Whatever you do for work or perhaps for a hobby, chances are you have been to a conference or some other semi-organized get together, to collaborate with other like-minded individuals or those who work in your industry. Chances are also very good that the conference or get together you attended sucked. Too harsh? Perhaps it didn’t meet your expectations. Better?

It can be anything from a global conference to a book club, but a lot of them fail miserably or simply miss the intended mark. Generally you may walk away with a feeling of “meh,” which is fine for book club but, not so much when you shell out a lot of money in the form of airfare, hotel and eating expenses.

RISE.RUN.RETREAT 2015

My husband goes to a lot of high level events for his industry. You know when and where he gets most of his business and connections during those events? Either on the flight out there or at casual dinners, held long after the key note speaker has pontificated to the masses, and the vendor booths have been taken down.

Why is this the case? Because people like real, one on one, interactions. Rise.Run.Retreat was all about that which is what made the weekend work and the retreat a resounding success.

Casual

Having 10 women in one gorgeous home on the ocean, sharing two bathrooms, is about as intimate as you can get. We were literally sharing quaint rooms, eating in the kitchen and drinking in the living room. We kicked off our running shoes and sat cross-legged on the floor and listened to each woman tell her story.

Welcome to my beach house...I said in my dream.

Welcome to my beach house…I said in my dream.

I learned more about blogging, and what specifically motivates and inspires these women to write, in that time then I have at any other gathering.

We talked openly about what we hate (Pinterest!) and also what we love (sadly, also Pinterest). We talked about all the positive and negative things about social media and learned ways to either ramp up or cool down our channels by talking directly with the women who read our blogs most. Imagine? Now that is feedback I can use!

Swag

Well of course it’s about free stuff! But, not just any free stuff but things we actually want and can use. I can honestly say there was not one single thing in my bag that I want to give away. Don’t believe me? You be the judge:

I stole this photo from Sarah because I started using my stuff before I even came home.

I stole this photo from Sarah because I started using my stuff before I even came home.

The reason is that Sarah and Jesica (the masterminds behind the retreat) could not be more in-tuned with their audience because they are one of us. They are passionate runners, bloggers, moms, sisters, daughters and friends. They get it and it was obvious by what was so generously given.

You bet your ass I will.

You bet your ass I will.

And, did I mention the jewlerly?

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It was so hard to get a good picture of this but it has the state of Maine etched into it with 13.1

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What running event would be complete without Momentum?

And, I just have to add that I’m now an official:

Momentum Jewelry Ambassador!

Look for me at the Runner’s World Half & Festival this weekend to get a wrap or foot note to help push you though your race(s)!

…where was I? Oh yes, the retreat by the ocean…

Agenda

The agenda was that there was no agenda. This is my kind of event. Of course there were things planned like an early morning run, a guest speaker and a trip into Portsmouth but nothing was mandatory and each participant was free to attend or not, depending on their needs.

Not everyone ran the half, but everyone came to cheer on the runners!

Not everyone ran the half, but everyone came to cheer on (or pace!) the runners!

We all did our own things and came together for meals, just like a family. You know I’m not that corny but it was truly like being on vacation with my family…except everyone was running or blogging or both so it was actually way better.

[Tweet “5 things that make a great #blog #conference @riserunretreat #4 is of course FOOD!”]

Food

You know I attend events for the food. The food was off the charts amazing and there was a ton of it, readily available. It was like being on a cruise for runners. Garuka bars were literally laid out in baskets, the fridge could not possibly fit more Stonyfield yogurt and Lucy’s granola was always at the ready.

Could my smile be any bigger?

Could my smile be any bigger? Pizza as big as you are at Cornerstone in Ogunquit.

The other great thing about the food? Everyone actually ate real food and a lot of it. There was no holding back on meals with this group and it was so refreshing. Real runners eat and eat a lot. #Truth

Lucy granola is the bomb!

Lucy’s granola is the bomb!

I was so excited to find Pete & Gerry's eggs at my local grocery store. Plus, that hat is kind of my new favorite.

I was so excited to find Pete & Gerry’s eggs at my local grocery store. Plus, that hat is kind of my new favorite.

Focus

Although this was mostly runners and/or bloggers, the focus was more on just being women. Women with all the greatness and horribleness that comes with ovaries. Now, it wasn’t a feminist summit but there’s something to be said about being surrounded by a group of women who are like-minded. You would think that would just reinforce your own hard held beliefs but, you would be wrong. My mind was wide open after being with and talking to all these chicks…

Also stolen...this time from Jesica.

Also stolen…this time from Jesica. She’s the one with the poop mug. #KeepItClassy

Angela of Happy Fit Mama handled not being able to run, around a bunch of runners and a friggin’ race, with way more grace and happiness then I could have ever mustered if I were in her situation. She taught me that it’s really not all about running. I know, I real breakthrough for this girl.

Sarah of Run Far Girl showed me that if you work hard enough, you can make your dreams come true, one step at a time. This retreat was a dream of hers and, in just one year, she made it happen.

Laura of Mommy Run Fast and I were able to spend extra time together since I picked her up and dropped her off at the bus station in Hartford, CT. I’ve been reading her blog for years but have only met her one other time in person. Well, let me tell you, we had some really great conversations and the hours (and I mean hours!) of car travel went by so quickly. I seriously cannot wait to see her again this weekend at the Runner’s World Half & Festival!

Jenn of Running with the Girls was brand new to me. Her quirky personality and super charged energy won me over right away…that and the fact that she has over 5,000 Instagram followers. This girl is no joke and I was so happy to be one of the girls she was running with that weekend. I’ll also be reunited with Jenn at Runner’s World this weekend. Woot woot!!!

Christine of Love, Life, Surf and I go way back. We’re old pals at this point and spending time with her is just like spending a weekend with any one of my girlfriends who I see all the time. I love how comfortable we are with each other, we have the same humor and the same passion for freelancing. Keep guiding me toward the literary light Christine!

Tina of Fuel Your Future with Tina – I have gushed over her so much on these pages that it’s getting embarrassing at this point. I will say that the pre-run warm-up she led us though has become a staple for me. It loosens me up in all the right ways and, especially heading into winter, I will be doing it before each and every run. Thanks Tina!

Carrie of Eight Crazy Souls was probably feeling right at home with nine crazy runners and bloggers. I think Carrie was feeling overwhelmed and perhaps a little over spening all that time with all those bloggers. We are definitely a loud and opinionated group and Carrie was gunning for her very first half marathon. No pressure. But, I have to say that she jumped right in, won me over with crazy stories of her sons, and took a laid back approach to everything, including running. I definitely could use more Carrie in my life.

Jesica of unladylike amazed me, like so many of you, with her ability to work a very demanding job, a brutal travel schedule, moving to a new state where the weather sucks for running (hello Florida), building a house and trying to have a baby. We all juggle a lot but Jesica’s current schedule seemed the most hectic and unmanageable to me.

Sandra of Organic Runner Mom opened me up to the possibility of wearing a running skirt…like to run in. Have you seen the pockets on those things? She also rocked this half marathon after racing an ultra in Utah (where she place in her age group) the weekend before. Could it be the power of the skirt?

 

What makes a blog conference or girl’s weekend great?

What’s the best thing you have received in a swag bag?