Thursday, Mark and I celebrated our fourth anniversary. Four friggin' years of ups, downs, highs and lows. We've weathered family problems and the death of my mom; adopted an enthusiastic puppy by the name of Denali; bought a house; and created the most amazing child on the planet. Sorry if you are a parent and this is news to you but it's the truth.
And though I still feel like Mark and I are the same two crazy people who got married in December, it's amazing how we both have changed. All you have to do is look at our wedding photos.
Mark looks so much younger and I look a lot less fit. I definitely think I win in this equation.
As I've been consumed with the health of my grandma (thank you for all the well wishes - she has stabilized and has moved to a nursing home for rehab), I've been reflecting on my own and how much mine has changed since Mark and I got married. How those changes aren't a coincidence. I've been able to do what I've done because of him.
Mark never forced me to lose weight. He never said I was fat or unattractive or undesirable. Just the opposite. But, he never shied away from being a role model and an encouraging one at that. By example, he showed me that people can exercise for the pure joy and not because of weight loss or vanity. He supported any effort I made to exercise and was always willing to scale down his efforts to do it with me.
He came up with the idea to participate in my first road race, the now defunct Warbird 5K, and then ran with me, each and every step, in a blistering 42 minutes. He was just as proud of me on that May morning when I finished as he was when I set my PR two years later.
He took me to Three Rivers Running Co. so I could get fitted for my first pair of running shoes, Nike Air Pegasus, beginning a new love affair that I'm not so sure his wallet enjoys.
Just as I celebrated being able to run 4 miles, he came up with a crazy idea that we should do a half marathon - not just him, but us. I did that one and four more, and he's attended all but one of those races. Cheering me on and giving me a hug despite my sweat and stank.
As I began to become a more dedicated runner, he helped ignite my passion by buying me a generous birthday gift - a Garmin Forerunner 305. His friends always tease Mark for being cheap but he's never said no to something I "needed" for running. If I'll use it, I can have it. Well, nine times out of 10.
He's remained a constant, enthusiastic training partner. Mark knows how to get me out for a run when I am just being lazy, and he knows how to push me beyond what I think I can do. I've ran some of my fastest races with him by my side, telling me to stay in it and that I can do it.
Most importantly, he's always believed in me more than I ever dared believe in myself. Even as I grow more confident, in life and fitness, Mark is always thinking of the next big thing I can do.
And then helping me do it.