Going the Distance in Marathons & Marriage

Image of road with signs that say 26.2, I Do! Ahead, and Love Route on the road to wedded bliss.

Hubby and I love a date night celebration, and we were out on Friday, dressed to the nines, in full empty nester foodie mode.

We were trying one of Austin’s amazing downtown restaurants, Counter3.Five.VII. Yes, it’s a clunky name but it’s illustrative. The seating area is a u-shaped counter, so that diners rub elbows as they face the chefs cooking and preparing plates. The sleekly modern place serves a three-, five-, or seven-course dinner menu. (Now you get that awkward name.)

Oh, we love to eat good food. Even more, we love good food that is beautifully presented and paired with a yummy wine. Add to this the ability to talk to the talented team creating and plating said meal? Heaven.

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A Couple at the Counter

At the point when I said to the chef, “It’s all I can do not to pick up the plate and lick it clean,” one of the young men sitting to my left laughed and said, “Oh, go ahead – we won’t judge.” When his cute date smiled and complimented me on my dress, the proverbial door was open for conversation. So as the dessert chef presented them with a beautiful plate edged in a chocolatey “Congratulations!”, I boozily leaned over my delicious glass of white port to ask the beaming couple, “I’m being nosy I know, but what are you two celebrating?”

My heart melted when the 20-somethings (OK, maybe they were 30-somethings, but to our parental 50-something eyes, they looked awfully, sweetly young) happily shared that, just hours earlier, they’d married. The two were eating at Counter3.Five.VII because, at the start of their relationship, they’d had a date at the bar and vowed to come back one day for dinner. More melting ensued at this romantic full circle, and we offered heartfelt congratulations.

What Makes a Marriage Last?

Hubby then shared that we’d been together for more than 30 years (35, if you count the dating years). And then they asked the “You’ve Been Together So Long” question:

What’s your advice for a successful marriage?

Giving a somewhat impish grin, Hubby quickly tossed off a quip: “Apologize.” They laughed. I scowled and chastised him for being flippant and a bit of a smartass. He responded with a breezy “Sorry!” (Ahem. Let’s blame the booze.)

I turned back to our seatmates and said, with a shrug, “Just love each other.”

I wonder, though. Why have we lasted so long? Part of it, I’m sure, boils down to stubborn, dogged adherence to a promise. I take my word very, very seriously and, after all, what is marriage but a big, hairy promise? Answer: a binding economic and legal contract, but we’ll set that less-than-romantic aspect aside for a moment.

That same stubborn, dogged committed approach is why I’ve succeeded in the marathon. Not that I’ve remotely won anything or run spectacularly fast times. No, I’ve simply spent years enjoying those 26.2 miles and continue to look forward to many more.

Success in Marathon & Marriage

Marriage & Marathons

I’ve always given a bit of advice to runner friends who’ve tied the knot. Making your marriage work, I say, shares a lot with running a marathon.

  • The first miles are easy. Everybody starts off the line rarin’ to go. There’s excitement and joy in beginning a long journey. The world ahead looks good.
  • Those next miles reflect a lot of variables: prep work done, mental focus, the right resources, and commitment. Outside factors crowd in, things beyond your control such as weather and course conditions. A crucial point is determined — whether you’re strong enough to run your own race. Woe to those who lose sight of what works for them and make bad decisions, spurred on by the surrounding herd.
  • The old adage says a marathon is a 20-mile warm-up before a hard 10K. It’s when the truly sucky parts hit – trust me; no matter how well the day seems to be going,  exceptionally low marathon moments are lurking ahead – that you find truth. Do you walk off at the first bad blister? Are you able to put aside temporary discomfort for the reward received for staying the course? Are you a whiner? Do you retreat, stoically, into your pain or crumple into a needy heap at the curb, awaiting support?
  • Because it’s never just about that one race, the marathon doesn’t end when you cross a finish line. Those 26.2 miles are one part of a bigger experience that shapes who you are. Do you embrace the accomplishment and look eagerly to what’s next? Or are you never satisfied, no matter the achievement? Are you one to throw in the towel?

A good runner logs miles of hard work, putting one determined foot in front of another and making the most of all forward progress. She appreciates the simple fact that she can run at all. And because it’s impossible to appreciate a truly stellar day without knowing some terribly abysmal ones, a  successful runner savors all aspects of the sport.

You have to enjoy the journey to have a good race.

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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