Monica and Jesse

How We Met

Jesse and I are from the same town and went to high school together. However, we didn’t officially meet until we were both in college 4 hours away from each other. I remember being a Freshman and receiving a Facebook message from someone whose name sounded familiar: “Hey! I think we both went to Hanna. How’s your first year of college going?” I immediately sent it to my best friend, somewhat freaked out: “why is this random guy messaging me?” We had mutual friends so we eventually met in person, became good friends and started a long distance relationship that would survive college and grad school.

How He Asked

Jesse and I had been together for almost 8 years so it’s needless to say that EVERYONE was always asking us, “When is the wedding?” We have both always been very goal oriented and worked together to reach those goals so we were in no rush to get married. A few years ago, he began participating in triathlons as a way to stay in shape. After his first sprint triathlon (the shortest distance), he set a goal for himself to complete an Iron man by the time he turned 30. For those unfamiliar with triathlons, an Iron man consists of a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run for a total of 140.6 miles! It is quite a feat. The summer of 2016, he registered for his first Iron-man to take place on April 22, 2017. Many in the triathlon community told us that we were in for a long few months of training. Preparing for an Iron man is no joke – training workouts at least 6 days a week, 7-hour bike rides, 4 hour runs. It can not only take a toll on the person training but on the entire family. I knew it was his dream to become an Iron man and I was going to support him no matter what it took.

Race day finally arrived and we had over 30 friends and family come into town to cheer him on. We all sported matching shirts so he could easily spot us on the course. It was a long and emotional day – everyone broke into tears as we watched him cross the finish line and finally accomplish his goal of becoming an Ironman. Little did I know, another huge moment was about to take place. Our two best friends own a photography business and naturally snapped pictures of the new Ironman with his friends and family. Someone suggested, “Let’s take a picture of the support crew t-shirts.” Our shirts had “Team Zavala” printed on the back so we turned around and linked arms to get the perfect shot. I had no clue what was going on and kept insisting that Jesse get in the picture – I mean, he was the reason we were wearing the shirts to begin with!

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While my back was turned for what I thought was just a cute picture in the making, someone handed him the ring and he headed down on one knee. This was after swimming/biking/running for over 15 hours so it’s a miracle that he could even get down on one knee!

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They snapped the picture, I turned around and there he was looking up at me – for that brief moment, it felt as though as it was just Jesse and I in that room. I immediately broke into tears and he hugged me tighter than he ever had before. All I remember him saying is, “thank you for supporting me. If we can get through training for an Ironman, we can get through anything!”

Turns out he had been planning this exact moment for the past few months. Every person who was there to cheer him on that day was also there for the proposal. I was so pre-occupied with the build-up to race day that I had no clue it was coming. April 22, 2017 will go down as the day he became an Iron man and I became his soon-to-be Ironwife!

Special Thanks

Ambient Studios
Photographer