There are not many similarities between myself and Paula Radcliffe but I do like to think there’s one. I’m as unlikely to get near to a 2:15:25 marathon as I am to publicly empty my bowels mid-race; so what do we have in common, I hear you ask. Well, Paula has repeatedly credited her success to the support she received from her husband, coach and manager Gary Lough.
*SOPPY POST ALERT!
This month marks the 20 year anniversary of the day I met my husband Richard. That’s two decades! Apart from making me feel very old, this has made me reflect a little on our relationship and how much it means. Now I’m no romantic so this isn’t going to get slushy but I do think it’s worth acknowledging the support my husband gives me.
The photo I’ve chosen for this post is one of my favourites of us together. It was taken during Ironman last year when I had 10k left to go. I like it because you can see how much Richard wanted me to succeed; he was willing me on because only he knew how much it meant to me and, trust me, I hadn’t been smiling like that for the previous 134 miles! That picture captured a moment.
If I had to sum up our relationship in one word it would be support. It’s what I receive in buckets from Richard and what I try to reciprocate. We couldn’t function on a daily basis, outnumbered by our four children, without it. In life we work as a team, he’s got my back and I’ve got his. It works for us.
We took up running at the same time and it started a decade of us both striving for goals. Initially we picked the same events, our first was the Great North Run in 2007, but over time our interests and strengths have diverged. You see, he is fast and I am slow. I like endurance events he likes to be done and dusted and home for lunch. Our goals may vary but the support we give each other to achieve them is unwavering.
Personally I think having two similar athletes in a marriage would be testing. Two of us ultra training, heading out for 4-5 hour sessions? Two of us fighting to get out and do intervals till we are bone-tired after work? No, thanks! Despite our differences though we understand each others obsessions, drive and determination.
Richard is my sounding board. He knows every mile of every training plan. He sees me out of the door in rain and shine, with a spring in my step or a heavy heart. He sometimes pushes me out when I’ve been sitting around pontificating for hours! He reigns me in when I overstretch myself because he is beside me when I’m hobbling around yawning in my slouchy pants at 5pm. He provides the perspective when things aren’t going to plan, the sensible advice or the kick up the backside. He sees the behind the scenes stuff. Directors cut. He alone knows how much I put into achieving my goals.
He looks after the kids, the dog, the household chores when I’m off enjoying a long swim/bike/run. He cooks the meals that I can’t be bothered with. He tells me to eat when I feel wobbly. He stands around for hours and hours and hours at races. He paints banners with the kids.He drives to wait and cheer me along the course. He laughs when I cry at the finish of every race. He washes smelly kit and has to move a drippy wetsuit when he wants a shower. He cleans my muddy trail shoes. He shoves me out of bed when my early alarm goes off and brings me coffee and toast in bed on my rest days. He fits his races and training around mine. He doesn’t always tut and shake his head when I sign up for something else. He believes in me.
If love is…being a wingman, then I’ve got my Goose. (Though I think secretly Richard thinks he’s Maverick.) And, Top Gun references aside, I know I’m lucky.
Which is exactly what Paula Radcliffe says about her husband. Perhaps a marathon pb is on the cards after all?