"An adult running retreat... Really!?!? For your vacation?" That was just one of the questions I was asked with a perplexed, questioning look as Kelly and I were getting ready to go on our adventure to Arizona! As you know, we typically like to make our destination vacations around something pertaining to fitness, so an adult running retreat was right up our ally! WOW! We were astounded by the beautiful Arizona towns, the cool temperatures, and especially the amazing people we met at the retreat.
Below are some pictures and a brief synopsis of each day and the activities. We have fallen in love with Flagstaff, Arizona and are already planning our next trip to the high altitude, magnificent little town. If you have any questions about the retreat or want more details please email me or visit the Run SMART Website.
Day 1: Run at your own pace and mileage at the Buffalo Park. Olympic runners come here to train for to the high altitude (7,000ft) and scenic views. Ryan & Sarah Hall (elite runners) were training the morning we came to run! After a 6 mile run, we had a nutrition session with nutritionist and world class runner, Alicia Shay. My favorite quote she made: "You CRAVE what you EAT!" So true in my experience with nutrition clients. Those who begin to feast on fresh fruits and vegetables begin to crave these superfoods! Alicia passed along many smart tips for a healthy lifestyle. Following the session, we enjoyed dinner with retreaters at a tasty Greek restaurant, Taverna-- a perfect way to end the first day!
Day 2: My favorite Flagstaff run, Aspen Corner, was a 7 mile trail through the aspen forest. Temps started in the 60's and only reached mid 70's as we maneuvered through rocky trails, aspen forests, and through waist-high lush green ferns. My head felt so clear as I was running in the crisp mountain air. An isolated active stretching session followed where we learned some new techniques using a rope to stretch and lengthen the muscles to prevent injury. Lunch on the campus of NAU was followed by a session with Olympic athlete Janet Cherobon-Bawcom who competed in the 2012 Olympics. Kelly and I had a great connection with her and her husband as they had lived in Rome, Georgia for a few years before moving to Flagstaff! Janet's story of her rise to "elite athlete" is made for a movie and her humble story telling ability is kind and humorous!
Day 3: A van ride 40 minutes down the canyon through the rocks of Sedona was the start to a day to never forget! The 7 mile trail run up to Bell Rock was breath-taking; however the temps in Sedona were much warmer than Flagstaff. The red rocks heated up to temps in the mid- 80's so after the trail run we hiked down to Grasshopper Point and jumped in the freezing, but refreshing, Oak Creek. Surrounded by waterfalls and babbling brooks, nestled in the Oak Creek Canyon, the creek was the highlight of the hot Sedona day. After a relaxing Mexican lunch at old town Sedona and a restful van ride back to Flagstaff we were ready for a core strength session that afternoon with Dr. AJ Gregg. Proper form and technique were the focus as we went through a strength routine with planks, push-ups, squats, and glute exercises. The full day was capped off by one of our favorite Flagstaff Restaurants, Karma (delicious sushi).
Day 4: A highlight of the retreat was an early morning session with world-renowned running coach, Jack Daniels, who spoke on how to achieve your running best. Jack taught about primarily about importance of breathing, stride rate, and running economy. After great Olympic stories and new training techniques learned we left for the long run of the week on A-1 Trail in Flagstaff. A-1 Trail is a wooded 12 mile trail that included hills, rocks, wildlife, and a monsoon rainstorm at the last mile. Certainly an exciting morning, and a much needed restorative yoga class lead by Sarah Sherry capped off the day. Kelly and I shopping around downtown Flagstaff that afternoon and dined at local grass-fed hamburger joint, Diablo Burger, for Kelly's favorite meal!
Day 5: Just when we thought the week couldn't get any better, we drove down to the Grand Canyon for a South Rim Trail run. Each turn around a new corner of the Canyon trail had more breath-taking views than the last and the Canyon's South rim and was truly unforgettable! Awestruck by the beauty of the day and God's majesty we drive back to Flagstaff for a last night dinner party at the top of Aspen Bowl Ski area. We dined with coaches, instructors, retreaters, and Jack Daniels in the rented out ski resort. A perfect evening to cap off an amazing week at the Run SMART Retreat 2013! Can't wait to share with you more details from this vacation. Blessings, Caroline