Between now and Thursday, in honor of Valentine's Day, I'll feature four short love stories -- as told by a local runner whose relationship was forged on the asphalt.
Up third is EMILY MALONE, 28, of Charlotte:
My husband and I didn't fall IN love because of running, but it certainly brought us closer together. In the fall of 2007, we had been dating for two years, and I had just gotten started with running.Emily Malone is the author of a popular healthy living blog, which you can check out by clicking here.
Casey was already in good shape and a fast runner, but he hadn't done any training or races. Despite my longest distance run only being a 10K, my best friend and I signed up to run a full marathon after her father passed away from lung cancer. Since Casey was a good runner, I asked him if he would consider doing the marathon too, so that we could go through the experience and ups and downs together. Without a second thought, he signed up too, and made an even bigger additional commitment -- quitting a 10-year smoking habit. Going through training together brought us even closer together, and made us both fall further in love with each other, as well as with running.
During training in March of 2008, Casey surprised me with an engagement ring the night before the Emerald Miles 5K in Cincinnati. I ran the next morning with all my family and friends, a huge smile on my face, and a sparkly ring on my finger. In May of 2008, we all ran our first marathon -- the Flying Pig -- and shared the joys of our success together.
The following year, while once again training for the Flying Pig Marathon, Casey and I celebrated our engagement anniversary by running the 2009 Emerald Miles 5K, and this time we both won age group awards! He placed first, and I placed second -- an accomplishment I never thought possible having just started running less than two years ago...
Despite protests from our family and friends, we decided to train for the 2009 Flying Pig Marathon, just SIX days before our wedding. We found that training during wedding planning gave us something other than the wedding details to focus on, and kept us level-headed and relaxed. Running was the perfect stress-reliever, and long runs gave us the perfect escape to spend uninterrupted time together. The Sunday before we got married, we both ran the marathon in personal-best times, and had amazing "runners highs" going into our wedding weekend. I would do it again in an instant!
Here we are two years and nine combined marathons later, once again training for our favorite marathon in May, and looking forward to celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Running didn't necessarily bring us together, but it gave us a shared love for a sport that has changed our lives and our health in so many ways. This year we are celebrating Valentine's Day with our usual Sunday morning long run, which just happens to be 14 miles!