I call my husband "The Ultra Runner"* on the blog. Because that's one aspect of who he is. I did not marry an ultra runner - he got into running when we were already married. It has become an important part of his life, and just to make it clear: I don't resent it. Not at all.
Running an ultra race is no joke. Still, having some sense of humour helps. That goes for the support crew, too. An ultra race takes a long time - long enough to think about all kinds of things.
I've read several lists that start "You know you're an ultra runner if...." but I haven't seen any from the spouse's perspective. So here's my humble effort...
(Any contributions to the list? Please comment.)
You know you're married to an ultra runner if/when....
- Your husband has a lot more shoes than you have. (And at least 95% of them are running shoes.)
- Your spouse also has a lot of race t-shirts. So many that he may wear a race t-shirt even when not running.
- At least 60% of his share of the laundry pile consists of running clothes.
- You know your husband will be gone most of the day when he goes for 'a long run'.
- When he runs errands, he literally runs.
- A marathon is not a big deal. (Unless he's seriously trying for Personal Best. Some ultra runners like to run marathons for a change, too. It's speed work...)
- You may find your spouse's toe nail when making the bed.
- Your family holidays/vacations are planned around your spouse's racing schedule.
- Because of the above: even if you don't run yourself, you check out if there are any good ultra races in the travel destinations that you'd love to visit. ("Honey, have you ever thought of participating in Madeira Island Ultra Trail?")
- When you go somewhere without children, just the two of you, it usually means you're his support crew at a race.
- Then again, at some races you'll have your children in the support crew as well. (It doesn't work so well if you have babies and toddlers, but at some point, it can become great family time...)
- When not needed as crew, you volunteer at racing events when your spouse runs. And, as above, you take the children along when they're old enough to volunteer, too.
- You know not to plan any big stuff for the post-race days. (If you've been crewing for him or volunteering at the event, you both need your recovery time.)
- Actually, you don't plan big stuff for pre-race days either. You don't even think of having an important, serious conversation right before the race. Why try that when most of his mind is on the race, anyway?
- You're often amazed by your spouse's grit, endurance, determination and focus.
Disclaimer: please don't get the idea that our family life revolves around the Ultra Runner's training and race schedule. He's really good about that, he takes care to plan and carry out his training and races so that his running does not take much away from our family life. It's flexibility and 'treat others the same way you want them to treat you' all around.
And I actually like going to the races with him. We've been to places we might not have visited otherwise. I've met lovely, interesting people. I might even have acquired a little bit of grit and endurance myself, too.
*) For those who don't know, ultra running means running distances longer than the marathon, i.e. longer than 42.195 km (26 miles). Ultra races range from 50K to 1000M, 6 hours to 6 days, so there's great variation.