What most people don't realize is that their personality and energy directly and indirectly affects any group situation they are involved in. Regardless of how many people are in the group, if you are a negetive person, it will drag the group down. If you are a positive person, it will lift the group. This is just a fact. Most of us are to caught up in our own being that we don't take a look to see how we may be affecting our surroundings. The group we had at this camp was very positive. they were encouraging and supportive to others and even those who were more shy were laughing and smiling quite a bit. This is what creates a memorable and positive experience and one that you really want to be around.
We finished dinner after a very long Saturday and then I posted my previous blog and caught up on some emails before heading down to work on Scooter and Angela's bike positions, finishing after 10pm.
Sunday, we headed out at 7am to a great pool that Ange, with the help of Aimee, nailed down for us to use. Everyone did a group swim session while Baker and I videotaped each individuals swim form. I filmed them from underwater with a camera in a waterproof bag for filming, while Baker shot them from above. After everyone was videotaped, Ange and I worked on swim form with the campers and put them through some more fun intervals. Then, we ended the pool session with relays. The last relay, each person had to swim 25 yds underwater. If they came up for a breath, they had to wait 3 seconds before resuming. There was certainly some interesting underwater form! Henk, the Belgian, found the loophole and swam freestyle without taking a breath. It came down to Jeff and Liz, the two fish of the group. Liz had a slight lead going into it, and although Jeff might have her beat in regular swimming, I think her dolphin kick would have been hard to match if they were neck and neck. Her speed 4 feet down from the surface was quite impressive!
We rinsed off quickly, put on some running attire, and made the short drive over to the trail system in the metroparks. We headed out on this great singletrack for a long run. It was a hilly, scenic, out and back course that I really enjoyed. Many had a difficult time with the ice. What's interesting is that the previous day while videotaping run form of each camper, I noticed that many were striking down very hard. I left comments on their dvd to listen to their running and try to run quitely, landing softly as though running on glass or ice. Now you have to use a bit of caution when running on ice and safety and injury prevention is most important, however, it's a great running drill and opportunityt to learn to land more flat footed and softly. I headed out with J, Jim, Brad and Baker. They all did great - Baker is such a sandbagger. I always tell him that he's a good runner but until he believes it himself, his talent won't come through as often. On the return trip, I took off to try and catch some of the others and spend time running with them. I saw Ben in the zone listening to his tunes. This guy is a trooper - he had a 101 degree fever and still plowed through the weekend, not wanting to miss anything. Same for Eric and Aimee who were both quite sick and still did a hell of a lot. I'm not advocating training while sick, but these three signed up for this camp and didn't want to miss out and they partricipated with no complaints! I then ran with Mike for a bit who seemed to be really enjoying the day and the experience. That attitude is infectuous. Next, there is a great series of switchbacks where you can see across in the winter and see who may be ahead or behind you. Henk, Doug and Jeff were up ahead and I yelled that I was coming for them. I ran a bit with Hank and Doug and they also seemed to really be enjoying the moment. Jeff picked it up, but I caught up and ran in with him.
Ange took the ladies out on the road because of the ice, but I hope they come back when it's thawed a bit and run in this great singletrack section. There were some great climbs and descents, some river crossings, and a very cool pine forest to run through. I preached the benefits of trail running upon everyones return. When I was training for my first IM in 96', I did most of my run training on the roads. I then found the trails in Trumbull and started doing most of my runs, especially my long runs, in there. I was amazed ho much better I felt the days following my longer runs. The quality of all my runs certainly increased. I give credit not only to the more forgiving surface, but also the more enjoyable surroundings. There is something much more mentally uplifting about running in trails versus roads.
From here, we said our goodbyes to the campers. They all seemd to have a great time. If they didn't, they certainly faked it well. Hopefully, they all also learned something, and will carry some of this energy with them into the next month of training. Winter can be a dreary time but this camp showed that it doesn't have to hold you back. We drove back to Scott and Ange's, showered quickly and finished packing, and then headed to the airport.
My trip home was my own version of "The Amazing Race", trying to make it back to my home in time for the kick off. I was able to get the very first seat on the plane, meaning I was the first one off the plane. I took carry on bags and I was through Westchester Airport and in my car within 5 minutes. I made it home just in time. After watching the game, maybe I should have taken my time.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Winterfest Camp and a special thanks to Ange and Scooter for hosting this event. I know their basement will probably never smell the same way again.