Carmen and Mike

Mike and I were introduced by mutual friends.  His good friend from college, Walt, is married to my good friend from college, Sarah Lane.  It’s only fitting that University of South Carolina boys would fall in love with Clemson girls… A short time after we started dating, I knew that Mike was “the one” – and I know the feeling was mutual.  Even though I was anxious and excited to move forward with the next step, Mike had already told me that he thought it was appropriate to date someone for at least all four seasons before getting engaged.  Keeping to his word, we made it through all seasons and to the one year mark… but still no ring.  I knew that the proposal had to be coming soon, but he gave absolutely no clues or evidence that it was about to happen. For the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we take turns going to each other’s family gatherings.  When Clemson plays South Carolina at home in football, we go to my family’s gathering since my family is close by to Clemson.  In November 2014, we had planned to go to my family’s house for Thanksgiving and then attend the Clemson/South Carolina football game that following Saturday.  Since we both like to run and {everyone} tends to overload on the carbs on Thanksgiving, Mike thought it would be a fun tradition to start running an organized race on Thanksgiving morning before the big feast.  We found a local 5K race in Clemson, SC to run on Thanksgiving morning.  Mike started the morning off by harassing and picking on me [note: I amnot a morning person], and I was getting rather annoyed by his antics.  We bundled up and headed out to go run the race.  Mike had previously informed me that he would run with me at my pace throughout the race, so I was excited about being able to run with him.  When we got there, he had decided that he no longer wanted to run at my pace, but would run with me for the first quarter mile before sprinting off to run at his own pace.  Again, I was a little miffed with him, but told him it was OK.  The race started, and we started running at a steady pace – trying to knock off the cold and wind.  Before long, he sprinted off into the distance – just like he had told me he would do. Towards the end of the 5K, I was getting rather winded and tired due to the ice cold air.  As I got on a straightaway to the finish line, I noticed my parents and sister, Abby, in the distance, waving and cheering me on to the finish.  My first thought was “Really?  Why in the world would they come out here to cheer me on at a 5K?”… I was so distracted that I did not even notice Mike or the big poster that Abby was holding that read “Carmen, will you marry Mike?” until I got right up to them.  As soon as I got close, Mike dropped to one knee and pulled out the ring box.  When he opened it and looked up at me, I was in total shock and disbelief.  I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening…and that it was happening in front of my parents and sister – not to mention a million strangers!  I don’t think Mike ever actually asked the question, so I just stood there with my mouth open and smiling.  He finally said “Well, will you?” and of course, I exclaimed “Yes!”  It was a perfect day, and I was so excited to tell everyone at my family’s Thanksgiving gathering that I was engaged and to show off my beautiful ring from The Jewelry Exchange!  My cousin Jennifer, who is a professional photographer, was able to capture a few shots of the newly engaged couple.  The engagement weekend was topped off by Clemson beating South Carolina for the first time in five years!

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