One half of the day, everyone participated in ice breakers, team builders, and different activities and games. These were designed to get students to think critically and work together to achieve some sort of result.
The other half of the day, everyone had the opportunity to conquer the high ropes course. To start, everyone put on harnesses and grabbed all the equipment they would need. Then, we went through a practice session to learn how to use the equipment and how to stay safe while on the course. After that was completed, then it was go time!
Poles, ladders, nets, ropes, and a million challenges while suspended high in the air.
For me, a cool part was seeing my progression from last year to this year. This year, it took a lot less time, and I think that is because of the confidence gained by repeating it. High ropes courses are more mental challenges than anything- even though you know you're not going to fall 50 feet, you still have to convince yourself that. And when you're staring straight down at the ground, jumping and climbing across obstacles, sometimes rationalizing gets thrown out the window.
The most rewarding part of this is seeing everyone's sense of accomplishment when they finish. The end of the course is a zipline ride down to the ground, and seeing the excitement as people jump off the ledge and glide down the line is the best! The reaction is usually the same: when you pull up in front of it, it looks so intimidating. "There is NO WAY I am doing this!" Then, while you're on it, it's very challenging. But at the very top, when you can ring the bell, and you're standing on top of the world looking out for miles, you realize that 1. Florida is flaaattttt and 2. I can do anything!
Helping the students at USFSP get that feeling 2 years in a row has been incredible, and I hope they continue to have the retreat in the years to come, even after I leave...
Not too bad after one of the most terrible nights of sleep ever and starting to get sick.
I reached my goal of not having to stop, and I had a bonus great sprint to the finish line.
I think I'm at the point where I can start working on time & pacing.
Things that made the race amazing:
-The guy with bubbles. When I saw the cape, I knew he wasn't taking the race too seriously. But let me tell you, I've never seen a more passionate display of motivational bubbling.
-The sun rising over the bay as I was running along Bayshore. The water glistening, the sky waking up and growing brighter with every moment. I don't think I could imagine a more beautiful start to my day.
-Not being toward the back of the pack. Last race, I was about 2/3 of the way back. It was awesome rounding the halfway point and seeing LOTS of people behind me. AND the feeling of not having to stop as so many people started to tire out was awesome!
-The sprint through the tunnel to the finish line. Normally, at about 2.5-3 I am dead. I am sluggish. I have zero energy. But at about 2.5 I was able to pick up the pace a bit. Then I took the final turn into the tunnel and saw the finish line, and I took off into a dead sprint. Everyone else was practically crawling, but I blew by them.
-Feeling AMAZING after the race. No soreness, not too tired. I could have kept going. THAT is exciting :)
-Lastly, and by far, the COOLEST moment: There was a military group running in formation, carrying their flags and doing their chants. When we crossed paths the first time, it was no big deal. But after I finished, I went above the tunnel to watch people finish and the next race start. That's when I heard them. So softly at first. Then louder. Louder. LOUDER. As they came through the tunnel, they were deafening. Chanting, clapping, yelling, cheering. Such an inspirational end to the race.