We were 17 miles into our first marathon when I had the moment that everybody told me was coming. I wanted to trip Micah. I didn’t want him to fall, or to get hurt, or to get dirty. I just wanted to trip him. That’s as far as I was able to think. He was driving me crazy. We had been on some pretty long, difficult runs in our training and we’d always enjoyed each other’s company and support, so I dismissed people when they said, “No matter who your running partner is, no matter how many miles you run together, no matter how much you like them as a person, there will come a time when you will want to say, ‘Bite me,’ and leave them in the dust.”
I was there. I got to that point. We were at mile 17 and my legs were hurting and I wasn’t having any fun. I was trying to keep up with Micah, who was bouncy and energetic and excited about being over halfway to the end. He was excited about seeing bears (we were in Alaska), and all I could think was that I hoped he got eaten by one. I was stewing in my misery, slogging along, and there he was, reveling in the beauty of the course and the joy of running. Eventually I managed to tell him, through clenched teeth, to stop talking. He was annoying me. I needed to focus if I was going to make it through. And from there everything got better. Well, mostly better. We did end up walking a bit, but at least Micah was there with me again, helping me through rather than going on, oblivious to my suffering. Before too long I got through the “Bite Me” zone, broke through the wall, and we finished the race, hand in hand, happy, thrilled, excited, accomplished — and together.
Whenever people tell us how amazing it is that we are able to run together, I remember that moment. We are definitely lucky to be able to run together. It isn’t always easy or convenient, but it is important, not only for our physical well-being but for our mental and emotional unity. The habits we’ve gotten into while running — checking in with each other, asking how we’re doing, setting goals, making sacrifices — have carried over really well so that we rarely find ourselves wanting to trip each other up at mile 17 in our day-to-day lives.