My Husband, the Running Widower

image I like to think that I have the best of both worlds with my job as a high school librarian. Yes, I start work very early in the morning, but I get to be home to greet my daughters’ school buses in the afternoon and to prepare dinner for my family. I get to help my girls with their homework and hear about their days at school before I rush them off to their extracurricular practices. I get to spend Spring Break, Summer Break, Thanksgiving Break, and Christmas Break with them. I get to spend my day doing a job that I love with fantastic people and I don’t have to jeopardize time with my family. It’s really been great for me as a mother. When I selected my career as a high school teacher I was in my early twenties, unmarried and childless, and had no notion of which direction my life would take. I feel fortunate to have picked a career that is both rewarding and affords me time with my family.

My flexible work schedule also allows me time to pursue my passion of running. Who knew four years ago I would call myself a runner? Not me, certainly. The running bug got me and I haven’t been the same since. I’ve written many times about why I run. I think the most succinct answer to the question, “why do I run?” is to feel free. I feel nothing but free when I’m running. My husband and daughters support my running, but I need to be careful not to ask too much from them. Yes, I should be able to pursue my running dreams, but not at the expense of them. I simply can’t ask them to allow me to throw myself completely into my running where there’s not much left of me for them.

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img_8033-1The month of April was a spectacular running month for me. I was able to participate in two out of town running relays. The first was the Texas Independence Relay which took me away from my family from April 1st through April 3rd. The second was the Ragnar Trail Atlanta Relay which took me away from my family from April 14th through April 17th. These were both wonderful running experiences and both were on my bucket list, but they occurred two weeks apart. This was really asking a lot from my family. My poor husband was left alone to cart my daughters to their soccer games and other activities. He was solely responsible for homework, dinner, laundry, dishes, etc. It would be unreasonable for me not to expect my family to feel a little taken advantage of by my blowing and going. These events weren’t work-related, they weren’t religious missions, they were both all about me pursuing my dreams as a runner. I better be careful here, I try very hard to not put my running above my family, but for the month of April my running came first.

imageThere have been countless times when my daughters had soccer games an hour’s drive from our home and they needed to be at their warm up by 8:15. On those days I’d force myself to wake at 2:30 in the morning to allow enough time to eat, dress, do my long run, shower, eat, and help my daughters and husband prepare to leave. I woke at this ungodly hour so that I would not have to forsake either my long run or watching my daughters’ sports that weekend. Additionally, I squeeze my track speed workouts in most times after work but before my daughters get home from school. This way I can still help with homework and prepare dinner before it’s time for me to take them to practice. Because I must leave for work by 6:00 each workday, this means I arise at 3:40 so that I can fit in my run and some short strength training before I shower and get ready to leave for work. I do these things because I enjoy working outside of the home, but I also enjoy being around to do things for my family. I want to pursue my passion, but not at the cost of my family.

imageSo, really, what this rant is all about is just the age-old conundrum: how do I focus on my passion without forsaking my family and friends? This post is all about the juggling act we must maintain on a regular basis to enrich ourselves and to be present for our loved ones. There are only so many hours in the day and when we spend time on one thing, we are neglecting something else. That’s just the nature of life. We cannot possibly focus all of our energy on one thing and expect all of the other things to be nurtured as well. During the month of April I mainly focused on my running. My running took me out of town not once, but twice. I was not around for days at a time and I left all of the work up to my husband. I know that he is resentful of my running at times, I mean how can he not be? I also know that my husband admires my drive and passion. He appreciates the way that I am serving as a good role model for our girls. He is supportive, but even I realize I was a bit absent last month.

So, I will resolve to work extra hard to be present and engaged when I am with my family. For, running is a wonderful addition to my life, but my family is the most important thing to me. What good is success if you don’t have loved ones with which to share it? My family drives me to be better. They are the reason I am fulfilled.

How do you balance your running and your family life? Do you feel torn at times trying to juggle everything? What have you found to help negotiate the balancing act?

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13 thoughts on “My Husband, the Running Widower

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one to do the very early mornings to avoid time away from my family. I have struggled with half Ironman training because I’ve been unable to avoid this. I could do a three hour ride on the trainer, but I need to be on the road after daylight for the experience. I’m telling myself after the race, I’ll take a break and focus on quantity time. So basically squeeze it in when I can right now. 😊

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    • Oh, wow! Triathlon training must be very time-consuming. I really admire triathletes. I swim regularly, and of course run, but the only biking I do is leisure riding around town. Some local triathletes I met through running are trying to convince me to do a local sprint triathlon. I’m seriously considering it even though I’m nervous about whether or not I can handle it. I would approach it more as a fun event, I would even be borrowing a bike, but I would hate to completely suck! The event is in July. Any advice for me?

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      • I did my first sprint tri last summer. I couldn’t wrap my brain around 3 sports at the time, but the swim was the hardest for me to learn. It’s a lot of fun and really changes up the routine if you’re in a rut.

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  2. Oh dear…I get your sentiments. But I read a lot of guilt in that post. Please let it go. You are doing a wonderful job for your family and need to take pride in that. I’ve lived through the guilt too, and it is unnecessary. I regret how much energy I wasted feeling guilty.

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  3. I admire how you balance your family, career, and running, Dendy, as I’m sure it is extremely difficult. It is a very delicate balance but so important to carve out time for yourself and your goals! You daughters are growing up with you as a role model – on many levels – and for that, you should be proud. I think the key is open communication with your husband and daughters about what that balance is and what the signs of overwhelm may be for them. You are amazing!

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    • Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the kind words. It really is so difficult to balance it all, isn’t it? I hope I am doing okay. You’re right, as long as I am sensitive to them there is no reason why I can’t be a good role model for them by pursuing my passions. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful thing to me!

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  4. I just found your blog. Like you, I am a late comer to running, a teacher and a marathoner. And anyone who knows me knows that I have always wanted to be a librarian. But, I know I would love the books too much and start to become the grumpy librarian so I stayed in the classroom…hahaha! Kudos to all your efforts this spring and to being selected as an ambassador for our hometown marathon. Running is the only sport that gives more than it takes. Yes, training is tough but the payoffs are endless. My goal this season is to stay injury free and complete my 15th Houston Marathon…yep, all in a row! Did I mention that I am a little OCD…it has come in handy with running…hahaha!

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    • Wow! 15 consecutive marathons! Amazing! I want to do that. You are awesome! Very cool also that you are a Houstonian & teacher. Something tells me that we would not run out of things to talk about with each other! Hope to meet you in person at the CHM or another local race. Thanks for reading my blog & happy running!

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  5. So I realize this is an old post, but I’m struggling with this balancing act at the moment and looking for tips… As a morning person, I’m fine with getting up at “ungodly” hours, and my job affords me a solid hour for lunchtime runs. But with two toddlers, I am sorely lacking for sleep. What time do you go to bed when you’re getting up this early? How many days a week do you do complete rest (not even cross-training)? Life can be such a juggling act when you’re targeting a race!

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    • Well, I go to bed by 9. I truly believe that my body is wired to wake early. Right now, I’m off in the summer, and my body won’t let me sleep past 5:30. I’ve been staying up until 10, some nights 10:30. Maybe I don’t require as much sleep as some people, I’m not sure. I will typically rest completely one day a week. But, sometimes no rest days, but I consider that swim day very close to a rest day. My kids are now 11 & almost 13, but if they were toddlers, I’m not sure I’d be able to do all of this. All I can say is, do whatever you can & feel proud about it. It’s so hard.

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