Walking the paths at Adkins Arboretum is always a treat—as a docent, I have walked them easily a hundred times. But running the paths? That I had never done. Okay, maybe once when trying to escape a particularly hungry swarm of deer flies, but that was a quick sprint to a golf cart. The annual Arbor Day Run last year turned out to be a fun day, in beautiful weather, with a great bunch of runners and staff, but it wasn’t all a walk in the park, at least for me.
I have two distinct memories—the first is of the Family Fun Run, where the little kids get to make a mad dash for a finish line. One of the contestants had been walking for all of 2 years I estimate, training hard for this event I am sure, but along the way he tripped and fell, popped right up and kept going with nary a tear, and was very happy to get his finisher’s award medal. The other memory is of partnership and accomplishment. My fellow docent and 5K partner had a great race day, while I was plagued by tremendous tendon pain in my lower legs. I alternated planning my escape by following a less used path, and trying to catch up with Carol—the 5K master that day.
At one point, the course took us by the Visitor’s Center and the crowd of supporters (and my last chance at escape…I had left my car keys with a friend there). Hearing all the cheers and clapping made all the difference in the world—I decided to keep chasing Carol, to try mightily to ignore the pain and finish (which we all did). I will never forget Jenny Houghton, the race coordinator, running up to me at the end and giving me one of the finisher medals reserved for the kids—that medal to this day hangs in a place of honor.
This year’s Arbor Day 5K and Family Fun Run is on my schedule, and I am looking forward to the day. I hope you join us—it really is a fun run. Until then, I will be jogging and stretching my legs so this year’s event is a ‘walk’ in the park.
by Michelle Dolan Lawrence