Women in the Woods Week

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As I previously mentioned, I was fortunate enough to get to spend a week in the Methow. Austin and I held down the fort on Sunday night and a fair amount of Monday. I worked for most of the day, except for a lunchtime walk. I think there would be world peace if everyone could spend part of their lunch hour looking at this:

LunchtimeWalk

Then I was joined by Kristine, Tyr, Jenn and Amalie. Except for poor Austin, the cabin was suddenly filled with girls. We quickly settled into a comfortable routine of work:

WorkCrewFood (with some evening wine for the grown-ups… )

AustinBabysittingThere would typically be an afternoon run or hike with the dogs, or sometimes just Austin and I. A tired dog is a happy dog:

TiredAustin

And of course, plenty of baby snuggles:

KristineBedtime GirlTalk

Kristine and I even got to go on a horseback riding adventure. They put the two gingers together:

GingersI got to ride Buttons, the Cadillac of horses:

ButtonsNeither of us were particularly skilled horsewomen, as evidenced by these pictures taken by Annie, the woman leading our trail ride. Buttons wanted no part of the paparazzi:

RidingFolliesBut eventually, she struck a pose:

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On Friday, I took a vacation day and Jenn and I went for a nice hike up Patterson Mountain with the pups. Jenn is such an overachiever – baby on the front, backpack and dog on a leash:

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I let Austin be off leash for a bit. He had a grand time running to and fro:

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He found a pheasant to chase. (And came back to me when I called him, which was pretty surprising… ) Meanwhile, Try was a perfect lady:

TyrFlowersI couldn’t resist a shot of Jenn’s whole set-up:

JennPowerHikingThe view was still incredible:

Patterson

Then, we were joined by the boys on Friday night. We met up with them at the Mazama Store for packet pick-up and then split into our respective families – T and I to grab pizza for dinner, Jenn & Bryan to take care of Miss. Amalie. The rest of our evening was spent eating, drinking and not doing a very good job of being serious athletes. 😉

The next morning, the boys headed out for their first two legs. Then Jenn and I headed over to meet up with Bryan at the end of Leg Two for baby exchange and to start our part of the race. All of the week’s activity was quite evident in my legs as I started, so I urged Jenn to go on ahead (thankfully, she eventually did) and took it very leisurely. There were a ton of ladies in town from the group I run with in Seattle (the High Heel Running Group) and they cheered for me like I was a rockstar. So motivating. Leg Four also covered some of the trails we’d run on last weekend, so it was fun to remember those times.

Then T picked me up at the end of my leg and we reunited at the cabin. Amalie was still napping, so T and I headed to the race finish to watch Bryan bring it in strong:

BryanFinish

Afterward, we had some post-race food and beverages, then headed back to the cabin for some more recovery. At some point during the week, Jenn and I had decided to drink our wine out of mason jars. #classy

PostRaceRecoveryAustin was still tired from his exploits on Patterson, so he was happy to chill out with us after the race:

EveningWindDownEven though it affected my “race”, I wouldn’t have traded all of the fun I had this week for the world. It was such a treat to get to hang out with Jenn and Kristine, spend some restorative time in the woods and generally just take a break from my day-to-day routine. I am so lucky to have these opportunities in my life.

Happy trails

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A few months ago, my friend Jenn sent me a link to an awesome sounding women’s trail-running and yoga retreat up in the Methow Valley. I informed her that it was even better than she’d realized because it is led by the super-awesome Alison Naney, who had coached my training group for Deception Pass. Alison is one of those rare people that is not only a certified bad-ass ultra-runner, (yes, they give certificates for that now!) but somehow manages to be super supportive without it feeling condescending. She’s the perfect person to lead a retreat full of women you’ve never met before in the middle of the mountains.

Unfortunately, the retreat was the weekend before the Sunflower Marathon relay that we’d already signed up for and we just couldn’t make the logistics work for Jenn to attend. (I’ve already told her she needs to put that the top of her “to-do list” for next year. Seriously, Jenn, get on this. For reals.) So, I’d be on my own, but after my years of tri camp attendance, I wasn’t that nervous about it.

I ended up driving up to camp with a brave Colorado woman Colorado named Lucinda, who was trusting that she would find a ride back to the airport after camp, as I’d be staying at Jenn’s cabin for the week between the retreat and Sunflower. (She did.) We hit it off immediately and the drive went by quickly as we chatted about life, the universe and everything.

The retreat was held at Sun Mountain Lodge, which is gorgeous. We got checked in. This hovel was where I’d have to spend my weekend:

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I mean, look at this crappy view. #slummingit

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We then met up for a little shake-out run/hike. The scenery was stunning and set the backdrop for what was looking to be an amazing weekend. (Get excited for LOTS of pictures… )

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Then we got cleaned up and met with the whole group for some wine, appetizers and introductions. As I’d anticipated, this was going to be a fantastic group of ladies and I was excited to get to know them better. The next morning, we were up early for an ab session, followed by breakfast and then out for a run. I tried to hang with the front of the pack, which was a mistake that I paid for later on in the run, but I couldn’t help myself. it was so fun to run with these ladies:

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Alison gave us technique pointers:

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And had us practice our downhills:

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Sometimes, we weren’t so organized, but we had fun!

Retreat_DayTwoGroupWe were very fortunate to have the talented Hannah Dewey photographing us. Watching her run the trails with her big DSLR camera was impressive:

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And, again, incredible scenery:

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Then it was back to the lodge for lunch, followed by a strength training talk/session, yoga and then another nice little recovery hike around the lodge. A group of us ventured into Twisp for a fun group dinner.

The next morning, we started with a talk on nutrition, followed by breakfast and then a longer trail run. As usual, we had a terrible time:

7H3A2868Photo credit: Hannah Dewey

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And did I mention the scenery?

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We even saw some wildlife. There are actually around five deer in this picture, even though you can only see 1 and a quarter:

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We came back and had lunch, followed by a foam roller session on the lawn:

7H3A3498Photo credit: Hannah Dewey

It was so nice out that we opted to have yoga out there as well:

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I’d been toying about going into Winthrop, but opted instead to go for a walk with Lucinda, Emily and Hannah. Hannah was nice enough to get a picture of us. Emily decided to adjust for hanging with the two tall girls:

Retreat_AfternoonHikeGroupI also took a nice picture of Sun Mountain Lodge from our hike, just to give you an idea of how it’s situated:

Retreat_SunMountainLodgeWe opted to have dinner out on the patio and were joined by a number of other ladies, as well as Hannah and her hubby (who is a smoke jumper!). It was such a lovely evening. I didn’t want the weekend to end.

Our final morning, we started with an early morning yin yoga session, which was great. And then breakfast, followed by a hike (or run, for those so inclined) up Patterson Mountain:

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There was this little cement structure at the top, that we of course had to pose with:

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Or in front of (this is me with Michele, we were differentiated by “one L” or “two L”):

Retreat_MandMThis chalk graffiti seemed particularly apropos:

Retreat_ChalkGraffittiHannah got some cool pictures of us on the top:

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Then it was back to the lodge for a quick shower, followed by lunch/good-byes. It was such a fantastic experience and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it. But my luck was really just beginning, as I headed over to Jenn & Bryan’s cabin for a whole week in the Methow.

After so much socializing, it was weird to be on my own. Luckily, I had Austin to keep me company, once I picked him up from his boarding place. The cabin was chilly, so I wrangled a fire from Betsy the cantankerous wood stove (which might be the most impressive accomplishment of the weekend):

Retreat_WoodStoveAnd then a little later, I took Austin out for a little walk in the sunflowers:

Retreat_SunflowerAustinIt was all fun and games until I saw a bear and Austin was off-leash and not coming back as promptly as I might have liked. Thankfully, it all worked out and this week didn’t start off on a tragic note.