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V-Day Special: Behind Gwen Jorgensen’s Proposal

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Feb 14, 2014
  • Updated Mar 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM UTC

In early December, Olympian Gwen Jorgensen got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Patrick Lemieux, whom she met—where else?—on a bike ride in Milwaukee in the summer of 2011. They rode next to each other for two hours (he chivalrously pulled her back to the group a few times), and they wound up going to dinner that night. The rest, as they say…

Since they started dating, Lemieux has accompanied Jorgensen around the world to race and, as of last year, to train with her coach, Jamie Turner. She’s currently with Turner and his squad in Wollongong, Australia, to prepare for her first race of the season on March 15, the ITU World Cup in Mooloolaba. She’ll stay in Wollongong until the World Triathlon Series Yokohama race on May 19.

Jorgensen says her 2014 plan is similar to last year’s—do the WTS races with hopes of continued improvement on the swim and bike. After the ITU Grand Final in Edmonton, Canada, she and Lemieux will tie the knot October 4, in a simple, no-frills ceremony: “We just want a party celebrating our love for and with the people we love, who will support us through our lives,” she says. We caught up with Jorgensen to hear about her (sort of weird but cute) similarities with Lemieux, how she knew he was “the one” and, of course, the proposal.

RELATED PHOTOS: At Home With Gwen Jorgensen

How’d you know Pat was the guy you wanted to marry?
“He’s the first guy that I persistently pursued. I remember in the past having guys call me and I would take one look at the number, sigh, and put the phone back down. With Patrick, I would be checking my phone every minute hoping for his phone call. I never thought I would feel how Patrick makes me feel. He walks in the room and I instantly smile. He makes me laugh, he is always there to bounce ideas off of, and he loves me more than I thought possible. I can’t imagine life without him and I have tried to force him to promise he won’t die before me. He just says, ‘I can’t promise that, but I can try.’ With him, life is so much better. He makes me a better person.”

Do you two have anything strange in common?
“We are sometimes called ‘one-pot’ because we like to eat our meals out of one bowl with two forks/spoons. However, we’ve cut our One-Pot eating down to only a few times a week to make sure Patrick doesn’t eat all of my food. We are both very adventurous with food and we both love to try new things. We also enjoy cooking meals for others. Our staple breakfast is oatmeal with raisins, banana, yogurt, peanut butter, honey and poached eggs on top. I think this is normal; however, my training partners disagree.”

How’d he propose?
“Two weeks earlier, Patrick asked if I wanted to ride with him at his favorite place in Minnesota: the Riverbottoms (a local mountain biking hotspot). In my head, I thought if he was going to propose it was going to be on that ride, December 1—Patrick never plans anything and he was planning a ride at his favorite place two weeks in advance.

We rode down to the Riverbottoms and Patrick’s friends showed up. I ended up riding the three hours solo as Patrick enjoyed time with his friends. We got back home and I was in tears. I thought, If Patrick didn’t propose today, he doesn’t have a ring and he’s not going to do it for another year.

Three days later, St. Paul, Minn., was having its first big beautiful snowfall of the season. Patrick had a ride to do and asked if I wanted to join. I agreed and we went on our ride like any other day. On the way home, he stopped over the Ford Parkway Bridge and asked if I wanted to take a picture.

‘It’s pretty isn’t it?’ he asked. I got off my bike and thought it wasn’t that pretty because we couldn’t see that much through the snow and fog. He grabbed me, gave me some kisses and said, ‘You know I love you forever? I love you long time, ‘til we are old and wrinkly.’ I started to get angry, as the emotions from Sunday were building. ‘You can’t say that unless you mean it!’ I said. ‘What if I do this?’ he responded, as he got down on one knee. I was so shocked I took a step backwards and slipped and fell on the ice. I tackled and hugged Patrick until he complained of his fingers getting cold. It was absolutely perfect.”

RELATED PHOTOS: Gwen Jorgensen’s Rise To No. 1

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Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a senior editor at Triathlete magazine, a three-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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