[Note: Instead of having Sarah or I write about the reTREAT we attended last weekend, four BAMR's offered to fill you in. We couldn't say no.]
Be someone on whom nothing is lost.
Those were the words from Jess’s mom before the four of us—running buddies from St. Paul, Minnesota —left for the Kingston Adventures Women’s Trail Running, Yoga & Stand Up Paddleboard ReTREAT near Seattle. We were on a girl’s weekend, halfway across the country, to do what we love (running) and to try something new (SUP). The icing on the cake: goodies from generous sponsors like Oiselle, RecoFit, GoLite Footwear and AMR.
Admittedly we were a little anxious; it’s hard to say what will happen when you bring fifty women together. But that feeling quickly faded within hours of us arriving, as we all chatted and relaxed by the pool, soaking in the beautiful view of the Puget Sound. It’s easy to make fast friends with like-minded women.
As the sun started to set, we settled in for the goal ceremony. One by one, we stated our goals, lit a candle and set it afloat in a bowl of water. There were many firsts: a first marathon, a first half, a first tri, the Olympic Trials. There were PR goals for upcoming races. And those who wanted to reclaim their lives and bodies after having children. And there were goals that despite what we were each uniquely striving for, resonated with us all: "I want to train smarter"; "I don't want to be so hard on myself"; "I want to cross the finish line and feel proud of my accomplishment"; "I want to stop comparing myself to others.”
We cheered and clapped as each woman shared hers goal. For some, the words seemed to come easy, for others, the emotions were so strong, tears were inevitable. We could feel the support and the connection between each of us get stronger; Jess’ mom’s words were in our back pockets. A near full moon rose over the horizon just as the last candle was lit; Beth Brewster, the founder of the retreat, was sharing her goal: getting over the fear of swimming with sharks so she could compete in the World Championships of the Ultraman. A little--or quite a bit, actually--of inspiration to lead us into the weekend.
The good vibes continued on Saturday morning. We encouraged each other as we steadied ourselves on our paddleboards for boot camp (no, not a typo: boot camp on a paddle board). Holding a plank didn’t seem so hard when floating in the Puget Sound. The six-mile trail run flew by thanks to our new friends, the new scenery and the soft ground below our feet. There were cheers, high fives, and, thankfully, water as we crested “Vom”–short for Vomit, which is an accurate description— Hill. And collectively we held our breath as a deer joined us for our afternoon outdoor yoga session.
It’s hard to describe well, but it’s just magical when women from such diverse places in life can come together and share the same experience. Conversation and laughter flowed freely, support was given unconditionally, and acceptance came naturally. We could relate to each other’s stories of setbacks and comebacks.
At the close of the reTREAT we SUP’d out to a peninsula to catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier. It’s like a magic trick, an optical illusion: you can’t imagine there’s a mountain just around the corner, but once you reach the point, it appears, melting into the sky. We sat on the sand bar, almost tearful, as the quote from Jess’s mom resonated with us: “Be someone on whom nothing is lost.”
The whole weekend was not lost on us: a beautiful setting, the support of our families who encourage journeys like this, our capable bodies and (usually) determined minds. The twists in life that brought the four of us together and the good fortune that brought us to Kingston for this amazing weekend. The four of us have never laughed so hard, supported each other so much or have felt so inspired.
As we reflect back on the weekend we are also grateful for Beth Brewster, for bringing us together and giving us a forum to continue to support each other and for Sarah and Dimity for connecting us to a whole world of women runners. Each of us who left that weekend didn’t leave alone: we all left with the strength and inspiration of the fifty of us combined.
Steph, Jess, Amy and Jo