Taking some time off after a race sounds great (and easy) in theory. In practice, however, it is hard work. After 20 weeks of running considerable mileage I just feel so lazy. So on the last day of my rest week following the Happy Girls half marathon, I’m reminiscing about last week’s retreat and looking forward to getting back on the saddle (or treadmill as the case may be).
In the weeks leading up to the AMR (Another Mother Runner) Run + Refresh Retreat, work was getting crazy, kids were getting crazy, and I could NOT WAIT to get away for the weekend! I had gone to last year’s retreat in Little Rock, AK so the bar was set pretty high. The weekend did not disappoint.
This year’s retreat was held in Spokane, WA at The Red Lion Hotel at the Park, now renamed Hotel RL. Instead of hosting a retreat-only long run, the timing of the retreat worked to have all participants run Happy Girls. Retreaters ran either a 5k, 10k, or half-marathon. Some of us were taking part in the Train Like a Mother club’s Heart Rate training, and ran Happy Girls as our goal race. And some of those mother runners, such as myself, neglected to research the course and were a little unprepared for a technical trail race. More on that in a bit.
The retreat started off on a Thursday afternoon and got right into sessions – yoga with Sage Rountree, Trigger Point Therapy workshop, goal setting with Coach MK, and nutrition. Two sessions were offered Thursday and Friday, so we put ourselves into a track and over the course of the retreat were able to attend all sessions.
My favorite sessions were yoga and goal setting. Sage taught last year’s yoga as well and if she had a studio near me I would be a regular there without a doubt. She has online classes that I am seriously considering as my option B 😀 Coach Mk is intense and I just love her complete honesty. The plan she gave for helping you set your goals was comprehensive and I am looking forward to thinking about next year’s race goal setting. I was quite as impressed with the nutritionist selected – brink back Cassie Dimmick from last year, or perhaps Ellie Freeman who works with Coach MK? Just throwing that out there!
One of AMR’s sponsors is Saucony, and they had a representative there each day with a large selection of their running shoes so that we could try a pair on one of the shakeout or post-race runs. This was a fantastic idea! I normally wear Triumphs and Rides but have been thinking about trying out a lower drop shoe for racing. I got to try the Zealot (cushy like a Triumph – in picture above) and Kinvara (less cushy), both with a 4mm drop. If I decided to buy a lower drop racing shoe I’m thinking the Zealot is the one for me.
If you know AMR, then you probably listen to their weekly podcasts. As a unique twist to this year’s retreat, they recorded a podcast Thursday night with a live audience – both retreaters and locals. It was a fun experience to get a behind-the-scenes peak at how a podcast is produced. In Friday’s “Racing Wisely” session with Sage Rountree (who authored a book by the same name), those of us in that session got to be a part of a bonus retreat-only recording. I may be thinking about Sage’s description if imagining you’re sucking the energy from everyone you pass, the next time I run a 5k!
Saturday’s race was kind of like running with 30-40 or so of your closest running group friends. Despite the difficulty of the course we all had a blast. It was a nice, small race, which made it easy to find our group and cheer each other on. Yoga with Sage later that evening was a great way to unwind my achy quads & hamstrings. Who knew you could do yoga on a big step? The celebration dinner that night was at Steam Plant, a former generation facility that is rehabbed into a restaurant, brewery and selection of shops. Great locally-brewed beer, wine, and runner mother skits made for a memorable night.
Despite a taxing race many of us were up and at ’em for a 7am run along the river. We had brunch as a final farewell, with giveaways galore. I won a Trigger Point STK (perfect for someone like me who needs to foam roll more), not to mention lots of GU and Nuun that I won at other events that weekend!
If I had one thing I’d like to change about the weekend schedule was that there was just a little too much free time on some days (2:30-5 on Sat for example), which I think was part of giving us the option of taking it easy or doing some sightseeing. I would’ve loved to see some optional sessions for group sightseeing in place of those large chunks of free time. Spokane was very beautiful and I probably would’ve seen more of it if I had known where to visit. Word on the street is that next year’s retreat will be in the same place, so fingers crossed this will be a feature next year. Either way I’d highly recommend the AMR Retreat.
I’ve decided myself that I’m making an annual running retreat my own vacation gift. Getting time away on my own to connect with others with similar interests, do a sport I love, and recharge before getting back into mom/wife/employee mode does wonders for the spirit. Whether next year will be with AMR or with one of the other many retreats out there I’ve been thinking about – Outessa, Kara Goucher or Stephanie Bruce’s camps, Runner’s World weekend, or Volée bird camp (head up, wings out!) – is yet to be determined. What I do know is that I will be somewhere racing or running and connecting with other runners and the outdoors to fill back up some of that cup that gets emptied with everything else a mother runner does the other 51 weeks of the year.