Musings at the close of Kara Goucher's Third Annual Podium Retreat in Tucson, Arizona, October 13-16. #KGPR2016
Retreats. I believe in them. First, because you have to be present to win. Growth is not possible without reflection and renewal. Not only is that shit hard, but it requires a physical and mental extraction from the everyday. Undoubtedly, the women that attended showed a love for Kara, but they were showing self-love too.
Second, there's a lot of suffering in the world. And women carry that load hard. We hoist it, pack it on, and hold onto junk for years and years and years... holy woah. Retreats like this provide both guidance - through the speakers; as well release valves - through sharing, that help people put their bags down. So valuable.
Third, run love is deep and wide and limitless. A car ride, a meal, a 3-6 mile stretch (terrain irrelevant) and voila, instant friends. The sweet, sweet sisterhood of run love is universal. And while the retreat was big enough that I didn't get to be buds with everyone, I definitely came away with new friends. And hello, Volée represent! So fun to see so many teammates there, both women who had been a part of it for awhile, as well as a couple who just joined last week.
Finally, leaders matter - and Kara is Kara. She is a magnet, an empath, a true spirit guided by equal parts strength and vulnerability. Women - myself included - want to be near her. Yes, to hear stories about the Olympics, and the elite world, and incredible feats. But more importantly, to see and hear the WHOLE story. To understand the down cycles. How to accept them, how to talk about them, and how to move forward.
Praise hands all day long for this woman in doing that. Kara's talk on her struggles post Olympic Trials was one-hour of goosebumps, where she laid it out. Laid it ALL out. About post-Trials depression, her anxiety about injury, and her big dreams of competing at the world level again next year. (One of the most touching parts was when she talked about wanting to succeed "as part of my current training group," and you could feel her desire to honor Mark and Heather and the crew that she so happily trains with in Boulder.)
On Saturday evening, my homegirl Brenda and I had a chance to sell some hand-selected flystyle. Flyte, Aero, Vim, Vigor, Roga - and yes my Quill Jacket and Call Her Vest off my back. No shame - I'd rather have it on these fly women.
I also had the chance to give a short presentation - outside and under the stars of the desert sky. Drinks were poured. Snacks were snacked. And the group felt easy and warm, as all of us had been sharing and learning for +24 hours.
I spoke briefly about Oiselle, and our mission to build the sisterhood, change the sport, and design great product. But I knew in my heart that the reason people were there was not for me, but to get closer to Kara.
Over the last 2.5 years I've had the opportunity to be Kara's sponsor and friend. We've had really fun, funny, genuine, sometimes stressful experiences. So I did a Letterman-style Top 10 list of "Sally's Favorite Kara Fan Girl Moments since January 2014."
10: A call from Adam
I'll never forget the day Adam Goucher called me on the phone to talk about the possibility of Kara working with us. As crazy today as it was then.
9: A big day in Boulder
The day I got up at 3am for the first flight to Boulder to officially sign Kara with Oiselle will always be an epic moment for myself and Oiselle.
8. Palm Springs
I joked that this was when Kara and I started sleeping together. Haha, okay, we just shared a master bedroom. Thank you Kara for being up for O's slumber party work culture.
7: Crazy ass Boston fans
I went to Boston with Kara (and Lauren and Shanna) in 2014 and was unable to walk down the street without her being mobbed by fans and selfie takers every thirty seconds. Run celebrity to the highest level.
6. A superfan of women
Kara knows elite running better than almost anyone I know. Getting a chance to be a fan with her is an incredible experience.
5. Runners on the runway
Thank you Kara for putting muscles on the runway at NYC Fashion Week, and for freaking out with me when we both spotted Ashley Judd run through Central Park wearing Oiselle.
4. Speaking out.
Kara's bravery in speaking out about what she saw while training at the Nike Oregon Project was a watershed moment in 2015, and helped break open a taboo topic that so desperately needs attention and fixing.
3. Enclothed cognition.
Getting to design apparel for elite women athletes is one of the greatest honors of my career - and led me to a deep understanding of "enclothed cognition" or the ability for apparel to heighten mental and physical performance.
2. The ultimate muse.
I'm both a brand and apparel designer. And for a creative person, having the right muse is incredibly important as they help you elevate your work to a new level. Kara contributes to our creativity in a wide range of ways, both in product and brand.
*cue Letterman voice* "And the number one Kara fan girl moment since meeting her in 2014 is..."
1. Watching her bring women together.
Kara's retreats are her lasting gift to the fans who have supported her along the way. The running, the speakers, the conversations, the friendships, the ability take time away from the craziness of life, and reflect on what's real and true -- that is a beautiful thing.
And finally, the last slide was a shout out to Kara's grandma, Ola Jean.
Ola Jean is 91 and still works out three times per week. Ola Jean just got a big shipment of flystyle from me, so we hope you'll see more of her soon. What an inspiration! I told the retreat that I hope we can sponsor Kara 'til she's in her 90's. Bring on the elite grandmas.
Thank you Kara. Thank you Brenda for being the best colleague and roomie. And thank you women of #KGPR2016. I believe in the value of our time together, and I believe in you.