Married to Ultrarunning - Page 2
TRAINING AND RACING SCHEDULES
For someone who isn’t a competitive runner, it’s hard to understand how running can take up so much time. Nick Clark—winner of the 2013 Wasatch Front 100-miler—has been married to his wife, Dana (who’s not a runner) for 12 years.
“I’d be lying if I said we’ve never had issues with Nick’s running,” says Dana. Before Nick began to train at the professional level, neither of them was sure how to balance Nick’s running with the rest of their lives. But, after moving to Fort Collins shortly after they married, the couple decided to start organizing their schedules so that Nick could run—but still be there for his family, including their two young kids, now ages 3 and 7.
“I’m not the type of person to ever say no to someone trying to achieve a dream or a huge goal,” says Dana. Plus, she adds, Nick knows being a husband and father are his first priorities. “I’ve found that the easiest way to deal with him running at this level is to embrace it all. Once I could do that, I was kindly welcomed by his friends and benefited in the sense that they became my friends, too. Rather than feeling bitter, I could enjoy myself and share a much larger part of his experiences.”
Avid ultrarunner Deby Kumasaka, 50, of Edmonds, Washington, also married a non-runner, Kyle, her husband of 19 years. She trains six days per week, lifts weights, does core work two to three times per week and regularly logs weekly mileages of 50 miles. If it’s peak week, that number hovers between 75 and 100 miles. On Saturdays she often runs from dawn to dusk. Of course, this is all in addition to her full-time job as a researcher at Fred Hutchinson Research Center.
“But,” she says, “I still try to keep Sunday for family time.”
When asked if Kyle ever resents Deby’s rigorous training schedule, he says no.
“It’s good for her to get away,” he says. “And I think our marriage has a very strong team aspect, originating from having common long-term goals and being very compatible.”
Across the country in Elkin, North Carolina, elite runners and spouses Jason and Alison Bryant, share a passion for running trails, but usually prefer to train separately. Alison runs in the early mornings before Jason is awake, and Jason runs at night, after Alison has already gone to bed.
“I’m definitely not a morning person,” says Jason.
If they do happen to run together, they run at different paces. Jason says that it works out anyway—“I like to stop and see the views. It works out well since I’m running a little faster and she catches up while I’m taking photos.”
TRADEOFFS: BALANCING RUNNING WITH WORK, KIDS AND LIFE
Deby strives to schedule her training so that it doesn’t interfere with family life and being there for her three sons, ages 13, 17 and 24. But, things don’t always work out and occasionally it’s her family that makes the sacrifice.
“One time I was crewing a friend on a 170-mile road run that went 24 hours longer than expected,” she explains. It was her son’s 23rd birthday and they had made plans to celebrate. “My son said, ‘It’s no big deal, Mom. Stacey needs you.’”
Often, her sons are happy to be a part of her running escapades, including helping crew her at ultras.
“Our youngest sons would video record Deby during her races,” says Kyle, “pretending they were sports announcers. They’d call themselves the Runner’s News Network.”
The Bryants both manage to run competitively. However, because they live in a home built by Jason himself, their busy training schedules mean they’re still waiting on kitchen cabinets, wallboards and the upstairs bedrooms to be finished.
“I work about 30 hours a week—it just allows us to do what we enjoy,” says Jason. He adds that even an indoor toilet is a luxury, referring to his eight-year stint living in a barn, which overlapped with their dating time.
“Our life has a different focus than most.”
Job flexibility is a bonus, too, especially when one has young children. Nick Clark works completely from home, which, he says, gives him the chance to run at lunch when the kids are at school or in the early morning before everyone is awake.
“That way,” he says, “my running is pretty much invisible.”