The Inquirer is presenting a daily profile of participants in Sunday's Blue Cross Broad Street Run. See full coverage at www.philly.com/broadstreetrun.
Joseph Jesiolowski ran his first marathon as a college sophomore in 2004. After law school, and four more marathons, he returned to the area for a job in 2009.
No sooner did he start work at a Center City law firm then he fell hopelessly in love with a colleague, Jessica Bisignano, who also happened to be a longtime distance runner.
"The problem was that she absolutely did not want to date me," Joseph said. "For months and months, the only way I could spend any time with her was to tag along - she would say stalk her - on her evening runs along Kelly Drive.
"If she got held up at work," he added, "I would still run with her at 9 p.m. If it was 20 degrees out and there was snow on the ground, I would still run with her. I didn't care, as long as I could still see her."
He wore out one pair of running shoes with her, then another. "She finally agreed to go on a date with me," he said. "We really hit it off, and still continued to run along Kelly Drive, now as a couple."
He proposed to her in January 2011.
"I did it in the middle of a run along the Schuylkill River Trail," Joseph said. "And when we got married in October of 2011, we did it at the Water Works because it was along our running route."
So what happened on those runs? What did Joseph do to persuade Jessica finally to go out with him, and marry him? Was it his running ability?
For this story, he asked her.
"After enduring and enjoying so many miles together," Jessica told him, "I was able to see who you really were as a person. You charmed me with your witty stories and intelligence; you were always a good listener and extremely supportive of me; and I trusted you. After a while, I realized you were the person I told everything to. There is a good amount of honesty that happens when you are sucking wind on a freezing-cold day."
It was not running ability.
"It was the love and respect that gradually grew each day and each mile," she said.
Joseph has his own take:
"For me," he said, "I would say that I won her over when we became each other's support system without us even realizing it. On those runs, we could and did talk about almost anything.. . . Together, we 'ran' our way through her bar exam. And after a while, I think she realized that this was about something more than just running for her.
"Then again, maybe she just realized I wasn't going away and she decided to surrender? I prefer to think she really needed me in her life."
Joseph is 28, and Jessica 29. This will be their first Broad Street Run together.
Said Joseph: "I am really excited to run Broad Street with my beautiful, and very fast, wife."
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