Some people discover their favorite things very early in life.
"I think I was four," said Andy Carman, a 5-11, 140 junior runner for BYU cross county.
His mother held his hand at the starting line, pointing down the track. The gun sounded, and Andy took off. Fifty meters later he hugged his dad who was waiting for him at the finish line.
"I won," Andy said of his first race. "It was always 'get down to business' with me."
And he never stopped running.
Since his first win, Andy has moved to bigger and longer races. At Elmira High School in Veneta, Oregon, Andy set school records in both the 800m and the 1500m. He won the Oregon High School State Championship in the 800m and finished 17th at the National Junior Olympics as a senior.
In 1998 Andy finished second in the 3,000 m at the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships and recorded a fifth place finish in the 5,000m at the WAC Outdoor Championships. In 2000 he helped the men's cross country team to a 23rd-place finish in the NCAA Championships.
Andy always knew he would compete at the college level. But of all the schools he could choose to attend, only two caught his attention.
"I really did want to go to Georgetown," Andy said. "That's the only place other than BYU that I applied."
Georgetown showed interest in Andy, too. Coaches called frequently, a few of Andy's friends were attending Georgetown, and they had an impressive program for international law and diplomacy.
But it didn't take much to convince Andy to come to BYU.
Andy says he chose BYU because of Sherald James, coach of the BYU men's cross country team from 1962-1999.
On Andy's recruiting trip, Coach James took three vans filled with runners and recruits into Provo Canyon for a day trip. Andy loved how Coach James treated his athletes.
"He treated all of them like All-Americans, even though some of them would never run a race," Andy said.
Coach James' successor was equally as respected.
Coach Ed Eyestone, who took over for Coach James in the Fall of 2000, is very well respected within the running community. He writes a column for Runners World Magazine and frequently commentates on ESPN.
"Coach Eyestone really relates to the guys," Andy said. "He runs with us almost every day and could still whoop up on all of us."
Andy first came to BYU as a walk on, which meant he had to compete at the college level without receiving a scholarship. To pay the bills he took on a part-time job. Between work, school, and 10 miles a day, Andy started to ware down.
The cross country and track coaches noticed.
They saw how successful Andy was even with an overloaded schedule and decided to test his potential.
"Coach (Willard) Hirschi pulled me aside one day and asked if I'd quit my job if he gave me a scholarship," Andy said. Andy accepted gladly.
Between the coaching that he has received and his own drive to succeed, Andy takes his training very seriously. He said he runs somewhere between eight to 12 miles a day whether he's in season or not. He even ran each day of his honeymoon.
After their wedding in August of 2000, Andy and new wife, Brittney Poulson Carman, went to the Oregon Coast for a week.
"I read and he ran," Brittney said. "He was worried about what Coach Eyestone would say if he didn't run for an entire week."
But she knew about Andy's dedication before they were married. One of their first dates was to the 1999 Robison Invitational track meet. Andy red-shirted that year so he did not run, but Brittney learned a lot about the man she would eventually marry.
"It was her first track meet ever," Andy said. "She loved it because she got to see me in my context."
"Andy really impressed me because of the attributes that made him an athlete," Brittney said. "Like his hard work and his loyalty."
Brittney said she fell in love with Andy before she knew much about his cross country talent.
Two days after they met and a few days before their date to the track meet, Brittney saw Andy sitting on the curb with two young Hispanic children. The little girl was putting flowers in his hair, and the little boy was speaking to Andy in Spanish.
Andy waved to Brittney, motioned for her to stop her car, and invited her to play hide and seek with his friends.
"My heart melted," Brittney said. "I knew I was going to marry him."
Brittney has watched Andy run almost every day since. She even helps him complete his training.
"I go with him every once in a while," Brittney said.
The first time she helped him train was a week or so after they met. Brittney and her friend got on two vintage beech cruisers, part of Brittney's bike collection, and they tried to ride along side Andy.
"We never caught up with him," she said. "He admits now that he was showing off, but he was so fast! We were really impressed."
Andy loves the support.
"My wife and I are about the most compatible people I've ever known," Andy said. "My wife is very supportive and I'm really lucky."
Brittney said that one of the highlights of their marriage was being able to see Andy compete with BYU at the national cross country championships in 2000. Andy finished the 10,000m race (about 6.6 miles) with a time of 32:12. That is an average of under five minutes a mile for almost seven miles.
Brittney said she loves the fact that Andy is a runner. She admires his hard work and his loyalty.
"He finishes because he won't let himself give up, not because it doesn't hurt," Brittney said.
"Emerson said, 'Trust thyself. Imitation is suicide,' " Andy quoted. "I've had that quote hanging on my wall since high school."
But that's not the only thing that impresses Brittney about her husband. Andy has a 3.44 GPA in international studies, which earned him Academic All-Mountain West Conference Honors for 2000.
Andy even has some hidden talents that surprised his wife.
"I called home one day and he told me he was making me a surprise," Brittney said.
While she was at work, Andy took some old jeans that Brittney was getting rid of and took them to a sewing machine.
"He made me a skirt!" Brittney said.
Andy learned how to sew when he was young and used his hidden talent to make his new wife a present. The skirt has become Brittney's favorite.
Brittney considers the skirt a good luck charm. She wore it while teaching relief society lessons once and the class found out that Andy made it. They would not stop talking about it.
"I wear it all the time," Brittney said. "I want him to make our daughter's wedding dresses."
After graduation Andy and Brittney are planning to go over seas. Andy is looking for work that will make a difference in the world. He says that he and Brittney would also like to expose their children to differences in culture and in language.
Brittney's says travel suits her just fine. Her father was an agent for the Justice Department, so she spent a lot of her youth traveling and moving from place to place. She is majoring in English and plans on finding a career in writing.
In junior high Brittney won a local prize for a children's book she wrote. Children's author Doris Buchanan Smith visited her school and saw her work. She loved it.
"Child, don't you ever stop writing," Smith said. "You're going to make something of yourself."
She says she may even write about her husband some day.
Brittney is also a phlebotomist for the Red Cross. She spent much of last month taking blood for the New York/Washington D.C. relief efforts and recognizes how much good can be done in this world when the situation presents itself.
When asked about taking Andy's blood, she just grinned.
"Well, he says that he's not allowed to give blood because of cross country," she said.