Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Breathing Again

Last fall, I honestly did not know what the future held for running and the Mayo clan. That thing some people call Life struck us pretty hard, in a lot of boring and everyday ways. Running took a backseat. In the midst of trying to simply right ourselves, I remember saying something to the effect of, "Maybe in 2011... no big races."

Since 2008, Rick, Adrian, and I have packed up for extended race trips: two family trips to Western States (one for the "fire" year in 2008 and then the real deal in 2009), and two trips to Leadville (Rick went alone in 2009, and all three of us went there for two weeks in 2010).

Those trips provided priceless memories and were worth every penny. But last fall, when I started worrying about finances and the state of our house (ultra-vacation money greedily devours paint-the-house money and put-up-a-fence money and finish-the-basement money), it looked to me like maybe it was time for a break. I didn't make any ultimatums. Just suggested. "Maybe..."

Months later, something occurred to me. Our household had become a house without running. And a Mayo house without running is a strange place indeed. Rick really only got into running—and quickly thereafter, ultrarunning—in July 2004. I embraced his new passion as a supportive partner and fellow runner, though my commitment to my own running was admittedly sporadic until some time around February 2009. Along the way, the running routine had become as common as breathing. When we both stopped focusing on running in the fall of 2010, the air had literally left us both.

Last July, I was finishing up a 15-mile race when another runner figured out who I was. "Oh, Rick Mayo is your husband. So you're Kristi Mayo," she said. "That must be an incredibly supportive environment to live in as a runner."

Yeah, I thought. It really is.

Neither of us are really given to resolutions, but on January 1, we both took turns on the treadmill. The next day, we did the same thing. At some point, I think I said, "I have decided to get some kind of a run in almost every day if I can—even if it's only a couple miles." Rick replied, "I decided the same thing."

After a few weeks, we were breathing again.

Fast-forward to February 12: I was finishing the last mile of the 10-mile version of the Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run Trail Runs. As I ran down one of the final hills on the course, I spotted Rick standing on the side of the trail at the bottom. He ran the 10-miler, too. Before the race, I made him promise to come back for me after his finish so he could bring me home over the "Three-Hills Section". And there he was.

Rick fell into step behind me.

"How did you do?" I called back to him.

"First," he said.

"Awesome!" I was filled with elation, but my reply likely came out as a grunt, as we had reached the steep incline of the next hill.

After I crossed the finish line and we socialized around the aid station over cups of soup, I was filled with a feeling of completeness. We're back.

Now, there are warmer days ahead of us. We will run in shifts. No sooner will I get back from a run than he will be out the door for his. In the afternoons, our daughter will go down for her afternoon nap, and so will we. Our weekends will be punctuated by the occasional race, some long and some short. And we will save and plan for—Yes—another ultra-vacation, this one to South Dakota so Rick can run the Black Hills 100 in June.

Maybe we'll still find a way to paint the house. And as for the unfinished basement... I guess the treadmill is happy down there, just the way it is.


laurie said...

So glad you're back. I missed you!

Gary said...

Do keep breathing, Kristi and Rick!