Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running


Behind Every Fast Man, A Woman

Published November 5, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Like many women of her generation, Helen stayed home while her husband went to work. She supported his schedule, raised their children, and kept their home. She shared him with the students; that was his job. She understood why he was required to attend meetings; people needed him. She knew he had to work long hours; it was the price he paid for tenure.

However, Helen could not understand why her husband had to run. For forty years, Helen watched the collection of trophies, ribbons, plaques, mugs, and T-shirts grow. He stuffed most of it in boxes in the basement and refrained from bragging. The kids knew he liked to go running, but they didn't know he was having so much fun.

Now that he is retired, he runs less often and it still makes him feel good. Helen waits at home. She learned to share her husband with the road and the trail, and now he is a role model for generations.

Catherine was a devoted wife and knew she would spend the rest of her life with the man who called her "his one and only girl." She moved with him when he changed jobs, she raised their children, she worried for him as he walked and ran through the neighborhoods of the city, and she collected porcelain boxes to occupy her time.

Catherine knew her husband liked to run and he proved his skills many times over, entering and finishing the most grueling endurance races. But one day he met that co-ed who wanted to run with the men; the co-ed who wanted to train like the men, run the same races, and make a difference for all women runners. So, with grim resolve, Catherine learned to share her husband, and now he is a legend.

Gail knew she would share her husband with other runners when she married him. He was already an award-winning runner, but the longevity of his abilities and evolution of his success grew as the sport became more popular. The world came to know him as a spokesperson for health and fitness, and for his endless energy. Gail supported him by writing, raising their children, and being there for him when he returned from speaking engagements and races. Gail shared her husband, and he became a running icon.

I salute the women who share. These women, and millions like them, encourage, persevere, cheer, support, and tolerate their husbands' obsessions with running. These wives are the silent partners of the ones we admire. However, in the long run, it is the women who are the champions, the winners and the legends.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

Copyright (c) 2001 The Herald Company. All rights reserved. The material on this site may not be reproduced, except for personal, non-commercial use, and may not be distributed, transmitted or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Syracuse OnLine.