grumpiest, you can't just hide under a blanket.
All the same, you don't want to compromise your goals and desires. As a full time emplunner, (my new phrase for the dual existence of a corporate employee and distance runner) it's difficult to manage your schedule and your relationship. This is why I think you see so many emplunner couples. Having a we that understands the early mornings, early evenings and the perfection of the social "bathroom break" (when in the middle of a party you excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and end up taking the first exit out of the building, light jogging home because both your eyelids and your quads are failing you by 11 p.m.) makes your existence easier and at the same time, more whole.
I've learned many things from we and in the story of us, there have been many comedic and trying chapters that have made us stronger. Below are some of the lessons I have learned from dating a fellow emplunner:
1. On weekday mornings, weekends, and vacations, there is no doubt that the run is the first thing on the agenda. It's a beautiful unspoken ritual that both of us will rise, lace up and get the work done before we even wash the crust out of our eyes. It's a fantastic feeling to not have to ask, remind, or fight my we that this is part of who I am. It just happens.
2. Evenings are centered around meal time. Hangry (anger that arises from hunger) is a word commonly used between we. The first activity after the commute home from work is the feast. Meals usually last around 10 minutes as food is generally shoveled in the general direction of the mouth. We shock waiters at the amount of food that we can put down and the speed with which we do it. It's beautiful.
3. It's not lame to be in bed by 8:45 p.m. watching TV on the iPad. In fact, it's epic and it happens at least two times a week.
The thing that has effected me the most profoundly with we, is my ability to care and love for another human, more than I do myself.
It's no secret that in the last six months, I have had my fare share of physical and mental struggles as an emplunner. I've been low, and I've questioned my journey a lot. However, none of my pain or personal anguish has affected me as much as when I have seen my we struggle. In August of 2010 we broke his foot mere weeks before the Chicago marathon. Watching him struggle, witnessing his pain and strife was much more difficult than when I dealt with it myself. In the same light, when we has a great race, a killer workout, and is glowing from the glory of running, I am the happiest.
We and I don't discuss our training on a day to day. He has a copy of my training log and I a copy of his. We both know that offering each other advice is a tricky conversation, but we have gotten better at respecting one another's differences and preferences. How is that that you can be feeling physical pain and continue to push through it, while when you watch your we do it, it seems unexplainable? This reflection helped me make better decisions for myself this year and for this I am grateful.
Sharing the life of the emplunner with we has enriched me beyond belief. It's made me faster, it's made me smarter, and it's made me realize that that my agenda is not the agenda.
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