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Melissa, What is Off- Sides in Hockey?

Ever since I've known him, Andy and I have been in competition. As a matter of fact, we've been competing before we ever met. We applied to the same summer fellowship program, (I got in; he didn't) and many of the same graduate schools (he got into GW; I didn't). We have the same academic interests and for many years, similar professional goals. During the early years of our relationship we were living the same life with the exact same goals- we took the same classes with the same professors; worked for the same museums and local organizations and shared a group of friends. We both felt as though we'd fought for, and earned, our spots at one of the best and most well-known museum studies graduate programs in the country, and for that, we had slight chips on our shoulders- and the urge to knock those chips from the egos of others, one another included.

I once joked about dancing to "Anything you can do, I can do better" at our wedding because the lyrics sum us up perfectly. A little competition, and smack talk, has always been the spark to our relationship.

As you know, I have been running for over a decade and my pavement pounding predates dating Andy. I was running every day during graduate school and I loved scoping out all of the village homes while I jogged up and down the side streets in town. I recall one afternoon when I first moved upstate, as I passed a set of houses on a particular idyllic street, I noticed a group of people outside on a lawn. I was trying to keep my pace and also pay attention to the potholes and cracks in the sidewalk (still a major complaint of mine in this town) so I could only glance as I passed by. Oh, and I also didn't want to look like a nosy weirdo. It looked like a group of young people, maybe graduate students, but it was hard to tell and I'd just started school and didn't know all of my classmates just yet. Later that week, at school, Andy asked me if I had run by his house. I told him, yes, that was likely me, and I was sorry I didn't wave as I went by. I mentioned I didn't look over because I was afraid that I'd fall down if I wasn't paying attention. This is a true story and that is exactly what I said.

Andy recalls the story differently. He claims that I told him I didn't see him because I was "running so fast." I never, ever said that! Yet, I should have known early on, that Andy was intimidated by me. After all, I am a Super Star!! It must have been his desire to obtain the unobtainable that attracted him to me and while I fought the urge to marry beneath me, (people, please- I was nominated for the DAR award in high school, I won one of the thesis awards for my MA, I have a BA from Mount Holyoke...) in the end, I had no choice but to succumb to his boyish charm and caustic wit.

Back to running- I'm always sad that Andy never attends any of my races. When I returned home, with jello legs, from the Boilermaker 15K a few years back, and after I puked by the car, he huffily asked me what took me so long. (Dude- it's 9 miles! do the math...oh wait, this will come back later.) Finally, this fall, after pleading with him, he waited by the flag pole in town, and then at the finish line, to see me huff and puff and push the double jogger, and 63 pounds of kiddos, through town for the local 5k loop. While it meant a lot to me for him to support me, it meant more that his daughters saw him doing it.

About a month ago, my cousin, another super smart, funny, athletic woman like me(it's genetic)called and asked me if I'd like to run in the Pittsburgh half marathon with her. Well, hell, why not! I stupidly told her. I ran the nine-miler a few years back, what's four more miles? I'm a planner so as soon as I agreed, I began looking up training programs on the web, searching for running gear and planning out my ipod play list. Each evening I have been debating between cycling style shorts or little underpants and whether or not "Pumped up Kicks" or "Rain Dance Maggie" would be best to start me off at the right race pace. I've made a hand crafted training chart and taped it up by the treadmill and feel like pooping my pants every time I think about actually running this half marathon. (It makes me feel better that my cousin said this, too!)I have decided to dedicate Saturday mornings to my long run. And since I came in between the 3-legged dog and the 88-year-old man with a walker during my last 5k, I had to warn him about the duration of these longer runs.

This is a true story and retells exactly what was said.
Me; Andy, I am going to train for this half marathon on Saturday mornings. It will take me a while to get in the mileage. I can do it around 7 am though.
Andy: Uhhh, Melissa, this is so inconvenient! I have a lot of errands to do on Saturdays.
Me; Yeah, but Andy, I'll be done before you and the girls are out of your jammies and have eaten breakfast. I'll do it all while you are all watching Sid the Science Kid and checking ebay for soldiers.
Andy: I dunno. This is going to be an issue. You may have to get a babysitter. Can't you get a hobby that doesn't take up so much time?

So, I've had some latent anger brewing in me about the whole race and Andy's lack of awe about it all. What better time to bring it up than on the drive to my parent's house for Christmas. I'm not sure how I decided to mention my concern but it's likely that I made a tongue-in-cheek bitchy comment. To sum it up for you, I basically told him I felt like he was being un-supportive about the whole thing and that he shouldn't bother coming with me if it was such an inconvenience to him. I told him that running this half marathon is a big deal to me and I'd hope that what matters to me would matter to him. Here's how it all went down, or rather, down-hill, from there:

Andy: Melissa, it isn't a big deal. You run in these races all the time. You just did that hot chocolate run a few weeks ago.
Melissa: Andy, that was a 5k! This is a half marathon. The word marathon is a part of this race. That means it's a long run. It's going to be really hard and I'm going to work really hard to accomplish this goal.
Andy: I don't get it. Playing hockey and baseball takes a lot more skill than running a marathon.
Melissa: (imagine steam coming from my ears) What?! What?! Expletive! No. I'm sorry but running in a half marathon is much harder than you playing pick-up hockey behind the grocery store with the high school kids!
Andy: Again, hockey and baseball require much more skill than running. Besides, hundreds of thousands of people run in marathons all of the time.
Melissa: But, I have never run one before. Andy, do you even know how far a half marathon is?
Andy: No, but do you know what off-sides is in hockey?
Melissa: No, Andy. But I thought the distance of a marathon was kind of common knowledge. If you don't know, it's like, really, really far. Haven't you ever heard of TV show marathons? That means they just keep playing and playing episodes. You know, for a long, long time.
Andy: Whatever. Who cares?
Melissa: Andy, how far is a half marathon?
Andy: Five miles.
Melissa: It's thirteen. Why don't you run a mile tomorrow and then imagine doing that twelve more times, ok?
Andy: Hockey and baseball require more skill.

The other day, I told my buddy at the gym all about this conversation. He normally sides with Andy but he got a good chuckle out of this story. Each time I grunted or complained during my weight training session, he would say, "C'mon, don't be so weak! Andy would have lifted twice as much as you in half the time!"

I decided as a motivator, I'm going to make one of those stretchy colored wrist bands to wear for the rest of my training and on race day. WWAD. What Would Andy Do?

So, what would Andy do? I know what he should do. He should tell me he believes in me and that I can do this! Even if I don't know what off-sides is in hockey.


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