Harlem Run Retreat 3.0: Refocusing on Mind, Body, & Soul

Every year I take several journeys to different countries with the goal of traveling and getting to know other cultures and ways of life. Next to fitness and running, traveling is one of my biggest loves. When Harlem Run announced that we would be doing our third retreat internationally, I knew that I wanted to attend.

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However due to life circumstances I realized that I was not going to be able to attend due my finances. I developed a major case of #FOMO! However, thankfully for me working two jobs and making hard decisions, I was able to save the funds and go on this trip. I had been to Costa Rica before, in March 2015. I was separated from my ex husband and was feeling lost, depressed, and unaware about everything and anything.

One of my closest friends, Luz, pretty much forced me to take this trip and I was immediately changed by their traditions and worldviews. Costa Rica’s way of life, Pura Vida, emphasized taking it easy and just enjoying the moment. This was exactly what I needed at that particular time in my life. When I left Costa Rica in 2015 I felt like I was centered and found hope and life again. As corny as it sounds, a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

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When I came back to NYC, I signed up for the gym without telling anyone and this is how my lifestyle journey began. So, attending this retreat in Costa Rica, for me, meant so much more than just another vacation. This retreat was coming full circle. I have been through some rough times in the past 8 months but many don’t know because fitness keeps me going and helps me cope with it all.

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This retreat brought the best of all my worlds into one: food, running, two of my closest friends, fitness, sun, tanning, traveling, self-care in all areas -- Mind, Temple and Soul. Costa Rica holds a special place in my heart and this is the only country out of all the places I have traveled to, that I have come back to again.

The second time around was different. I was greeted with excitement, everyone wanting to see what our time abroad would hold. I was greeted with food, hugs, and smiles. I was also greeted with a nice bag with my name on it. In the bag were candles, Harlem Run sunglasses, a bandana, and a bracelet. Now, if you know me you know I love arm candy, but this was not just any arm candy. This bracelet has been braided by Amir, Alison, and Raydime and had a message that read, "Reality has limits, imagination is boundless."

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This set the tone for my trip. I wasn’t here to just have a vacation, I was here to take it all in, mourn my losses, appreciate my body, mind and soul and re-center myself on my future.  We stayed in Santa Teresa, a small town in the coast of Pacific Ocean in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica. We had a small villa with our own pool and access to beach, which was just perfect.

After the rough past several months I have had in all life domains, working 7 days a week, plus being a mentor, and being a pacer for Harlem Run, I was so thrilled to just sit on the beach and soak it all in and be thankful for it all. Throughout the day, we participated in amazing workshops while also finding free time to just enjoy ourselves and reflect.

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On the day before our last day, we went on an excursion to Turtle Island and what an excursion this was. We got on a speed boat, had an incredible view, went whale watching, and went snorkeling! This was a big deal for me, as I don’t know how to swim and never get into water unless I’m able to touch the bottom with my feet or hold onto something. However, since I had been taking swim lessons, I made a decision that I was going to get in the water and I did.

At first I was panicking internally and freaking out but everyone was so nice and helpful in calming me down before I got an anxiety attack and I was able to just enjoy myself. We then drove to another area and I was able to jump off the boat and snorkel with no fear at all. This was a major accomplishment and like many others I was able to do them with my running family, Harlem Run.

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Harlem Run has brought a lot to my life but it has especially encouraged my sense of curiosity ... of wanting more, growing, and developing while sharing these experiences with others, and helping them on their journeys as well. This trip felt full circle and I was able to see the growth in myself and feel pride in who I had become since 2015, when I felt lost and without hope. 

Here I am now in 2018 having purpose, being grateful, and being on a retreat where I was challenged everyday with some people that I had just met for the first time. So once again, thank you, Costa Rica, for helping center me and bringing me serenity while helping me refocus on future goals.

Thank you, Harlem Run, for creating a space where I am allowed to just be me and for creating a retreat that allowed me to get to know other people and focus on my mind, body, and soul. Thank you for the community that you continue to create and develop wherever we go. Thank you for helping me be a product of your idea that turned into a vision and mission that I live day in and out.

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~Adalgisa "Lisa" Rivera