Instead, a Short Run to the Altar

Lyndsey Cecilia McKenna and Nicholas Justin Bunker were supposed to run the Chicago marathon on Oct. 11, but after it was canceled they decided to make the date special another way — with a small wedding at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“At every point the goal posts were shifting,” Ms. McKenna said. With the onset of the coronavirus in March, race after race was being canceled, along with their original wedding date, March 28, at the church, with about 200 guests.

“Planning for a wedding, frankly, was emotionally more intensive than training for a marathon,” said Ms. McKenna, who completed the Chicago marathon in 2017 and last year ran the New York marathon with Mr. Bunker, as well as several shorter races with him in between. Mr. Bunker took up running in late summer of 2017 while she was training for the Chicago marathon.

“He went from 0 to 100 in running,” said Ms. McKenna, 29, an assistant editor and the audience strategist at NPR Music in Washington. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and received a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern.

Mr. Bunker, 32, is based in Washington as the economic research director for North America at the hiring lab at Indeed, the job search company. He graduated from Georgetown.

When they first met in September 2016 at a birthday celebration for a mutual friend in Washington, she mentioned she ran 18 miles through Rock Creek Park and along the National Mall that morning.

“I was impressed by her running, but I couldn’t understand the appeal,” said Mr. Bunker, who found himself on more equal footing when they got on the subject of pop culture websites and podcasts.

The next day he got her number via their mutual friend, and later that week they went to see the movie “Don’t Think Twice,” stopping for beers before and after.

“Clearly neither of us wanted to end the night,” he said.

They had what she described as “a city good-night kiss,” a kiss on the street before each headed in the opposite direction. When they met again, for brunch that Sunday, she apologized for initiating a kiss, but he laughed and responded with another.

“We really, really felt an affinity,”Ms. McKenna said.

They soon rewatched old TV shows together like “Parks and Recreation,” and he moved in with her in May 2017. “It was our comfort food,” she said. “It’s one of those shows on in the background in our relationship.”

In 2019 he proposed in their apartment as they streamed the “Smallest Park” episode of “Parks and Recreation,” and paused it at a romantic moment, when one character tells another she wants them to be together. Mr. Bunker then got off the couch and down on both knees.

John Fox, a Roman Catholic deacon, led the ceremony at St. Mary of Our Lady of Grace, before 40 masked guests, including his parents from Norwood, Mass., and a few bridesmaids and groomsmen. The couple later arrived by boat to the reception in Seminole, Fla., in her parents’ backyard which runs along a canal. They had their first dance on her parents’ dock as a white flag with their initials, L & N, waved from a flagpole in the yard.

“We’re over-the-moon happy,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve stopped smiling.”

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