I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2013 and was one block away from the bombs when they went off. I was with my family celebrating the incredible race and journey to get to this point. We were trying to get back to the finish line to cheer on the runners when we heard the blasts. We heard and saw all of the sirens, the lost, panicked, dazed and confused runners and civilians, as we had no idea what was happening just one block from us. I knew from that moment that I had to go back and run the Boston Marathon again. Three years later in 2016 it is still very real and very fresh in my memory--it's taught me that life can be taken away in a single moment and how you cannot take anything for granted. You must find the positivity in each day and the simple joys of this life. I ran it again in 2014 and it was the most incredible experience. Everyone coming together stronger, united, and better than ever before. The positive energy radiating from everyone and the love surrounding us all was amazing. It was the comeback year. I met Derrek shortly after running Boston Marathon 2014 and told him all about it. He knew how passionate I was about the city, the race, and helping the city of Boston. I wanted to run the race in 2015, but it's an expensive trip for us on a teacher salary and school loans so we passed. I wanted to get back to Boston though and Derrek hadn't ran a Boston Marathon before so we decided to save our money and go to Boston in 2016 as it was the 120th Boston Marathon that year!
Everything was perfect this year in 2016--it brought back amazing memories from the previous years of running Boston and especially in 2014 when the weather was nice and everything was incredible. The crowd and spectators were out in full force this year with the 65 degrees and sunny weather. The positive energy from the spectators and the excitement filled the air and just consumed each and every runner.
I had no idea that Derrek had planned or even thought of proposing at the Boston Marathon! It was a complete shock and (amazing) surprise for me! In the months of training leading up to Boston Marathon we had decided we were going to run together. Derrek is a faster runner than me but because this was his first Boston Marathon he wanted to take in all of the sights and sounds and and get the full experience of it so he was going to run with me and help me get my fastest Boston Marathon time. I didn't think anything of it. We ran the entire race together. In all of my 10 marathons that I had completed I had never ran actually with someone so this was a new experience for me having him by my side for 26.2 miles. It was awesome! We had so much fun high-fiving the spectators, laughing at all of the crazy spectator signs, and just taking in every sight, sound, and feeling. That feeling knowing all of your hard work of training has paid off and you are taking part in the world's oldest annual marathon, this historic, legendary race with over 1 million spectators so you try and cherish each breath, each stride, and each cheer from the spectators because in this moment you are living life to the fullest and soaking it all in.
We soaked up every cheer, every stride, every breath, and every feeling that this race gave us and we were loving life. The last couple miles Derrek told me that I was on track to get a Boston personal record and to not look at my watch anymore and just stick with him. My mom came out there with us (she knew what Derrek was going to do and had the ring in her purse the entire trip leading up to race day) and she was standing a little over a quarter mile from the finish--we saw her and gave her the biggest smiles then continued onward.
We turned the last corner on Boylston Street and saw the most beautiful sight of the bright blue finish archway/bridge over the street that you cross under and the thick crowds on each side. You couldn't even hear your own breath at this point it was so loud. We sprinted towards the finish line and crossed the historic crisply-painted finish line with our arms up in the air, and huge smiles on our faces! We made it to the finish line-we did it! 3:18:32--my fastest Boston Marathon time yet! I was basking in that glow of marathon euphoria as we crossed the one timing mat and then we kept going to make sure we crossed the other.
As soon as we crossed the 2nd timing mat all of the sudden Derrek grabbed my arm and knelt down on the ground. I saw him on the ground and immediately panicked and asked him "Are you okay? What's wrong?" He looked up at me with one knee on the ground and with the biggest and best smile ever and said, "Will you marry me?" For a second, I didn't even register the ring in his hand! My mind was switching from marathon/racing mindset to the reality of my boyfriend down on one knee right past the Boston finish line holding this gorgeous ring in his hand and asking me those 4 words that I've only dreamed of! In just those few seconds, one of the medical guys started coming over right away when he saw Derrek kneeling on the ground and asking him if he needed help, then he saw what was happening and said to me "Well what are you going to say?!" "Yes" I declared! Derrek put the ring on my finger, stood up and we kissed then I turned to the crowd and showed my ring! Of course the crowd that was about 3 feet away witnessed the whole thing and they cheered like crazy! There was a man at the finish line with a big video camera too and he got part of it if not all of it, but we were so wrapped up in the moment we didn't even ask him what company he was from (we never did find the footage even after contacting many news stations). We then continued walking in the finisher chute. I couldn't stop smiling! I couldn't believe that it just happened! I just was proposed to at the Boston Marathon finish line--the race and city that is so near and dear to my heart for many reasons since 2013 and now my boyfriend just proposed to me at it!
Later on the night my cheeks were hurting because I was smiling so much during the race just with the energy and the crowd and then of course after the proposal I really couldn't stop smiling and felt so blessed. I couldn't believe that Derrek had planned all of this and I didn't have the slightest idea. He had asked my dad and had asked my mom. He picked out the ring and I loved the style he picked out. My mom actually had the ring the whole entire trip so I wouldn't accidentally find it and then on race morning he put it in the zipper part of his RooSport (our magnetic pocket that holds our race gels). He said he kept checking like every mile to make sure it was still there! I couldn't believe that he had the ring on him throughout the entire race either! He definitely made my 3rd Boston, 11th marathon an unforgettable one. That night Derrek, my mom, and I were able to celebrate in Boston as well! Each finish line is never really the end, it's the start of another amazing journey and where this one incredible running journey ended, Derrek made an unforgettable memory for us and created another journey and adventure that we can't wait to take together. The finish line proposal by Derrek made this race and the day (4/18/2016) something I will never forget and made me so overwhelmed with emotion--love, joy, euphoria, happiness, pride, accomplishment, and pure unity. All I can say is that this specific Boston journey doesn't just end at the finish line anymore--that finish line was just a beginning to something so wonderful to share this beautiful life with someone and these two crazy runners will continue this unforgettable journey that started at the 2016 Boston Marathon with more memories, more adventures, and yes more races :)