|Far away from D.C.|
“I’m Alissa McCaig,” she said. For those who don’t know, Alissa is representing the U.S. in the women’s marathon World Championship in Daegu, South Korea in two weeks.
Welcome to ZAP Fitness camp.
Thirty minutes into my six hour drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I felt the stress of living in the D.C.-area melt away. The thought of escaping for four days to live in a small dorm in the middle of the North Carolina woods with little more to do than think about my next run, eat, and soak up all the marathoning knowledge I could seemed…well…amazing.
When Alissa got me where I needed to be, I checked in, found my room, and headed back out to mingle with the other runners who’d already arrived.
|The ZAP campus|
One of the best parts about being at a camp for runners is that there’s no danger of getting that glazed over look that your friends, acquaintances, and co-workers sometimes give you. You know the one where you start talking about races, splits, long runs. At a running camp, it’s what people go to first. What races are you running this fall? How many marathons have you run? Where do you train? What kinds of speed workouts do you do? How’d you get into running? In other words, the ice is already broken.
|Moses Cone Park|
Twenty-one of us trotted off together at our own paces tossing questions and answers back and forth through the pack. We were runners from as far west as San Diego, as north as Michigan, as far south as Florida, and as close as the town over. Everyone seemed to breathe a little heavier as we wound up and through the woods and let the 5,000 ft altitude take its toll.
When we returned, dinner awaited and not just camp food…we wait like royalty. From fish with quinoa salad to chicken curry, and spaghetti in homemade bolognaise sauce, there was always plenty to go around and most decidedly there were always seconds.
The first night concluded with a talk from ZAP’s head coach Pete Rea on marathon training followed by a bonfire out on the lawn. This was just one in a weekend filled with sessions including nutrition, stretching, and mental preparation for the marathon.
|The Manor shrouded in fog|
That afternoon, we had the opportunity to sign up for personal coaching sessions and massages. I fired off an e-mail to my wife to the tune of: “I’m in heaven. Personal coaching session with ZAP coach coming up followed by half hour massage from a two-time Olympian.” Did I forget to mention that? Since retiring from running, apparently two-time Olympian Anne Marie Letko is now a full-time masseuse. I hoped she might rub some of that success into my legs.
Check out Part II to find out what happened the last two days of camp, including a brisk end to a 15 mile run, a sasquatch sighting, and the harsh reality of returning to the real world.