10 Reasons Why: Countdown to the 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon

Melissa Migliaro first noticed how handsome the tall man was. On a chilly Friday in November 2014, she’d been handing out race bibs to runners registered for the EQT 10 Miler the following Sunday. This one looked like he had a warm soul.

She glanced at his ring finger. Empty. She asked, “Anyone coming out to cheer you on on race day?”

He found her funny and charming. So when she asked for his business card, he gave her one. And T.C. Collins smiled the next day when he read the email she’d sent at 3 a.m. wishing him luck on his race.

He looked for her at the finish, but couldn’t find her face in the crowd. They wouldn’t connect until a week later, when he took her to dinner. They’ve been a couple ever since, and on May 6 will line up side by side at the 10th anniversary Pittsburgh half-marathon. It will mark more than 20 races they’ve run together.

Icing on the cake

It wouldn’t have been a deal breaker if Mr. Collins, 46, a bankruptcy paralegal, weren’t a runner. Ever since she got serious about running in college at the University of Cincinnati, Ms. Migliaro, 37, a marketing consultant, has enjoyed logging miles alone. A music major, she found a parallel between practicing the French horn for hours to the steady click of a metronome and pushing her body to the limit on a double-digit run. Having his companionship and support on the road, however, has made it all the more sweeter.

Mr. Collins, who is 6-foot-3, ran track and cross-country in high school but became a volleyball player in college after he grew 9½ inches his senior year. He didn’t return to running until just before his 40th birthday, when a buddy talked him into doing a 5K by promising Handel’s ice cream afterward.

Being slow prompted him to challenge himself. Six weeks later he did his first half-marathon.

Ms. Migliaro, did her first marathon, Cincinnati’s Flying Pig, as an undergrad in 2002. She so enjoyed it, she raced over and over. Each time she got a little faster. In, 2011 she qualified for the Boston Marathon while running her second Pittsburgh Marathon.

That they both love to run is not without some challenges. Each interprets the sport differently. Plus, sweating on dates isn’t always attractive.

Ms. Migliaro, who is 5-foot-6, runs slow and steady. She’s a closer. Mr. Collins tends to go out fast and can burn out early.

Doing all their runs together, as they have for three years now, means they see the worst of each other. But they also see the best.

Earlier this month, they competed in the L.A. Marathon. They’d planned on running separate races, intent on individual PRs. She was on track for a 3:28 finish when he fell off at mile 12. He caught up with her around mile 22, after she, too, hit the wall. They ended up walking together to the finish.

“So we cried and now are moving on to the next race,” she says.

Opposites attract

T.C. Collins, far right, crosses the finish 2 seconds ahead of Melissa Migliaro, in the pink shirt, in the EQT 10 Miler, Downtown, in 2013. ( Courtesy of Melissa Migliaro)

The Ross couple had unwittingly run together before meeting at the 2014 expo — in the first EQT 10 Miler in the previous year. He crossed the finish line two seconds before she did.

While they have different running styles — her feet strike low to the ground and are slow to turn over, he has a long and super-smooth flying stride — they run pretty close to the same sub-8 minute pace, and nearly always place about the same in their respective age groups. It’s off the course that they are most different.

She jumps out of bed at dawn. He’s a night owl. She pays careful attention to her diet. He’s happy to never see a vegetable.

Still, it works. Running together is their “reset” time, an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another and relieve stress. It strengthens them.  Friends tell them they’ve found the perfect mates.

Engaged since October, the couple plan a running-themed wedding. They’ll use their old running bibs as table markers, and the bridal party will wear running shoes. Eric Burnett, who has emceed various Pittsburgh marathon events and races, will serve as emcee as well as DJ.

They hope their Nov. 10 wedding falls the day before this year’s EQT 10 Miler (that date still is to be announced) so they can run together on their first day as husband and wife. She already knows what their T-shirts will proclaim.

“Just married.”

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.

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