Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wife Rule #68: She's Always There (Part 2)

I'm sure you are all dying to know how this stud-horse of a Clydesdale performed in the half-marathon.

Remember that movie, The Man From Snowy River? Remember that famous scene where young aspiring cowpoke Jim rides a horse down that super-steep hill in slow motion, and the horse's mane is flowing in the wind like a supermodel's hairdo in a Pantene commercial, and the horse's muscles are each rippling individually, popping into definition like a hundred juice-injected breasts of plump, delicious Butterball roast turkey?

Yup, that was pretty much me.

At least the juice-injected part. I tried to drink as much as possible at the water stations along the way, despite the best efforts of the water station people, who kept thwarting my guzzling efforts with wimpy, half-empty Dixie cups. These were definitely not half-full. Half-empty. Period. I wanted to grab the water coolers they were filling cups from, and dump them over my head with my mouth open, gurgling loudly and exclaiming "MMMM! AHHH! NOW THAT'S A DRINK!" but instead I settled for grabbing a half-empty cup in each hand and choking them down as fast as I could, then repeating--the only binge-drinking experience of my life.

But my plump, rippling physique is not the only similarity I shared with The Man From Snowy River. Do you remember Jessica's Theme? It's that piano song from the movie that played every time the camera panned up close on Jessica's outrageously babe-o-licious face:


Every seven-year-old boy who saw the movie fell madly in love with Jessica, mostly because of her Theme. A few years after The Man From Snowy River came out, there were households all over the nation whose pianos held a single abandoned piece of sheet music, Jessica's Theme, the bitter aftermath of thousands of young boys' crushed dreams of becoming concert pianists. Dreams that were abandoned when they realized that you actually had to practice the dang thing before you could play... Jessica's Theme. All they wanted to do was hold a concert featuring... Jessica's Theme. They would play it over and over again, and by the end of the performance, everyone would be on their feet, holding hands, swaying back and forth, and singing along:


So like the Man From Snowy River, I had a Jessica's Theme of sorts playing throughout my race. It consisted of my illegal iPod, loaded with songs that remind me of my loving wife.

Yes, my iPod was illegal. This being my first race ever, I made the mistake of reading the official "Race Bible," which states explicitly that "Headphones are banned as it is USA Track & Field Policy that all sanctioned events have a ban on headphones BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAHITTY-BLAH."

Being the non-rule-oriented super-rebel that I am (as is obvious to anyone who has read my Wife Rules), I snuck my iPod onto the track with me. Civil disobedience hall of fame, here I come!

Actually, once I got to the starting line, it seemed like a majority of the fifteen-hundred runners there had illegal headphones too, which helped soothe my sore conscience so I could enjoy my personal musical tribute to my wife as I ran down the canyon course.

And enjoy it I did. Just like when I was running on the beach in California, my wife was there with me, her warm, encouraging smile bolstering my stride.

She wanted to be there in person, but I talked her out of it. After consulting with a friend who had done this before, I feared the prospects of my wife waking the whole family up early on a Saturday morning, driving 45 minutes to the finish line, parking a half-mile away, dragging five whiny kids through the morning August heat, and finally waiting an unknown quantity of time in a standing-room-only crowd of people for a thirty-second glimpse of my sweat-soaked carcass slogging through the street. I didn't want to put them through that, and perhaps even more, I didn't want to deal with the tear-stained scowls of resentment that might be waiting for me at the end of the race.

So the night before, I convinced my wife not to come. When I awoke at 4:45 AM the morning of the race, I discovered lipstick smooches and an encouraging love note she left on the bathroom mirror for me. And we had agreed that I would call her when I finished, so she'd be the first to know how things went, too.

So my wife really was there with me, sending me off with a smooch at the start, there in my mind (and iPod) throughout the race, and long-distance-cheering me on at the finish. And speaking of the finish, for those who are interested, my time was about 2 hours and 2 minutes, a stunning personal best, and my place was 663 out of 1077 finishers. So I succeeded at not coming in last.

The choices my wife and I have made regarding children and family commitments sometimes mean we have to compromise a bit, letting lesser things go in favor of higher priorities (such as sanity, in this case). That's okay with us; these are very small sacrifices compared to the blessings we enjoy as part of the package deal called "Parenthood."

Not sweating these small sacrifices is part of what separates the boys from the men.

And I should know all about that. I've seen The Man From Snowy River, after all.


Alisa said...

You're so tough, Matt. Way to go. I'm going to be like you when I grow up.

LuckyMatt said...

Alisa, maybe next year you'll be all growed up and you can join me in the race!