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The Final 10 Day Dedication: The Expert

….three days early.

Only 13 days until Ironman Coeur d’Alene… (cue “final countdown” music). This is a tad early.  But I think the circumstances have warranted it.

I have dedicated each ten day block of training to important  people in my life. I have written dedications to my Dad, my Mom, Coach Monster, Grandparents, YOU, my SBM friends, Yoda, Sweet Red and Mountain Goat, Dr. MMH, Ilana Katz and McBlessings, my girl, Stella, and my boy, James.

This is the final dedication.  Which means that almost 100 days has passed. And it means that the super taper is in effect. That the race is literally in ten thirteen days…

And best of all—-this final dedication means—that our marriage has survived Ironman training!  That’s right, this dedication goes out to the Expert. The husband. My baby daddy. My partner in crime.



Most of you know all about the Expert at this point. He has a real name, but really, the Expert is more fitting.

How We Met

The Expert and I met when I was 14 years old and he was 17.  No, we did not start dating then.  I walked into a weightlifting gym with my dad, and began my 7+ year journey as an Olympic style weightlifter.  The Expert was the first person to say hello to me at the gym.

This was the dude then.


Fast forward a few years, and the Expert and I were decent friends—we traveled on weightlifting trips together. We shared our Cranberries, Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz CDs on trips.  He dated people, I dated people.

We would NEVER have dated each other.



We were pals.


We were always around each other.


But again… I would have NEVER dated him. Mostly because I thought he was such a know-it-all.  He knew “everything” about nutrition.  And lifting. And life. And work.  Such a smarty pants.

And well… there’s this:

An incident in the middle of the winter… on a van… in Arizona.  I’ll let you guess what this picture is about. Enough said.


Circa 1995

So, we were friends.  Actually, almost frenemies. Only he didn’t know that his know-it-all attitude drove me crazy. It did. Crazy.

But he was growing on me.  And he was part of the cult I knew.  Weightlifting.


Our First Date

The Expert went off to Colorado to train at the Olympic training center when he was 21.  I was headed into my last semester of high school.  He had a going away party on New Year’s Eve, and he invited me.  I was like, “Okay fine.”


New Year’s Eve – 1998

And he was like, “You’re gonna kiss me at midnight.”

Ew. I so was not going to do such a thing. No way.

Well, the party happened and on New Year’s Eve—-the clock struck twelve and I so did such a thing.  I kissed that Expert kid.  And the next day, he left and went to Colorado and that was that.


The following New Year’s Eve… when I get a random phone call.  The Expert was back in town, and he wanted to meet for coffee.  At Denny’s. Denny’s was our first “date,” really.  Though I don’t think either of us knew it then.

Fast forward a few hours… and for the second New Year’s Eve in a row, I kissed that guy. Again. On New Year’s.

And… FIFTEEN years later. Here we are.  Married. Two kids (one of them born on… you guessed it… NEW YEAR’S EVE!)

The Way We Were

We have been through it all.  We were both in graduate school at the same time.

Copy (2) of 357_48735457632_623792632_1381337_6064_n

We have moved over 11 times in our relationship. Job gains, job loss, financial issues, heartbreak, pregnancy & childbirth. And we’ve been here… in sickness and health.

In thinner…


In getting chunkier…


And in super fatness (me).


And in kids… and more fatness.


We have been through it all in the past 12 years of marriage / 15 years together.

Most notably, we have become a tri-ing couple.  Which I will say we have been together in sadness …and in triumph.


He is THE Expert

The Expert is my best friend… and sometimes my biggest enemy.  Sometimes, I find myself screaming at him, “I am not your employee! Stop cracking the whip on me!”

And he’s like, “Whatever sweetheart! You are a PARTNER on board this crazy train. Buck up and do your job!”

I have flashbacks to the weightlifting days. The Expert.  Knows everything.


My point being… the Expert and I really are partners.  We don’t let each other off the hook—ever.  And I am equally as hard on him. We push each other constantly.  And we push each other’s buttons.

We love each other fully—even if we don’t 100% feel it.  And anyone who’s been together 15 years knows what I mean by this. Love like that is not felt as much as it’s just…THERE.

And we work together to keep the children alive and breathing.

We have each other’s backs.


He’s made me a better, tougher person. I grew 100% over the last year trying to juggle a full-time job, writing a book and training for an Ironman.  It would have literally driven me crazy and I would have quit under any other circumstances… but he believed in me.

I take that back—-he’s expected it of me.  And that may sound harsh, but it’s meant to be a compliment.  He has believed greater things in me than I ever could believe in myself.  He just believes them. Like they are facts.

70.3 lovebirds

You signed up for the Ironman. So get your butt on the bike and leave me alone and stop complaining about it.  Then in two months, you’ll finish. It’s that way. Go.

He’s just like that.

He’s seen me lift 230 pounds over my head in weightlifting. He’s seen me birth two babies. And where sometimes he turns his back and I make a stabbing motion with my arm… I know that he loves me, and that’s just the way it is.

He knows I have more strength in me than I do.

Handsome devil in a Swim Bike Dad visor.

Swim Bike Dad

He’s the original Swim Bike Dad.


And I really cannot say enough about him as a father.


He’s an amazing dad.  He fights for his kiddos.  And his kiddos love him.  And he’s funny with them. I mean look—he rode the Angry Bird to school.  He has taught those kids more things than I ever could. He’s adventurous and silly.  And I’m often the “Fun Police,” and kill the rowdy fun that is happening at the house.  But one of us has to be the “bad guy,” and that’s okay.

He can be the good guy.  Because he is.

Oh—one of our biggest jokes comes from talking about what would happen if we divorced.


“If you get a divorce,” he said one time, “I am going to move right next door to you.”

“Why? That’s the whole point. I don’t want to see you anymore!” I screamed at him.

“Well, those are my kids and I want to see them. And it would be easy to coordinate.  And it would drive you crazy, me living next door. Which would be a bonus. Especially when I come into the house and have coffee with Steve.”

“Steve!?” I yelled, “Who in the hell is Steve?”

“Your new husband.”

“Oh, good grief.”

“‘Oh hi, Steve! It’s a great day, isn’t it Steve? Mind if  I pour a cup of coffee, Steve?  Oh, we should have a cookout with the kids tonight, Steve. ….oh, good morning, Meredith!”


OMG. And I laughed so hard. Because I believe him. He would do that. He drives me crazy.  He really does. (And I don’t even really know anyone named Steve.)

Early AM in the Atwood house. And devil eyes. :)

Iron Partner

Since the beginning of Ironman training, he’s been behind me and doing a whole lot of childcare.  Daddy Day Care, as he calls it. The coordinating and the time and financial investment has not been easy.  But he’s towed the line with me, and I could not have made it this far without him.

Dueling planks. #fitfluential #plankaday

He’s my Iron partner, and I am grateful.  It’s not been easy. But I hope it will be worth it.

Because no Ironman is worth losing my Iron Man.


Dear Expert of Mine,

Thank you for coming along on this adventure. And for teaching me how to ride a bike. Really. 

The next 10 days of training aren’t hard, but they are a taper—a crazy time. And it’s only fitting that you get the dedication during the time where I am probably losing my mind the most. I am advance apologizing.

I know that I can do this—if I have you on the race course telling me “get moving” and screaming, “no mercy!”  Like from the Karate Kid. You’re my Mr. Miyagi. 

Thank you for being such a remarkable partner, father, friend and neighbor (you know, when I am married to Steve).

I love you,

P.S. – I really do know I am so very lucky to have you. I want you to feel the same about me.  I want you to be at the race. 


  • K Smith

    June 10, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Adore this post. “I laughed, I cried… it moved me Bob” – Larry the Cuke. But I think you and The Expert should gang up on Steve -the homewrecker!

  • Kimberly Williams

    June 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Holy cow, tears at work just aren’t cool!! You guys are so awesome and this is like a real life soap opera, so we EXPECT you to finish that race, and The Expert will GET TO KEEP THE GIRL! Because that’s what happens in the movies and in soaps!! Like you said, it’s like a fact!! So it simply MUST BE!! Good luck and I’m so excited for you it’s like I’m doing it myself! Both of you have a ton of support and you will make it!!

  • Karen

    June 10, 2013 at 8:42 am

    How did I not know he was a part of the weightlifting past as well… I guess I just assumed you all met in college. Love this story. Hang in there SBM, it will get easier. Life will return to normal and all will be right with the world. You both are way too awesome for this drama 🙂

  • Nicola Marshall

    June 10, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Wonderful post – I loved the pics. Your CDA Ironman in 13 days!! I am so inspired and proud of you – you have no idea how you help me in my training here in the UK. Hang tough Meredith, cherish your Expert. I have my own, their bark is worse than their bite.

  • Jenny

    June 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I am in tears. Partly because I have been in some of the same places you describe, but for me it was my efforts in education, not fitness. The outcome for me was not success. Sure, I got straight A’s in my MSW, but lost my “social worker” in the process. Now I am a therapist, remarried and happy, but I still wonder what would have happened if…
    Then, I realize that you are doing the IF. Get this race behind you then change your focus back to a healthier place. As a Therapist, I am always reminding patients that perspective is everything. I believe that the idea of “turn the other cheek” is not about keeping score about past hurts, OR about taking new hurts in the same old way. I believe it is a lesson to us that if we want to see things differently, we have to move our heads…move our focus, move our priority, move our thoughts to make room for what we know is most important. I see both of you defining what is most important in your words, and accepting that you have lost sight of it in the frenzy of training. You can get it back. Turn your head. Rearrange the furniture in your mind to accommodate the fact that you have both gotten off of the track of love for a while. There is a wonderful Therapy technique I like to use with patients. FACT: Focus on the issue, Accept your part in it, commit to make some changes (not everything, but some radical things) and give yourself the time to do it well. I think that as people of great courage and effort, the two of you can win this race that is life. It is, after all the most important race we have to attend. FACT. You can do this. I will be thinking of you and would LOVE to hear how you are doing. The truth is that I do not regret the past and the way my life has gone, but I have learned much from the course. I hope this gives you some interesting insight. A therapist might be really helpful. Pour your hearts into your marriage like you have your training and you will be unstoppable!

  • Jess

    June 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I love the honesty you both have and your willingness to share it publicly. In my opinion/experience,marriage is not 50/50 but 110/110. Because sometimes (eventually) one of you will fail at meeting halfway and that’s when your better half picks up the slack -out of love. Because when you stop thinking about all the ways someone hasn’t loved you the right way and start loving them whole-heartedly, it becomes about serving each other out of love and not about how many times he didn’t bother to clean up the house while you were away or about how long you were gone this time when the kids were being super spastic. In my house, the word “divorce” is not allowed. If we start joking about it, then that opens a window for the idea that divorce could be real (which would mean our vows weren’t vows at all, but fanciful whims and bs tradition). Love does not hold grudges. Love forgives.
    I sincerely hope you and the Expert can come together and confess all your wrong doings to each other, forgive each other, and make a new promise to serve and support each other- because life only happens once, & you chose each other to share it together for a reason.

    • Courtney

      June 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      Well, I certainly did not expect to read these comments and have something to add to my wedding vows in August. I love the 50/50; 110/110 line. Thank you, Jess!

  • Nicole

    June 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing the reality with us. Lovely! I hope that you and the Expert can make it work, based on the love I feel in both posts, I think that is quite possible!

  • Cat

    June 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Wow. This (and his post) hit home in a major way today. I give you both a lot of credit for your honesty and your love through the good stuff and hard stuff. And it can get really really hard (at least for me). It’s wonderful to read about others that are willing to slug it out for their marriages and hold their partners up and appreciate them – know-it-all-and all.

  • Mike

    June 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Keep talking like you two are and give and take. Also realize that divorce might solve a short term issue, but not a long term issue. Nobody is perfect and you would both be trading for a different set of annoying traits. After 25 years of marriage I’m happy to love the one I have and not take the chance that an upgrade might be a downgrade. I’ve become a triathlete in the last five years and my wife hasn’t. I make sure to tell her I’m happy with her just the way she is (and I am). It seems to help but I know she is self conscious about me being in shape.

    Love the becoming your neighbor and being friends with Steve joke. Funny stuff there :-).

    The only thing worse than WDR is being in trouble for what you did in your spouses dream. I’ve woken up to be in the dog house because my wife had a dream I cheated on her :-).


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