A Weekend of Firsts

Last weekend was the epitome of a fall weekend.

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It was also a weekend of firsts. On Friday night, T finally got me to watch The Patriot in light of our upcoming trip to Charleston. A great movie, but not one I will watch over and over again – it’s just too sad!

On Saturday morning, we went to the Farmer’s Market as per usual. Since it was the weekend after Halloween, there was a parade, of course! T and I usually bring Molly with us to the market to work on her socialization (she’s become rather timid around strangers recently). Thus, she had her first interaction with a parade – and HATED it. She totally freaked out when the marching band came by and dragged me as far as she could before I finally planted my feet. We didn’t stay much longer after that. As soon as we go in the car, she was back to her normal smiling self.

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After dropping Molly off at T’s, we drove to Molly’s, a hunting store and restaurant, to buy shotgun shells. T used to hunt a lot and still occasionally duck hunts. Since we start dating, T has longed to take me skeet shooting. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you go to a large empty piece of land and a machine launches clay circles (“clay pigeons” is the proper term) out for you to shoot at. I do not like guns. They make me nervous and I would rather not have anything to do with them. But I promised I would try shooting one once since I am also an advocate for trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone. T was so thrilled I did it that it was worth it. I’ll never do it again, but I’m glad I was able to try something that T grew up doing. The things you do for love…

I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of our Saturday – we went to the outlets for some quick shopping, ate dinner at Molly’s with Molly, and went to see the Chester River Runoff play at the Fish Whistle. I have to say that bluegrass music is growing on me. It’s very fun to listen and dance along to.

After a blissful extra hour of sleep, T and I were up early for the day I have been preparing for and fretting about since the end of July. Those of you who’ve read my other entries know that I am not a runner. In July, I could barely run a quarter of a mile without feeling like I was going to die. But I decided I wanted to try and run (not walk) a 5K. I spend three months training on a treadmill and occasionally outside. I got to the point where I could run 2 miles, but could not imagine doing another 1.1 miles after that. I told myself that if I could run most of it I would be happy, but secretly I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I ran the whole thing.

T pried me out of bed, telling me that he knew I could do it. I slipped into my new Underarmour shirt that I bought for the occasion (it also happened to match my running shoes) and ate a piece of pumpkin bread. We arrived at Wilmer Park to register. While waiting for the race to begin, we stretched and chatted with T’s cousin who was running the half marathon (he ended up coming in 2nd!). My friend from college and her boyfriend drove over from Baltimore to run in the race with us. It was their first 5K as well. T was the only veteran of our little group.

There were probably over 200 runners gathered behind the starting line – a great turnout for the first year of this race. We positioned ourselves in the middle of the pack – ahead of the walkers but behind the fast runners. And we were off…

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It was a gorgeous day. The sky was a brilliant blue with a few fluffy clouds. The autumn leaves painted the landscape shades of russet, gold, scarlet, and evergreen. The geese flew overhead, honking.

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I did not bring music to listen to, so I focused on the sound of my breathing and the slap of my shoes on the pavement. My muscles were stiff from the cold at first. My friend and her boyfriend left T and I in the dust as T forced me to keep a nice steady (slow) pace. We reached a turn in the road where we greeted T’s uncle who was directing traffic. As we ran by flat fields, the wind stung my cheeks and burned my throat as I gasped for air. A hill ahead (some would only call it a slight incline). T encouraged me, “Just get up that hill and you turn around to run back down it.” People around us started to slow to a walk. I kept moving.

We made it up the hill and saw our friends walking in the other direction. They reached the turnaround and decided to take a walking break. I kept moving.

My legs were burning by this point and my lungs straining. I reached two miles. A twinge in my knee began. T told me I could run the whole thing. By this point, I was determined to. We passed his uncle again. I looked to my right to see the sun glinting off the blue-brown waters of the Chester.

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We continued passing people, all the while maintaining a very steady pace. “You going to sprint at the end?” T asked. “Not yet. I don’t know” I responded. I see the turn taking us to the finish line and drew on the reserves of energy I had been saving. I picked up my pace, felt my muscles kick into a new gear, and ran like my life depended on it to the finish line. T crossed one millisecond before me.

I DID IT.

I ran the whole 3.1 miles. 11:19 pace. Approximately 35 minutes. I reached a goal I never thought I could reach. The best part? T stayed with me every step of the way. He could’ve beaten my time by a good ten minutes, but he is the best and did not abandon me.

I am still, three days later, running off the endorphins of completing such a challenging goal. It was not easy, but I feel stronger and healthier now that I am running. Now I just have to get back on that treadmill and keep it up.

The rest of the day consisted of lunch with friends, a walk by the Chester to admire the tall ships, and football Sunday. I left T watching the game and went to the Chester River bridge to take pictures of the tall ships as the sunset.

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It was a wonderful weekend. I tried many new things and accomplished a goal. My next goal in my running career will be to run faster in the next 5K in Chestertown next May. I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful fall weather. The bleak gray days of winter are coming fast.

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