Light up Your Goals

Warming hands over the flames of burning goals

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).

Huddled against the chill, watching the candles--and goals--multiply

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.

My goal: Run the 2012 Boston Marathon, focusing on enjoying the epic experience instead of a time goal

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?


46 responses to “Light up Your Goals

  1. I am striving towards my first 26.2 in March 2012 at the Virginia Beach Shamrock marathon. A closer goal is finishing my next half-marathon on Oct 16th in less than 2 hrs and 20 mins (my previous PR).

  2. I LOVE this!!! What an amazing experience. There is nothing like the support of other women/athletes. Love the honesty and vulnerability – it makes your goals that much more real and meaningful. My goal – Recovering from surgery……….embrace starting over and taking on my training with patience and a new perspective – and then shoot for a 3:40 or less on my next marathon. Ok – I put it out there….off to find a floating candle. Thanks SBS for the inspiration!

  3. Sarah, I love what you wrote. There is something so inspiring & motivational about hearing (Friday night) and reading (now) all of these goals. Stating your goals & dreams, out in the open is your first step on the path to making them come true. It lights a fire in me to know that you all are officially on your way.

  4. Wow! After reading all these amazing goals from all you, I am feeling more inspired than ever! I am a 46 wife, mother of 4 grown children, and 6 Grandchildren. Running is fairly new to me, I just started at the first of this year with CT5K. Ran my first 5K in March, and had some health issues and didn’t really continue running. Although I still struggle with running I can’t get away from it. I want to get good at it. So here is my goal: I want to train better, and I want to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando in Feburary 2012!! I also want to join with Abolition International on “Team Freedom” to raise at least $350. In pledges to go towards giving freedom to victims of human trafficking. I want to run for those who can’t run! I am finding it hard to train every other day and I’m not getting the miles in AND have never even had a long run yet! Right here and now I am going to pledge to do this!

  5. I want to be able to believe in myself again…the way I did before I was injured and everything I thought about, besides my daughter, was getting out to run.

  6. Portland Marathon in three weeks: Obtainable goal: finish in under 5 hours. Super Goal: finish in 4:42- 1 hour faster than two years ago. Next year’s goal: a sub 2 half.

  7. My big goal : Complete an Ironman race. Hear my name at the finish line following by: โ€œYou are an Ironmanโ€. Yes, thatโ€™s my big goal.
    In the meantime I just want to learn to do things better, to be a better person, a better athlete and to look after my family.

  8. So I’ve had this crazy idea: take my never-naturally-athletic self, throw myself at the mercy of trainers, nutritionists and other pros for 18 months, and see if this ordinary mom can become an actual athlete. You know, the kind that has an actual competitive shot at winning a race (or at least my age bracket) by the time I hit 40. Oh, and write about the lessons learned from it, of course. Because this would definitely be the sort of story of “if I can do it, I know you can, too.”

    It’s so strange to be contemplating something that I never would have considered at 15, 20, 25….

  9. I have two goals that I want to complete before 50:
    Complete a half Ironman
    Run a sub 4 hour marathon

    I have 12 years to do this!

  10. So inspiring! Thank you! This has been a year of first for me. I completed my first sprint tri this August and my next challenge in front of me is running my first marathon- Portland on October 9th. After that I would like to work on improving my half marathon time. It is also my goal to always be mindful of what a gift it is to be able to run!

  11. What a great post. I love seeing all these goals! I want to finish my first Ultra in August next year and I’d like to BQ in the next few years. You go girls!

  12. I would love to finish Chicago in 4 hours, but will be happy in getting a PR. I have been injured most of this year and am looking to get healthy again after this big run.

  13. Even though I plan to use a combination of running/walking that I will have the energy to run the entire 13.1 miles! Either way I plan to finish my first half marathon strong!!!!

  14. I just completed mine on Sunday: blew away my A goal of a 1:55 half marathon by completing it in 1:52! I was so proud of myself! I worked really hard for it. Now I’m feeling kind of goal-less. Is that a word?

  15. Victoria was my first marathon! It’s rolling hills, but a beautiful course. Of course, I’m biased about it, too, because I’m from BC…

    I start training for a New Year’s Day 50K on Sunday. But only 2 people know – my husband and my best running friend. Not sure if that’ll make it harder or easier to train.

  16. My goal is to be more competitive. My husband is a great runner and coach so I often play the “he is the real athlete” card. I am usually just happy to have had the chance to run. When I run races, I am glad to do it without walking or finish. I think I need to listen to the great coach I am married to and push myself out of my comfort zone.

  17. I want to get back to my half marathon PR time, its been years since I tested myself at this distance. Guess I have to now! Thanks for sharing a cool night and getting us all motivated to set goals.

  18. My goal is to complete my first 1/2 marathon in October. I’d like to do it in 2:30, but I’ll be happy just completing it the first time out. I’m excited and nervous. A great bunch of women are all staying together and running. So, I know I’ll have support to push through. I already registered for a 10 miler two weeks later to keep up with a training plan.

  19. Since today I found out I will be having back surgery in February, my goal is to stay active per my ortho’s instructions and not lose all the fitness I’ve gained in the last 7 years of running & triathloning.

  20. I feel so lucky to have been a part of that magical evening and weekend! What an amazing group of can-do women who make fitness and health a priority. How inspiring! Thank you, SBS, for being there and adding to the significance of the reTREAT. (BTW, I emailed Chris N. about us meeting and blew his mind!)

  21. I want to run a half marathon without walking at all. My next attempts will be 10/9 and then 11/5. And then, sometime next year maybe, run a half marathon in under 2 hours. That’s a loft goal since my times hover between 2:21-2:30, but I feel like I can do it. I KNOW I can do it. I just have to do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. cap off my year of turning 50 athletic goals with a strong first half marathon in 3.5 weeks. Before it was just to finish, but now it’s to truly race it and “empty the tank.” Since I don’t know if I will ever be in this good of shape/health ever again.

  23. Short term: finish strong in my half next weekend
    Longer short term: train for a marathon in the next 3 years
    Long term: Qualify (and hopefully run) Boston when I’m 80 and/or run in the Senior Olympics ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. My goal is to train for and run my first half marathon next February (Surf City half in HB), with the additional goal of finishing without passing out and curling up in the fetal position at the side of PCH.

  25. What a great weekend! It was great to meet you. I’m totally blushing that my name is mentioned on your rad blog. I wrote a recap at my runningstarfish blog too – totally snagged the same picture. Great Sarahs think alike. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for being there this weekend, you made it awesome.

  26. super cool, sarah! what a neat retreat too!! i want to see pics of the paddleboarding! That could be a goal of mine…would love to paddleboard someday. Goals? qualify for boston, do a sprint tri for the simple fact that it would be way out of my comfort zone, and work on setting a significant half PR.

  27. I would love to get a sub-2 1/2 under my belt, which I hope to do in October. I am not pushing it though. I just want to enjoy every moment of running to the fullest. I am a mom of 2, wife, full-time RN who works weekend day shift (12 hour shifts), and a full-time student working towards becoming an FNP. So I will admit I do mentally break down sometimes during training and that happened last week. I actually just took 2 days off running to regroup again mentally with my BIG schedule. So in essence one of my biggest goals right now with my running is to enjoy every moment of it. It keeps me grounded. I also recently became a Stand Ambassador for North Carolina for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. So I basically put the foundation out there and I am running for them in October. My biggest goal is to *cross fingers* get in the NYC lottery next year and I will be running for ALSF and for my father who passed from cancer in 2007. To run that for others would truly be the best run of my life. I will never win a race, but I win every time I help someone else through my running. That is my goal.

  28. Love this. My goal has been brewing all year – to get across the finish line at the Twin Cities Marathon in a little less than two weeks. I go back and forth between excitement and terror in any given hour.

  29. What a great ceremony! (Ceremony? Whatever…) Did you state the goal you shared, SBS? I missed it, if you did….

    My goal (now that I’m out of the closet about baby #3) is to run for mental and physical health as long as I can until delivery in April. I can’t really swim (that early 80s SNL skit of the first male Olympic synchronized swimmers comes to mind) and I don’t even own a bike… so naturally my postpartum goal for next summer is to complete a triathlon. (Let’s be honest, I’m just looking for automatic PRs!!)

  30. My athletic goal is to run my third half marathon better and faster than my previous 2. Also, I want to stay in Triathlon shape, by continuing to swim and bike this winter (the non-triathlon season)!

  31. Once Baby #2 arrives in January, my goal is to remind myself to start slow, and blow my 5k PR out of the water. Small, but like I said, I gotta start slow!

  32. Immediate goal is to set a PR at a half in November, where I will finally get to meet a friend I met on the RLAM Facebook wall AND my marathon buddy!
    Next year my goals are to do another full marathon and finish a Women’s sprint tri near me.

  33. Wow, what a great post and it sounds like a great group of women!
    My goal: To get the starting line of TCM in 2 weeks healthy and able to run it and in such a way that I don’t aggravate my injury and screw up any future athletic goals I have that are still brewing.

  34. I would love to break the 2 hour mark in the half marathon. I would also love to train for and run another marathon and not let it consume me.

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