Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation recap: IRBC & my run around Clear Lake

For 22 summers out of my life I have spent a week (or more) at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp.  It's fair to say it's one of my most favorite places to go for vacation.  For the past 11 years we have gone as a family to one of their five weeks that they offer for families.  They also offer youth camps during the summer (talk about a boat load of memories there!) and many other retreats through out the year.

This place is just more than just "church camp".  Yes, I always get my fill of spiritual teaching.  But a lot of deep & solid friendships are made there each in every year.  This year my running introduced me to some new friends, even though they've been going to the camp for years themselves.  We just never connected.  Running fixed that this year.
Just a small portion of friends we look forward to seeing every year.

IRBC is located on the north shore of Clear Lake.  It sits on 50 acres of complete serenity & beauty.  However, if I want to get some miles in I have to leave the camp grounds or else run in small loopy circles around the camp grounds.  Each morning I crept out of our room (an old barn converted into cabin like rooms with a shared dorm style bathroom on each floor) while most of the camp was still asleep.  Usually the only other people up were the workers or other runners & bikers.  I had many great runs throughout the week.  When I was done I always went down to the dock & spent time stretching & having my God time.
Run or not, I could spend HOURS out there at the end of the dock.  Just me, myself & God.  It is wonderful.

Before I even left for camp I had come up with the idea to run around the entire lake.  I'm sure many others have done this, I'm not sure why I didn't think about doing it before.  I checked and thinking it would be closer to 20 miles I was surprised to find that it was "only" 14.  Easy, peasy, I could do that.

I planned to run this on my last full day at camp.  However after a few days I was getting nerves about doing this.  Not because of the distance or my ability.  I was a little uncertain about where I was running & how I was going to fuel up/have enough drink along the way.  Most of the route was through residential area, but a small portion of it looped out onto county roads.  Places I've never been before.  Normally I don't worry about things like this.  I run out in the country by myself all the time.  Although honestly, sometimes I am a little spooked, but since I'm familiar with the area I talk myself through it.  Since I was not familiar with these parts of Clear Lake I worried.  More than usual.  I probably would have done the run regardless, but I wanted some extra peace of mind.

Earlier in the week I made a connection with our program & music director, Stephen Moore.  We saw each other out running one morning so that opened the door for some runner talk.  We shared stories, running tips, race memories, etc.  You know....RUNNER TALK! (If you are a runner you totally get it!)  Anyway I spoke with Stephen to see if he knew of anyone that would accompany me, even if only for part of the run.  The staff is full of young people, maybe one or some (I did have visions of a big group run around the lake, that would have been fun!) of them would come along with.  He said he'd put the word out and later that afternoon 2 ladies, Amy & Heather, approached me.  They were bikers & had biked several times around the lake & offered to not only escort me, but be my support crew to my fuel & fluid.  It's not what I had in mind, but it certain worked out to be one of the best things about my run around the lake.

We set off as soon as it was light out.  I packed a light backpack with my gear & they took off.  Amy & Heather would bike ahead and wait for me at each intersection.  They were always ready & willing to get me what I needed out of my bag & keeping tabs on how I was doing.  For the most part I only saw them at these check points every few miles.  At one point they got to talking and next thing they realized I was passing them while they rode.
 Heather & Amy, I kept calling them my professional road & support crew.

The weather that morning was absolutely AMAZING!  We actually had more than usual rainy & cool weather throughout the week.  The afternoons always shaped up well & warm for pool & lake front activities, but mornings were often cool & cloudy.  This morning, of all mornings I had to pick, the sky was perfectly clear.  The temps were in the mid 60's & I welcomed that, but for the first time all week I got to watch to sun rise as I ran.  I kept stopping to take in the scenery & take pictures.  It was wonderful and such a God given morning.
The sun rising up behind me.

Stopped for views of the lake.

Most of my run took me along Shore Dr.  Stopped at a few key spots.

The Surf Ballroom is the last place that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & The Bopper performed before dying in a plane crash a few miles north of Clear Lake.  I love these performers & their music!!

One of the unique houses along Shore Dr.  Clear Lake is known for it's million dollar homes.  It's not cheap to live up on this lake.  We are thankful for the very affordable prices the camp offers for our family to be able to attend.

A shot of me coming up the road to the camp entrance.

It's hard to see, I'm holding up 1 & 4 fingers to show my miles around the lake.

Amy, Heather & I when it was all said & done.  We are already planning & looking forward to doing it again next year.  We also have plans for a group of us to swim across the lake as well.  I can't wait!!

After I thanked Amy & Heather for their help & support I had one last thing to do to put a final touch on my run around the lake.  I ran across the camp grounds, down the dock & right off into the lake. (Note:  running shoes get very heavy quickly when completely immersed in a lake!)  I didn't think to have anyone take my picture while I did this, but there was someone on the dock when I got out so I asked them to take a picture of me all sopping wet standing where I did jump in.  It was the perfect ending to a great run!!

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