Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, Olympic Track and Field star Colleen Quigley tells her story.
My fiancé and I had our first date at Pie Pizzeria in St. Louis, Missouri in 2009. I was 17 and a junior at an all-girls Catholic high school. Kevin was 18 and a senior at an all-boys Catholic high school, getting ready to head off to college in about six months. Honestly, I think knowing Kevin was going away to school took the pressure off of our relationship because we both said from the beginning that we didn’t think long-distance could work. So, we said we would just enjoy it while we could and then we would break up when he went to school.
However, 12 years and five cities later, Kevin proposed as we were walking through Central Park on our way to Tavern on the Green where we had planned to celebrate our anniversary together while spending a weekend in New York.
Turns out, we definitely could do long distance. When Kevin graduated from high school, he flew to New York City to study business at Fordham University with the thought that when I graduated a year later, I would also move to New York to pursue a modeling career that I was building during high school. That was also my plan. Except when I graduated high school, I had the opportunity to take a (few) full-ride scholarships to run track and field and cross country in the NCAA.
The opportunity to run at Florida State University was too good to pass up, so instead of New York City, I headed down to Tallahassee, Florida. Since I was in-season during the fall, winter, and spring, Kevin had to be the one to fly from NYC to Atlanta, and then to Tallahassee to visit me every four to eight weeks during the school year. I spent my summers in New York with him, except for one summer I spent studying abroad in Spain during one of our two two-week breaks in our relationship.
After my collegiate career ended with me becoming a National Champion in the 3,000m steeplechase in 2015, I had the opportunity to become a professional runner (yes, that’s a thing). So I acquired an agent, sponsor, team, and coach in Portland, Oregon. Bi-coastal long-distance takes things to a whole other level, but luckily Kevin was ready to make a switch in his own career by then. So, he quit his job at J.P. Morgan and took a job at a solar financing start-up in San Francisco. Still not the same state, but at least the same time zone! I quickly found that my life as a pro athlete involved so much traveling to training camps and competitions that even if Kevin and I lived together, we would likely still feel like we were doing long distance. So, it worked out. Kevin ended up starting his own company and then got a dog. We named her “Pie” after the pizzeria where we had our first date.
On Nov 14, 2019, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a weekend trip to Santa Barbara with Pie. While we both felt so grateful that we had gotten to a place where we were both chasing our dreams professionally, there was still that missing piece of the puzzle. We couldn’t figure out when we would ever get to live together.
In March of 2020, something shifted. Kevin and Pie came to Portland for what we assumed would be about a month to quarantine and stop the spread of COVID-19. Looking back, it’s laughable that we really thought it would be that easy. The three of us spent 18 months living in my 550-square-foot studio condo in Portland. Kevin was running his company and I was training like a professional athlete, but the Olympics were postponed and there weren’t any competitions. So, I was hosting IG live workouts and cooking classes for my fans and followers while Kevin was on Zoom with investors. It was a zoo. But we got what we wished for—we were living together and it was awesome. Thank God. There was a tiny part of me that worried: “What if when we finally get to live together, we actually can’t stand each other?”
Then, something else happened. At the end of 2020, I got into contract negotiations with my then-sponsor and it forced me to rethink my entire training setup. I truthfully hadn’t been happy with how things had been going on with my team for quite some time, but hadn’t had the guts to really try to make a change and get out of my comfort zone. At the end of 2020, I had to make the decision to turn down what I felt was an unfair contract from my old sponsor, which left me floating in space without anywhere to land. I could never have made that dive without Kevin by my side reminding me of my value and my power the entire time. After a lot of stress, tears, doubt, and fear, I finally found the sponsor of my wildest dreams. They value and support me the way I deserve and let me live and train wherever I want. Bingo.
In the fall of 2020, Kevin and I packed up a 15-foot U-Haul with a car trailer and drove from Portland to Flagstaff, Arizona, where we bought a house at high altitude for me to do my training camps, and to Los Angeles, California, where we will rent a condo and spend the rest of our time. We will still be in two cities, but we will both be in those cities together. No more long distance.
Now we only have one more city to decide on—where to get married? We are dreaming of somewhere in Europe with good wine and good pizza. One thing we know for sure—Pie is going to need some more training before we can trust her to be our ring bearer. And yes, I’m “running to the altar like a track star.”