Sunday, October 29, 2006
SC Half Ironman - Engagement Proposal - Oct. 1, 2006
The 2006 SC Half Ironman was my year all squeezed into one race – big excitement and a little mishap that almost got in the way! I had BIG plans for this race! It is a special race for my girlfriend, Anna, and me. Three years ago, just a few days after our first date, I convinced her to get up before sunrise and come watch me do this race, a guy she barely knew and a sport she knew even less! Soooo…this year I had a big surprise! I was going to propose to her at this race where it all began! Not only “at” the race, but “during” the race! I had the diamond engagement ring tucked snuggly in my running shoe in transition, waiting on me to finish the swim and bike, with plans to give it to her sometime during the 13.1 half marathon.
The swim was uneventful and I exited the water feeling great. I hit the bike hard as always and quickly moved up the field until I was in the top 20 of 500 in the race with about 4 miles to go on the 56 mile bike. So now I’m thinking about the ring. “It better still be in my shoe…I wonder how far I’m going to have to run with it before I see her? What words should I use? I want to make this memorable..." (as if proposing in the middle of a Half Ironman isn’t already). Then it happened. I’m all alone riding about 25 mph, lost in my proposal plans, drifted a little too close to the edge of the road, hit a patch of sand – WHAM! Bike slid right from under me. Suddenly I’m sliding down the asphalt on my back! Ooooouuuuch!!!!!
I stopped sliding and lay in the road for a minute, stunned. But a quick inventory of body parts didn’t reveal any broken bones, but blood was everywhere! My back, legs and hands were pretty scarred by the asphalt. My bike was banged up but I was able to ride in the final 4 miles to transition.
I was a bloody mess in transition (see photo). I grabbed the ring box and started the run, stopping at aid stations to pour water over my screaming bloody wounds. (See photo with ring box in my left hand.) About mile 7 I finally spotted Anna in the crowd and with a big hug I gave her a bloody ring box and slid the diamond on her finger. The crowd seemed to like it and made a lot of noise, but they may have just been horrified by my bloody body rather than the proposal.
Anna started to hyperventilate and I think she managed a “yes” between gulps. I said “great! I’ve gotta run a little more but I’ll see you in a little bit” and then I ran the final six miles to the finish! We’ll definitely never forget our proposal!
P.S. I was fine. Despite all that crashing, stopping and proposing, I managed to finish 38th out of 500. Just a little post-race cleaning of my wounds and a brief trip to the ER that night to patch things up and I was good as new!