For the past three summers in the middle of August I have ventured into the hills of Pennsylvania to coach high school aged athletes as they prepare for their upcoming cross country season. This year was different, I'm currently living and coaching in California so I flew in specifically for Running Works (AKA RunningDUBS). Yes it's that much fun, that I spent money on a plane ticket to leave So-Cal to spend a week in a cabin in the woods in PA. For me camp is all about renewing my love for running & cross country and even though I may leave physically exhausted, mentally I am recharged ready to take on new goals and challenges. Camp is a throwback, a nostalgic reminder of how simple life was as a high school kid going to Colt Camp. It's a reminder to chase dreams and live life to the fullest
I've been apart of a running camp in every capacity; athlete, college counselor, and coach. The goal is always the same; to pick up new things to add to my toolbox of treats. Even as an 85lb freshmen, I went to Colt Camp to learn what it was that made CBA so good. As it turns out they train hard and at the time it was really hard for me. I ran my PR for 5 miles the first run of camp (true story) and by the end of the week I was walking up and down the stairs of my cabin and the mess hall backwards. It was also the first time I met future Monmouth teammate Dicky Corcoran. We were on our long run together and as the faster group rolled by us he encouraged me to go with them and try to finish the last few miles with them. Already hurting I gave him some lame excuse about being a freshman and as a freshmen I didn't need to attempt to prove myself with the faster group. Without directly calling me a P@ssy he called me a P@ssy and he set me in such a rage that I took off, caught up to the group and finished the run with them. Dicky helped me realize that I was capable of hurting far more then I ever though I was capable of. As a freshman I was the #2 for most of the season. Dicky also introduced to Ramble On by Led Zepplin a song that continues to be a mantra today
In college as a counselor the rumor was that the campers had a goal to break all the counselors on the runs. As it turns out they were successful in dropping all but one, me. Fortunately one of those dropped counselors would go on to be a part of NCAA DI podium team that same year. Unfortunately I did not nor did I ever come close. Looking back I now know that I could have put in a little more effort, been a little smarter, had a better diet, maybe got more rest, I might have. It really is true, that you can be whatever you want to be. Whether do or not is completely up to you, how much are you willing to suffer and sacrifice to achieve your ultimate goals. At camp your surrounded by like minded people all working hard to improve as runners.
Nows as a coach, I get to have a small hand in helping these athletes. There really is no better feeling then watching a group of athletes transform right before your very eyes and over the course of only 6 days no less. Some kids are teammates but for the most part the groups are made up of kids that have never met, yet they come together as a team. As coaches we take pride in how well our groups come together. In addition to helping out young runners, camp is a time for the coaches to have a reunion of sorts. Old friends telling war stories from their "Glory Days". Now that I'm living on the west coast this reunion was even more special as I haven't seen most of the coaches since camp last year.
For me it's no different, camp is timeless. Regardless of my role at camp I will always be brought back to a simple time when life didn't cause stress, bills didn't exist and all I had to do was lace em' up and go hammer. Camp is a place where you can put on a song from back in the day and everyone will sing along. It's my reminder to continue to live life to the fullest, chase dreams and do it my way, even if it means going against the grain sometimes. As I head back to California I have a new list of goals and challenges ahead of me. Only time will tell where those goals bring me as 2012 approaches. One thing is certain, I will be at camp in 2012. In fact I wouldn't miss it for the world!