Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Couples That Play Together, Stay Together: An Ode to the Great Month of Love.

Hey All!

Recently we received a call from our local newspaper, The Northwest Guardian. They asked to feature our lives as a running couple. Using this theme as inspiration, I wanted to take a moment to honor the great month of love by expanding on said interview. (Which, for those interested, can be found here.

Dal & I after the pre-race shake out
run for our National Cross
Country meet, 2005
Dal and I have been married for two and a half years but have known each other for many more. Our first meeting, six years previous to the day of our wedding, was at my first day of collegiate cross country practice. Dallas was a sophomore at the time and quite pathetic looking riding a stationary bike with a cast on his leg and forearm. Luckily, the car crash that temporarily took his mobility did not claim his sense of humor and we hit it off. 

Dallas, our good friend Mark, and I
after our Regional Cross Country
Championships, 2006
While Dallas signed with MidAmerica Nazarene University as a cross country/track athlete, I entered primarily as a basketball player who, upon arrival, was recruited by the track and cross country team. Initially skeptical about running, Dal made it enjoyable and addictive. I developed a passion for the sport through his enthusiasm. Basketball verses track quickly became the proverbial "monkey on my back." However, as my athletic worlds were colliding, Dallas was healing. Soon we were able to train together, race together, and face aches, pains, laughter, joy, ups, downs, successes and failures together. To further develop my abilities as a runner, the tough choice was made to transfer to Missouri State University in 2007. I was lucky enough to have Dallas begin his Master's degree there the following year. He became the Graduate Assistant for the cross country team and continued to race on the national level as a post-collegiate while I finished my eligibility at MSU. 

Dallas and I during a MSU
track meet, 2009
Don't let me fool you, as in any relationship there were tough times between us. We were young and fell apart here and there. However, running always seemed to be one of the many strings tying us together.  It gave us a foundation to build on when things seemed down, brought us closer together when our careers were at their highs or lows, and gave us a daily bond; for unless you are immersed in it, one doesn't truly understand the vast emotional, physical and spiritual range of running. 

Competing at The Army Ten
Miler together, 2012

During the winter of my senior year Dallas proposed on a snow covered trail in the middle of Vermont's beautiful back country. We were married on a lake in southern Missouri and, after a honeymoon in Costa Rica, found our way to Fort Lewis, WA where Dallas began his work as an Army Officer. Our lives are currently submerged in the running world as ever before. We are supported by some great companies (see side panel) and are blessed to race at regional and national level competitions. The best part is that we accomplish it all as a pair. We spend our weekday free time logging the miles together. Weekend trips frequently consist of traveling to competitions. Vacations are planned to areas that are conducive to training. Dal, whom I am still convinced is a super hero, does all of this on top of a commander's 50-60 hour work week...A commander that recently returned from Afghanistan, no less. Most of our non-running friends see us as "unique" and frankly, crazy. Some of you might think the same and, to a point, you are perfectly correct. However while we sacrifice some parts of life to run, we get to experience an entirely new part of it together. You will never make a friend faster than on a Sunday long run. You will never experience a new area in a more beautiful way than running through it. Being in the Army, this is even more important as it allows us to acclimate to the area almost immediately and make close, life long friendships in the few quick years we are given at a location.

Dallas and I on a sunrise run. The
coast of the Olympic Peninsula,
Through the experiences of being a "running couple" I have learned that in life Dallas will always, no matter the circumstance, be in my corner. He will be cheering me on, supporting me to the end and be right by my side through the toughest parts of the journey. He will be my most valuable rock of encouragement through the ups and downs of my career. And I will strive to be the same to him. For through the years, running has been training us to be better people, less selfish and more supporting, more loving and strongly committed that we would have been without it. 

I hope you and yours have a lovely Valentine's Day. Share a run, share an experience. The day isn't about gushy romances with stereotypical gifts. Its about connecting with another person; be it friend, family, training partner, significant other, or in our case, all of the above.