Harlem Run Retreat Recap

Back in December, 20 of our runners escaped the New York City hustle and went up to Growing Heart Farm in Pawling, New York for one weekend to talk about running, the Harlem Run movement, and future goals. The weekend was too epic to fit into one blog post, but here's what one of our attendees, Philippa, had to say...

The Harlem Run Winter Retreat was transformative in so many ways. I started my running journey in 2014 but I would only run occasionally from April through October while the weather was nice. As soon as winter came and it got cold or rainy I would hibernate, eat ice cream, and struggle to pick up running again. Something about winter in NYC always makes me lethargic and lazy. I also thought that people who go out in the snow on purpose for anything other than a snowball fight must be crazy.

In 2016 when I decided to take running more seriously, it became a personal goal to run all year-round and through any weather conditions ... Making running a lifestyle instead of a just a hobby.  I jumped at the chance to attend the Harlem Run Winter Retreat with the hopes that I’d get to know the people I share my Monday nights with a little better and maybe even enjoy spending time in the cold.

On a Friday afternoon in December, we went upstate via Metro North for a long weekend to stay in a cozy house and participate in group activities. The itinerary was already planned so all we had to do was be open to new things and willing to participate. The forecast said SNOW, and not just a few flurries. This was going to be an adventure.

On the first night, I was part of the dinner crew that had to make food for all 20 people. Let’s just say it’s a lot harder than cooking only for yourself. But as a team we managed to get it done, and sharing a meal together broke the ice and set the tone for the trip. We all went to sleep smiling and satisfied, ready to take on the next day.

On Saturday we woke up to a lot of snow and we were scheduled for a run - my first ever snow run! It was harder than a regular run - having to lift my legs higher than usual and also watch how I landed. Two miles felt like four miles but I felt like a bad ass super hero. It was so much fun!! Feeling the energy of the people running beside me pushed me to make it to the end and knowing that Jeff and Kai were taking awesome pictures along the route didn’t hurt either. 

We were in a remote rural town so as far as the eye could see there was snow, trees, a few scattered houses and peace and quiet. I learned that I really enjoyed the eerie quiet and calm of a snow run and now I won’t let the weather deter me again.

The next day was my first HIIT Class led by Talisa. She is no joke when she gets into “trainer mode” and the workout really showed me all the areas of my body that I need to strengthen. Still, it was cool to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. I got her back for the mountain climbers with a snow ball fight which she definitely LOST.

In between the physical activities we shared stories around the fire of our first time at Harlem Run, made vision boards for 2017, learned a form of meditation that Karen practices, and got to dream up big ideas for the future of Harlem Run and #TheMVMT (think “Global Takeover”).

Besides running in the snow, Kayla introduced my other favorite activity of the trip. She had a picture of each of us and passed them around the room so that everyone could write one word to describe each other. Personally, I am my own toughest critic and to hear others describe me with adjectives that matched who I am striving to become really affirmed that I am on the right path to my achieve my goals.

This retreat showed me that I am surrounding myself with some amazing people that are ready to lift me up if I fall. They are there to encourage me if I struggle, whether it's in a race or in life. We all got a little emotional during the weekend, and I realized that all these people whom I admire so much are humans, just like me, and are making their way on their own paths to greatness. I’m looking forward to the next retreat and spending quality time with this amazing and diverse group of people who have so much to offer. I got to be honest though, I really hope the next retreat has NAPS on the itinerary.

- Philippa