Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Best Friend

I am 46 years young.  I have been with my husband for 26 years as husband and wife, one year as an engaged couple and six months as boyfriend and girlfriend.  That's 27 years of togetherness.  I remember thinking on our wedding day that there was no way I could love this man more than I did at that day.  Boy was I wrong!

I'm not saying it was all easy and lovey-dovey the entire time.  If someone does then I would have to question their truthfulness.  There has been lots of tears, angry words, door slamming, silent treatment and learning that has happened over the 27 1/2 years we have been together.  (And no, it wasn't just me doing those things.)  There has also been more joy, laughter, long talks, long walks and happiness then I could have ever imagined.

This man is my very best friend in the entire world.  I love him more today then I did at our wedding. He knows me better than anyone else in the world and he still wants to be here, with me.  How cool is that? He has loved me when I was a super skinny twig of a girl.  He has loved me when I was great with child and felt as beautiful as a walrus stuck on the beach.  He has loved me when stress and my inability to handle it in a healthy way caused me to gain weight (several times off and then on again).

I have seen plenty of people that can't make it work in their marriage.  Sometimes for reasons outside of their control, sometimes for being unwilling to make changes or sacrifices in order to make it work and sometimes because they may not have chosen well to begin with.  Whatever the reason, it reminds me that marriage is NEVER something to be taken lightly, no matter how long you have been at it.

Joe and I are a team.  We support each other.  When he was a farmer I learned to be a farmers wife.  When he was volunteering at the Turner Fire Department and going to school to become a firefighter I went out and got a job so that he could do that with less stress.  When I wanted to change jobs so that I could be home with the kids when they weren't in school he supported that even though it meant less money coming in than the full time job I had.  When I wanted to become a teacher, which meant a lot of schooling and school loans, he totally supported me.  When he started running and then doing triathlons I was (and still am) his biggest fan! When I started running too he didn't care how it changed my shape or size, he cared that it changed my health.  When he wanted to try doing an Ironman Triathlon I was excited and did what I could to make it easier to get in the long trainings he would need without worrying about what needed to be done at home.  When I needed to get my Master's degree to keep my teaching license he totally kept me sane while I tried to balance being a mom, wife, teacher and student.

One of the beautiful things about getting married young is that we figured out how to make it work together.  It wasn't a case of me doing my thing and him doing his and somehow we had to figure out how to accommodate each other. It was more about learning how to make our things work together.  We are a team.  His stuff is my stuff and vise-versa.  It may sound basic but it makes such a difference.

The last five years as I have worked towards become a healthier me have been frustrating.  (I may have mentioned that a time or two before.) If I have mentioned it here often then you can only imagine how often my poor husband has to hear it.  Sometimes he has kicked me in the ass when I start the Woe is Me routine.  Other times he has just held me why I have cried.  Usually it's just what I need when I need it.

April 10, 2010 - Joe became an Engineer for the Corvallis Fire Department.
November 25, 2010 - Disney World with the kids.
May 1, 2011- Eugene Half Marathon, my first half. 
Joe took the day off so that he could be there for my first half marathon. I don't think he has any idea how much that meant to me that he would make that kind of effort to support me. He took pictures of me along the way and made me feel like I was a rock star.  

July 21, 2012 - Ballantyne Family Campout - Cape Lookout.
January 1, 2013 - Hangover Run 
January 23, 2013 - Top of Bald Hill.  
April 23, 2013 - Eugene Half Marathon.  My first half under three hours.  :-)
June 24, 2013 - Ironman Coeur D'Alene
Going through the experience of Joe training for an Ironman was a testament to being able as a couple to find balance in what he needed to get done to be ready and what I needed to get done to keep things running so that he could workout.  Watching him do the race and being there to cheer him on was such an incredible experience.  I can't even begin to describe all the emotions that you go through watching the person you love the most working that hard.  He kicked ass. :-)

Then that next fall he watched me do my first triathlon.  It was a sprint triathlon call the Last Chance Triathlon put on by the local swim club.  Joe was there, taking pictures and going to different parts of the course to cheer me on.  It may not have been an Ironman but he supported me as if it was.  Meighan also did this race, it was her second triathlon.  I love that Joe was there for both of us.  
I remember being on the bike and seeing Joe and Betsy pulled over by the railroad tracks and they were whooping and hollering like I was going for the gold in the Olympics.  lol  
October 13, 2013 - Last Chance Sprint Triathlon, my first tri, Meighan's second.
October 19, 2013 - Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon, another PR for me.  
November 2, 2013 - Silver Falls Half Marathon
Are you seeing a trend in these pictures? I am!  We are adventuring and we are laughing and we are together.  If nothing else, it has been worth every run, every workout and every struggle on this journey because I'm part of the adventures instead of just a spectator.  We don't do all the same events and we definitely don't do them together because of the difference in our speeds.  However, we are there, participating, making memories and having fun.  I LOVE this part of my journey!

I talked my husband into doing the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland in January 2014.  He ran the entire thing with me.  It was fun running through the parks.  It was fun spending the weekend at Disneyland with Joe and our friends Josh and Wendie.  As far as how I did at the race, it was a horrible pace and I didn't feel very good because of a medication I was taking.  But when I look at these pictures I just remember the fun of the experience.  Worth it all!
January 19, 2014 - Tinkerbell Half Marathon, Disneyland
I was in my first year of my Master's degree program and at this point Joe was doing a lot of the supporting me while I did homework.  Kind of like how I supported him during Ironman training only longer, and worse.  We continued to hike and have mini adventures.  
July 23, 2014 - The Pinnacles near Crater Lake.  
July 26, 2014 - Tour de Cure bike ride.  I went 43 miles, Joe did 100!
The Tour de Cure was a HUGE challenge for me.  I wasn't really as ready as I should have been.  Too much work and homework, not enough bike riding.  I was really, really, really nervous.  But then I always get really, really, really nervous before I do something for the first time.  I'm pretty sure I look like I'm on the verge of having a panic attack.  I was like that for my first 5k, 10k, half marathon, sprint triathlon....see the pattern?  Joe did the 100 miler with Betsy to support her in her first 100 mile bike ride.  She kicked ass!  Josh and Wendie rode with me for most of the ride.  It was a challenge for me but I knew I would get it done, one way or the other.  You know why?  Because Joe knew I would and told me so.  So I did.  :-)
November 1, 2014 - Silver Falls Trail Run.  I did the 7 miler this time, Joe did the Half Marathon.
This was a fun day.  I didn't do very well as far as running.  I hadn't run since summer.  This was about making sure my attitude started pointing in the right direction.  I was there, I was with people I love and I was doing something. All great things.  
January 1, 2015 - Hangover Run
The Hangover Run = LOTS of laughter!
At this point in my Masters I was reaching the most stressful part of the program. I had decided after the Silver Falls run that I would just hike every weekend and not worry about running until I was done with school.  This was really hard for me.  I felt like I was letting Joe down.  He quickly squashed that notion and pointed out that if running was the thing that had to be let go for awhile in order to make things work then it was fine.  As long as I got back at it when I was done with school.  :-)
He was getting ready to do his second Ironman but usually worked it out to make his run coincide somehow with my hike.  Either he ran side trails and met up with me on various parts of the main trail or he would run ahead and then come back and finish walking with me.  That way we got some together time but he also got the workout he needed in.  
January 27, 2015 - Hiking up to Dimple Hill with Bailey
Joe decided to do a trail run at the beach on Valentines Day.  Meighan and I decided to go along and do the shorter run.  We both got lost. She did a really short run and I did one about a mile longer than I was supposed to.  lol  Joe, of course, kicked ass.  :-)
February 14, 2015 - I love this picture of Joe and his little girl.  :-)
Suddenly it was April and I was done with my practicum and was just waiting for my graduation to be "official".  What a relief! I literally could not have done it without Joe supporting me along the way.  Especially during the many mini breakdowns I had during my practicum. I was pretty sure I was not going to make it.  Joe was pretty sure I would. 

As soon as I was done we swapped roles and I was now supporting him as he ramped up his Ironman training.  Except that he took a week off of his training to go with me and Meighan to DC/NYC for Meighan's 8th grade trip.  That's love right there!  Giving up a week of training to spend it with a bus full of 8th graders?  Wow!  But we had a good time, Meighan loved it and we did a LOT of walking.
June 20, 2015 - New York City
Suddenly it is time for Ironman Canada and the whole family is loaded into the car and we are heading north.  I loved being there with him for the days leading up to the race.  We got to check out the routes and run some of the trails he would be doing during the race.  I was worried that he needed to be doing a faster run and it was stressing me out.  He made it very clear that he was running as fast as he needed or wanted to go.  He wanted to run with me and I wasn't slowing him down.  I didn't get to worry about it anymore.  Yes sir!
July 20, 2015 - Ironman Canada pre-race trail run.  We didn't see any bears! :-( 
July 25, 2015 - Olympic Village, Whistler, Canada
July 26, 2015 - Ironman Canada!  I LOVE this picture! Transition from bike to run.  
July 27, 2015 - Heading home from Canada.  Taking a moment to check out the view.
I'm seeing a pattern.  Joe does an Ironman and then later does some crazy run with me.  This time we did a run in a vineyard and I made everyone purple tutus to wear.  He was a good sport about it.  lol  I thought he looked awesome.  :-)
August 22, 2015 - Wicked Wine Run
November 26, 2015 - Thanksgiving Day Run.  
December 26, 2015 - Hike with Dwayne, Faylene and Zach.  We found snow!
I know this is a lot of pictures and really only from the last five years.  These last few posts I have done have been fun for me to put together.  Looking through all the pictures and fun adventures has been a kick.  With each of the kids I was able to really see how much they have supported me in my journey.  How cool is that to have three young people who already know how to be supportive and encouraging?

Joe is the one, however, who really gets to see the not fun side of the struggle.  The tears and frustrations.  The wanting to quit and then being mad that I want to quit.  There are have been moments of frustration from him about my difficulty in seeing my own progress.  Only your husband can actually get angry because you are doing well and can't see it.  

Twenty six years of marriage on January 5, 2016.  We have been through a lot.  Fifteen years on a farm.  Three amazing children.  Joe starting a new career, moving to a new city, me going to school and then starting a new career, getting healthy, getting active, doing an Ironman (oh wait, two!), me going to school again and doing all the day to day things that happen in-between the adventures.  

Joe, I can never ever begin to tell you how much I love this journey we are on together.  No matter what has happened in our life we have gone through it as a team.  It isn't always easy or pretty but it always get done.  The love I felt for you as a 20 year old young woman does not even hold a candle to what I feel for you today.  I know my heart was full then so it has just continued to grow to accommodate all the blessings that have been added along the way.  You think I can do things that I think are crazy.  Actually you know I can do things and I think you are crazy, until I do them.  I really believe that there are things I have done and gotten through only because you knew I would.  

I love how we laugh.  I love how you smack my ass as I walk by and embarrass the kids.  I love that you know just how to handle all my tears, the sad ones, the mad ones and the joyful ones. I love how sometimes we talk about everything and nothing.  I love how sometimes just being in the same room doing our own thing is enough.  I love how you insisted you didn't want a dog but let me get one anyway and then completely love her to pieces (because you are a big softie!)  The list could go on and on but basically it comes down to this:

I love you!

Thank you for loving me too!

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