The Runner

When I was sixteen years old, I worked a summer for my uncle in Wilson, NC, mowing lawns — commercial and residential (one memory I will never ever be able to erase from my mind is the odor of one of my uncle’s clients: a pig rendering plant).

Toward the end of the summer, my uncle took me aside and gave me some advice. “Elden,” he said, “I have never in my life met someone who is as easy to read as you. Everyone always knows what you’re thinking, and what you’re feeling, before you ever say a word.”

He went on to tell me that I needed to learn to present a neutral expression, to be able to look interested when I’m not, to look happy when I’m angry.

I did not take his advice then, and I never really have since, either. Whether in person or when I write, it’s pretty obvious to most everyone how I’m doing.

And judging from the comments I’ve read the past couple days, it’s obvious to a lot of you that I’m seeing someone I’ve referred to as “The Runner.” Furthermore, it’s obvious that I’m pretty darned happy.

So let me introduce her to you a little less obliquely.

Misnomer

First off, The Runner definitely is a runner. She’s run several marathons (3:33 in her most recent one a couple months ago). She runs several times a week, and has for about ten years.

However, calling her “The Runner” because she runs is a horribly misleading nickname. See, she is also a cyclist — both road and mountain. She’s done Lotoja, a popular 200+-mile road race. And — much more importantly (in my mind) — she’s done the Leadville 100…five times. And she just sent in her application for number six.

Here she is, with the bike she’s planning on riding:

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Guys, I’d like you to please stop checking her out for a moment, and look at the bike.

Superfly. Singlespeed. Yeah.

So: a hot chick that rides a 29″ singlespeed mountain bike, and loves the race I love.

Gee, what a surprise that I’m attracted to her.

Waitasec, what was I supposed to be talking about here? Oh right, her name. See, between the road biking, the mountain biking, the swimming — more on that in a second — the lifting, and the yoga, nicknaming someone “The Runner” seems kind of limiting. Almost as odd as calling someone “Fatty” just because he’s got a middle-aged gut, even though said Fatty is also a handsome, multiple-award-winning superstar internet cycle blogging megastar celebrity. With his own line of apparel, thank you very much.

OK, I’ve lost my train of thought again. Where was I? Right, her name. It’s Lisa.

But I think I’ll still mostly refer to her as The Runner. Since she calls me “Fatty” in real life. Which isn’t necessarily as flattering as you might think.

History

The Runner has been a Friend of Fatty since there was ever such a thing. Check it out, she’s got a first-edition Fat Cyclist jersey (only 250 of them in existence) and everything:

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I gotta say, though, I like this picture better:

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As you can see in this photo, she loves being photographed, repeatedly. She’s not irritated with me here at all.

The truth is, though, she’s been a good friend — both to Susan and me — for about fifteen years. Which means there’s been an — um, interesting — mix of oddness about being in a relationship with a woman who has always been just a good friend, combined with relief that you don’t have to worry about whether the person you’re seeing is actually who they seem to be.

I.e., I already know she’s a smart, funny, hardcore athlete with varied interests and a no-nonsense attitude. She knows I’m a goofy dork who gets fat each winter and never thinks about anything but bicycles.

Gee, I wonder who got the short end of the stick?

Day Job

The Runner is a nurse, working in the Pain Service team at a local hospital. You would think that would be an incredibly useful skill for me to leverage, but whenever I complain of achiness, she just tells me to take ibuprofen.

Seriously, I have to say that her being a nurse is one of the things I really, really like about Lisa. If the past five years has taught me anything about the medical world, it’s that nurses are its backbone, muscle and heart.

And I am perfectly willing to stand by and defend that mixed metaphor.

Compromises

Of course, nobody is perfect. And The Runner’s problem is: she’s interested in triathlons. And not just any. She’s currently training, in fact, for the St. George Ironman this May.

Honestly, though, I’m excited for this event — much more excited for it than if I were going to do it myself. It will be fun to be able to sleep comfortably the night before a big race, and then cheer her on, offering useful and practical advice. Such as, “Keep your chin up!” and “Only 14 hours to go!”

Yeah, I know. You’re thinking, “What a lucky gal.”

Compromises

Dating The Runner has broadened my horizons. Sort of. Mainly, as I desperately try to keep up, I’ve discovered that I really like trail running. Enough, in fact, that I have signed up to run a marathon with her in a few months.

Partly because the training gives me a way to spend more time with The Runner, and partly because I just cannot stand another winter of riding the rollers.

Merry Christmas

This will be my last long post until after the new year. I’m taking my family — along with The Runner and her family — to New York, where we are all going into full-on tourist mode. I plan to take photos and post short notes from time to time, but the truth is, I’ll be in vacation mode and may not post anything at all.

It’s been a helluva year — about as awful of one as I could imagine in some ways, but with some incredible high notes as well. Right now, I’m genuinely happy — I think it shows in this blog — and I owe a lot of that to The Runner.

Thanks for sticking with me through 2009. I hope you have a Merry Christmas (or a good whatever-you-celebrate), and a great start to 2010.

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