As Annie begins her series on inspirational mom’s for this blog, I wanted to add my contribution to this new section on her site. I’ll finish up my excuses discussion next week. I have been listening intently to Annie over the past few weeks as she has been describing the real-life stories of the many women who inspire her. Listening to her speak about the moms who have inspired her got me thinking about that same subject in my own life.
I consider myself to be the most blessed person on the planet. I get to wake up each morning (early) and go to sleep at night (usually not so early) next to the most inspirational, smart, driven, organized, patient, and loving women God has ever placed in this world.
As many of you know, Annie and I met in graduate school at Gardner-Webb University sometime in the summer of 2002. I had just finished a 3-year run at trying to become the toughest man on the planet and Annie had recently decided to give collegiate coaching a try. We were both Graduate Assistant coaches at GWU, majoring in the new Sports Science and Pedagogy program.
|Us as graduate assistants. Yes, this is me with a fu man chu...I was going for a look. It was almost the 4th of July and I was going to sport a "these colors don't run" t-shirt at the fireworks festival, with the "guns."|
We had a small class of students and all got to know each other pretty well in the 2-4 nights a week we spent together. I could tell immediately, through our class interactions, that Annie was incredibly bright, personable, always prepared, and most likely a lesbian…
In my defense, for the first few months that I knew Annie:
1- I never saw her wear anything other then sweatpants.
2- She coached softball.
3- She just left a job at the NCAA.
4- Every one of her class presentations involved one of the following subjects (Title IX, Gender Equity, lesbian sport participation, the sexualization of women in sport, and one less-than-flattering editorial on working the NCAA DI Wrestling Championships)
What conclusion would you draw?
We did cross paths in the weight room occasionally and I did know that she was an avid runner – which brings me to the story of how we began our relationship and why physical activity has been a key foundational part of our relationship.
Insert Coopers Test story.
During the summer after our first full year, we ended up with a health and wellness class in which we were actually performing some traditional physical fitness assessments. One warm, Wednesday night, during the last half hour of class, we went out as a group to run the infamous Cooper's Test. For those of you who don't know, the Coopers Test is a standardized test to gauge aerobic fitness...basically a one and half mile walk / run where standardized proficiency levels are given for gender and age.
We knew in advance that we were doing the test this day and all came prepared wearing our running shoes and training apparel and I had determined, earlier in the day, that I was going to run fast enough to get the top standard for my age and also to make sure that I finished first in the class. As we took off, I moved out into the lead pack of about four people. This group continued at a pretty good pace for the first mile and I began distancing myself from the group.
With one lap to go, I was well within reach of the top age group standard. I was coming around the last curve of lap number six and took a glance over my shoulder. I saw our strength coach, who I expected to be my main competition, approximately 100 meters behind me. I considered both of my goals for the night to be easily within reach and had just shifted my pace down to a comfortable fourth gear when, like a ninja, my future wife sprints past me on the outside with about 200 meters to go.
To be completely honest, I'll borrow a line from one of my favorite movies of all time Let it Ride, she "ran past me like I was sitting on a bench at a bus stop." Let me stop here and say that, in my entire life, I had never been beaten in any physical activity by a female. I had no idea that Annie had been race-stalking me since early in lap one. Because of my limited back flexibility, she had run most of the race in my blind spot.
As she passed me with about 200 meters to go, a cheer arose from our professor (female), as well as every other female in the class, who apparently had been watching this with Title IX interest. So now the moment of choice had arrived. As Annie ran past me, my competitive juices went into overdrive and my immediate instinct was to grab her ponytail and catapult myself past her to finish first. However, since arriving at Gardner-Webb, I had also been fighting the image that I was a bit of a cromagnon man. Did I really want to be THAT GUY...when actually, I DID really want to be that guy. But, as Annie continued to accelerate, I put my ego in check and ran across the finish line...
to a girl...
Now, Annie played it cool and just continued to walk ahead of me for the next 50 yards or so. So I caught up with her and caught my breath and told her what a nice run she had...how fun that last lap had been (even though I didn't mean that) and that maybe we should get together to run sometime.
Turns out, we've been running ever since.
Our training together has never stopped and Annie’s toughness has never ceased in amazing me. Annie push-mowed our grass in SC on July 31, the day before Elizabeth was born and walked out of the hospital on August 2 after a long and difficult delivery. Just yesterday, she completed the Spartan “300 workout” with me at the gym. The workout specifics are listed here and honestly, not many couples would have been able to complete this in the time or manner that Annie and I did on Saturday.
Sauna warm up – 5 min
1 mile treadmill run (fast) – Annie @8:15, me @ 7:30 (ha- beat you yesterday my love!)
Pull ups -25 reps (Annie used the assisted PU machine with failure at 8 reps) It took both of us 3 sets to complete the 25 reps.
Deadlifts -50 reps (Annie used a barbell totaling 65lbs, me 135 lbs) Again we completed the 50 reps in 3 sets each.
Push-ups – 50 reps (Annie completed all reps in 4 sets, me 2 sets)
Box Jumps – 50 reps on a 30 in box (we completed all reps in 3 sets)
Floor Wipers – 50 reps (Annie held a 45 lb barbell and I used 135lbs) In this exercise you hold the barbell at extension (like the top of a bench press) with your feet in a neutral position extended straight in front of you. Keeping your legs straight – you bring your feet to touch the left side of the barbell, back to neutral, then back to touch the right side of the barbell ( 1 rep). This exercise took 5 sets each to complete.
Dumbbell Clean and Press – 25 reps per side (Annie a 15lb DB and me 35lbs). Each rep starts with the DB on the floor, explode up and bring the DB to your shoulder, then press overhead. We both completed this exercise with no breaks.
Pull-ups -25 reps (Annie finished in 3 sets and I finished in 5).
This 300 part of the workout took us 44 min and we had ERS and RLS in and out of day care in a total gym time of 60 minutes. This was a pretty impressive workout and I left the Y feeling spent and incredibly inspired by my beautiful wife.
Annie is occasionally frustrated by the fact that her current body is not her pre-baby-body. I am writing this today to publicly acknowledge that I love her (and her current body) more today then I ever did in our life before Elizabeth and Rachel. Physical activity has always been and will always be a part of my relationship with Annie and my girls. We both believe it is one of the reasons that our marriage is so strong.
I have Proverbs 27:17 tattooed on my left arm. As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens the continence of another. When I had this verse put permanently on my body, I had no idea that it would come to have such meaning for me about the woman who chose to have me as her husband. Annie – you inspire and motivate me every day and I will always love you for that.