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I swapped my sports bra and running shoes for a glamorous dress and expensive jewelry that, unfortunately, I had to return. I found my groove on the international level in 2009, when I competed in the World Cross Country Championships in Jordan.
The Anaheim Ducks took the Stanley Cup, Justin Verlander threw his first no-hitter, Peyton Manning landed a ring, and the nation was obsessed with ... Yes, it was the year of "Hey There Delilah," the chart-topping mega-hit from the Plain White T's -- and a long-distance love note to an athlete. I walked the red carpet, celebrated the song, supported the band and met some amazing people. The song gave my profile a boost, but my running had to speak for itself. In 2010, I made another Team USA event in cross country, where I won the individual title.
After meeting Delilah Di Crescenzo in 2002, lead singer Tom Higgenson was smitten by the runner and promised a song in her honor. 1 song in America, two Grammy nominations and worldwide recognition. That process began just after the Grammys when I was chosen to represent Team USA at a relay race in Japan. Then, in 2011, I finally made the World Championship team in the 3000 meter steeplechase, but I had to withdraw because of a stress fracture in my hip.
In her own words, Di Crescenzo describes how the song changed her life and affected her career."I'M GOING TO write a song about you."That's how Plain White T's Tom Higgenson put it to me in the fall of 2002, when I was a sophomore at Columbia. It means something to everybody -- especially for anybody who ever yearned for someone. I really broke out that May, when I finally achieved the Olympic Trials -- the 3000 meter steeplechase. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been training to make our team again for the World Cross Country Championships in Poland.
We'd met through a mutual friend that summer at the House of Blues in Chicago and kept in touch over AOL Instant Messaging -- just friendly conversation because I had a boyfriend. Today, I train in NYC with the New Jersey-New York Track Club and my coach, Frank Gagliano.
When the Plain White T's came to perform in New York City that fall, my boyfriend Will and I went to check them out. "I'm going to write a song about you." Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen. " When my dad heard the lyrics "Oh what you do to me," he said, "Delilah, exactly what did you to do this guy? In February, I made the USA XC team and will head to World XC Championships in Poland in March. Maybe he didn't get the result he originally wanted, but he got a hit song, two Grammy nominations -- much more than he would have gotten out of a date with me, that's for sure.
I tried to call his bluff, but those words ended up changing my life. I ran for a Catholic high school in Burbank, IL, and I had a solid resume -- made it to the state championships all four years in track, and in cross country three of those years. Tom and I had a friendly relationship and I wondered if he misconstrued my actions. I'm proud of my accomplishments since the song blew up, and I'm now in a place where I can fully enjoy the song. If it wasn't for me, I'm sure Tom would've been inspired by a different girl and written an amazing song about her. And as for me and Will, we'll celebrate our 11th anniversary in April. Don't get me wrong -- it's not like we're planning our wedding.
But I didn't have a ton of success early on at Columbia. As far as I'm concerned, I was in the right place at the right time and met the right person -- just the luck of the draw. But I'll tell you this: I suspect "Hey There, Delilah" will not be on the wedding playlist. Follow The Mag on Twitter (@ESPNmag) and like us on Facebook.
I struggled with juggling life, school and running.
After graduating in 2005, I pursued professional running, and it took me a while to find my way.
The song found its way to my doorstep the previous Christmas, when I was home for break. He said, "Don't listen to it until I leave." I flipped it over and noticed Track 13."Hey There Delilah."I couldn't believe he followed through!
My brother Nick and I listened to it together in the basement -- probably not the romantic image Tom envisioned for my first listen.