My answer to Western States Widow in the last Ask An Ultrarunner synchroblog didn’t sit well with at least one of the readers of this blog.
Dear Ask An Ultrarunner:
I must take exception to your response to “Western States Widow” (April 20, 2010). Your response is presumptuous, selfish, and insulting, and lacks a true sensitivity to and understanding of her predicament.
No self-respecting wife (husband) would ever forbid her husband (his wife) from training for a race as prestigious as WS, because we recognize the joy and sense of accomplishment such an experience can bring. However, your response so egregiously ignores the need for balance in a relationship, I submit the following:
First, in suggesting she cut her husband some slack because “running WS is a big goal” that takes “time and energy” for which to prepare, you fail to recognize that she herself may have her own goals, ambitions, and projects which are equally important and perhaps even more time-consuming than training for WS. Running WS is a year-round obsession and spouses could very well suffer burn-out at a higher rate than the runner as her own work and accomplishments are over-looked by a well-meaning, and by all other standards, wonderfully remarkable, but completely oblivious spouse.
In addition to this, not all spouses are evidently as understanding and accommodating as your own, and huge props to her for accompanying you on your escape week-ends in the woods. Again, you have presented the assumption the spouse has the energy, time or inclination to cater to her husband’s training schedule when in reality, very few spouses could afford time away from the office or family to travel to a training camp where the focus has nothing to do with an equal relationship between partners, but is about only serving one partner’s interest. If the point is for partners to spend more time together– true time and quality time– I fail to see how a training camp would support this endeavor, especially if the partner-not-in-training’s only roles are as chauffeur and cook.
Often, as you indicate, there is a danger inherent in time spent apart in a relationship. If a spouse chooses not to spend time in blind support of her husband (or his wife), which is what I believe you are suggesting, or simply cannot, given the demands on his or her own time, what will be the future of that relationship? There is a point where blind obsession is entirely detrimental and serves no purpose, even in pursuit of belt buckles.
In closing, I beg you to re-examine your reasoning, and address with more sympathy and circumspect thinking the plight of the “Western States Widow.”
Thanks for your response, C. I can see I hit a nerve with you. Have you ever seen one of those belt buckles that we pursue? Perhaps you’d feel differently if you had your own. Or not.
I probably shouldn’t offer any kind of marital advice because I’ve only had one spouse for the last 23 years. I think I’ll let the readers answer this one – if they dare. Who is more selfish, the WS runner who spends time training for the race or the WS widow who demands that his/her running spouse spend less time training and more with the widow?