KINGMAN - A chance encounter at Bicycle Outfitters changed Lesley Jones' life forever.
Jones had been living in Kingman for six months after moving from Michigan. She was in the store getting fitted for a wetsuit to help her with her rehab after completing the Las Vegas Marathon when Frank Therrian crossed her path.
Therrian went to the store to buy a trainer for his bike to help him with his rehab from the Vegas Marathon as well. The two started talking and found out that both were from Michigan.
During the course of the conversation, Jones mentioned she had gone to Albion (Mich.) College. Therrian revealed that he had a teammate during his fifth year at Central Michigan who was from Albion, someone Jones knew.
"It was weird," Therrian said. "We knew a couple of the same people, I knew the college that she went to, and she knew the college that I went to."
The two have been dating ever since that chance encounter, while giving support to one another in marathon competitions and the rigors of training.
"When I first moved here to Kingman, I thought I was going to have a really hard time finding people that I'm going to be able to enjoy and be around," Jones said "I've been hearing about this really great runner pretty much since I got here from people here. I heard that he was from Michigan and he ran for Central. I was like, 'uh, I'll keep my eyes out for this guy. He sounds pretty interesting.' But I never came across him until that day in the bike shop."
The love and support by Therrian proved pivotal on April 18 when Jones embarked on her biggest running challenge ever, the Boston Marathon.
Jones had qualified for the marathon at the Detroit Marathon, and the first person to meet her at the finish line was Therrian.
"He was the first person I saw after I crossed the finish line and I knew that I had qualified for Boston," Jones said "He came up from behind me and hugged me. It was wonderful. He inspires me all the time with how hard he works at this."
Jones qualified with a time of 3 hours and 39 minutes, just under the requirement of 3 hours and 40 minutes, but qualifying for the world's oldest marathon might've been the easy part. Getting to the starting line, proved to be just as much of a challenge as getting to the finish line.
"I heard someone say that the Boston Marathon is like two marathons," Jones said. "The first one is actually getting to the starting line and the second one is actually running the race, and I think that's absolutely true."
As Jones described it, there were thousands of people lined up at 6 a.m., with hundreds of buses taking the estimated 27,000 runners to the start line. For Jones, this meant that she had to wake up very early just to get to the start, only to wait four hours before her race begin at 10 a.m.
"She's up for over four hours and then you have to race," Therrian said. "That's a lot to ask for somebody to go through. I'm used to having two hours after I get up to race and she has to wait around for four plus."
Once the race started, the next challenge for her was the course itself, one where runners had to go up and down hills.
"The first half of the course, a great deal of it is downhill, so I think people get lulled into thinking this isn't so bad," Jones said. "But the second part of the course, around mile 20, it starts to have some uphills and some rolling hills, and after you've been going downhill for half the time, it wears on the quads."
Jones finished in 3 hours and 56 minutes, not the time she had hoped, but overall she was happy.
"It was a great experience," she said. "I'm so glad I was able to qualify and participate. It was wall-to-wall people pretty much the entire time."
As of right now, Jones has no plans on participating in next year's marathon but would like to go back again sometime.
However, when sometime does happen for Jones, she's going to have to improve on her qualifying time as the Boston Marathon changed the standard next year to 3 hours, 35 minutes and will give more of a priority to runners who run faster.
"I think it's a good thing," Jones said. "I think it's going to make the race more prestigious. I think it's going to cause people to really try to push themselves harder to do better and be at a higher level."
In the short term for Jones, who started running in the eighth grade after joining a friend on the track team, her goals will be to get her times down on her shorter distances as well as her half-marathon.
While she does this, you can bet the person she met on a chance encounter at a bike shop will be there every step of the way, providing support.
"I never thought I would find someone like him here," Jones said.