Over our two year relationship, Jess and I have had a lot of firsts. The first time Jess went to Med School, the first time I moved back to Ohio, the first time I wasn’t allowed to eat as many chips as I wanted, and, this past Saturday was another first, our first triathlon!
If you don’t know, a triathlon is a race with a swim, a bike, then a run. They come in a variety of distances from sprint (500-750 yard swim, 10-15 mile bike, 5k) to Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and beyond. The one we did yesterday was on the shorter side of sprint distances, but it was a blast. The bike and run were a little hillier than expected, but I suppose with a name like “Hocking Hills” it could be worse than anticipated.
I started doing triathlons 2 years ago and loved them ever since. And to reinforce just how addicting the sport is, as I was writing this, from behind her computer, breaking out of her studying hermitage for barely a moment, Jess asked, “Can we do another triathlon?” After which we spent half an hour looking for a couple more to do before the weather gets too cold.
To get back to the title of this post takes me to another first that we had a year and a half ago. When Jess and I first met she had never done any sort of organized race. So after a small amount of cajoling I talked her into running a 5k at school. I’m not going to say she was hooked then, but I was able to, again, cajole her into running a trail 10k with me when she came out to Kansas City for the first time. There is an embarrassing story that goes along with this, but I will save that for some other time, possibly when I need to get revenge or when she isn’t sitting close enough to hit me…
So Jess may never run a trail race again, but the advice given to us by several other racers has stuck with me. The couple that runs together stays together.
It’s a simple thought but has enormous implications to me. Being able to work out together, I think, has a much greater propensity for relationship growth than many, if not all, couple-type hobbies. My reasoning behind this is because of the level of fatigue associated with it compared to other things that couples do. Two of our favorite things to do together are cook and paint. Neither of which require stamina or skill. Sure, Jess is a fantastic cook and has a keen eye for painting, but there is no driving factor behind it. It’s a single meal. A lone canvas. An item submitted for my and her approval. The only way to judge something like this is to wait until the end and offer a critique.
When I paint I am in my own space, I know a color goes here and a color goes there and there is not much I can be told on how I see the picture coming together, but when I run with Jess, I do not have that luxury. I may help dictate the pace, but I cannot quit out or determine when I will stop. I am accountable for my finish time as well as hers.
I think it is a wonderful dynamic. I love working out in any way together and I think the key is to know each other limitations or if you do not know them you get to learn them. Jess is not as good as I am at riding a bike, so I have to slow down. I am not as good at swimming or running, so she has to deal with a little more walking than she wants. No matter what, by the end of a race I feel closer to Jess than before and we both have a huge sense of accomplishment that we get to share.
This might be most evident in, and forgive me for jumping back a bit, the evening after the 10k. You see, just two nights before this, Jess finally agreed to be my girlfriend. After months of trying and growing closer to her over phone calls and long nights on skype she was at least “that” in to me. What she did not know was that I had been harboring far deeper feelings than wanting to be a boyfriend. What finally brought out that first, gasp-inducing, feeble “I love you” was not just the
couple of beers liquid courage beforehand, but the closeness I felt doing something that we both felt great about and finished together.
Congratulations on your first triathlon finish, Jess!