People use race metaphors all the time. My favorite is:
Life is a marathon not a sprint.
Yet most people using these metaphors have never actually done an organized race in their life. Nonetheless, it’s a clever way to illustrate the difficulties life throws at you. Now that I’ve actually trained and completed a Sprint Triathlon, I’ll take that metaphor much more seriously.
This summer was not only an uphill climb for me in my personal journey at Camp Alleghany (taking on a new role, new responsibilities, and more time indoors), but I spent almost all of my down time putting miles on my running shoes.
Running for my life
My father and I decided back in May to complete a Sprint Triathlon together in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona. A Sprint Triathlon consists of an 825 meter swim, a 12 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run. Thankfully my father had done two of these races before and was willing to help me put together a training schedule.
I had some beautiful moments this summer while I was training.
On my morning runs down to Brunswick, I would frequently see deer leaping ahead of me on the trail. Running around camp in the afternoon and watching the girls settle down from their afternoon classes was very special for me — I loved feeling a part of tent row again.
And it was encouraging to get enthusiastic waves and high fives from campers. Remembering their support when I was back in the office reminded me that I’m still a part of the camp community. Hey, once a Ghany girl, always a Ghany girl!
You can’t rain on my parade
My absolute favorite story from training this summer was the day that Annie (Mason’s amazing nanny) and I decided to take an evening bike ride on the Greenbrier River Trail.
It was rumored to rain that evening but we decided to risk it. As we traveled further and further down the trail, we met with scenes straight from a fairy tale! The setting sun caught the forest dust just right, making it look like glitter — fairy dust! Meanwhile butterflies danced around our eyes and the clear Greenbrier River gurgled and shimmered to our right.
In this paradise, soon we lost track of how far we had traveled. But the problem with biking the trail is that it’s not a loop — the only way to get home is to bike back 🙂 No matter how far you go, you eventually have to turn around!
Camp rests in between Mile Marker 3 and 4. Annie and I biked to Mile Marker 11 and when we got there, were met with a very slight but clear sound of thunder in the distance. We both slowed down, looked at each other, looked at the 11 on the Mile Marker, and then slowly craned our necks skyward.
The once blue sky was beginning to billow with very dark clouds — the kind of clouds that you can see forming right in front of your eyes. We turned around and started to pump those pedals so hard we could barely hear anything with the wind rushing past our ears.
Then it happened. The rain started pouring. No, not pouring — falling in unrelenting sheets! We were hit with so much rain that we were both soaked to the bone. I’ve never been in that kind of rain in my life, not even running from my car to my house. But here we were miles from our destination and riding bikes!
Annie and I weren’t talking, we were just focused on getting back to camp. At Mile Marker 7 there’s a little bridge that you have to cross. Mud was everywhere and it was getting darker by the minute. Then there was a distinct rumble just ahead, startling us…
We both slowed down as much as possible. I thought for sure we were about to see a bear come out of the brush. But instead it was a beaver! A HUGE beaver carrying a MASSIVE tree branch in his mouth. He fumbled across the path and down the other side toward the river.
Annie and I shot each other a glance right as lightning lit up the sky. We started laughing so hard, put our heads down, and rushed home as fast as our little legs could go.
Covered in mud, rain, sweat, and spider webs (you end up biking through so many bugs and webs on the trial) we jumped in the river because of course the rain had stopped. In fact, camp didn’t even get any rain that night. It was like we had our own personal storm.
This ride was the most freeing, hilarious, and scary one I’d ever been on. I’m so thankful I had Annie there with me the entire way.
Camp lessons to last a lifetime
Camp Alleghany has taught me many things in my short 25 years. The three that always pop into my mind are:
But as I started training for the Sprint Triathlon there were a few other life skills that came into play that I also attribute to my time spent at Camp Alleghany. Time management, perseverance, goal setting, and hard work all played a huge part in this race and, because of my twelve years at Camp Alleghany, I can say with pride that all those skills were emphasized and refined this past summer.
My father and I completed the Triathlon with flying colors! And I inherited the nickname “Smiles” from all the volunteers and policemen and women that guarded the race from traffic. My huge silly grin carried me through the entire race. I’ve never felt so accomplished or proud of myself and my father. What we did was extraordinary and I sincerely hope we can do more in the future.
Thanks to Camp Alleghany for allowing me the time to train. It really paid off!
Lex Wilcox (my dad) made a comment as well that I thought was very sweet and shows even moms and DADs get the value of a strong and connected summer camp:
Cate has blossomed every year that she’s spent at Camp Alleghany. And she’s now the most beautiful person I have ever met.
Aw dad, shucks!
–Cate Wilcox, Administrative Assistant, Camp Alleghany for Girls