Wednesday, 16 July 2014

RMR Retreat

I'm running behind a golf buggy with around 40 other women. In my head I hear the Benny Hill music I pull myself over a series of small hills on legs that haven't really woken up yet. It's Sunday morning at The Belfry Golf course and we're all on running retreat organised by Run Mummy Run group.

You're probably thinking "I didn't know she had kids". I don't. That would have been a helluva secret to have kept from you all! But you don't have to be a mum to be a part of this incredibly supportive group, just a female who enjoys running. The vast majority of members are mums but there are at least 3 or 4  of us out of the 70 or so who have descended on The Belfry for the annual retreat who are childless. Last year I attended the social in London and it's wonderful to see many familiar faces as well as getting to make new friends. Striking up conversation with others on the retreat proves remarkably easy as we all have at least one thing in common, and none of us would be here if we didn't, on some level, want to meet people. Name tags with our home town on might have been a nice touch as it's remarkably difficult to remember 70 names!

The weekend, for me, starts in a Travelodge near Tamworth where I share a room with two of the younger members of the group, Hayley and Bryony. There are 6 of us staying the night so that we can take part in a nearby parkrun on Saturday morning. We find a lovely independent Italian restaurant in Tamworth for dinner... well half of us do... the other half get a bit lost and turn up half an hour later. Dinner is well deserved and well received by then and we roll out the door feeling stuffed but happy.
Gathering at parkrun (credit )
The RMR group has nigh on taken over Kingsbury Water parkrun on Saturday morning. I'm sorry I don't live closer because it's a beautiful one-lap course around two lakes and I would love to do it more often. The line up is a sea of pink and black RMR tops and a more supportive environment I've yet to encounter. I try to save some energy for what I know is in store later in the day but my enthusiasm gets the better of me. Not a PB but a run I'm very happy with.

Arriving at the rather plush Belfry, I've never felt more aware of the fact I've just run a very hot and sweaty 5km. We can't check into our rooms until after lunch so I do some damage limitation with a clean top and a few deoderant wipes. Shortly Leanne and Cassie welcome us to the weekend proper and ensure we know what's in store. First up - Intervals! We're split into two teams, Bolt and Farah. I'm in group Bolt and as such am the first to tackle the session that Cassie, founder of RunFitUK, has designed. It's actually brilliant fun; she does a fantastic job of designing something that every one can do regardless of ability whilst somehow giving us opportunity to natter. We're encouraged to work hard without feeling as though we're being beasted and after some partner assisted stretching we feel we've really earned our lunch!

Whilst team Farah have their turn the rest of us find some lunch and explore the grounds. There's a lot to explore as it's a fair rabbit warren of a hotel. I actually get lost on my way back from our very comfortable room but do manage to find the spa on site which quite a few of us use over the course of the weekend.

We've been given exclusive use of a function room for the weekend which is where all the talks, workshops and dining takes place starting with a stretching workshop run by Cassie. Again it's got something for everyone, from beginners to fledgling PTs and demonstrates her great depth of knowledge. Sweatshop talk to us about the importance of shoes and bras and give us lots of individual advice after - invaluable stuff! Our last speaker is Sarah from InspireUni. She talks about the importance of positive stories, attitudes and strategies in being successful in all walks of life. It's interesting stuff but as we're sitting on the floor, mostly still in running kit, a slightly shorter talk might have been received even better.
Stretching workshop (credit @RunFitUK)
Now we get into the proper girly part of the weekend.... shopping, drinks, frocks and dancing! Sharpened elbows at the ready, the intervals session has put us in good stead for rushing to the front of the queue to buy RMR clothing including the famous socks and foam rollers. Finally I get to shower and put on a nice dress ready for dinner. Everyone has made a real effort. It's clear we don't get many opportunities to get dressed up these days and it's noticable how little of the conversation touches on the subject of children. Dinner is a buffet affair and I will confess to having a "healthy" second helping (I skip dessert though). In the background, photos that Technology Titan Tim, Cassie's hubby, has taken of us throughout the day circulate on a screen. We know there's also footage of the intervals sessions taken with a heli-cam but we don't get to see that yet. Dinner and drinks are of course to be followed by dancing but with the good intentions of the Sunday morning run in my mind and a quickly tiring body I skip the Bel Air night club (I hope they played Will Smith) and am soundly asleep by 11pm.
A fun frock
The Fresh Prince was not in residence
And I do make it to the morning run. In order we can run on the course we have to be up early and escorted by the health and fitness manager who's driving the golf buggy with a go-pro camera attached to the back. Four miles later we've surprised a few elderly golfers and earned a slap up breakfast. It's a shame that this marks the end of the weekend. We check out, say out goodbyes, get a lovely goody bag to take away but I'm home by lunchtime. I miss it the instant I close the front door even though I'm overwhelmed with positivity, the feeling I could do anything and pride at having been a part of it all.

As a direct result of the weekend I've connected with half a dozen people on various forms of social media and signed up for my Leadership in Running Fitness course with Run England. There are meeting dates in the diary and lots of interest in microadventures... I may have a new crew! I get the chance to go to another social event I will jump at the chance. I'd even be happy to get involved in some organisation to help one happen. Maybe I'll see you there.

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