Meet Karen! Our Kara Goucher Podium Retreat Winner! I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed giving her the call saying she won, as much as she enjoyed her free retreat. Of course, we had to follow up and ask her how the weekend went.
So, here is Karen’s official timeline starting from the day she got the call from Kara, to the moment got an airplane and headed back home.
GETTING THE CALL FROM KARA
When I got the call from Kara and Meg, I was shocked. I think I actually said “But I never win things!” I’ve been watching Kara compete since I was in 7th grade and accidentally joined the cross country team, so it was very much a “pinch me” kind of moment. After I hung up the phone I had a moment of total panic. I thought, “What did I just get myself into??” I was nervous for sure, and thoughts like “Am I fast enough?” and “What if the altitude wipes me out?”, but I kept reminding myself of what a total gift this was and then I would get excited again.
PACKING TO LEAVE
Packing was easy for me—I pretty much stuffed all of my Oiselle gear into a suitcase and was ready to go! I intentionally left all of my work folders at home, though I did bring my readings for the graduate coursework I’m taking for downtime at the airport. Looking at the schedule, I was intimidated by the track workout and the session with Kara’s strength coach, but excited about the times to run in Boulder and enjoy Lottie’s food!
GETTING ON THE FLIGHT TO COLORADO
The week leading up to the retreat was so busy for me at work that it really didn’t hit me that I was going until I got off the plane in Denver. I spent the night before at my parents’ house near Albany, NY because the Albany airport is easier to travel from than the Burlington, VT one. I kept trying to explain to my family what I was doing but the fact that I enjoy running is mysterious enough to them. That I was taking a run-cation and hanging out with Kara Goucher was confusing to them. I knew that soon enough I would be surrounded by other women runners who would get excited about similar runner-nerd things J
ARRIVING AT THE RETREAT
After checking in and getting our swag bags (amazing), the first thing we did was a happy hour. I walked up to a couple of people and introduced myself. One of them was from Alaska (hi, Melissa!) and the other was being coached by Adam Goucher and training for the Olympic trials in the marathon (hi CB!). Gulp. I shouldn’t have worried though, because everybody I met was so kind and genuinely excited to be there. I ended up really connecting with both of those women, and so many others!
On Saturday, Kara and Emma Coburn (yup) led a group run on some stunning trails just outside the city. Everybody ran their own pace and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery. On this run, I talked with a woman named Wendy. There is something pretty magical that happens in running with other people, and we were really open, honest, and vulnerable with each other. She shared her story of being hit by a car and her experience getting back into running afterwards. I shared my own story of dealing with some significant medical challenges and learning to work with my body instead of against it while dealing with the chronic illness that resulted from that experience. There were a lot of moments of connection and vulnerability like that one, but something about that particular run was really special to me.
This retreat was so full of connection, authenticity, laughter, and strength. I feel so fortunate to have shared a room with each and every one of these women: some are new mothers, some are nearing retirement, some are recovering addicts, some are dealing with injury or illness, and some are elite athletes. This retreat wasn’t about shying away from those differences and challenging experiences. Instead, it was about telling our own unique stories and listening to the stories of others in order to better support one another and continue to build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Kara modeled this so well in her interactions with everybody and in sharing her own story so honestly, and she created the space for others to do the same.
I am just filled with so much gratitude: for all of the women who made the experience what it was, and to Oiselle for providing me with this opportunity (and sending some awesome flystyle!). #spicy