5 Quirks of ZAP life

Although a lot of athletes, groups, and college teams have come and gone through the years, life at ZAP has its way of being very consistent. Most outside have a rough idea of what goes on day-to-day at ZAP (training, sleeping) but there are also lots of goings-on that people might be surprised by.

Today I give you 5 tidbits that have most likely held true for the entire 11+ years ZAP has existed:

1. Kitchen etiquette:

Because we all live in the same space there is inevitable strife when it comes to the kitchen! All of us are ravenous runners while simultaneously being tired and often lazy runners. When Chef John cooks we are usually lucky to have lots of delicious leftovers which leads to a classic situation where a medium to large sized container is left in the ZAP fridge with 1 teeny, tiny bite remaining.

Two possible causes for this: 1) It seems that the last person to eat these particular leftovers became so full that finishing off the food was physically impossible or 2) and much more likely, is that the culprit decided not to polish off said leftovers so they would not have to rinse the container out and put it in the dishwasher. Amazingly, in 4+ years at ZAP I have NEVER heard anyone admit to being the cause of this issue. “It wasn’t me” and “there was more (insert applicable food here) in the container when I had some” are common rebuttals when investigating this issue.

2. Dinner dangers:

Speaking of food, Chef John makes awesome food for us! As many campers and visiting teams can attest, you will not leave the table hungry when he is in the kitchen. But this issue often leads to a problem for many rookie (and veteran) athletes as they adjust to ZAP life. It is entirely possible to GAIN weight in your first few months at ZAP if you aren’t careful.

Many people falsely believe that running 100+ mile weeks gives you a free pass to eat any and all food that crosses your path but it is simply not true. We have to be just as careful about not overdoing the second helpings as anyone else. Personally, this becomes challenging on the evenings John makes shrimp and grits (Katie McGregor concurs).

And as much fun as it was to watch former ZAP athlete Landon Peacock’s pained face as he fought valiantly to finish his slightly too large second helping, all are on guard for not biting off more than we can chew (pun intended).

3. Hazing newbies:

Whenever a new athlete arrives Pete and the current athletes like to gently mess with the rookies. Pete will often give the new athletes jobs that do not really exist so as to strike a bit of fear into them. For instance, when we are doing outdoor work Pete will offer some of the following gems to newly minted ZAPsters:

“Make sure when you weed the trail, the switch to the Bainbridge connector is OFF. It’s a shame what happened to Jeff.”

“Drain the valve in sector 4 this afternoon before you do anything else.”

“Feed Hazel in room 6 and remember to keep your hands where she can see them…and no eye contact.”

4. Pete Rea bets:

Pete is a big fan of giving us small incentives to carry out silly tasks. He offers anywhere from $1 to $5 to do something that is generally embarrassing. If a female college team is coming to town he might offer one of the male athletes $1 if during dinner he goes and sits in the same chair with one of the girls and proceeds to eat dinner as if nothing is wrong. Or offering former ZAP athlete Alissa McKaig $3 to walk up to someone in a bar and, without saying a word, take a sip of his beer, and walk away like it didn’t happen. Or offer a lingering hug to someone and whispering something awkward into their ear. You know, normal stuff?

5. Wasting time:

One of the keys to longevity at ZAP is learning to deal with all the down time. Running only takes up so much of the day and then a large swath of time is left for anything else! Currently, I coach soccer, Joe is refurbishing some old rocking chairs and painting, and George is making short films about butterflies and his daily thoughts (vaguely like Jack Handy’s deep thoughts). Previously, Esther Erb sang in a church choir, Chris Clark worked as a youth mentor for a non-profit, and Alissa McKaig baked delicious cakes and cookies.

All of these things are needed in order to get comfortable with the rhythm of training full time. It is a great life but requires some tinkering to get it right!

Oh yea, marathon training update…

Tyler and I had our last long run on Friday and it went well. We ran for just over 2 hours with the middle 50 minutes being a workout at marathon pace. We did a 1200 meter repeat on Bass Lake, floated 300 meters, then went straight into a hill cycle loop that we use for lots of workouts. We did this combination set 5 times total and then ran our last 25 minutes on the streets of Blowing Rock, ending at or under 5:00 pace. Tyler and I can both safely say that although some of the workouts were subpar, every single one of our marathon specific long runs were executed almost perfectly. That fact certainly gives me lots of confidence heading into the race in less than 2 weeks. Time to freshen up now! I will be discussing my (various) goals next week as I head into the race.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (9/15-9/20):

Sunday: AM: 9 miles

Monday: AM: 12.5 miles  PM: 6.5 miles

Tuesday: AM: 15 miles

Wednesday: AM: 8.5 miles   PM: 8 miles

Thursday: AM: 10.5 miles (8×30 seconds post run)  PM: 5 miles treadmill

Friday: AM: 20.5 miles (1200+hill cycle loop x5)

Saturday: AM: 9 miles  PM: 6.5 miles treadmill

Total: 111 miles, 11 runs

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