Monday, August 22, 2016


Last Sunday I made my way up to Strafford, NH to spend the week at Camp Foss, a New Balance sponsored running camp for high school athletes, where I would be working as a counselor.  As you may remember, my first time up at Foss was at our Oiselle Birdcamp back in June and that was an epic experience so I was more than thrilled to get back up there again.  This time around, things were just a wee bit different.  There were about 260 teenage boys and girls in attendance.  I know....crazy.  Many of them have been training all summer and were hitting their peak mileage while at Foss.  Most, and more likely all of them, were there because, in addition to the fact that they run XC for their school, they simply love to run, especially with friends, both old and new.  From the minute they started to arrive, the atmosphere began to buzz with energy and within a few short hours the excitement across the camp was almost palpable.  I've been a camp counselor in the past, but working at a running camp was something totally new for me and though I didn't tell anyone at the time in fear of sounding dorky, I was just as fired up if not more than the kids.  The weather for our first couple of days was pretty brutal, not that anyone really cared.  We were coming off of a crazy, hot week in New England and the temp and humidity on Sunday were both through the roof.  If you weren't standing in the shade, you were sweating.  So, naturally, the kids jumped right into their standard routine of running around and playing various games at full speed.  Because, why not??  Sunday afternoon went something like this:

1:00 Check in
1:00-1:15 Find cabin, throw bags on or under bunk, say goodbye to parents.
1:15-1:30 Hug and chat with teammates as they arrive and then head outside to catch up with and/or meet runners from other schools.
1:30-4:00 Hang out, run around, play beach volleyball or Gaga (for those of you who are my age, this is a game similar to bombardment played in a pit with as many people that will fit inside. It's nuts.)
4:00 Afternoon run (people did anywhere from 4 to 9 miles)
5:00 Jump in the lake
6:00 Dinner aka the 'Mad Rush for fuel'.  Honestly, I've never seen anything like this.  The campers would race in and pile their plates with food as if it was their last meal.  I quickly learned that you have to elbow your way in if you want first dibs on the good stuff.  No joke.
7:00 Announcements
8:00-10:00 Hang out, run around and play more games.
10:00 Back to cabin
10:30 Lights out

I'm a 41 year old mom who is typically in bed by 9:30pm.  Thus, you can imagine my reaction once I realized how the rest of the week was going to play out.  Let's just say I checked in with the kitchen staff to make sure they had plenty of coffee available.  The first morning, we rolled out of bed at 6:30am and got right down to business, busting out a 10 miler before breakfast (and, more importantly, before I'd had caffeine).  Holy crap.  I was going to have to dig deep to make it through the week in one piece. From that point forward I just buckled down and got in the game.  The kids were amazing, the rest of the staff was fantastic and the scenery was breathtaking.  I knew from the get go that it would be virtually impossible for me or anyone else, for that matter, to have a bad time.  Somehow, on very little sleep and limited caffeine along with a ton of insanely tough miles on difficult terrain, including several double sessions, I made it through.  Like Birdcamp, it was one of the best weeks of my life.  Fun, crazy and incredibly rewarding both as a coach and a runner.  I knew it had made a substantial impact on me when, come Saturday I was legitimately sad to leave.  Though, I will say, taking a shower with water pressure and without spiders in the corners was pretty nice.  Seriously though, Camp Foss is, for lack of a better term, a truly magical place.  I left a different and, in many ways, better person and for that I will be forever grateful.  Now, you know I'm not going to leave you without a Top 10 list.  In fact, as I sat and thought this one through, one of my Lexington runners threw out a couple items of her own.  We probably could have gone on all afternoon, but, alas, I'll leave you with these 15.  Happy trails.


1. Running twice a day is normal.
2. You're hangry multiple times a day.

w/ Alex after our 2nd run of the day

3. You look forward to meals the way a 5 year old looks forward to Christmas.

The coffee station.  I spent a lot of time here.

4. If you're wearing a shirt your overdressed....for the run, that is.
5.You go through your entire wardrobe in 3-4 days.  Maybe less.

The cabin steps (aka the drying rack)

6. You love your bed more than your teammates.  Just a little.  But still.
7. That said, you can fall asleep on virtually any surface-floor, yoga mat, picnic table.

Shep asleep napping on a picnic table

8. You sleep, eat, swim and breathe in your running clothes and shoes.  Yes, I slept in my shoes.
9. It is totally normal for a group to break out in song at any given point in the day and you always join in.

at Foss Olympics with the LHS crew

10. There are rocks, bugs, large quantities of sand and other various items in your shoes, your bed and all of your stuff.  At first it annoys you.  By the end of the week you no longer notice it.

w/ counselors Megan, Hayley & Stella

11. When you're not running, your Snapchatting about running.

Post run selfie w/ Alex, Anna & Maya from LHS

12. Your drink of choice is chocolate milk which you consume 2-3 per day.
13. Waking up is often harder than the run itself.


14. Showering (for some) is optional.  What??  There's a lake.

Post-triathlon with the gals from Sugarloaf

15. You go to bed wondering how you can possibly run again the next day and then you wake up and do it regardless.  Because, it's just what you do.

w/ Anna, post-run #5 (of 10)

Listen to this:
Heartbeat - Tongues.


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