Ouch. I stubbed my toe while rushing to get my bags packed before the J&R Tours bus would arrive at 11:00 am at my high school to take us on the two-hour trip. It was August 17, 2009, a sunny Monday my track team and I would leave to head up to Copake, NY for track camp. I made a checklist of things to bring to make it through the 7-day trip, including bug spray, sunscreen, and athletic gear. Scurrying out the house, my dad dropped me off at the bus, along with 4 huge suitcases that showed my tendency to overpack.
Upon arrival at Camp Pontiac, the camp hosting the Winged Foot Cross Country and Jumps Camp, the 90-degree weather and mosquito swarms were instant reminders that I wasn’t in New Rochelle anymore. The girls and I quickly went to our bunk and chose the beds (slabs of wood holding up four-inch thick mattresses) we wanted to sleep on. Unloading our things, we tried our best not to dehydrate and overheat, downing about eight bottles of Gatorade a day. We also had to mentally prepare for the four-mile run we were about to do before lunch; a run we would miss as we got further into the camp.
The agenda for the week was to run at 7:30 am and 4:00 pm each day, with a goal of 60 miles total. In addition, there were competitions of volleyball, dodge ball, softball, and musical chairs at different allotted days and times. Starting Wednesday, the jumpers would leave at 9:30 am and 2:00 pm to practice their field event. I personally went for high jump, and hurdled the previous year. Running the cross-country runs wasn’t mandatory if you did a field event, but according to my coach they were. We would get on the jumps bus exhausted with dead legs, while the other teams were fresh and well rested. It totaled four workouts a day, not including the infamous 30-minute Olive Abs workout, the Pilates, or the athletic team competitions. However, as sore as we were, we held our heads high and completed our tasks, hoping not to let down our coach and ourselves.
Even though the team and I have competed together as teammates for years now, and see each other year-round both on and off the track, we had our share of problems. Twelve girls to one bunk with only three showers and three toilets can get a little hectic. Squabbles were held over who was playing the best in the competition, and those who cared more about winning than having fun. Certain cliques were formed when some got tired of the runs, and others wanted to do extra. Arguments got heated as boys came in the picture too. But as the overused quote goes, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” We formed a bond that will forever be remembered, as not only a sisterhood, but a family. The more we ran, the more we encouraged each other, helping ourselves and the whole team. It changed me for the better as I learned to have mental discipline when on an eight-mile run after six hours of sleep and no breakfast for another hour. I became a better teammate, learning things I never knew about people I saw 45 weeks out of the year. If someone asked me would I do it again, my answer would undoubtedly be yes. Although this was a challenging experience, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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