There are a number of things I remember from my first week-long camp experience at good ‘ol Camp Rancho Framasa, a Catholic Youth Organization camp. There was the week without showering, the week without brushing my teeth (you could scrape a visible portion of plaque off my teeth on the 5th day), being chased for the first time by girls at the co-ed dance, my introduction into fake christian chicken soup for the soul stories around the campfire, etc. Then there was the culmination of the entire week, the camp wide game of Gold Rush, a sort of civil war-esque prize-hunt around the woods complete with styrofoam piles of “gold”, “kissing bandits” (women counselors dressed as backwoods floozies covered in lipstick – If you got kissed, you went to some sort of jail or something) and a battle between groups of campers wearing blue styrofoam plates around their necks and campers wearing red styrofoam plates. Basically, if you encountered an opposing group, the object was to battle and tear off the plate of an opposing team member, effectively “killing” them . All week Gold Rush was talked about, especially by the older kids who had been to camp before and probably came back only for that game. After much exaggerated hype and effective fear mongering in relation to the kissing bandits and epic battles, I, being a relatively timid middle schooler, was rather intimidated by what was to come, but when the big day rolled around I had no choice but to be divided into a team and venture around the campsite scared out of my mind. However, before all that was to take place, the most solid memory to stay with me from camp was to begin.
Standing in the group shelter the two teams were divided by color and made to stand on opposite sides of the room where the counselors rounded up the troops and generated a pre-game intimidation tactic to start it all off. As we were finalizing our plan the other team took the initiative and started a chant, rising louder and louder. Imagine this, probably around 50 kids, dirty to the cuticles of their fingernails from a week of camp, restless and free from parental constraints, all yelling like wild dogs in our direction.
“Pray for death! Pray for death! PRAY FOR DEATH! PRAY FOR DEATH! PRAY FOR DEATH!”
Over and over again. And yes, you heard me right….this was a catholic camp. I don’t know, I guess things were different back then.
Our team, a little bit stunned, regrouped while they continued to yell and scream in our direction and came up with something of an unconventional retort. We crossed our arms…and turned our backs, all 50 or so of us. Dead silent. While they screamed at the back of our heads….something akin to a “F YOU” without actually saying it. Ok, admittedly, I didn’t understand what we were doing and stood with my arms crossed FACING them, until someone pointed out the ineffectiveness of my stance and turned me around. I was a lover not a fighter I guess (ok, actually neither). At 5’ 2″, I wasn’t good at being tough. So at some point our anti-climactic tactic lost its appeal and the game was started as we all took off around the camp to avoid getting kissed, guard the precious plates around our chest and look for fake piles of gold.
Anyways, you are probably wondering why I’m telling you this.
Well, while out on my 22 mile run this morning, as my mind wandered all over the place from a mix of exhaustion and the effects of sinus pressure due to battling off an infection, this memory popped into my head. Maybe I was feeling defeated from the effort of pounding out 5:30 miles at around mile 17, but I started to associate with that scared, timid middle school camper I was back then, faced down by 50 or so screaming kids telling me to “pray for death”. And I thought of the aura of Chicago. The windy city. The 26.2 miles of pavement. The incredible fight and exhaustion I will be enduring in just about a month from now, and I started to see a correlation between the two. My “appropriate intimidation” getting the best of me, I thought of Chicago as that mass of kids trying to scare me into submission and myself, even in preparation for battle, trying to hold up an image of confidence and arrogance, but nearly shaking from the effort.
And that’s where I am. Chicago is screaming in my face, “Pray For Death!” and I’m cockily turning my back as if I can’t be touched, when in actuality I’m closing my eyes hoping it will just go away so I can pull a sneak attack on its ass. At some point though, we’re going to have to throw down, and I can only hope my preparation is enough to come out the winner.
22 miles – 2 1/2 mile warmup, 5 miles at 6:00 pace (right on), into 5 miles at 5:45 pace (little fast), into 5 miles at 5:30 pace (about 5:26 pace), 4 1/2 mile cool down
Breakfast – English muffin w/ margarine, coffee, home made muesli
Lunch – Peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwich, red peppers w/ tofutti cream cheese, water
Dinner – Stir Fry w/ home made thai peanut sauce (so good!)
Snacks – red peppers, chocolate soy milk, water, apple crisp, coffee, bagel
August Burns Red – Messenger