On my way to the pool Monday night, I ran into Applesauce.
She was fresh off a prolonged fitness break and ready to start back in the pool. Together, we walked towards the pool to find it completely stacked. Every lane overfull, water aerobics at the wall, second lane backstroke guy with no goggles plus weird hamstring stretchy guy, third lane middle-aged man obsessed with pull buoy plus woman floating with noodle, last lane man swimming with big kick and fins.
Applesauce takes a seat by the hot tub and we wait. We talk, we catch up. Periodically, we scan the lanes to sense any swimmer fatigue or impending exit from the lane. But then looking at the last lane, I recognize a familiar face. Wait a minute…..
“Isn’t that your husband?” I ask Applesauce who seems content to wait for an indefinite amount of time for an open lane in the pool.
“Yeah,” she says.
I’m confused. I mean, why wait at the hot tub for an open lane to possibly never open up because I swear people doing the things the farthest from swimming in the pool seem to have freakish endurance to outlast those of us that actually do swim in the pool. Why not just jump in with husband instead?
“Don’t you want to swim with your husband?” I ask, still wondering why she hadn’t jumped in the lane.
“We’re not talking.” Applesauce went on to explain how she was not talking to him because he was late in going to the gym and to prove her point in an attempt at being passive aggressive she didn’t speak to him on the way to the gym (note: they live 5 minutes away).
We sat a few minutes longer before she conceded to joining him in the lane as the future of lane openings looked pretty dim. Freakish endurance was well underway in every other lane and not noodles, or pull buoys, or strange variation of backstroke were showing any signs of weakness.
“He’ll probably jump out as soon as I jump in,” she said gathering her fins and goggles to make her way to the lane.
“Just kick really hard when you go by him,” I said. Hey, all is fair when fighting in love. Even in the pool.
“Maybe I’ll cross the center line,” she added. You see, that’s the spirit. That’s how you get back at a husband in a fitness sort of way.
I bring up Applesauce as a point but really it could be Chris and I just the same. We’ve had our share of fights, fits, and miscommunications in the pool, on the bike or while running on the trail. In fact, the first few years we dated I credit a major increase in bike speed to fighting. If you happened to ride through Fermilab in 2002 you might have noticed a man on a bike with a small crazy Italian woman chasing him all out while shouting not so nice things his way. And the harder I chased him, the better I got. It wasn’t the best strategy for our relationship but for getting fast – well, it really worked.
And it’s all about getting fast, anyways, isn’t it?
It didn’t just stop there – retaliation has spanned all across the three sports. Letting air out of Chris’ tires – guilty. Not sharing gels when he's made me mad (those are my gels from my sponsor) – guilty. Picking up the pace, throwing pull buoys, leaving water bottles behind, not washing his workout clothes – guilty, guilty, and GUILTY as charged.
“Hey Chris,” I said tonight as he walked by me with a few wheels in his hand. No, there is a never a moment where my husband does not have either bike grease on his hands or something bike-related in his hands.
“WHAT.” He’s in a good mood tonight. I just sent him to Target to buy paper towels. The worst part is that he agreed. Even went alone.
“What’s your favorite thing you’ve done to me in protest or spite during a workout?” I asked.
He put the wheels down (on the white carpet next to the white wall….the hazard of talking to him when he has bike parts in hand). Paused for a moment. Thought really hard. And then he said, “I don’t do things like that.”
Likely story. Guilty as charged but won’t incriminate himself. Because in the back of my mind, I have instances of this stuff saved up; the silent treatment on the way to masters and then the I won’t share a lane with you look once at the pool; the I’m going to pretend I don’t see you riding the other way on the street; protest in the form of leaving me behind in the forest preserve after a run; hiding (or disabling) my Power Tap/computers/cables or any bike part that he knows better about (that would be any bike part).
AND – my all time favorite – putting my bike out on the curb for garbage pick-up, on garbage night, in the dark, leaving me to pick up pieces of my bicycle from the curb, wheels on the lawn, rear bottle cage in the garbage can. Did I mention the seatpost he threw inches away from the neighborhood pond?
I brought these up but I see selective retrograde relationship amnesia got the best of him. Then Chris continued, “You’re the one always chasing me down on the run or trying to catch my wheel.” He had a point. But while one might see this as combative, I like to see it as (poorly timed) tactics. As in, I chase you to yell at you, and I get faster. Tell me how this doesn’t work out in my favor or why I should stop?
But for all the warfare we’ve waged in water, on pavement, or trail, somehow we meet cooperatively in the middle and support each other through many miles. Together we have gone home sweaty, cried, cheered, iced, and celebrated.
But don’t think for one minute that if he ticks me off at Kona I won’t tell him to give me my gel back at mile 18. Or that I won’t have to collect pieces of my bike from the curb along Alii Drive.
Unsportsmanlike? That’s your call but all is fair in love.