Outdoor Women, Venture Ready


Two weekends ago, just after turning 45, I finally had the opportunity to go to “camp.” I was never able to attend camp as a kid, and the Cumberland Transit Trail Running Retreat was my birthday gift to myself.

My friend Cheryl Moss and I left Clarksville around 4:00 p.m. for the hour and twenty-minute drive down country roads to Lyles, TN, which is somewhere near Dickson. I was glad to have one of us driving and one of us navigating! The retreat center was a bit off the beaten path, but the Cumberland Transit folks had placed signs at several important turns, which turned out to be very helpful.

The retreat center was gorgeous.

Cheryl and I checked in and found out we were assigned to the BIG basement bunk room with 20 other ladies. We were lucky enough to get bottom bunks.

I was honestly a little apprehensive about 22 of us sharing one room with only two full bathrooms, but it worked out fine. In fact, I think being in that room allowed me to make many more friends than I would have otherwise.

Dinner that first night was outstanding, probably my favorite meal there. We had acorn squash stuffed with jamabalaya. I chose the meat version, and Cheryl had the vegetarian version. We both enjoyed kale salads on the side.

After dinner, I went downstairs to the bunk room, and about 10 of us, all total strangers, sat in a circle and just talked. We chatted about running and nutrition and parenting. We talked about races we had done in the past and what we were training for. We had an immediate camaraderie. As I sat there talking with these women, I couldn’t help but think,“These are my people. They get it.”

At 10:30, the lights were turned out. We had an early morning run planned. I had hoped to sleep, but I found that I just couldn’t quite fall asleep or stay asleep. (That’s my own fault for choosing a bed near the bathroom!)

A light breakfast was served the next morning, and then we hit the trails. We could choose a 3-mile, 5-mile, or 10-mile run. I chose to run five miles. The trails were still lush and green for the most part and were surprisingly hilly! Steep hills greeted us every few minutes. I have a hilly half marathon coming up, so it was good training!

The support on the run was great. We had a run leader and a sweeper for every distance, so no one could possibly be left behind. There was an extremely well-stocked aid station with gels, water, sports drink, and even some real food.

After the run, we had brunch with a very filling egg and spinach casserole. Again, the food was excellent. Then it was time to break into small groups for clinics. There were clinics on cooking and nutrition, stand-up paddleboarding, and running form. Around noon, we had a giant group yoga session. That was the first time I’ve ever done 80 minutes of yoga! (photo courtesy of Cumberland Transit)

After yoga, a light salad was served that was both vegan and gluten-free. I will say I ate healthier this weekend that I have on any weekend in recent memory!

Then it was my turn to stand-up paddleboard! I had only done it once before, so I was a little nervous. Our instructor was fabulous. She was so energetic and gave excellent instructions. It was obvious she loved the sport! This is the end of our one-hour lesson. Our group was great. No one fell into the water. (photo courtesy of Brooke Widmer with Soulshine SUP in Nashville)

After paddleboarding, I took some Merrell running shoes and some Altra running shoes for short test runs. I also scored some free stuff from the reps! I left the retreat with both a Merrell buff and an Altra buff (so versatile!), a Merrell hat and water bottle, and Altra socks, plus a small North Face swag bag.

That evening, we had a huge meal of delicious bbq from a local joint, plus tons of vegan and gluten-free sides. As a gluten-intolerant gal, I really appreciated these options.

For our entertainment that evening, we had wine, beer, and motivational running videos. I left this weekend more motivated to run than I have been in a while! The videos we watched were incredibly inspiring.

That evening, I think everyone slept better. Miles of running, nearly an hour and a half of yoga, and an hour of stand-up paddleboarding will have that effect!

Finally, on Sunday morning, we left on our final group run. A few of us chose to make up our own route and explored the acres and acres of the retreat center. Splashing through a creek on a cool summer morning with like-minded women was so much fun.

We had a huge brunch after the run, and then it was time to pack up and leave. I said my goodbyes to the amazing women I had met, promising to see them on the trails in the future. In fact, this weekend, I hope to reconnect with a couple of them at a trail race in Dickson.

This retreat was so well done. The organizers did an incredible job serving great food, planning fun and educational activities, and giving us a BREAK from the real world.

The women in attendance were smart, kind, accomplished, and like-minded. Some were experienced trail runners, some were novices; others were triathletes, weight lifters, paddleboarders, and yogis. There were teachers, nurses, doctors, bankers, stay-at-home moms, and fitness industry professionals. ALL were friendly and encouraging.

It was nice to spend a weekend in the woods, no make up, hair in a ponytail, being active and eating nutritious foods with chicks like me.


Post by: Donna Pittman

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.