It’s taken me almost a week to finish recapping this entire day because honestly I’m still processing it. I keep having flash backs to the finish line, and I still feel like it was a dream.
I turned that final stretch into the park towards the finish line and had no idea what was next. A little back story here, the only people I thought were in Brookings were my mom and Heidi. Ben had the weekend off, but he told me all week he would probably end up working Saturday morning. In the back of my mind, I secretly hoped maybe he would end up coming up for the race, but I knew it was a 3 ½ hour drive just to watch a few seconds of me actually running. So I expected to finish and hug my mom and Heidi with joy, and freak out and celebrate this huge accomplishment. Well, what actually happened was this…
Ben planned this surprise for the entire week. He asked my parents for their blessing on Monday night, and waited patiently until Saturday. He was acting a little weird all week, and kept asking me if I was nervous for the race. I’m not an easy person to surprise BTW. I am a snoop, and I will figure it out, but this one I definitely didn’t.
I crossed the finish line and of course, stopped my watch! The National Guard men and women were standing there handing out the finisher medals. I remember walking towards one with arms outstretched just wanting my medal! They corralled me over to the side and finally put my medal around my neck and wrapped me in a finisher’s blanket. They completely surrounded me such that I couldn’t see anything else around me. They made sure I was facing forward and then all at once they moved from in front of me. There was Ben, on one knee, with a shiny ring in my face. I remember saying “Oh my God” and eventually realizing crap, I need to say YES too!
Eventually I realized my dad and Ben’s mom were also there, and they had been filming the entire moment. It was so surreal. I can’t even explain the shock and joy I felt in those moments. I cried like crazy, but I think I was a little dehydrated, I don’t remember actually having tears! Everyone around us was cheering and congratulating us. This part was a huge blur for me, and I wish I would have been a little more coherent for this part!
After more hugs and tears, we made our way over to the food tent. I tried to get something to eat and drink, but my head was spinning. Since my parents and Ben’s had known about the proposal all week, the rest of our families already knew, but I wanted to start calling some of my friends right away. I made some calls and texts, and then plopped down on the ground for a while. They started the awards for the half and full marathon. They didn’t announce age group awards, but I was first place in my age group. I picked up my lovely prize, a stocking hat!
I still think back to May 3, 2014 and I will never forget a single minute of it. It was lucky, it was special, it was a goal achieved, it was a new beginning, it was everything I ever could have wanted. The motto of our relationship has been “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”