Training: My Retreat

Kingston Women’s Retreat

A beautiful view of the warm and sunny weekend in Kingston.

Last weekend, I flew north to the Seattle area and went to the Kingston Women’s Retreat hosted by Kingston Adventures in Kingston, Washington. I honestly had no idea what to expect from the experience, and was admittedly a little bit nervous about walking into a group of 50 complete strangers. Sure, we were all interested in running and fitness, so we did have something in common. But what if they all came in groups and already knew each other? What if they were faster than I was? What if this turned out to be 48 hours of complete awkwardness?

Turns out that I didn’t have to worry. Yes, many came with groups. And yes, most were faster than I was. But the group was welcoming, encouraging and wonderful.

The candles melted together as our goals merged.

After a wonderful dinner on Friday night (can I talk about the food? oh, the food!) we had our goal-sharing ceremony. I told my friend about this and she gave me the eye roll. Women. Goals. Candles. It all sounds kind of cheesy.

From the outside looking in, I’d have to agree. But there’s something to be said for 50 women sharing a goal for 2013 and lighting a candle as the sun sets and the giant orange moon rises. And what surprised me the most were the goals that were about life, not just about training. “I want to stop comparing myself to others,” or “I want to learn not to be so hard on myself,” or one that I could really,really relate to, “I want to really appreciate my accomplishments.”

Paddling on glassy waters

Saturday was action packed. We started with two hours on the stand up paddleboard. Now, having done this once before in the placid, warm waters of Hawaii, I know that I’m ok on the paddleboard once I’m upright. But the transition from knees to feet and back again is a little bit… well, it’s nerve-wracking. So imagine my shock and little bit of horror when we were informed that we’d be doing boot camp on the board. Yes, that’s right: we were doing planks, Pilates-style v-ups and other core-focused exercises.

It was a great but harrowing workout, and I can proudly say that I didn’t fall in, even when I plowed my board into the dock upon my return. (Oops. Finesse isn’t my strength.)

After a fantastic breakfast, we headed out for a 6+ mile trail run up “vom” (short for “vomit”) hill, which was the unpleasant lead-in to the most beautiful and fun single track trail that I’ve ever run. Imagine a shady trail through a pine forest, running on a soft bed of pine needles, bounding over rocks and roots. I got back from this run and emailed my coach to tell him that I finally got running on this trail. If you could airlift me into a single track trail like this, I could run for days. I only wish I’d thought to take pictures to share with you.

He clearly had no fear of humans.

Saturday afternoon, tired now from the paddleboard and trail run, we had an outdoor yoga session on the lawn of the main house. How tired was I? You know how you can get that uncontrollably jiggly leg when you’re tired? I had a very bad case of that. Downward dog: jigglejigglejigglejiggle. Warrior: jigglejigglejigglejiggle. Whether it’s dismounting a stand up paddleboard or doing spastic yoga, I’m always the portrait of grace and style (jigglejigglejigglejiggle).

About 15 minutes into the session, we heard a sneeze in the bushes. Heads whipped around, all of us convinced that there was some sort of creepy stalker guy hiding in the underbrush. As it turns out, it was a beautiful deer who was enjoying the show. A few minutes later, he bounded out of the bushes and then crept back towards us, closer and closer, to see what we were doing. He was amazing. I’ve never done yoga outdoors before, but there’s something about being one with nature when nature is trying to be one with you.

The entire weekend was amazing, and I left with many new friends, new gear courtesy of GoLite Footwear, Oiselle and RecoFIT, and a copy of Train Like a Mother from the wonderful Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea of Another Mother Runner.

Thank you, Beth, for hosting this amazing event!

* Most photos courtesy of other retreat attendees. Professional photos to come soon.

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