Turning 50 hasn’t changed my husband in the slightest. In fact, he (and all our friends who have reached this milestone) actually looks amazing. But one would have thought that a thing such as restless legs would have become less so over time, and a very short attention span might have lengthened, but none of these effects have shown up so far. Having said that, turning 50 had been on his sub-conscious fanatical-training-ironman-mind for a while now and it has been used as a reason for entering into even more events than before (yes, it’s possible).
Granted, he’s always been a runner and loved it passionately, which is great. Ever since we’ve been married we’ve gone to all sorts of places “because there’s a marathon there”. I remember going to Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo so he could do the Cango Caves Marathon back in the days when our youngest daughter (child No 3) was a tiny little baby, and hanging around at the finish line with two bored young kids plus a baby wasn’t much fun, but I have to admit I’ve enjoyed going to these places. Marathons have taken us (and sometimes him on his own of course) to some pretty amazing places such as Jungfrau in Switzerland, Buller Gorge on the South Island of New Zealand, and Cable Beach in Broome, Western Australia, to name but a few. Then there was the absolutely epic (even as a spectator) Three Peaks Race in Tasmania and his 50th year turned out to be a “big” year as far as races and events go.
And so it happened that when his 50th birthday was approaching and I wanted to take him somewhere for a romantic weekend away (such as the beautiful Southwest of WA), he wasn’t all too keen because there was no race there at the time and researched a marathon which would be perfectly timed as training for Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (no 17 of that particular one) instead, and came up with Orange Marathon in New South Wales in February. I was happy with that – it would make him happy and it’s after all a part of his birthday present, plus I’d get to see a bit of Canberra and country New South Wales that I wouldn’t see again in a hurry.
He did basically all the planning some months in advance, and did a good job of it. Very unfortunately though, he got injured beforehand and running the marathon was then out of the question, but since we’d planned and paid for the (birthday) trip, we decided we’d go anyway.
The morning of our departure the effect of the very short attention span became apparent again as there was suddenly a mad scramble (after his last minute packing), because he couldn’t remember the name of the hotel where we were supposed to be staying in Canberra that night! We were due to arrive in Canberra at 10:30pm – not a good time to start looking around the city to see if you happen to recognise the names of any of the hotels as being the one where you’re booked to stay! And then there was panic because his e-mail wasn’t working when he tried to search it for the hotel booking! I wasn’t going to stress about it; we were heading to a city which will surely have enough hotels, and there was no big event in the city, so we would be ok.
Eventually the booking was found and we headed off after working for half a day. Once parked at the airport Ironman walked away after “locking” the car, and I stood next to it to check a door to see that it’s locked – still some paranoia there that I’ll probably never get rid of – and the door opened as the car wasn’t locked, just as I’d thought, because I’d heard the immobiliser make the sound for unlocking the car, not locking it! After I’d called out to him to lock it (and I checked, of course), we had a whole discussion over immobiliser sounds and effects (car lights flashing differently for locking and unlocking, different sounding beeps for locking and unlocking), which he’d never noticed! No attention to detail at all! (Or lack of attention span?)
We boarded our flight (we managed to get two seats together) and were lucky enough to have the third seat in our row free, ideal for some restless legs. Ironman had the aisle seat and I had the middle seat, and he then decided that we should use the free space and promptly climbed over me to get to the window seat. Remember: he’s 50. A dignified age. After moving everything in the seat pockets around as well, including earphones, book and water bottle and settling down and I’d started watching a movie, he asked why I didn’t move to the aisle seat, so we could have the spare seat (and space) between us. (Why settle down if you can move around?) So now I was unbuckling my seat belt, taking everything out of my seat pocket and moving it across, unplugging the earphones (after pausing the movie), and moved over to the aisle seat, plugged in my earphones and started watching the movie again! I wonder what the person sitting behind us must have thought about the pair of us sitting down, getting up, sitting down in a different seat, getting up again and sitting down in yet another seat!!
The rest of the flight went by without incident (other than a few boredom-induced interruptions of my movie by my husband) and we got to Canberra, picked up the rental car and drove out the car park without him looking at a map at all. When I asked if I needed to get out my phone and open up Google Maps, he said: “No, I know where I’m going!” OK. We’ve been in this situation before, where he “knows where he’s going” but suddenly and without warning I get asked to navigate us from where we are at that moment to the place we’re headed. Thank goodness for accessible GPS’s so I immediately know where we are on Google Maps and navigation is simple. I clearly remember a time pre-Google Maps and smart phones when I used to have to do last-minute navigation with no prior warning otherwise I would have paid attention to where we were going, and then I had to navigate us to our destination but I would have no idea where we were at that moment!! (Neither did Ironman otherwise he wouldn’t have asked me to navigate but he’d never admit that!) The navigation itself was never an issue, just finding an unknown moving spot in a map book presented a few challenges.
Anyway, after about 5 wrong turns (all blamed on the lack of signage – the signs were rather ignored I might add) and the help of Google Maps, we found our hotel. Much closer attention was then paid to planning our journey from Canberra into country New South Wales the next day and we had a lovely weekend in the town and beautiful district of Orange, stayed in an outstanding B&B, did a great hike, caught up with some running friends who were also there for the marathon, and had a couple of very palatable meals in restaurants recommended by the owners of the B&B. Over the years I’ve come to terms with the fact that my husband can’t sit through a meal (not even at a restaurant) without getting up and going walkabouts supposedly going to the toilet numerous times, but mostly just because he can’t sit still even for an hour at a time. As a result, most of our meals out tend to be over fairly quickly and this hasn’t changed either since he’s turned 50, but despite that we still thoroughly enjoyed our meals out in Orange (him despite the fact that it’s not really socially acceptable or acceptable to his wife were he only to sit down for 10 minutes to eat his food and then wander around for the rest of the time while I’m savouring my food, and me despite the fact that I spent quite a bit of time at the table on my own enjoying the company of my glass of wine – not bad company by the way), and all of this was part of my man’s 50th birthday present.
Just as well though, because he’d chosen not to have a 50th birthday party as the timing just didn’t work out between Ironman Busselton and Christmas, notwithstanding numerous requests from friends that he should have a party and Ironman insisting that he doesn’t dance and one of his running and triathlon mates, the Scouser, actually promising to give him dancing lessons for his elusive 50th party! (How can someone with restless legs not dance?) I’m still waiting for those lessons to happen by the way. I wouldn’t want to miss out on that entertainment!
Party or no party, 50 years has done nothing to slow down his restless legs. We take it as it comes, sometimes one rollercoaster day after another with no time for boredom (or to catch your breath sometimes). It’s like the very apt fridge magnet child No 3 bought him a while ago: