We Are Not Backpack People

This post isn’t about home decor or renovations. It’s not about a DIY project or home inspiration. It’s the tale of a weekend date that had the potential to be disastrous and that Corey and I will laugh about for many, many years to come. And a reminder that sometimes it’s an awesome idea to step (way) outside of your comfort zone.

It all started late last week when I got a text message from Corey while I was at working asking if I minded if he took me on a surprise date this weekend. I, of course, NEVER turn down the opportunity for a surprise date and immediately agreed.

I spent the next few days dreaming about what the date could possibly be. Were we going antiquing? Spending the day downtown and trying out a new restaurant or two? Going kayaking on the lake downtown?

Most of my original ideas were shot down when Friday evening rolled around and I asked Corey what I should wear the next day. He replied that I should wear jeans, a t-shirt, and my running shoes. He emphasized that I should be comfortable, ready to walk a lot, and wear something I don’t mind getting dirty/potentially destroying.

Um, what?

I tried not to completely panic as my mind began racing with ideas on what in the world we could possibly be doing. I had no clue, so I figured at this point I should just suck it up and go along with him – he kept insisting that this was totally my type of thing and that I would absolutely love the date.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and I was feeling very excited. We headed out to a town right outside of Austin where Corey said we needed to pick up something for the date. When we pulled into Backwoods, a local sporting goods store, I was more than a little confused.

We walked in, and I saw a sign for the “Backwoods Scavenger Hunt and Adventure Race,” I was intrigued. And then we walked up to the table to register and my intrigue quickly turned into panic. Everyone there was in full-on workout gear…and they all looked fit, intense, and ready for a race.

Let me say this again… WHAT?

I could tell that Corey was a bit thrown off by the intensity of the people around us, and I could see him starting to get nervous. I tried to keep my calm and not start having panic attacks in the middle of the store, and I calmly followed him out to the car and suggested we book it to the nearest Target to grab some running shorts for the both of us.

The ride to Target was…quiet. He hadn’t expected this race to be…an actual race, and I was trying to figure out 1) how in the hell he didn’t realize it was a race and 2) why in the world he would think this was something I would be interested in.

It got a little tense a few times while we were at Target – he could tell I wasn’t into the idea and was upset that he had planned a bad date, and I was pretty upset that he had drug me to what basically sounded like a full day of torture.

We had a bit of time to go grab breakfast before the race started, so we headed to a local bakery and sat down. As soon as we got our food, we looked at each other and promptly burst into laughter. We couldn’t believe we had gotten ourselves into such a ridiculous situation, and we were both dreading the entire idea of participating in this race, which is the opposite of our ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We talked it over and I explained that one of my main reasons for not wanting to do it is that I hate competitions. I’m not a competitive person by nature and don’t enjoy feeling pressured to do things quickly or well in order to win something. So, our plan was born – it wasn’t a competition. It was a relaxing and fun day, and our official goal became to come in last place. The pressure was off.

We ate our breakfast and headed over to the park where the race was taking place, and we couldn’t stop giggling at how out of place we were. Most of the other people there were obviously runners, and it wasn’t their first race. There was only one other team that we had a chance of beating, and it consisted of a mom and her two young daughters.

As we stood waiting for the race to begin, we were watching everyone else pull on their backpacks full of water and other running gear (I don’t even know what running gear would consist of, so I can’t be more specific), and we decided that the reason we felt so out of place is because we absolutely are 100% NOT “backpack” people. We don’t go camping. We don’t spend a ton of time exploring outdoors. We don’t even own a backpack. We had all of our water bottles stuffed into a messenger bag on Corey’s shoulder. We’re messenger bag people…not backpack people. See the difference?

Despite our non-backpacked status, the race was starting soon, so we geared up to lose.

(At least I got some cute new running shorts out of the deal!)

The premise of the race was that each team would receive a map of the park and a list of 9 different trail markers where there would be challenges to complete. If you complete a challenge, you get a bead. The goal is to get all 9 beads and make it back to the starting point first – they estimated that the entire thing would be about 5-7 miles. The average win time is about an hour and a half.

Yeeeeah. Not gonna happen.

As the race officially started, every other team took off running towards the trails, while Corey and I began leisurely walking in the same general direction. We felt good about our “this is not a competition” mindset, but we knew we were in over our heads when we spent the first 45 minutes of the race trying to get to a challenge…only to realize we were completely lost. Oops.

Almost an hour into the race we finally managed to get our first bead, and we started to feel a bit better about our chances of at least surviving.

And, although the trails were super challenging and we were completely out of our element, it was an absolutely gorgeous park and we couldn’t help but relax and enjoy the sights.

We got lost a few times. We made a ton of mistakes. We totally rocked the challenges. The important part? We finished the race. We got all nine beads and we made it back to the starting point with a whopping 10 minutes to spare (there was a four hour limit on the race…so um, we were hiking for nearly four hours straight). We only beat one team back to the starting point (yes, it was the mom and her kids), but we actually technically beat a few other teams that came back before us but didn’t get all of the beads.

(Do I look like I’m about to keel over and die? Because that’s how I felt.)

In the end, it ended up being a fabulous date. We had four hours to ourselves to talk, laugh, and be together without any distractions. We didn’t fight, even when we got lost for the third time. We didn’t complain, even when our legs felt like they might literally give out from under us at any second. We stepped jumped out of our comfort zone and ended up having a great bonding experience from it.

Will we ever do this race (or, um, any race) again? Probably not. It’s just not our thing, and we’re okay with that. But every once in a while, it’s great to do something that isn’t your thing. It keeps you on your toes, it gives you a great chance to get a little closer to your significant other, and there’s always a chance that maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up finding something new that you love.

And, if nothing else, you can always look back on the crazy date from hell and laugh about it in years to come (once your legs finally stop throbbing from the four-hour hike).

What have you done to step outside of your comfort zone lately?

8 comments

  1. Ghenet says:

    I love this story. Good for you for continuing with it even once you realized it wasn’t your thing! They say the strongest marriages/relationships are ones where the couple do new things together. Glad this worked out for you in the end. :)

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  2. Sarah says:

    I enjoyed ready every word of this. What a darling adventure and something to remember for ever. I am now incredibly envious (in a healthy way) of your great relationship.

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  3. Katie says:

    I love this story! You were such a good sport about it all…as I was reading I kept imagining what I would have done…and it would have probably consisted of a lot of pouting. HAHA!

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