This year, my team and I were very successful. We formed a tight knit bond that helped us for almost the entire season. At the end, we missed state by a little. We were all devastated. So, we decided to do something, we all signed up for Steens Mountain Running camp. This was going to be my second year, and I knew that this would do exactly what we needed in order to be successful next year. This year is my last year, and I want to win. I wanted to achieve my goal, win my team, I simply want to be as successful as possible. I needed to be stronger, so my friends and I signed up for Steens Mountain Running Camp.
We arrived after a long bus ride. We unpacked and learned about how the camp worked. I could tell that all of my friends were nervous, because we all knew we were going to be facing a challenging week. But, we were ready.
We woke up the first day, and started off by running timed intervals, we ran for 1 minute, then 3, 4, 5, and 7 minutes. Max King, the legendary high altitude running champion accompanied us along with Melody Fairchild, who won the Foot Locker XC Champions two years in a row as a teen. Later in the day, I went to Fish Lake and ran two miles back. I cut myself on some barbed wire on the way to the lake. That night, Harland, the camp founder said that quitting should never be an option. When, you commit to something, you need to finish it. If you're afraid to fail, you won't, because the only way you can fail is by quitting. It was a very powerful moment. He then proceeded to talk with us about Big Day, and how we are all going to finish, no matter what. It's going to be very hard for a lot of us, but we can do it. We cannot quit. He reminded us that we can't quit, because there is only one way out of the canyon.
The next day, we woke up at 5:00 am. It was legendary "Big Day". We got onto the busses, and little did I know that this was going to be one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life. As we drove to the starting point, I remember looking along side and into The Big Indian Gorge, and I knew that this was going to be nearly impossible. The Gorge was deep, long, rocky, and horrifying. As I got off the bus, I took a deep breath, and we started the long 15 mile hike into the canyon. We hiked, walked, slide, jumped, and fell into the canyon. We crossed about four creeks throughout the hike. When we finally got into the canyon, I looked up at where I had hiked down, and I remember thinking "wow, I just did that". I was almost positive we were about halfway done with the hike, but no we were only on mile two. Throughout the hike, my hand got more and more swollen from the brush and shrubs that were hitting my hands. My legs were more and more cut up. I could feel two gnarly blisters forming on the side of my feet. My camel bak rubbed against my neck. When we finally reached the campsite, after 15 tiring miles, I nearly fell over while waiting in line for water.
Then we began the 7 miles of 60'60's. I chose to be in Group 3 for the way back, because I was so tired. About halfway through, I got that feeling of wanting to quit, I was so tired. I couldn't think straight. Also, whenever a gap is created in the line of people, the person behind has to catch us. There were many gaps, which meant that we NEVER stopped running. Those people were too tired to catch up, which I can understand. We were supposed to do 60'90's. One minute of running, and 90 seconds of walking.
We were going 300'20. 5 minutes of running at a fast pace, and then 20 seconds of walking. I couldn't breathe, and my legs were burning. I feel back to group 3.2, which was the group of medical staff and a few campers who mostly walked. I quit mile 5 of the 7 mile run. We finally reached the water fall, and started what campers call "heart break hill". It's the last 1.5 miles out of the canyon. It's all up hill, and it breaks your heart and every particle of hope inside of you. I nearly collapsed 3 times while going up this hill. My legs felt like noodles, and I had to pull them up the hill. I was walking like an ape up that hill. I had one goal, get to the top, one step at a time.
The last 10 minutes were excruciating, because you can nearly see the top, but you can't get to it. Then, I saw Harland. I saw a bag of lemon drops, which people claim save your life after Big Day. I started running, and soon I reached the top. I sat down and started breathing normally. I felt a rush of happiness through my body, I had completed 21 miles in one day. There were kids who were watching TV right now, eating chips, or texting, or doing whatever. And here I was laying down on the outer edge of Big Indian Gorge.
I had hiked 15 miles, ran (mostly) 7 miles, and then climbed 1.5 miles out. From that moment, I knew I was unstoppable. I could do anything, all I had to do was think about this day, and what I had overcome. A kind man gave me a lemon drop, and I have never tasted something so amazing in my life. A girl took a picture of me with my disposable camera at the top of the canyon. I look very delighted to be done. As much as big day sucked, I am very happy that I completed it, because it truly made me a stronger person. Looking back at the Gorge, I knew that I could do anything, no matter how hard it would be.
The next day, I woke up and I have never been that sore of tired in my life. We did a simple 15 minute run, and then we relaxed for most of the day.We ended the day with a predict a mile. My team and I were second. We ran a ten minute mile and took turns counting a minute. One girl was going at pacing, and she ran us at a ten minute mile pace. We felt like zombies the whole day. We were half way done with the week, but we still had so much to do.
The next day, we woke up and ran 60'60's to a race called Cross Canyon. We run with no trail to where we have to find the finish line. The 60'60's were very challenging, but I never thought of quitting. I thought of Big Day every time I started to second guess myself, and that made me realize that I could do it. We finished and headed to Cross Canyon. We got there after 3 miles. They give you a quote, and you have a minute to memorize the quote, then you fly down the canyon and out again.
Our quote was, "In each and every one of you, we see a heart, and it is good, and because of that, it's easy to love you." -Harland.
Then, I flew like Katniss Everdeen over the sagebrush. It was terrifying, but insane. I flew, fell, tripped, ran, and jumped. It goes into a small canyon, up a hill, and then into a big canyon, and then out. The entire time I was flying, and I felt unstoppable. I cried a few times, just because I was so scared. You have no path, and you have to sprint.Your body is flying, and I felt like I had no control. Looking back, it was one of the most insane things I've done in my life. We had to climb down cliffs, across a creek, and then up a massive hill. We finally finished after about an hour. It was hard, but it was amazing. That was my favorite day of camp.
Friday was fun. We did all the olympic events, and we had the uphill 5K, which wasn't so fun. Nonetheless, Harland told us something that changed my life. He said, "No matter what, you are all loved. God didn't make junk, he made you. You are all our sons and daughters. You all have that cheetah inside of you, unleash it. It just takes something special to unleash. We love you, and we care about your future. You are all going to amazing things." I never realized how amazing the world was, until Harland said that.