Rise.Run.Retreat. 2019 Learning to Believe+Lead
As I was emailing back and forth with Erica of Erica Sara Designs about the necklace she would be creating for all Rise.Run.Retreat. participants, she asked what word I wanted on the pendant.I told her I’d get back to her after I took some time to think about it.
As I spent creating the Rise.Run.Retreat. Journal and thinking about how I wanted the women who came to the retreat to feel, I settled on the word “BELIEVE.”
I sent off my word to Erica and the necklaces she crafted beautifully encapsulated the experience I wanted to create for the women who came.
Learning to Lead
I’ve been hosting Rise.Run.Retreat. for four years, but this year was different. For the first time, what I had envisioned all along became a reality-beyond the LL Bean bag on the bed, the spread of wine and Cabot Cheese at the opening reception, and the happy sounds of “OMG these Under Armour shoes!” when people dig into their VIP swag.
All the magic of past years was still there, but on a new level. The women who came created unique connections, tapped into strength that had either gone unnoticed or been dormant and ultimately gained a confidence that they all took with them when they left on Sunday afternoon.
What made this year different, both in the atmosphere of the retreat, but also in its impact was that I decided to step into a role that I’d always wanted, but never felt “good enough” for: leader.
In the past I was a quiet facilitator in the background, I set up an untrue barrier for myself: that wanting to be seen, to tell my story was selfish. Throughout this year I’ve gained confidence in believing that I matter, that my story matters and that I can really help people if I step into teaching and guiding people along the path that I walked.
Not everyone has struggle with an eating disorder or body image, but everyone has a negative voice or two that tries to knock them down, steal their joy and keep them from living out who they were meant to be. What my eating disorder taught me is how to OVERCOME that, which is ultimately what I want to share with the world.
The Difference Maker
I realized that my desire to love people through my story was really an act of service, not a sign of selfishness. And so I believed in myself enough to see the importance of what I have to say. Along with each guest speaker I scheduled two opportunities for myself to talk. There were a few nerves knowing I’d put myself on the schedule, but when I sat down in front of everyone, opened my mouth to speak, my heart opened and what came out was really special.
I also created a journal, which was a deeper dive into the themes of the weekend and helped each attendee personally process the retreat. As I composed the material for the journal it didn’t seem all that impressive: my heartfelt thoughts, a few journal questions and key visualization activities-to me it all felt very familiar and ordinary. But when the box from the printer finally arrived and I saw it all bound and ready, I realized it was far bigger than I’d imagined.
Those two things seemed simple additions, but they were the catalyst for a deeper, more significant retreat. It’s the powerful experience I always intended Rise.Run.Retreat. to be. Seeing it transpire as a fully embodied, version of my vision was incredibly special.
Confidence + Strength + Connection
And while I think that part of what made it so special was this final stepping into a place of leadership where I always believed I belong, another part was the amazing guest speakers. Sally McRae was every bit the bright light and wonderful human she appears to be through social media.
She spent our runs leap-frogging between each group, genuinely engaging with each person no matter their pace or ability. She spoke openly about her past and her present. Sharing how taking seven months off from racing feels, how Inside Tracker has helped her get back in the game and the big goals she has for the future.
And Christen Shefchunas brought so much to her talk on confidence, which was highlighted by examples from the Olympians and professional athletes she has worked with.
She gifted each woman there with one of her Confidence Nugget bracelets, which along with a golden confidence nugget, have a color that corresponds with a strong “I am” statement. The bracelet I chose: “I will lead.”
Inspired to dream big and be ourselves with confidence, we went on to be equipped with practical advice from Kim Nedeau who’s expertise in injury prevention gave each woman a way to keep reaching for their running goals in a sustainable way. With the bands that Senita Athletic sent we worked through each strengthening move, while Kim walked around correcting exercises and giving pointers. As practical as her presentation, it was delivered with sincerity and heart. After struggling with the heartbreak of injury so long herself, Kim has a deep desire to help others avoid and overcome that.
And then on Sunday with the help of Amanda Yates from Forest Trail Yoga, we relaxed and deepened into the lessons of the weekend with restorative yoga.
Each workshop built on the previous one and in the end everyone walked away stronger and more confident.
Magic in the Moment
While those structured events are so key to the retreat, it is the in-between moments where the connections happen: gathered around the dining room table, chatting on the back deck with a post-run snack of Grandy Oats in hand, in the van on the way to the group runs, while stretching and rolling with the Trigger Pin.
I’ve created a framework with all the runs and speakers and great swag from our amazing sponsors--but really it is the women who say “yes” to themselves and come to Rise.Run.Retreat. that make it so special. It is magical to step back and watch women who were strangers on Thursday, leave after tearful embraces and “I’ll-see-you-again-soons” on Sunday.
Long after everyone had left I sat around on Sunday in the empty house, reflecting on everything that had transpired. Just six days earlier I’d felt so discouraged, I was ready to throw in the towel on Rise.Run.Retreat. A series of out-of-my-control events had left me feeling as if the effort just might not be worth it anymore. But 24 hours later, everything that had been stressing me out was resolved and then the amazing weekend transpired, and the lesson I keep learning was confirmed again: just keep showing up. As long as you’re persistent in the dream or desire or idea that’s in your heart, then you’ll find your own success.
I cannot express how thankful I am to the sponsors that help make this dream a reality and bring this experience to life:
Huge thanks to Under Armour and the team there for seeing this dream of mine and committing to be a headline sponsor. They move mountains (or FedEx trucks) to make this all possible.
Do you want to come to Rise.Run.Retreat? What’s holding you back?
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Email:RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com