This past Sunday, I got back from a week-long distance runners camp in North Carolina. Let's just say I'm glad there aren't mountains down here in South Florida.
Well, I have to say running up and down these shaded trails through the forests of North Carolina was actually pretty awesome. Down here, you get used to running in 95+ degree weather down the side of the road on a sidewalk, so the great scenery (and shade) was a welcomed change!
Other than the trails, there was plenty to do. Each morning we'd get up around 6 a.m. and run 30 minutes just around the campus we were staying at. Then, after the all you can eat breakfast buffet, we'd do weird team building activities, like a spiderweb game where everyone had to cross this box without touching anyone else on the team. I didn't see the point in them until I realized it helped my team learn to communicate and give everyone a say in decision-making.
Then, after lunch and another activity, the camp would ride buses to the trails I wrote about earlier, each of them having a specific name: Turkey Nob, North Slope, Hook Falls, and the infamous Art Loeb, a 7 mile trek basically all up hill. Every course was challenging, and there was never a more welcoming sight than a counselor standing at the finish line to welcome you in.
On some of the runs, you would run about a foot from the cliff; also, there would always be plenty of roots and fallen tree trunks to hurdle along the way. I probably fell around five times, actually. After running those, we'd return to the campus and take baths in the icy creek to help rest our sore legs.
Finally, on the last day of camp, all the campers and staff (all runners as well) loaded up onto the
buses and headed to John's Rock, or as everyone called it "The Graduation Run". I'd hear about it all week, and it didn't sound like the easiest run; it wasn't. Usually a three mile run would be a piece of cake, but this one was far from that. At times you had to grab branches to pull you up the incredibly steep mountainside.
Finally after around 30 minutes, we finished, and stepped up onto the actual rock. We looked out and saw the entire town below us, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Everyone was taking pictures with their teams and having a good time, happy we'd all finished the last hard run.
Running camp was definitely an experience I won't forget, and I'm hoping to see the benefits of the hard work this coming season.