This weekend I recharged my batteries--and made about 25 new friends--at the Kingston Adventures reTreat, a women's running. yoga, and stand-up paddleboarding a ferry ride away from Seattle. It's run by a dear friend, Beth, whom I met when she lead me on a 15-mile training run during training for marathon #4. (Yes, sortof a blind date in the running world--I was on a press trip and had to get the run done; Beth was training for, gulp, Ironman so she was gain for anything.) Beth generously invited me to speak/read on the first evening of the weekend-long retreat. After a lovely al fresco salmon and vegetable dinner, we convened on the lawn that reached down to the harborside beach. The sun had sunk below the horizon, and a light wind blew off the water. As you can see below, some women wrapped themselves in quilts (or hunched their shoulders--that's me at about 5 o'clock in the gray hoodie in the group shot below).
Beth asked us to come forward one at a time, announce our athletic goals to the group, then light a floating candle and place it in the water-filled bowl (almost a microcosm of the saltwater a stone's throw from us, that we'd be paddling on the next morning). After looking around at each other, wondering who would step up--and open up--first, Lynee, a surveyor with twinkly hazel eyes, entered the circle and told us she wants to complete a triathlon. Then Kathy announced she's focused on finishing the Victoria Marathon, her first 26.2. One after another, women told us what they dream of completing athletically, what they hoped to mine in their reserves.
Stephanie and Michelle both want to finish a half marathon in less than two hours. Ellen is gunning to summit nearby Mt. Rainier in the 18 or so months before she turns 50. Christine, like Lynee, wants to do a swim-bike-run race. There were less event-specific goals as well, such as blonde-haired Robyn wanting to "put myself first again and not feel guilty about it," and brunette Julie hoping to "run without pain." Lithe, fair Sarah aims to stop selling herself short and run more competitively.
The wind made the accumulating flames flicker, and a few candles bobbed and went out (we tried to not take it as a bad omen), yet the air seemed thick with import. Standing under the dark sky, the stars obscured by clouds, there was an energy growing, fueled by our shared goals. Without any warning, my eyes grew moist; I brushed a few tears off my cheeks, such as when tall Leslie with the bright, warm grin said she needs "to learn how to empty my tank." The ceremony reminded me of the power of a group of women athletes, even when standing still.
Light a virtual candle, float it on this symbolic bowl of water and tell the group: What's your athletic goal?