By Elizabeth Miller
Alberta couple Karlee and Dan Grant met through their shared interest in physical activity. The couple has been married for nearly five years now and are one of the few pairs who can say that their relationship actually started off with a run.
Back in 2011, Karlee lived in Edmonton where she was a coach for run group Team in Training. Dan had his own fitness company and she hired him to do a 20-minute session with her group. She still remembers her first impression when she met him. “I thought he had a nice bum and piercing blue eyes,” she says. Dan, on the other hand, was so focused that he barely noticed that he had a new admirer. “I noticed her looking at me kind of sideways,” he says. “But I was like ‘do, do, do’ and it didn’t sink in. The exercises were pretty intense.”
Soon after the session, Karlee tracked Dan down to give him a thank-you mug and they ended up arranging to meet up for a 5K run. “We ran at a really slow pace– like 30 minutes– but I talked him into doing a marathon,” says Karlee. Though she suggested tackling a more manageable distance, Dan who isn’t exactly the toe-dipping type, opted to go all in. “She actually recommended that I should start with the half,” he admits.”But if I’m going to learn an instrument, in my head I’ve already sold out Madison Square Garden, so if I was going to run, it was going to be a marathon.”
The marathon was four months away. As for their relationship, that continued to evolve. They started spending more and more time together until Dan was spending so much time at her place. One day he made a comment that he should just get a storage locker for his stuff and that’s when Karlee invited him to move in– belongings and all.
That May, Dan ran the 2011 Vancouver Marathon. It was his first-ever marathon and Karlee was his coach. “I got a little worried when he crossed the halfway mark in under two hours,” Karlee says laughing.
“I was pacing with an Ethiopian guy I met in the coral who told me he had run a marathon a couple weeks earlier to see how he would do,” says Dan. He adds that he’s fully aware of the absurdity of trying to keep up with a guy who essentially ran a “prep marathon” for fun.
At one point in the race, he started to show signs of struggle. He had fallen behind the Ethiopian runner and the white haired man in his seventies, who Dan was hell-bent on beating, had just passed him.
But at those times where the going gets tough, having that side-line support is extra important and Karlee made sure to be there for moral support.
“All of my team had come in so I ran back in the course to find Dan,” Karlee says.
When she saw him, he was walking and in rough shape. The good news though was that he was towards the end. Like a good coach, she told him he needed to run so he wasn’t walking in his finish line photo. They picked a point on the race course where they agreed to pick up the pace. They weren’t quite there when Karlee encouraged him to start running again. “We still have ten steps to go before the end of the intersection!” Dan yelled.
Karlee laughs telling the story. “It’s the only time he has ever yelled at me,” she says.
Dan ended up finishing the marathon in just over five hours. Considering that he had only four months of training, it wasn’t a bad finish.
That marathon was a key element in building the foundation of their relationship. They got married in July of 2012, just over a year after that race. Karlee thinks that training for a marathon is a great way to get to know someone because in that time, you see them at their worst. In other words, there are no disguises.
Karlee has run Ottawa, Victoria and San Francisco. While they have never done a marathon together, they enjoy being active as a couple. At the moment, Dan is teaching Karlee how to curl. They have also just recently decided to both head to Toronto to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.