A reTREAT to Remember

California girls may be unforgettable, but Minnesota girls run things.

[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.

Yep, hard not to get comfy in this setting.

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.

Our fearless leader, Beth Brewster, telling us about the ceremony.

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.”

One Sarah setting goals--and taking names.

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.

Another Sarah setting her intentions for 2013.

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.

Flat, tranquil waters despite the big engines in the background.

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.

These ladies didn't mention the dancing: a little Bollywood, a little Burlesque...
...a lot of fun. Especially in calf sleeves.

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.”

Not lost on us: these Minnesota girls love their pyramids.
Not lost on us: these Minnesota girls love their pyramids. (And quote from Sarah: "I think I missed my calling as a bottom row pyramid girl.")

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.

One strong looking group of women!

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

27 responses to “A reTREAT to Remember

  1. I ran and trained solo for my first half marathon and full marathon for over 3 years. I kept telling myself I did not want or need a running buddy, because I did not want to feel like I would not be as fast as someone else, or I could not go longer. I felt “safer” going on my own when I could. My first full was great, and so was my full but in both instances, the one thing that I was missing, was having someone to hang out at the start line, cry with at the finish line, and share the sweat and pain through the course. This year, I finally stepped outside my comfort zone and one day when I ran into a mom from my son’s school that I had met before and chatted a bit about being runners, I asked her if she wanted to run together. At the begining, she was hesitant because she did not think we could run and talk at the same time. I told her we could give it a try and see if our paces, endurance, and availability were a match, and if they weren’t, then we would each go our own way. The first time was really hart to try to keep a conversation and run at the same time, but after 2 or 3 runs once a week) we got it right. We have been running together ever since. every wednesday at noon. rain or shine. She has become my closest friend and we are lucky our sons and husbands like each other too. Eventhough I still go out to run by myself 3 times a week and we only run together once a week, we both look forward to Wednesdays. We not only get our endorphins going but we talk about our lives, share our problems, comfort and advice and support one another. Our husbands always say they would love to hear our conversations because we really have bared our souls to each other. I am so happy we both took a chance on each other that day that we ran into each other during our respective runs…It could have been chance… biut maybe we were meant to meet…

  2. How can I connect with you in St.Paul?? I live in MPLS. And I am always looking for new running ladies! I have a few to bring along too!

  3. I just have to tell you that I am not only jealous of the retreat but of the relationship you ladies have. I don’t have any friends who run and I try to recruit them and even give one RLAM. But no takers! How do you find friends that you can run with and retreat with? None of the other moms in my neighborhood are interested or think they have time to do anything for themselves. I think it’s glorious that you take this time for yourselves.

    1. Jamie,
      Believe me, we know how funtunate we are…..we often think about that. Our running group has 6 regulars, we live close to eachother, some of us just blocks away. Two of the gals went to HS together and ran into eachother again running years later! 5 of us have or have had kids in the same schools. Just keep the faith, you never know what can happen. Dimity tells a (real life) story (from the book) that talks about the running buddy she sought after when she needed someone to train with her for a marathon. I always tear up when I hear it or read it b/c she had to step out of her comfort zone and go after her soon to be marathon running buddy and the relationship that developed for that training period was pretty darn special. Keeping my fingers crossed for you…and…..if you’re ever in St. Paul Minnesota, we’d welcome you w/ open arms!

  4. Beautiful! I teared up reading this, I can only imagine what it was like to experience the goal ceremony and the support in person. Thanks for sharing!

  5. That’s my mom, Norita, above that commented on my post. She’s the one that sent us off with the quote…..though she would tell you, it originated with Henry James. She lives that way though….everyday!!!

  6. This makes me really wish I had running buddies! 🙁
    You gals are so lucky, but it sounds like you already know that. And I love your mom’s quote, that’s something I could use a little reminder on now and again.

  7. So happy to have met an amazing group of women, and especially fellow Midwesterners. Sarah and Dimity, thanks for creating and nurturing this tribe of mother runners! (extra thanks for catching our boa antics and laughter on camera)

  8. It was a weekend we won’t forget, got it tucked in our back pockets along with the quote! Thanks for letting us share!

  9. Now *that* is a group of Power Sarahs! Please please broadcast signups for this next year. I would so love to join you all. What a gift that must have been!

  10. Be someone on whom nothing is lost. I’m taking that into the weekend! Thank you for sharing, looks like you all had a wonderful time.

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