Running brought Nate and Andrea Ritz together. So, when Nate popped the question during a mock training run, Andrea took it all in stride.
He'd already bought the ring. He'd received the blessing of his longtime girlfriend's father.
All that was left for Nate Ritz to figure out was where and when to propose to college sweetheart Andrea. His decision was anything but traditional.
"I finally decided I would propose on Otterbein's track," says Nate, who met Andrea while both were varsity runners at the Westerville liberal arts college. "I felt this was a fitting way to do it. Plus, I thought this would catch her off guard."
It certainly did.
"I had no idea it was coming at all," Andrea says. "We hadn't talked about rings or anything."
On a warm April day, Nate convinced Andrea to come to the track to hand him cups of water while he trained for an upcoming marathon. "He said he had trouble grabbing water while he was running, so he needed to work on it," she says. "And I believed him."
Nate headed out to jog some warm-up laps with the engagement ring carefully concealed in the pocket of his running shorts, adrenaline pumping.
"I probably ran the warm-up at race pace, as I was a little nervous," he says. "I remember checking my pocket constantly during those few miles."
Suddenly, an Otterbein security car pulled into the parking lot.
"I wasn't sure if he was coming to tell us to get off the track or not, so I figured I'd better propose ASAP," he continues.
Nate pulled the ring out of his pocket and slowed his pace. "I thought he was hurt," Andrea recalls. He stopped in front of her, got down on his knee and proposed.
After she accepted, Andrea asked Nate if he was going to finish his workout.
"Apparently it was just a setup," she says. "We laughed about that and the security guards that were watching us."
The couple wed 11 months later in Andrea's hometown of Gallipolis. In keeping with their running tradition, Andrea and her maid of honor went on a 3-mile run the day before the wedding, while Nate, his sister and some college teammates ran the morning of the wedding. "My plan was to do a 20-miler the day of the wedding, but I decided to shorten that up a bit," he says.
The couple's engagement story was one their friends and family appreciated. "Everyone thought it was perfect, considering that's how we met," Andrea says. "Running was a big part of our lives during college and immediately following. It is something special I will always remember."