In 2011, a mutual friend introduced John, who was training for the Route 66 Marathon, to Jill, who had lost her love of running. What began as a friendly running partnership morphed into so much more.
Jill had been a runner since 7th grade, but in 2006, burnout forced her to hang up her shoes. Meeting John changed that. She said that he “brought back the enjoyment of running for me. I was always high strung and super competitive, whereas John ran for fun and to simply better himself. His attitude towards running was contagious and he inspired me to complete my first marathon at the Route 66.”
In the spring of 2012, the pair was looking for a running group with more structure. They registered for Fleet Feet’s Advanced Marathon Training (AMT). AMT meets in the dark and early morning, and Jill felt this helped to forge her relationship with John. “Our running improved, but so did our social life. There is a lot of social bonding that goes on at 4:30 in the morning running around a track…” According to Jill, there were many reasons why AMT was beneficial. “We had training partners during our week runs, and group runs to look forward to on the weekends. We also had a coach who fully understood our personalities.” John and Jill required different types of motivation and they felt that got that from Kathryn, the AMT coach. She “motivated John through jovial texts and emails, while for me, she was able to calm me down.” Jill said through Kathryn’s and John’s help, she learned that a completed workout was only a poorly done workout if she didn’t enjoy it. All the while, “John continued to be my encourager and reminded me of the love I had for the sport when I became discouraged.”
Because the two spent time during their AMT experience, they had a new connection. The early hours, the intensity of the workouts, the shared experience gave them another commonality. “We bonded over talks of workouts and paces. We were both part of the same running community now. We often found ourselves at coffee shops after runs with our training partners or over for dinner at their houses. John celebrated with me when I qualified for the Boston marathon after that Spring training session.”
Their running pursuits overlapped into their “real” lives. Jill explained:
In August of 2013, we were in Maine visiting my parents. We were walking on a path along the ocean at Olquonquit beach. We stepped off to the side onto one of the rocks where I believed my mother was going to take a picture of us. It was there that he got down on one knee, shaking with nerves and proposed to me. On September 13, 2014, we got married. It was a low key, backyard wedding. We invited 150 people. Probably 75 of them were Fleet Feet runners and their families who we had met through the training program and races.
Though the two like to compete, it’s usually an individual thing. The couple is not competitive with each other, and in fact, their differences tend to complement each other. “While we both want to better our times, I am a bit more obsessive with the sport. Our opposite personalities actually help one another's running. I motivate John to want to become faster and John encourages me to calm down and enjoy the sport more.”
Since their marriage last year, the couple continues to run together, but a little less often. Their advice to couples: “Encourage one another when things do not go as planned. Understand one another's mentality and work together to reach your goals. Stay active together, and get your dogs and kids involved. Have individual as well as shared goals. Find other people with similar activity interests.”
Look for this happy couple at Fleet Feet’s Sweetheart Run 5k. Their team is The Foster Fasties.
- Jill and John Foster