"Ah, excuse me?" I broke in. Everyone turned. "We prefer the term 'water jockey.'"
"Oh, well, how about 'water man'," she rebutted.
Satisfied, I sat back in my chair and let the rest of the conversation play out.
The night before, right around the time I polished off my second beer (that's a lot these days) and shoveled the last forkful of enchilada in, the conversation from our sweaty, post-hell-100 degree-5K group turned, as it always seems to, back to running. The question that brought everyone back was, "What are you doing in the morning?"
The morning is now a given because no one in their right mind would run in the afternoon, and the afternoon now starts at 9:00 a.m. My wife and I found this out the hard way a week ago. I actually turned down a 10-mile run with my new running partner, thinking that the 5K exertion and subsequent celebration would be too much for a long run the next morning. Had it been winter, or even fall, I'd be all in. But not Saturday night.
"I'd be up for eight," one of my friends offered.
"Eight?" Her fiancee said. "Ugh, really?"
"I've just been putting it off too long."
And truth be told, perhaps we all have. Especially me. In my speed development program, I have a 90 minute run schedule for every Saturday. I'm five weeks in and have hit it twice. My plan this past weekend was to squeeze in an early morning 5-7 miler to tune up for the race. Then I slept in too late and drank a glass of wine too many the night before to celebrate my lady friend's birthday. Sadly, the 5K was all I could handle.
Then, my wife turned to me. "I have to do 8 in the morning...and I'm dreading it." I admired the dedication. I truly did. But I braced for the question I knew was coming. "Want to come with?" And there it was. Laid out for me on the table like the sopapillas I wasn't ordering...in front of everyone. My eyes shifted from seat to seat (a la The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). I thought of all the times during my Vermont Marathon training that she cameled for me, in the cold no less. Finally I met hers and couldn't believe the words coming out of my mouth, "Yes. Yes, I'll go with you."
"No. I'll bike with you and carry your water."
I watched the clock move just past 12:30 when we got home and groaned at the thought of getting up even earlier than I do for work. As if no time had gone by, the alarm went off. We both collected ourselves out of bed, she to the bathroom, me to walk the dog. When I returned, we still hadn't acknowledged one another. I could smell the english muffin browning. I walked by and continued out the sliding glass door to pump up the tires on the bike I'd neglected for just over a year now. Almost sensing my exhaustion, it groaned and squeaked, as I wheeled it onto our deck.
Another thing you need to know about my wife and I (love you, babe), is that I tend to move a bit faster than her in the morning. Though we got up at 6:30, we actually didn't leave the house until closer to 7:45. I'm leaving it here.
And so, we set out for our 8 miler. I felt life returning to me as I pedaled behind her up and down the hills. I handed off the water to her every mile or simply when it looked like she needed it. The air was still cool and the sun lighting the sky but not quite overhead. She turned to me at one point and said, "This is really nice." And it was.
A stray runner went by here and there on either side of the street, but largely, it felt like we had the world to ourselves. We chatted on the flat parts, making plans for the rest of the day, the week, the year, our entire life. Other points, we just strolled along in silence and took in the chorus of insects coming alive in the woods.
So, what did we do in the morning? We stayed out for just over 80 minutes. Our moods warmed with the day and by the time we got home, the nap we swore we'd take seemed out of the question. Instead, we made breakfast, had our coffee, and read through the Sunday Post. The beauty of it was, the whole day was ahead of us to enjoy.