Let’s be real if you are into someone (or even find someone remotely attractive) while watching them finish a race, then it’s probably true love. It’s honestly remarkable you were able to look past the claw hands battling the air, the strained neck that has grown five additional veins, and the eyes holding a primitive gaze suggesting they may actually kill their competitors.
Yet it is possible. Here are Lauren's, Lesko's, and Kara’s love stories - stories that derived from the most unlikely of circumstances. Or who knows, maybe it was the all too natural and honest state of running that really drew them in…
Lauren Fleshman: Recruiting’s “Mystery Column”
On my recruiting trip to Stanford, at 17 years old, I met a real bonafide Oregonian. The coach dropped me off in a culdesac next to some freshman dorms where a group of freshmen on the cross country team were waiting. He sauntered up late, with his loping stride and his mop of overgrown curls. He had faded blue mom jeans with tapered ankles, and battered purple converse sneakers covering formerly-white socks. He had a north face backpack that actually looked like it had been on outdoor adventures, and inside the bungees that covered the front was a longboard skateboard, poking right out the top of his head. It sounds cheesy but I knew right away. I wrote in my diary that night, "I met my future husband today."
Stanford was my fifth and final official visit for cross country and track programs, and while the other schools were great and all, only Stanford had a Jesse Thomas. And so it was decided.
Lesko: Speed Goggles
It’s true I don’t remember the first few times I met Bob. It was fall ’87, I was a freshman in college, and completely in the zone. I was chipping my way through freshman Organic Chemistry (8am up on science hill), playing oboe in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and running my ass off as 5th woman on the cross country team. Our XC captain was really strict, because she knew we had a chance to do something big that year (love you Kelly Groteke!); she told us if she found out any of us had gone to a party she would kick us off the team herself. So I didn’t do much socializing. And the men’s XC team had a ton of freshman…and a lot of Mikes. So apparently Bob road-tripped down to NCAA’s in Charlottesville with a bunch of the guys to cheer us on. After we got 3rd he came up to congratulate me. And I said, “thanks, is your name Mike?”
Sorry, honey! (Bob was an 800m runner in HS, so let’s just say his college freshman XC season - 8k/10k races - was not eye-catching.)
But then, indoor season started. The team got to come back early, stay at the Holiday Inn off campus, and train. I started mixing and mingling. And then at the first meet at Coxe Cage, in the men’s 1000, I saw this total stud crush the competition and storm to victory by 3 seconds over the last 200m. Well, that caught my attention; I had to find out his name. Nature’s call. And that night at a party I got up the courage to say, “Hey, you’re Bob right? Awesome race!” The rest is history.
Kara Goucher: #RunLove Connection
I met Adam way back in 1993. He was a senior in high school who had just won the Footlocker Cross Country Championship. I was an extremely introverted sophomore who had just finished 9th at the nationals. The night after the race, Adam approached me. I couldn’t believe it, I mean he had just won and I had barely said two sentences to anyone that weekend. “You’re friends with Carrie (Tollefson) right? Where is she?” Ah, true love. To be fair I only weighed about 80 pounds at the time, and half of that was my hair. But needless to say, I didn’t leave a lasting impression on Adam.
Fast forward a few years and we were running at the University of Colorado together. I was really good friends with his friends, and he and I had a decent, but not deep, relationship. I admired his dedication and his drive. I feared his temper. My junior year of college Adam became the volunteer assistant woman coach. This is when I really got to know who Adam is. He was so kind and encouraging to the team. I was the favorite to win NCAA Cross Country that year and when I finished a disappointing 9th (due to both an undiagnosed case of anemia and being overwhelmed in the favorite position) he was there for me. I remember being so sad when we got back to Boulder and I knew I wouldn’t see him again for a month. A few months later I told him I loved him, and although he was a little shocked, he admitted he was feeling the same way too.
So without running, there would be no Adam and Kara. And what a sad world that would be!