Saturday, July 6, 2013

3:09 PM
As part of his wedding vows, my husband said to me - one of the reasons I love you is that when you say 'do you want to go for a bike ride?' I know that if I say 'yes', I better be ready to ride. That is a pretty good characterization of our dating days - one adventure after another where we pushed each other on hikes, mountain bikes, triathlons,and various other outdoor feats.  In activities where we were markedly different in abilities (e.g., squash and windsurfing for him, yoga and rock climbing for me) we were gentle and encouraging. However, when it came to activities that we were reasonably comparable in (e.g., biking, tennis, triathlons) we were not afraid to be competitive, even fiercely so, if the occasion or mood warranted it.

I was reminded of that yesterday during an exchange we had during the little duathlon workout we did together the day after our seven year wedding anniversary. On the bike ride home after the initial bike/run portion of the workout, my husband said to me 'Is it OK if I ride home at my own pace?' (code for: I am going to do my best to drop you on this hill). 'Sure' I said cheerfully, quietly shifting gears and upping my RPMs (code for: I am not going to let you drop me on this hill, even if I die trying). So it went that we finished the ride panting, sweaty and within seconds of each other. Twelve years into a relationship, and seven years into a marriage, some habits die hard.

That being said, one of the things that I miss most about having kids is getting to work out with my husband. One of the things that drew us together in the first place is our love of sports and the outdoors. However, of late we are usually in full-on divide and conquer mode, wherein we support each other in doing our extra curricular activities, but rarely get to share in the experience. When my parents are with us, we can sometimes sneak away for a mountain bike ride, or my favorite: a run/SUP combo. We have also just gotten our littlest one comfortable with the day care at our gym, which will hopefully free us up to do more together, at least at the gym. A splurge we often talk about is hiring a babysitter on the weekends so that we can do a mountain bike ride together. Unfortunately, because we already feel like our time with the kids is more limited than we would like, we have yet to take the plunge in this respect.

Patio Dining Overlooking the River
This weekend though, as part of our seven-year wedding anniversary celebration, my parents treated us to a night away in a little mountain town at the gateway to Mineral King and Sequoia National Parks. The town is known for its beautiful river, its ice cream, and of late, its mountain biking. With 24 blessed kid-free hours to ourselves we decadently watched a movie, swam in the river, dined late into the evening, and this morning, set off on a beautiful and challenging mountain bike ride at Case Mountain.  While there are no maps for this mountain bike area, others have described it as 'like the Downieville trails before they became popular'. For those of you who know mountain biking, you know that this is a good thing.

Lovin' the Singletrack
Despite the 90 degree heat in effect at 8:30 AM, we rode for a total of two hours, including a 5.5 mile climb that turned our legs to jello, and some tricky, fast descents that tested our skills, which were found significantly lacking. As in the old days, my husband was able to maintain a 10-yard advantage on the climb, while I held him at bay on the descents. It was a great ride and so much fun to be able to do it together. We celebrated afterwards with a dip in the pool and an enormous ice cream cone before heading back to the kids. 

As a working mom, I sometimes feel the tug of guilt about how much time I spend away from my kids. However, after having this time away from them, just with my husband, I know that the investment he and I made in our relationship is the best thing we could have done for them. There is never a perfect balance with everything, but finding time for the relationship that will be bedrock to their lives is both critically important, and easy to neglect. I am thankful that we had enough resilience in our relationship to make it through these last few busy and sleep-deprived years, but also look forward for the years to come where slipping away for a couples adventure will be just that much easier, and equally rewarding.

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