Monday, July 21, 2014

Furman Cross Country Camp: aka Best 4 Days of my Summer

While we were at the beach, Mom and I got a call from Dad asking if I wanted to go to a cross country camp with one of my best friends in a couple weeks.  Yes!  I would love to!  No time to consider, though, entry deadline was the next day.  Thankfully, Mom and Dad were okay with it, and Dad, still at home, got me signed up!  The weeks until then flew. 
Here's some photos and highlights!
Coach Haas (Katlyn's dad) was set on getting our picture in front of this fountain.  I can't tell you how many times I heard him telling us that.
This is Katlyn, me (the short one), Louis, and Katlyn's brother Ryan at the entrance to the beautiful Furman University.
Furman is known for its beautiful campus, and it really is!   
Here we are stretching out and warming up before our first afternoon's 2 mile time trial so we could get placed in groups based on ability.
I was amazed by these fancy water fountains all around campus.  Hands-free!
The dorms were nice if I must say so!  They each had fridge/freezer, microwave, sink, desks, and mirror!  Luckily, Katlyn and I were right across the hall from the bathroom, too.
I improvised an easy way to keep the trash bag handy:  hang it on the coat rack.
Imagine walking outside your dorm, out of the school store, a meal, a class, or a variety of things, and seeing this.  A lake with walking/running path, chairs, tables, and many outdoorsy things right there for you all the time.  I would be more motivated to study if I had this to study at.
Across the lake there is the bell tower.
On day two (the first full day), we did a fartlek run on the paved path around this lake/pond, which I really enjoyed!
The fountain outside of the store, Barns & Noble, complete with a cafe and any sportswear, snacks, or accessories you could need.  Many healthy options, too.
Yes, I had to set up a chair next to my bed to be able to climb in and out of it.
Breakfast time!
For summer, not all the regular eating options are available, especially because the real Dining Hall is being renovated.  We ate our on-campus meals set up buffet-style in the PalaDEN.  There were always oatmeal and toppings, fruit, yogurt, eggs, biscuits, sausage, hashbrowns, cereal, grits, and either French toast or pancakes.  I hit up those oatmeal and grits every day!
During the school time, the PalaDEN is the restaurant area, which includes full-menu Moe's, Chick-fil-a, a Sushi place, and a salad place, which is perfect for me!  Mexican and Chicken any day I want?  I think yes.  These are important considerations in my college-selection.

This is Mackenzie Wilson!  I was so excited to meet another Makenzie!  (Hers is spelled just a letter differently from mine.)  She is from Florida, so she had a long drive to get to camp.  Even crazier than having the same name, we have the same 3200 meter PR (10:50) and just a couple seconds difference in the 5k and 1600.
Here is some of our group visiting the Rose Garden after lunch one day.
I'm guessing one of our counselors wrote this in the bathroom before we arrived.  It's true!  We had a blast at camp!
Here are the lovely camp counselors for the girls!
Jacquelyn Crow will be a freshman at Furman this fall.  She came from Ohio, even winning their state cross country meet her junior year!  She is so sweet and encouraging and great to have on runs.  She was also excited that this week she had girls to run with and talk to!
To my right is Allie (unpronounceable last name) who is an awesome runner from what I hear!  I didn't get to spend as much time with her this week, but she seemed very upbeat and laid back!
I got to run with Laura probably the most over our four days.  She will be a sophomore, and I even found out that I had raced her in a couple meets the previous years when she was still in high school!  The day we went to Paris Mountain for a trail run and picnic dinner, she went a few extra miles with me, and we got to talk a lot.  I really enjoyed having her company.  Even though we are in different areas in life, as a cross country runner, you never run out of things to talk about!
It was a blessing getting to spend time with and learn from these girls this week!
Question & Answer session with all the counselors and Furman Elite members and coaches who were at camp with us.
Funny, one of the boys (gray shirt and white hat) is Quintin McKinnish, who I have gone to school and run with since elementary school!  He is also going to be a freshman at Furman next year.
 Coach Robert Gary, an Olympic Steeplechaser, gave us some lessons about his event.  I've done it before, and it really is like cross country on a track!  He showed us videos and pictures, giving advice as well, before we got to try out the water jump for ourselves later in the afternoon.
The food at this camp was, in my opinion, top-notch!  Each meal, there were healthy options of foods I loved!  There was the unhealthy buffet line, too, but I stuck with this one each day.
This dinner meal I had a couple meatballs, lots of marinara sauce, an entire plate of the mixed steamed veggies and the peas and carrots (I can't get enough of that type thing!), and some fish.
The next day's lunch was fantastic, too!  It makes me wonder, also considering what Quintin's mom had told us, how good is the food when the whole dining hall is up and running?

I went back to get seconds on the squash it was so good, and I also had a sweet potato and chicken.  More favorites!
I don't know what kind of surface their track was, but it was unlike anything I had ever been on, and I liked it.  We didn't run on it, but I feel that if I did, it would be super fast.  They also have a very convient grass 400 meter track right next to it, where I am standing to take this picture.  Some days they split up their workouts between the two.  We used the track as an area to do drills, hurdle mobility, strength exercises, and the water jump.

Riding in Coach Rita's van to Paris Mountain!  She is such a fun lady, and was willing to answer any of our questions and give super helpful advice.  I've never had a female running coach before, but she seems like she would be a great one!  We all learned a lot just on our bus ride there and back.
On the loop around the lake, Laura and I stopped to take a couple pictures.  She's like me:  gotta love the photos.

It was great to get to talk to so many runners that I'd never met before on this trip, especially Laura!  We all, campers and counselors, had a blast getting to know each other, and were able to talk and share like we had known each other for years.
A pretty view from part of the trail
Dinner Time!
Another thing I really liked about this camp is that they really encourage refueling right after a workout, as you should, because that is the best time for recovery.  That meant that we got to eat early and not long after our runs!

Moe's catered a taco bar for us at the park for dinner, so I got to have my favorite meal, taco salad!
 Coach Rita ran in the back of our group for this run and later posted this picture on Instagram.  I had to save it, because it is just too great!
Left side:  me, Jennifer (from NC), Mackenzie (FL)
Right side:  Carly (SC), Katlyn, and Lindsay (GA).
Furman drew some girls from all over the South! 
This was probably the funniest thing of all camp, but if I told you the whole story, it would be way too long, and no one else would think it was as funny as we did.  I guess you just had to be there.
Long story short, Furman has really good yogurt in the cafeteria, a chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream machine, and we really like protein bars, too, but they don't give to-go boxes to campers.  Therefore, we improvised.
In the end, we had a dessert party in mine and Katlyn's room because we are goofy and like food.

These pictures seem a little far away, but in person you can see a lot more detail.  The campus is gorgeous, and everywhere you go you can see tons of nature, water, and landscaping. 
The final night we got to perform a lip sync dance that we had gotten to prepare with our groups for the past two days.  We got to do any song we wanted!  Some of the staff and Elites were judges.  I posted my group's to YouTube, so you can watch us dance and lip sync to Disney High School Musical, We're All in This Together.

One group did Hoedown Throwdown from the Hannah Montana Movie.
The last group did Tell Me What You Want by the Spice Girls.
I also got to be really close with this girl, Lindsay Billings.  When we started all talking about our PRs when we were all getting to know each other, again, I was amazed how similar we are!  We even found out that we practically crossed the line together at Footlocker in the championship race last year!  Her 1600 is 2 seconds slower than mine, 3200 is 1 second faster, and her 5k is just 2 seconds faster!  We are both juniors, as well.  Being at this camp really encouraged me knowing that all across the states there are girls who believe and love to work just like I do!  We all really enjoyed getting to run together, push each other on the fartlek, and share experiences and advice.  I am lucky to be able to train on trails similar to Paris Mountain, but girls like Mackenzie had never run anywhere like that before!  Jennifer never even has any team members to run with, so she is used to it being only herself and her dad on his bike.  We could do all our runs together comfortably, while also going at a good pace, getting to laugh and share all the way to keep us entertained.  Even better, we could talk about Jesus!  Before breakfast one day and before leaving the last day, we even prayed together.  Things like that make me so happy!
We all plan to meet back up at Footlocker this November and come to camp here again next year (which they announced would be a day longer!).  Katlyn and I will also get to race Jennifer about a month from now at the Western North Carolina Cross Country Carnival at Jackson Park.

Coach Rita jumped in a picture with us!  I love her enthusiasm and willingness to help anyone.  She really knows her stuff and is so energetic.
A beautiful view across some more water and fountains to the chapel
You can't really see it here, but they have these signs hanging around campus advertising summer classes that are very "punny."  They say, "Catch up or get ahead," but the pictures are of a bottle of ketchup and a wooden man with no head!
The Furman golf course and cross country course is also right there on campus, too!  Here we are crossing a 28 or so mile paved loop that goes all the way into downtown Greenville called the Swamp Rabbit.  It is just another reason to love this area of SC, especially if you are as outdoorsy as I am.  Through this gate is the entrance to the course.  We didn't get to run much of the actual course because Jacquelyn said it is on the back 9 and we were more on the front, but we went past the start/finish area on our final morning run.
A couple views along the course

I stepped behind to snap a shot of the girls going along the golf cart path!  In the picture to the right (which was closer up on my phone and especially in person), you can see a group of the boys from camp across the course from us.
This area was gorgeous!  In the back center, not really visible here, there is a cute little bridge crossing a section of the water.
Some of these things you would just have to see in person to fully appreciate it!
This post run/breakfast picture actually ended up going on Runnerspace's photo collage last week!  I had a blast with these girls for our 4 days together!
The final morning also added in a challenge and some more running.  We had a scavenger hunt!  My team lost miserably because the boys didn't pay attention to the instructions, and we got disqualified while waiting on them.  There was a time limit...We had a fun time exploring, though!
This is from the 2nd floor in the Trone Student Center, where we had our awards at the end of camp.  It is right above where we enter to go to our meals at the PalaDEN, so this is the view from outside the store and restaurant area near the dorms, as well.  You can also see where we stood for the above group picture.
Coach Neal giving us a quick talking-to before we got started with awards.
Everyone got a camp shirt on the first day, and on the last day, everyone got a bracelet, too.  They also gave awards with certificates and Furman clothing for various awards, all named after Brooks shoes, because Brooks is their sponsor (they have pretty cool shoe names, too).
Lindsay and I both got the girls' Brooks Beast Award for our ability, effort, and potential!
Jennifer got an award, too, for always being ready to go, improve, and learn!
Kenzie and her interesting little roommate (there is a whole story about that...Chinese ordered at 11:00pm...?) Katlyn, Jennifer, me and Lindsay for one last picture.
Driving through South Carolina, you pass shop after shop, big and small, of fresh fruit (sometimes other things) stands, and I have always wanted to go!  Fresh fruit is my thing!  This little shop called the Country Corner was especially cute!  Coach Haas, Katlyn's dad, who was the one to get me signed up, dropped off, and picked back up from camp, was also my middle school coach who got me started running in the first place, treats me like his second daughter and would do anything for me I need!  I also love his faith in the Lord and how their family is so strong in Christ!  We stopped here on the way home; Katlyn and I had been looking forward to it since before we even got to camp!
What a pleasant surprise to find a Snoopy sticker on all the watermelons!
Here is one table:  peaches, blueberries, and blackberries.
Those were seriously the best peaches I had ever had in my life.
I also got a tub of blackberries that I munched on for the ride home.  I finised the entire thing in just 2 days.
This was on Jennifer's snapchat story, but I thought it was gorgeous so I screenshotted it to share.
Katlyn was pooped!  She tried to stay awake, but in a car, I think it's always much easier to fall asleep.
We can't wait for FUXC Camp 2015!