Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 ARE Trail Running Camp at Dippikill

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to join some friends at the 8th Annual Albany Running Exchange Trail Running Camp at Dippikill. Located in Warrensburg, NY, the camp is meant to help people learn how to trail run, and to improve running skills overall. It's open to people of all levels, and also includes tons of yoga classes, lake time, and hiking.

Because I tweaked out my back a bit two weeks ago, I was nervous about not being able to keep up, but everyone was incredibly supportive. I ended up doing two short runs, a hill-running workshop, and the last day's 5-mile trail race, and never felt like I was holding anyone back. It was a very relaxed, fun environment, and I would go back in a heartbeat. When can we get our own camp in the Adirondacks?

After spending Thursday morning and afternoon looking at antiques in Ballston Spa, Shelby and I headed up to camp and arrived at 4:30. The log cabins were awesome, including the one where most events were located.

That evening, we had a quick 1-mile trail run, and delicious, healthy dinner, before heading out to another one of the cabins for s'mores!

On Friday morning, I skipped the morning run, and went for a therapeutic yoga class. It was so restorative, because it was focused on hips and lower back, two of my big problem areas.

After that, we grabbed lunch and then headed down to Dippikill Pond for some kayaking and swimming. I had a blast in the kayak for a bit before dipping in! (And, this is silly, but one of the women there was wearing a swimsuit that I have, and love, but which is wearing out, and which I never thought I'd have again. I learned that she just purchased hers recently, and now, so will I!)

That evening, we did a hill-running workshop, which was fantastic and super helpful, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner and dessert while we were serenaded by one of the counselors, Dick. Everyone brings their own beer to camp, and each evening, we all had a blast.

On Saturday, I woke up early for another restorative yoga class, and then headed out with a packed lunch for our hike up the Dippikill Mountain. It more or less followed the path of Sunday's trail race, so it was great to get an idea of what we were in for, at a much slower pace that allowed us to enjoy the atmosphere and the wildlife. (We saw tons of frogs and salamanders!)

The view from the top, where we all ate lunch, was so beautiful. I wish I could have captured it more completely with a picture. It looked just like a Hudson River School painting.

That evening was the camp talent show, with some fantastic singing, dancing, acrobatic yoga, storytelling, and even a poetry recitation! I think the highlight was the acrobatic yoga, featuring Ribbit McFrog and Kathy, who is actually pregnant right now. Super impressive!

On Sunday, it was race day with the Froggy Five Miler! Because we're all at pretty different levels, for anyone who expected to take more than an hour and fifteen minutes on the race, we were allowed to start an hour early, so that we'd all end at more or less the same time. I was really grateful for the opportunity to run without worrying about finishing in time, and Team Early Start was a great group that mostly stayed together for the whole run.

Since it was the same path we'd followed the day before, we were familiar with some of the stops, and we ended up walking a lot of the uphills and running the flats and downhills. Just as we were getting close to the end, we saw the finisher from the regular start group run past us, which was incredible to watch. He finished all 5 miles in about 35 minutes, and Team Early Start finished in 1:37. Not too shabby!

Overall, we had such an amazing time! It was great to be out in nature, and the ARE staff was so friendly and accommodating. I hope to go back next year, and I would absolutely recommend it for anyone, even if you only have a little running experience. It's a friendly and supportive environment, and going to camp as an adult was WAY better than going as a kid!

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