I think “adulting” is a silly concept, but even I’ll admit I’ve done a lot of really grown up things these past 12 months. I got engaged. I bought renters insurance. I learned de-scaling a coffee maker is a thing and I did it — once — but hey, it’s a start.
And yesterday, I did the most adult thing I could possibly imagine: my fiancé and I bought a house.
The place, a two-bedroom charmer in the Hudson Valley, is everything we’d been looking for: close enough to a train that we could in theory commute to work, small enough that renovations hopefully won’t cost an arm and a leg, old enough that Martin Van Buren — the eighth president of the United States for you non-American readers — could have popped in for a cup of tea during the final days of his term. (I didn’t say it was a new house.) We closed Friday afternoon, treated ourselves to a diner dinner and a grocery store run (my Friday nights as a 30 year old > my Friday nights as a 20 year old, just saying), and then passed out on an air mattress in what will eventually be our dining room.
And today, we set about getting to know our new community. Now, some people would do that by window shopping along the main street (which we’ll do), or by exploring the historical sites (which we’ll do) or by frequenting the neighborhood bar (which we’ll definitely do.) But for those of you who like me never go anywhere without your running shoes, we know the very best way to explore a new city is to get out there on foot. So pouring rain and all, I laced up this morning and hit the pavement to get to know my new town.
I had five race-pace miles on my running schedule, and I initially thought I’d do an out and back along the main drive just to get a feel for the geography. But a little googling had told me there was a 5K race happening at the local high school this morning, so I decided to jog in that direction just in case. I got there — soaked to the bone, mind you — five minutes before the race was scheduled to start, and on an impulse, I registered. Besides, the money went to a good cause.
The turn-out was slim, as you’d expect on such a dreary day, but the energy was palpable among the crowd of neighbors. We lined up at the starting line, exchanged pleasantries about how we’d probably all look like prunes forever, and then we were off. The cross-country course, mostly on grass fields and paths, took us around the high school, around the middle school, and through the neighborhoods that I may eventually come to know well. With such a small field of runners, I spent part of my first mile in the elusive front position, but since I was struggling to find and follow the spray-painted arrows, I gladly relinquished top spot and instead followed on the heals of another runner who seemed to have at least an idea of where he was going.
We wove our way around the waterlogged course at a pretty modest clip, trying not to twist our ankles on the slippery leaves. I wasn’t pushing at my fastest pace, but I still noticed as I neared mile 3 that there wasn’t another female runner in sight. I’ve placed in local races before as first in my age group, but never as first female runner overall. As I rounded the final lap, I realized I was going to take home the gold. And by gold, I mean a stuffed lemur (did I mention it was a lemur themed race?) and a sweet engraved medal. I’ll take it!
Now, there are hundreds of reasons to consider buying a getaway in a small town — escape the bustle of city life, get some fresh air, grow a garden, see the stars — but for all you runners out there, here’s another: win a race! I’m never the fastest runner in eight-million-strong New York City, but on a rainy day in Rhinebeck, N.Y., I just might be.
Readers, what’s your favorite way to explore a new place?