Miles 25 & 26

26.2 A SERIES

Everyone has dreams. Since I was about 16 years old, one of mine has been to run a marathon. When I cross the finish line in NYC on November 5th, I’ll likely do so with a recorded time of between 4 and 5 hours. In reality though, it will have taken me much longer to get there. There are things inside and outside of us that bring us closer to our dreams. There are also things that delay us, that push us so far away from our goals they are sometimes out of sight. If we are lucky, little by little, we are often able to transform those stumbling blocks into building blocks–they become the foundation for our strength, resilience, and ultimate determination. This series aims to uncover my long journey. Each week, I’ll share the people, places, and things that have brought me to the place I am at today, and that I hope will carry me from the starting line in Staten Island, to the finish line in Central Park. Mile by mile–this, is my 26.2.

Miles 25 & 26-To My Life’s Partner, My Favorite Runner of All Time

About five years ago, on a Saturday in late summer, I stretched out my legs and sprang up off the sofa. I was feeling antsy, the lazy weekend of Netflix and noshing we had planned was not working for me. I had to get up and move my body, especially if I was going to eat the way I wanted to for the rest of that day. As I gallivanted around the apartment throwing on my sports bra and a pair of shorts, a brilliant idea came to me. I poked my head around the corner and smiled mischievously at my then boyfriend (now hubs). “Why don’t you come with me?!” I walked towards him, prepared for some resistance. At that point we had been together a little over a year, I had moved in with him just a few months before. He was not quite as active as I was, he was still struggling to find an exercise he really liked. There was one thing he was certain about though, running was not it.

Eventually I got him out the door by promising we wouldn’t go more than 2 miles. We’d run slow, and we ‘d walk whenever he wanted to. He really had only tried running on a treadmill before and had never experienced the freedom of getting out on the road. A bit less than forty minutes later we returned to our apartment after a glorious 2 1/2 miles where we chatted and laughed and took in the sights of the park. My guy was beaming. His pale skin glistened in a glow of earned perspiration. That was it. He  had gotten the high. He was a runner.

All of the sudden, instead of sleeping in until I got home from my jog on Saturday mornings, he was up and at em’ with me. I couldn’t believe how quickly he took to the routine. Admittedly in the beginning, a side of me I don’t love creeped out; I’d get annoyed running with him. He ran so slow, I felt like I might be getting less of a workout plodding along at his pace. But then something quite humbling began to happen. Every couple of weeks, we’d go a little bit further than we did before. Sometimes we’d add a whole mile, sometimes just a half–but always, a bit more. It wasn’t long before we were staring down the longest distance I had ever run on my own–7 miles. We took it very slowly, and when it ended, I remember feeling like the whole world had just opened up to me. I was exhausted, but I knew I could run further. I’d never felt that way before–I’d never believed I could do more. Up until that point, I had dreamt of running a marathon for years but had come to the firm conclusion that my body had limits and was just not made for long distances. It wasn’t until I was “forced” to slow down with my novice running partner, that I realized I could put together the strength and endurance to go further. Although I had been the one running for years, I began feeling like the beginner on those Saturday mornings; there was still so much to learn.

Pretty quickly after we discovered our love for hitting the pavement as a couple, we set our sights on a pretty lofty goal–a half marathon in Central Park. I think the race was 6-7 weeks after we signed up. We didn’t have a training plan, we just did a couple of short runs during the week and then tried to up our long run on the weekend as much as we could. I think we got to 10 miles on our last try before the race. I struggled to keep it together while they played the national anthem before that first half marathon. I had never felt so close to my dream. I finished in 2:21:55. My guy finished a few seconds later, graciously accepting at the time that he had a partner that could not turn off her competitive drive and would rather sprint ahead to the finish than cross the line together, hand in hand. (I’ll be honest, I can’t say this has changed: below, me pushing to cross the finish line before him in a 5k)

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After a couple of years of running half marathons and shorter distances, it was my hubs who decided he was finally ready to try for the big kahuna. I was still unsure, but I was able to borrow enough courage from him to sign up for the nine races and one volunteer gig in 2015, that we would need to gain automatic entry to the 2016 marathon. It was during the third qualifying race that I knew something was wrong with my knees. I’d find out later that it was tendinitis. It would keep me from running for four agonizing months, and from long distances for over a year. 2016 was out of reach for me, but my hubs kept on.

I spent the rest of 2015 figuring out what type of partner I wanted to be to my husband. I felt ashamed of a lot of the feelings I was having and it took some time to work through them. After all, running a marathon was MY dream. He hated running when I first met him. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to share the glory of my first marathon with him–now he was set to have it all without me, and before me? At first selfish glance I thought no, it’s not supposed to happen this way–it cannot happen this way. I was sick with envy and I was angry with the Universe–nothing was how I imagined it would be. I hated how I felt. I had had these types of jealous feelings about girls I went to high school with and even random strangers on Instagram. These bouts were nauseating enough. But now that the resentment inside of me was pointed at the person I loved most in the world, I could barely live with myself. I knew I had to turn things around. I began to ask the Universe to relieve me of these toxic feelings and I began to focus on how I could help my hubs get across that finish line. We don’t hide things from each other and all this was no exception. Being the patient and understanding man that he is, he did not chide me for the feelings I was having. I could sense his relief when he could see that I had landed at a place where I could support and be happy for him.

Before my own journey this year, I think watching my husband go through training was one of the biggest growth experiences of my life. I was constantly in awe of him. As his work ethic grew, so did mine. He works at 7am everyday so training in the morning was next to impossible. This meant that he did all of his weekday mileage after a full day at his job. This is something I could never do and I have mad respect for anyone that can. I’ve got to get those miles in first thing in the morning–there are just too many good excuses that come up for me by the end of the day.

It’s funny to think now how I thought the Universe was getting it all wrong. The truth is, everything has happened in the right time, and in the right way, all without my stranglehold. I watched in disbelief as my husband hit each and every milestone. I cooked his meals and packed his lunches– I was always concerned about him getting enough of the right food. I sat with him and listened as he’d come home and report what running 14 miles was like–and then 16, and then 18. When he texted me his insanely handsome and sweaty face after he finished 20 miles, I wept. I was so inspired by how far he had come. I was so proud.

When I met my husband, he was working as a doorman and had a small number of college courses under his belt. Next year, he will earn his Masters in Labor Studies and is already taking the New York City Labor movement by storm. He is a real champion of unions and a passionate organizer who believes in preserving and broadening the rights of workers. Witnessing his discovery of who and what he wants to be has been one of the great thrills of my life. I think part of the secret to his success is that he knows how often people have underestimated him. I’ve watched him step forward, struggle, and get bumped back, only to then put his head down and push forward again. I see this now with his work and education. I saw it a few years ago when we lost his Mom. And I witnessed it yet again last year as he took on 26.2 miles.

I’ll never forget November 6, 2016. That morning he grabbed the silly pair of beachy sunglasses we got from a friend’s wedding and tossed them on before he left for the race. He had never run with sunglasses before, but he told me he needed something to remind him to have fun. He wanted to take in each moment and not take himself so seriously. He was still wearing them along with a smile from ear to ear when we saw him at mile 8.

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As my husband made his way through all five boroughs of our city that day, any remnants of jealousy were long gone. I had wanted to be with him so badly, but as I saw him on the course and tracked him through the app, I realized, I was. I could feel when he was feeling like a million bucks–I watched the dot move steadily across the map. I knew when he was struggling as well. At mile 19 I stared at the slowing circle, held my phone close to me, and whispered, “Come on baby, push through, push through, you got this, I know you got this.”

I think it’s fair to say that watching my hubs cross the finish line is the greatest moment of pride and joy that I have ever experienced. I’d never seen him look so free. He was no longer carrying everyone who had ever doubted him or put him down–he had left them behind, lightening his load, mile by mile. As he pumped his fists and raised his arms as he floated across the finish line, I suddenly felt like I could believe in everything. I believed in our dreams. I believed in him. I believed in me. I believed in us.

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If you know me at all, you knew that Miles 25 and 26 could only go to one person. For the past six years he has gently pushed me to every starting line, pulled me through every finish line, and carried me every mile in between that I couldn’t run myself. Thank you my love, for all of our sweet life together so far, but especially for the past 4 months, where you have carried my load along with your own. Thank you for doing the wash, and cleaning the bathroom, and smiling as we ordered takeout a gazillion times so I didn’t have to cook. But most of all, thank you for not giving up on your dream. Cause in doing so, you kept mine alive as well.

Sinatra said it. We believe it. The Best is Yet to Come. 

Mikey. I love you.

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this piece, I hope you might like to continue with the series… please consider following me through WordPress or through email by using the links on this page. You can also follow me on facebook  ~all support is appreciated. thank you. x

53 thoughts on “Miles 25 & 26

  1. Pingback: Point Two – cat h. bradley

    1. I couldn’t wait to reach out to you before the race. That song you gave me has been EVERYTHING. My favorite part about it is that Kesha’s voice gets stronger and stronger as the background singers support her. Just like in real life, we stand alone when we have to, but we are always stronger with others behind us. It’s amazing. I am taking it and you with me on Sunday for sure. Thanks for everything girl. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So happy to hear it!! The story and emotion behind it get me EVERY time. Epitome of strength – just like you!

        Crush it tomorrow! We’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines and waiting to read the report!! ❤ CRUSH IT!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Week 17: “I’m Ready” – cat h. bradley

  3. Fantastic piece and a fitting end to the series of posts. I wouldn’t achieve a tenth of what I have with running (or writing) without the support of my wife but you find a way to work it out as a team. And I have to say, having two small children has been a big factor in my post-race recovery – knowing that I have to be a functioning human at home no matter how far the run does wonders for your mental toughness haha!!

    You’ll be in my thoughts this weekend – I hope you enjoy every step and every moment. You’ve worked so hard for this moment so keep smiling and have fun – can’t wait to read all about it! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nik! I have to say, I am completely amazed by people who have kids and do this stuff. Frankly, I am amazed by anyone who has kids at all and does any type of activity! I am not sure I would be able to do it–takes a special kind of strength I think–that mental toughness you are talking about!
      Thank you for having me in your thoughts. I can’t tell you how helpful and encouraging you have been these past few months–you really have no idea.
      Oh- and a marathon is 26 POINT TWO remember? One more entry in the series :). Stay tuned!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this entry! My husband has always been into working out and would run occasionally but I don’t think ever considered himself a “runner” necessarily. I got him to compete in his first 5k roughly a year after meeting him. He wasn’t interested in training for my half marathon with me (though has completed 13.1 miles just running himself in the past – I told him racing is so much more fun but he’s not a fan of paying to run) but I have him considering the local winter series in the area. He hasn’t ran in a few months but between the workouts he does and his natural ability he ran 7 miles with me last Sat. without too much difficulty. It’s great when you can share something as special as a runner’s bond with someone you love. Good luck this weekend – I’m sure he will be supporting you every step of the way!

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    1. I am so glad Tracy Nicole, thank you! That is so awesome your hubs might do the winter series, that sounds fun. Also kind of amazing that he can just whip out a 7 mile run no problem after not running for so long! Kind of jealous of that!
      Thanks so much for your well wishes, I will be taking them with me on Sunday!! x

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    1. Aww thank you so much. The pictures make me smile cause I wouldn’t say they are the most flattering–my cry face! But, they def captured the emotion of the day!! Thanks so much for reading, I am really happy to have you here!!

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  5. Hey Sister- great post. The term “balance” kept going through my head while reading your post. The universe and higher powers that Be have great plans for us. You both are running in ceremony. Great work, can’t wait to read your experience on next week’s marathon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jessica! Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me. I am so glad to have you as a reader. Thanks also for the well wishes–I’m gonna need all the good vibes so very happy to have them!

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    1. MY turn!! I’m still an eight year old at heart i swear. MY turn!! Yeah!! LOL, thanks so much lady. You have helped me so much through this training process–easy runs easier, hard runs harder–I think that is one of yours. Thank you for everything!! x

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  6. Such love and honesty, Cat. Very touching. So glad that you and Mikey have each other and are so willing to do the work of being present and honest in relationship. Love your journey!
    Have a fabulous week, and may Sunday’s race go as well as it possibly can for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s what I am so grateful for all the time Steph–the fact that he is just as willing as I am to grow and be present and be honest about where we are. I think if one of us stopped growing, it wouldn’t work anymore.
      I will be carrying you with me all week–you are helping me stay centered and mindful and peaceful. Thanks for being a part of my journey, i feel so fortunate to have you! x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You realize right that there is going to be some moment late in the race where i get this savage burst of energy and I’m going to think, “Let’s go, let’s SMASH this thing!” And I am going to think of YOU. Just got to make sure I don’t do my smashing too early :). Thanks love. x

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  7. Awh man, you made me well up. Beautifully written, full of love and honesty. I watched D go over the Dublin marathon line yesterday( he’ll blog over the next few hours I imagine🙂 ) Aren’t we, and them of course, lucky people. ❤️ to you S x

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  8. Oh Cat, this is beautiful. I’m so excited for you this week. I’ll be in a Plane, flying home from our week in the sun as you race and you won’t be far from my thoughts. I’ve enjoyed sharing our journeys this year, and look forward to many more. You got this! x

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  9. Oh, I love this, it’s made me cry, too. How wonderful that you can support and bring out the best in each other and be honest with each other. I taught my husband to run, but we had the really annoying dynamic (for both of us) that he can run faster than me, but I can run much further than him. So I was a bit glad when he gave up running – he does a lot of walking now, which suits him fine, and he supports me amazingly in my training and races.

    Best of luck for this week, keep calm, keep hydrated, SLEEP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Liz, I love hearing about other running relationships–they are so interesting! I love how in relationships we introduce each other to different things–activities, sports teams, movies, music–it’s kind of amazing that we get to share life with another person and learn from their experiences as well as our own. It’s pretty special.
      I have you in my head about the SLEEP lady, I’m making it happen this week for sure!! x

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  10. Your story could be mine! I was the runner in my relationship and it was me that got my hubs into it! Now, after a couple of half marathons and lots of other races it’s him that’s ready for a marathon and not me!!
    Loved reading your blog, massive good luck for your BIG race!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad someone can relate! So how do you feel, are you excited that he’s ready for a marathon? As you’ve read here, I had a bit of trouble with my hubs running it first–glad to have gotten through those feelings though. That competitive spirit in me is probably never going to go away!
      Thank you so much for your good wishes for the race–I am sending all good vibes to the weather Gods this week!! And of course, thanks so much for reading!! x

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  11. Awe I love this! My hubby has run with me a couple times, but never really caught the high. After the marathon earlier this month he was so psyched for me he said he was going to do it with me and my dad next year! I seriously can’t wait! There’s nothing like sharing something like this with the person you love. A natural, beautiful, accomplished healthy high hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey lady–that is so exciting your hubs wants to run with you next year. That should be quite an adventure!! You’re def right, sharing running or anything else you love with the person you love is pretty much the best–we are pretty lucky aren’t we?!

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  12. This is so inspiring!! I’ve always wanted to run a {half} marathon, but I’ve always let things get in the way. After the birth of my second baby in January, I’m hoping to slowly ease back into running, starting with 5k’s and working upwards from there. It’s great that your hubby caught the running bug and was able to join you. I’m still working on getting mine out the door with me 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kristin! Sounds like you’ve got a plan to get back into it, that’s so awesome. I have to say I am constantly in awe of moms and dads in general, but especially ones that run and are really committed to their fitness. I can’t tell you how many times I have been lapped by a mom or dad in the park who was pushing a stroller!!
      Hope you find a way to get your hubs out the door with you. I know as couples we don’t have to share everything-but running is one I am very grateful we both love, i have to say! Thanks for reading Kristin, so happy to have you here!! x

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Lol, I was with your husband in that I had to leave for work at 7, therefore no way to get running done in the morning. It’s hard enough to get up at 6, never mind 4 for that 10miler a few weeks ago.

    This time next week it’s over. Good luck if I don’t run into you at the start line.

    Liked by 1 person

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