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I Am Capable: a Runner’s Intention at Rancho La Puerta

We wish all you BAMRs could have joined us earlier this month in Mexico for our first-ever international Retreat. But since just 21 of you were at Rancho La Puerta, I (Sarah) wanted to share a bit of the classes + vibe with you.

We're currently in the planning stage for a repeat Retreat, possibly February 8-12, 2020.

Rancho La Puerta
The (surprising-to-me) lush and verdant grounds of Rancho La Puerta.

I am capable.

The Yoga for Runners instructor has just asked us to set our intention for our stay at Rancho La Puerta, and those three words pop into my head like kernels of corn on a hot, oil-slicked pot.

I let the phrase roll around in my head for a minute, deciding if it resonates.

Yeah. Yeah. It does.

It really shouldn’t: My 50-something body is as limber as a stone pillar. And I’m all about cardio and strength training, not bendy, inward-looking classes. In the last two decades, I’ve taken perhaps a grand total of five yoga classes.

Rancho La Puerta
Retreater Holly and I in a barre class, a setting I'm more comfortable in thanks to a weekly class I take in Portland.

When I sit cross-legged on a throne of blocks and blankets, my hips don’t allow my knees to point toward the floor; when we lay on our backs to raise our hips gradually by rolling up one vertebra at a time, my pelvis and board-like back raises like the rear gate on my minivan. Still, thanks to the gentle, accepting guidance of the curly-haired instructor, I am awash in a comforting, confident sensation when I silently repeat in my head:

I am capable.

That afternoon in Cardio Drum Dance, my palms are slick with nervous sweat as I clench the plastic baton-like percussion sticks each of us dancers use to beat on the heavyweight lids of rubber garbage cans. About 18 of us face the front mirror in the beautiful wood-timbered dance studio, and I feel dorky and self-conscious. Twice in the first 20 minutes of class, one of the plastic sticks flies out of my hand, and I laugh nervously as I stoop to pick it up and catch back up with the moves the instructor is leading us through. Step-cha-cha right, bang once on my neighbor’s ersatz drum; step-cha-cha left pound twice on my own drum.

Rancho La Puerta
Taking out the garbage and recycling now makes me laugh, remembering the Cardio Drumming class. (So great, I took the class twice!)

Yet as the dance sequences get a bit longer and more complex (step back left, rotate, bang on diagonal neighbor’s drum; rotate back to own drum and pound twice; step back right, rotate…), I’m smiling broadly as I feel the rhythm flow from through my long limbs. I recall the choreography sequences, one after another, as the well-muscled instructor links them together for a final song.

I am capable.

Rancho La Puerta
Maria and I answering the siren call of heading back to the Ranch.

The next morning, our posse of Retreaters head out to trail run with ultramarathon man Dean Karnazes. Heavy grey clouds hang low over the lush green landscape, threatening rain. The reddish-sand trail is smooth, largely free of ruts and holes, but the rolling terrain seems to have a few more ups than downs. We have the option of running 5.5 miles or 4 miles. I am excited to take several more dance classes plus a barre session so when we reach the “Ranch 1 Mile” turnoff, I headed back with Maria, another Portland-area Retreater. I definitely could cover more distance but decide not to overdo it.

I am capable.

Just after sunrise, I shiver as I walk toward the activities pool: The temperature is hovering around 40-degrees Fahrenheit and a light mist is falling. Steam rises from the pool, obscuring the tranquil aqua-colored tile lines that stripe the 25-yard pool. As I ply back and forth the length of the pool, alone in the hypnotically warm water, I marvel at the chance to swim outdoors. Tall oak and palm trees frame my view of the sky when I turn my head every fourth stroke. I do open turns at the end of each lap because flip-turns make my low backache. I feel my quads contract pleasantly as I push off the wall.

I am capable.

Rancho La Puerta
Few things make me happier than swimming outdoors.

And like a refrigerator magnet, T-shirt, or other souvenir, I brought the phrase home with me. Last week on a solo run in a steady, unusually heavy rain, I was climbing a long, steady hill. Breathing heavily and dodging puddles, it once again sprang into my brain: I am capable.

13 responses to “I Am Capable: a Runner’s Intention at Rancho La Puerta

  1. Lovely, Sarah. I bought almost nothing at RLP and I had the thought that really the souvenirs are on the inside. I will carry them forever and I do loved spending time with you and the tribe in Mexico.

  2. What a wonderful wrap of the retreat! Makes me want to join! Love the mantra: I am capable!! May I use it for my training this spring?

  3. I loved reading this. Way to face up to your fears and prove to yourself what we in the AMR communities know: You are eminently capable. I have no what cardio drumming is, but it sounds like a lot of fun!

  4. I have a 60 something body that is bendy only because I make it do so (on my own, no classes) several times a week. It’s a 40+ year old habit. As is my 48 year old running habit and my cycling habit and my swimming habit…off to the pool now ! Monday at 5 a.m.- you either love it or you don’t! Lucky you that you got to attend a resort in Mexico and take classes!

  5. At a WW meeting years ago, the leader said a key to success was knowing we are “Capable and Worthy.” Capable of doing the work and worthy of the effort it takes. Good job living that!

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