One of the reasons running is so near and dear to my heart is that I met my husband at a track practice. Hard to think of a more romantic place, huh? You just never know how things are going to end up.
In my time of endless running seasons, summer track played a key role. I was a member of my hometown’s track club for 6 years—5 as an athlete, 1 as a volunteer coach. I participated in both AAU and USATF meets. Almost every weekend, there was a chance to qualify for subsequent competition. Fall out of the top 3 (sometimes the top 5) places in an event, and your season was over. I managed to medal in the AAU National meet a couple of times, but only participated in the USATF National meet once. It was in Baton Rouge. At the end of July. Who picks these venues? Why aren’t Nationals ever in a mild climate? It always seems like a competition for the highest combined heat and humidity. That could be my imagination. My 3000m started mid-morning, and half the field still ended up getting heat stroke. (Sidenote: That arctic towel they pull out of the cooler of ice water and slap on the back of your neck is such a fantastic feeling that it ALMOST makes heat exhaustion seem worth it! Ok, not really…but wow it feels good!)
The season in question was the penultimate one I participated in. That year, several groups from neighboring towns decided to join our track club. There either wasn’t a club in their town, or they thought our coach had the secret to success, or they were just hoping to get in shape for cross country season. In Scott’s case, a guy from my town was hoping to get a 4×800 relay together and couldn’t find enough teammates willing to spend the summer running. I suppose I owe the guy a pretty big “thank you.” He was unwittingly our matchmaker! If he hadn’t approached Scott and asked him to run the relay I would never have met him…even though we grew up less than 30 minutes away from each other. Fortunately for life as I know it, Scott was interested in running the relay. Two weeks after the school year ended, he started making the trek east to train for it.
I remember running with him that first day. I thought he was a little strange and stand-offish…rare in a distance runner. I found out later that he assumed I would be stuck-up because of the success I’d enjoyed in cross country that year, so he didn’t bother trying to talk to me at first. I don’t remember who started talking to whom, and at what point we realized how compatible we were, but by the end of the summer we could talk for hours. Sometimes after practice we’d stand by one of our cars chatting, and it would get dark before we realized how long we’d stood there. I’d try to bribe my brother to walk home because otherwise I was his chauffeur and he did NOT see the hour or two conversations in the same light I did. One evening he sat in the car and honked the horn periodically to hurry me up…much as I love my brother, he was far from my favorite person at that point!
After a year of friendship, Scott and I started officially “dating”…much to the relief of our combined friends and family, who were always asking one or the other of us “what’s going on with you two?” Four years later, we were married…and the rest, as they say, is history.