Ohio natives Jeff and Nicole started out as "just friends," both of whom happened to be part of a tight-knit group of runners. But in the two years since they first met at Lenny Boy Run Club, their relationship has bloomed into so much more.
Read on to learn more about Jeff and Nicole in the second story of our new Work For Your Beer Love Stories series, highlighting romantic relationships that found their beginnings at a beer fitness activity right here in the Queen City.
Where It All Began
Nicole, however, joined Lenny Boy Run Club after they made the move over to their Tryon St. space. She came to her first run on the first Sunday of 2016, which is where she ended up meeting the group of runners that would become some of her closest friends. And Jeff happened to be a part of that same group.
"We definitely have a very close-knit group of friends. There are probably around 20 of us that do everything together," Nicole said. "We put #LBRC on basically every photo we ever took, because everybody from Lenny Boy Run Club was in every photo. We just hung out all the time."
The Lenny Boy Run Club has a Whatsapp group, where they'd make plans to hang out outside of run club. One of the first times Jeff and Nicole spent time together outside of running was at another LBRC member's birthday celebration.
"We talked there, and I didn’t think much of it. He was really shy," Nicole remembered. "But we started getting to know each other a lot better at that point. Then his birthday came around in April 2016, and we finally started to become better friends."
The two hit it off in part because they're both from Ohio. "We have a mutual love of the Cleveland Cavaliers," Nicole said.
Three months later, it was time for Nicole's birthday celebration in July 2016. By this point, Jeff had become known for creating live maps of the bar crawls the Lenny Boy Run Club group would go on for each person's birthday, so people could follow along with the group's progress from one bar to the next.
So, Jeff created a map for Nicole's birthday bar crawl, but she didn't interpret that as any kind of romantic gesture. "Jeff was just such a thoughtful person. Since he was always doing nice things for his friends in general, anytime he’d do nice things for me, I never thought anything of it," Nicole said.
Nicole was actually dating someone else at this point—but that didn't stop Nicole's mom from telling Jeff that she thought he and Nicole should be together.
"My mom is actually probably the one we have to thank for our relationship," Nicole laughed. "She loved Jeff, and throughout the night she kept telling him, 'You should date my daughter.' And he was just like, 'Well, she's kind of dating someone else.' So, my mom was kind of the instigator. Neither of us had really thought about the possibility of dating until she brought it up."
As it turned out, the guy Nicole was dating ended up breaking up with her the following day—and at the same time, that same group of LBRC members from Nicole's birthday bar crawl met up at a pool party that next day. "Everyone remembered my mom talking about Jeff and I, so they were all kind of like, 'So, you and Jeff?'" Nicole remembered.
Jeff and Nicole started spending more time together as she got over her breakup. Jeff was definitely showing how interested he was in the idea of being with Nicole, but she wasn't quite ready yet.
Then, right around the holiday season in 2016, something shifted. "The timing just felt right, and it was immediate. We just clicked into place," Nicole said.
"We went on a week-long trip to Asheville, and that’s when I feel like I knew she was the one," Jeff remembered.
"It all comes down to timing," Nicole said. "We were both in the right place, and we already had this great foundation built on friendship and mutual values and interests... It felt like the stars aligned."
Once Nicole came to this realization, she didn't waste any time. "When I was finally ready, I was just like, 'let’s do this,'" she laughed. "Then it all started to move quickly. I said 'I love you' embarrassingly early... but it all felt very natural, and the timing felt right."
A Year, A House, A Lenny Boy Brewing Co. Sign & A Proposal
"We closed on the house, and then Nicole was gone for five or six days for a yoga retreat. The house was empty, but I was planning our engagement," Jeff said.
Once Nicole returned from her retreat, Jeff asked her to come to the house, despite the fact that it was empty. He had champagne ready for them to toast their new home, along with a charcuterie board for them to enjoy in the new space they now owned.
He also gave her a wooden Lenny Boy Brewing Co. sign as a housewarming gift, since that was where it all began, and where their relationship came to be.
Jeff then led Nicole to the living room, where he had set up two camping chairs and a blanket in front of a flat-screen TV... upon which, he had a slideshow playing, featuring photos of their first year together as a couple. And then, he proposed.
"The way he did it was so perfect for us," Nicole said. "It was just the two of us, with our dog, in our new house with no furniture in it. It was such an amazing way to start this whole new chapter of our life together."
Jeff and Nicole will get married in November, and many of their friends from Lenny Boy Run Club will be a part of the celebration. "It's so exciting, because really it all started here at Lenny Boy, with this tight-knit group of friends," Nicole said.
Ready to Meet the Love of Your Life? Go to Run Club
Do you know of a couple with a Work For Your Beer Love Story? Tell us! We'd love to feature them as part of our series. You can click here to let us know all about their story.
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