Love On The Run with Jerome Owens, Jr. and Marquesa Picou
Written by Donyetta Edwards
Love is a beautiful thing. Most of us have things that we love, including family, friends, significant others, food, hobbies, TV shows, and vacation spots. We also love to share the things that we love with the people we love. Jerome Owens, Jr. and Marquesa Picou met through their mutual love for running. Before meeting each other they individually discovered running, accomplished personal achievements, and built friendships within the run community. In particular, a mutual friend within the run community is what started an inquiry, which led to a year-long build-up before their first date! Let’s chat with Jerome and Marquesa as they discuss their personal run journeys, how running led to them meeting and their upcoming wedding.
Donyetta: So, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Marquesa: I’m an upper elementary grades teacher, for nine years now. I’m originally from Oakland, CA.
Donyetta: Tell us about yourself, Sir.
Jerome: I’m Jerome Owens, Jr. Born and raised in Macon, GA. I’m a Firefighter.
Donyetta: Alright, straight to the point, how long have you two been dating?
Marquesa: We started dating probably three years in January. So, three years this year.
Jerome: I think I dove into your inbox in January.
Marquesa: Something like that. Yes, he slid in my DMs.
Jerome: Okay, crazy story. Or is that for another question?
Donyetta: You can tell it now.
Jerome: Publix Marathon 2017. Everybody was there. Actually, I ran the race with Tes. It’s supposed to be me, Elise, Crystal, and Tes running together. But the first two took off. So me and Tes pretty much stayed together from mile four to mile 17. As we’re running, she’s asking me questions. We’re just keeping up conversation throughout the race. About a week after the race she messages me and says, “Hey! Are you single?”. And she was like, “Well, I want to introduce you to somebody, but I don’t really know if they’re going to be open to dating.”. And I heard nothing back for a year!
Marquesa: Literally a year later.
Jerome: This is funny, a year later she’s training for the LA marathon. So I think around her birthday, I sent her a message. And then I messaged again saying, “Good luck on the race this weekend!”. And then she was like, “Well, the race is next weekend.”. I was like, “Oh, my bad.” So the conversation just kept going from that point. And she did LA and then we didn’t officially meet until April 13th, after my birthday.
Marquesa: We finally met on the 13th.
Jerome: Oh, and she canceled on me three times before that. Let me hold that up, three times! (holds up three fingers)
Marquesa: I don’t know about three, but that’s what he said. Three. So yeah, that’s the story and we’re sticking to it. For me, even back in 2017 when Tes originally said, “Oh, I met this guy. We ran together the whole time.”. I was like, “I don’t know who he is.”. Come to find out, at the house party that everybody was at for Publix Marathon in 2017, we have a group picture and we’re literally standing within feet of each other. I think there was maybe like one person in between us! We didn’t realize it at the time! Not knowing that I told Tes, ” I’m not ready to date yet. I don’t feel like dating.”. I was still juggling being a single parent at the time. So I was like, “I ain’t jumping in a relationship with nobody, especially in the run community!”. I was like, “Nope, not doing it!”. But after a year he reached out for just a general conversation. I was hesitant. There were days where I was like, “Okay, let’s meet up. Let’s go out on this date.”. But I would cancel. As the time got closer, I was just like, “No, I’m scared!”. So finally told myself, “Just meet this guy. It’s not gonna kill you.”. You know?
Jerome: And it was my birthday. Oh, and here’s the thing. She knew who I was, but I still didn’t know who Tes was trying to match me with.
Marquesa: Yeah. Tes told me who he was. We were friends on Facebook. On the weekend of Team Takedown Publix 2017 everybody just friended everybody like “that’s my cousin!”. We were just friends. We didn’t communicate. That was pretty much it.
Donyetta: Tell us about your first date.
Marquesa: We went to Six Feet Under here in Atlanta.
Jerome: I came up to Atlanta. I was 25lbs lighter. I had on an extra tight shirt.
Marquesa: You did not!
Jerome:I was really into the gym. I was in my swole days, muscles everywhere. I had a good one- pack going.
Jerome: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, she fell right then.
Marquesa: It was a nice dinner. I picked the place. I figured the atmosphere at Six Feet Under is pretty fun. You didn’t have to dress up too seriously.
Jerome: We were there for a while. Just general conversation.
Donyetta: After that date, how did you establish you were in a relationship?
Marquesa: I don’t even know how we established. We just say our anniversary is that day of our first date. I don’t think we ever really came to the point where we said, “Okay, this is official.”.
Donyetta: So tell us about your individual run journeys.
Jerome: Well, I got talked into it. I’m usually a person that could be talked into about anything. I started my weight loss journey in February of 2014. I knew a lady at the club I was working at who asked, “Are you ever going to come run with us?”. And I was like, “I don’t like running.”. She told me she thought I would like it. Me and the guy who was training me at the time, Pete, we went through. We went to a track and ran around it. Every time we hit the corner we had to exercise. After a while, Pete asked me, “You realize you went around like 213 times? That’s about three miles.”. I wasn’t even really tired. So, from being with Pete and starting to train with him, I did my first 5k about three weeks later and I was hooked!
Donyetta: So, that was in 2014. How many marathons have you run in that time?
Jerome: Berlin, Chicago, The Rocket City in Alabama, and Publix.
Donyetta: Do you have any desire to chase the Six Star?
Jerome: I’m on it now. Because of COVID-19, Tokyo, London, and New York got postponed. I got an entry into all of those. I just don’t know when I’m gonna do it yet. Hopefully, I do all of them in 2021-2022. Hopefully.
Donyetta: What about you Ma’am? Tell us about your run journey.
Marquesa: So mine started in 2011 after my dad and my grandfather passed away. I needed some form of outlet. Everybody was like, “You’ll enjoy it and it will keep your mind off of everything.”. That was when Black Girls Run! was getting started in Atlanta. So I was like, I’m going to go out there and I’m just going to try it. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m just going to try it. I think I went out to one of the Tuesday Atlantic Station group runs. I pretty much got hooked from there. With the running, I was in one of those ‘I’ll do the 5K’ phases and then I dabbled into 10Ks. Then the OG’s in the run community that are my friends started doing Half Marathons, so I tried those as well as I watched them on their journey. Then everybody started getting into marathons and I was like, “Nope! Not for me!”. But just being around my running friends and seeing their training, I was like, “Okay, if I get into Chicago through the lottery in 2014 it’s meant for me to do this, point blank period.”. And I got in! I trained hard as all get out and was in the best shape of my life. With about four or five weeks left in my training, I found out I was pregnant. I knew that I was going to be very disappointed if I couldn’t run the race. However, my doctor was like, “Well, you’ve been running, right?”. I was like, “Yeah, I just ran 22 miles the other day.”. So I got the green light to continue. I did scale back a little bit as far as how hard I could’ve run the race. But I felt very accomplished at the fact that I was able to do that. Even if I was 10 weeks pregnant, it was done. It’s done. So with my daughter being five- years old and knowing that she was along for that journey. She points at my race day picture and is like, “I was in your belly!”.
Donyetta: So are you chasing the Six Star? How many marathons have you run?
Marquesa: I’ve done four. Chicago, New York. Publix, and LA. I closed it out and retired in LA. After Publix Marathon, I technically retired and was like no more. And then my mom kept saying, “You’ll do another when you turn 40”. She at least wanted to see me do one because she lives in California. She actually moved back a month before I found out I was pregnant with McKenzie. And I was like, “Okay, I got to go home and do one.” So I rounded up a GK, Carrie, Heather, and Malcolm. Cause you know, Malcolm’s from LA. It was called Operation 4th and Final because it was going to be my last one.
Donyetta: What is your most memorable run achievement and why?
Marquesa: For me, I would say definitely completing my first marathon pregnant.
Jerome: Probably Berlin. It was the first time I went overseas.
Donyetta: What have you learned about yourself through running?
Jerome: That if I work hard at something I can achieve it. I just have to put the time in. As we know, marathon training is 18 weeks. No shortcuts.
Marquesa: Right. You can’t do a couch to 20 miles.
Jerome: No, can’t do that. So, if I want to do something I have to put the time in to work at it.
Marquesa: And then that we’re stronger than what we think. We have to give ourselves a little bit more credit than we do at times. Just getting out there and knowing that. We’re actually part of that 1% of the world’s population that has run a marathon. Even if we’ve done it one time or four times, we’ve done it in some aspect. A lot of people always want to make it, “Well, you did it in this time and you did it in that time.”. It doesn’t matter. We all did the same thing. We all did the same task regardless. And honestly, I feel like it’s harder for those out there six or seven hours. When I ran New York, of course, that race always falls on the weekend of the time change. Time falls back an hour on race day. I remember finally getting to Central Park and it was still daylight. We got out of Central Park to that final stretch and all of a sudden it was pitch black outside. I’m like, “Have we been running that long?!”. But then I had to remind myself my wave didn’t start until Noon.
Donyetta: Yeah. That was an adjustment. In Atlanta, we’re used to starting early in the morning, having time to take a nap after the race, and still make it to brunch!
Marquesa: Right. With New York, you don’t start until 12 in the afternoon. That was terrible.
Donyetta: How do your run journeys play a part in your relationship?
Marquesa: He thought he was going to get this run partner, training partner, or whatever else. After LA I sat it down for a moment. I would do little races here and there, but I really kinda just sat it down. I think now, towards the latter we’ve done more races together than we did in the beginning. We’ll find a 5k to run together. I let him do his thing. Normally, I feel like my pace is holding him back. So I just let him do his thing. I’ll see you at the finish line.
Donyetta: Now we saw the fabulous engagement video. For the readers who have not seen it, tell us about engagement.
Jerome: Well, I am a planner. Here’s the funny thing, a lot of people who’ve seen the proposal thought I set that up nicely. But what they don’t know is that was actually the second location and I had to actually change the location the day before the proposal! So, after a whole month of planning the proposal, I had so many ideas. I was driving everyone who knew about it crazy; her mom, my sister, my best friend. So finally I said, this is what I’m going to do. And the Thursday before I proposed, it rained, and it rained, and it rained.
Donyetta: Like in the Old Testament.
Marquesa: And it didn’t stop until Saturday morning.
Jerome: So, I called over to the park I wanted to propose at and I said, “Hey, is anyone going to be in this pavilion? Because I’m going to propose and I want to make sure that nobody’s going to be there.”. I wanted all of the family and friends to be there. The lady who worked there said, “Well, that’s great and we want you to do it. We would love for you to do it. We can block it off for you, but the park is underwater.”So I now I got to switch it up. I immediately got on the phone with my sister and we nailed it down to the fountain at Tattnall Square. So I called Nicole who does Steppin’ By Nicole and she was a part of the whole thing. That day, we’re going over all the logistics. We come up with the final idea of the placement. Here’s the funniest part, my youngest brother, who is going to be the best man at my wedding, has the ring. So the whole time I’m standing like I’m in a four- by- four relay with my hand behind my back waiting for the ring and he is the last person to walk up! In the background of the video, you can see him jumping over the hedges! It is the funniest thing ever.
Donyetta: So, Marquesa were you genuinely shocked?
Marquesa: I was, I was so surprised! I didn’t know what was going on. They told me after the fact. I’ve been doing stepping with Nicole since January of 2020. Once COVID-19 started, she began conducting her step classes online. It was great for me because I don’t go down to Macon, GA often. So I continue working out with her and she was like, “What are you going to be doing this particular weekend because I want to do a promo video?’ I said, “Sure, I’ll help out!”. That morning I’m rushing him to get going because I’m the person who has to always be on time. He’s like, “Well you know sometimes stuff doesn’t start on time.”. So we get to the park kind of circle around in the car. He’s circling around because there was traffic because of construction on I-75. A lot of people he wanted to be there are stuck in traffic and I didn’t realize he was trying to give people time to get in place. We finally get there and we’re waiting on Nicole. She finally gets there and I’m practicing my step. Everyone kept saying, “No, you don’t need that right now.” And I’m thinking, “What’s going on?”. As we’re talking and walking, the person there to film the “promo video”, Jacori, keeps getting in my face with this camera, asking me questions. I’m thinking, “Why are you talking to me? This is Nicole’s thing!”. So, we’re acting like we’re stretching and Nicole says, “Oh, we’re going to do another stretch, we’re going to put our arms up, and then we’re going to turn around.”. I look at her crazy, like, “Turn around?”. I didn’t see all of the stuff going on behind me and I had no idea. I saw Jerome on the phone. I’m thinking he’s just on the phone and I’m oblivious to everything. I turn around, I see him and then I see everybody. I didn’t even read what was on the sign he had made asking me to marry him. I just walked off! And the first words that I utter are, “I hate you!”. That’s all I said. I kept saying, “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.”. As I turned around, I looked down, the stone on the ground right where we were standing said, ‘Love’. That really prompted me to cry. When it comes to certain things, he’s really good with the details and making sure stuff is done right. As I finally see and pinpoint who’s all there; all of our friends and family, and seeing people on FaceTime and hearing the stories of how he planned it.
Jerome: I’m a stickler for details.
Donyetta: Tell us about your upcoming big day!
Marquesa: June 18th. I’ll give him some credit on that. He technically had something to do with it.
Jerome: Well, technically nothing. Technically it was all me.
Marquesa: You know most of the time when ladies get engaged, they like to enjoy their engagement for a minute? Now, I will say some ladies already had their weddings planned out when they were 10 years old. They know what they want; not me. I wanted to be able to sit down and digest the fact that, “Oh my God, I’m engaged! I have a ring on my finger!”. We got engaged on Saturday. By Monday, the ultimate planner here was planning! Monday it started, by Tuesday it was solidified. My anxiety went through the roof. We didn’t send out invites until later on that week, but my anxiety went through the roof. I was like, “Hey, I need for y’all to chill. Y’all are killing me! Can I just enjoy this moment for a week?”. The date is June 18th in Breman, GA. The original plan was to do a destination wedding, but our mothers suggested we do something small here for the older people in our families. My mom’s old boss here in Georgia has a daughter-in-law that owns a lot of property out in Breman and she does weddings. There is a wedding venue out there that we visited and fell in love with. The actual wedding will be Friday, the 18th. We’ll be doing a small ceremony, well it doesn’t feel small anymore, with close family and friends. The 18th is actually my Dad’s birthday as well, so it fell perfectly. Sunday the 20th we fly to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and we’ll do a beach ceremony on the 22nd because I’ve always wanted to have a beach ceremony. So technically, we’ll have two anniversaries!
Donyetta: Last and final question, is there anything else that you want to share with our readers?
Jerome: Keep it fun. Enjoy each other’s company.
Marquesa: Yeah, we were talking earlier today. We did the love languages quiz. Both of us definitely value quality time and do that a lot of times through travel. My favorite place is the beach, and he knows that, so if he gets an opportunity to take me he will. He surprised me and took me to Hilton Head Island, SC last year for my birthday. It’s finding that time, even after the race, just doing something different and getting out. A lot of times when we finish the race we want to go back to the hotel and chill. Other times you want to go out, explore, and do those things. I think for us, we’ve definitely found that time.
Donyetta: Tell us how to connect with you on social media.
Marquesa: On Instagram and Twitter I’m @mspicousworld