“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life."
-Robin S. Sharma
Ahhhh that quote moves me so much. You see, I am reading over journal entries from my trip and looking back now it’s surreal to see the transformation that happened within me from before this trip and then now. It took me a really long time to sit down and write about something I can barely put into words…Run Like a Girl’s Costa Rica retreat was life changing.
Let’s start off with the HUGE amount of love I have for this company. I started Choose Mountains a few years ago and since then I have seen so many companies pop up around me in all shapes and sizes. Something about Run Like a Girl caught my eye more than the others. I literally spent the last year looking at their retreats online, trying to factor in how I could make it to one. I joined their Facebook group of over 132,000 people and all of the conversations on that forum sparked an overwhelming amount of inspiration for the reasons I started running again this past year.
The owner of Run Like a Girl - Hailey, knew I wasn’t allowed in Canada (so sad) and she said I should come to one of her Costa Rica retreats - so I said YES! Within the week that she asked me to come, I got the time off and booked a plane ticket.
I had to say yes! If not now, then WHEN? right? So the time was now and I started to get super excited.
Flash forward to exactly a week before the trip, I got the flu. That type of flu that I haven’t felt since I was a young child. Thought I was dying. Literally 7 days of calling in sick to work, giving away all my yoga classes, and being in bed with Netflix. I did nothing, couldn’t eat or barely drink water and felt like shit. A day before the trip to Costa Rica I had my pointer finger hovered over the “cancel plane ticket” button even though that was the day I started feeling better.
There is no way I can make this trip.
Gazing over the itinerary, I don’t think i could hike a single mile. Fear set in and I wanted to just give up and stay home.
But I didn’t. I packed my bags with whatever energy I could collect. I had my boyfriend drive me to the airport, I got on that plane and started writing in my journal. I started reflecting over the deeper reasons why I didn’t want to come on this trip. I have been living in fear for a little over a year now. Anxiety and FEAR. When I first got sober 5 years ago it was my jumping off point into this new way of living and that’s when I started running again. That’s when I didn’t date for 12 solid months so I could focus on what I needed to do to become a better human and to start living my passion. That’s when I signed up for a Glacier Course and summited Mount Baker and Mount Rainier here in Washington and I was literally living my best life. Everything felt full of purpose and I was fearless in everything I did.
Over this past year or more, I realize I stopped doing those things. I started focusing on isolating myself with more focus on my business and working more.
“Well this is what I’m supposed to do, I have no time for fun."
I started silently doubting myself in so many ways and saying “No” more often. I had enough excuses to throw at anyone’s invitation to do badass mountain running or climbing. I also got comfortable in the most amazing relationship I’ve ever experienced and life was wonderful. I stopped thinking that climbing mountains were possible for me and stopped training. Running started to become more difficult and my mind wasn’t in it anymore.
In terms of this retreat, I had fear about landing in a foreign country by myself and navigating my way to the first hotel on my own. I feared I would show up to this retreat and would be the outcast. I wouldn’t connect with anyone and I would hold everyone back because I no longer had strength after being sick.
But here I am now, sitting on this plane on the way there feeling better physically, but uncomfortable mentally. I scroll through the free movies on my flight and come across The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and watch it. I am instantly inspired by the quote:
“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life."
I repeat that line over and over in my head and it puts me at ease. I don’t want to settle anymore. I think I started tearing up on the plane, full of overwhelm and have this new idea of how I’m going to show up….and that’s what happened. I just showed up.
Day 1 - Heading to the Chakra Lodge and Coffee Tour
5am: Alarm rings, today is the day.
6am: We meet Hailey in the lobby downstairs for our 4 hour van ride to the Chakra Lodge in San Jeronimo.
On my way to the lobby I still have that nagging fear that I will not be liked (the mind can be such a little bitch sometimes). I see Hailey who is accompanied by Cotopaxi aka Paxi which is her adorable rescue pup that she got in Ecuador. Hailey is so sweet and wonderful. I was the first one there. Soon after, Angie from Canada, Karina and Robin from San Fransisco, Debbie and Dana from Canada as well and then Stacey from Ohio arrive. I instantly love all of them so much. Everyone is easy to talk to and we begin our 4 hour commute to San Jeronimo.
Once in San Jeronimo we started off with a coffee tour at Freddy’s farm. The coffee was the best coffee and food I’ve had in a long time. They plants were all along the sides of the cliffs. After the tour we begin the steep 3 mile hike to the Chakra Lodge and it sure was a butt kicker. We found out that this driveway would be the beginning and end to all of our hikes. KIller haha.
Arriving in the Chakra lodge was absolute heaven. They have open air treehouse type rooms for our bedrooms. The common area is where we have our meals and the yoga space. Everywhere you look are gorgeous mountains at every turn. We settled in, had our first delicious meal, and an evening yoga class.
Everything I have feared before arriving here has been washed over with deep love. This place is magic and in our evening yoga class I felt a deep sense of God with me. I don’t usually talk about this online but I feel that I should talk about the significance of what this trip has done for me. In savasana that evening, I felt an overwhelming feeling of energy pulling and circling within me. I knew that this is exactly where I was supposed to be. It was the first time in YEARS that I have felt this presence and I knew from here on out, magic was happening.
Day 2 - San Miguel Valley Waterfall Hike
You would think a 6am start to the morning would be too early but it wasn’t because we woke up to the sunrise. The sun was heating our skin as we practiced our morning yoga flow. Then breakfast was filled with eggs, beans and rice, protein pancakes with nutella, fresh fruit and granola. I still haven’t had a meal better than the ones I had at Chakra since I have returned home. We packed our hydration packs with food and water for the day and started our first hike.
10 miles of waterfalls and a 4000ft gain. The views were incredible and my legs felt strong. Halfway through the hike I realized that I was in the front section of the group the entire way. Before this trip I was saying how I would hold everyone back and that wasn’t the case. I barely felt any weakness at all. I think the adrenaline of this experience jolted me back to the strength I already had within me. The strength I forgot I’ve always had. Once we reached the end of the hike, we were so hot that we all jumped in the river fully clothed. It was ice cold and felt amazing. So much laughter and happiness on this adventure. It was so nice to get close to all these great people, especially my roommate Stacey who became sort of the “long lost friend I’ve forever needed in my life” and it was so much fun getting to know her. We then still had that driveway to get back to the lodge and we all truly earned our showers.
Hammocks were put up in the yoga space, so after showering we all read books and talked for hours before yoga and dinner.
In the hammock the birds, cicadas and crickets are screaming and I have never experienced something so beautiful. There are no words that could capture the beauty of everything around me in this moment. I no longer have the flu and fully believe this place helped heal me. I talk to the other girls like I have known them my entire life. We were blown away on how close we all became just from the day before. We talked about life and the fears we had before this trip. It’s funny because Stacey and I had a lot of the same fears before arriving here. It’s amazing what happens when you bring women together. We can all have similar thoughts and fears about life but sometimes we don’t get this connection in our everyday lives.
The answer to more face-to-face connection is having NO INTERNET CONNECTION. We have no coping mechanisms of using our phones to buffer connecting with others. We had face to face real conversations without distraction and I think that was more important than anything.
DAY 3: Chakra Adventure Day
Reading my journal from this day reminded me of prayer and meditation. I woke up and got the coffee (that is freshly brewed every morning at 6:30am) and I went to the ledge overlooking the valley. I would sit there and just get very quiet. It’s easy when all you have is the sun rising, a cup of coffee and your journal. I hadn’t prayed and meditated in years but it was easy here, My first thoughts would start with deep appreciation for my life and everything in it (good and bad) instead of instantly checking emails and scrolling social media feeds.
It’s silly. Silly how life slowly slips away to please other people over the internet. I asked my higher power that morning in mediation to give me clarity and show me my truth and give me direction for the day ahead. Before this trip I was living completely on self will and no longer want that life for myself. Today my intention was VITALITY and love.
The entire day was more of a low-key day because tomorrow was the “big hike." Some people climbed for their very first time and it was beautiful to watch people light up doing things they’ve never done before. In the first picture above, you can see me climbing a strangler fig tree. The girls would encourage you the entire time and we just had a blast watching everyone take their turns on each of the trees.
Directly following, Eduardo (Hailey’s husband) and Hailey showed us how to safely rappel. We had trial runs starting off in gradual grade areas, then would eventually all rappel the waterfall accompanied by a guide. So if you’re thinking about taking this trip and scared about this part, do not even worry. Someone is always with you the entire time. It was a blast. This wasn’t my first time climbing or rappelling before so my joy was watching the joy in others as they did something that scared them.
At dinner that evening Hailey and Eduardo had discussed tomorrow’s plans with us. They told us about the big 22 mile hike of Mount Ena. They also gave a couple other options of a shorter hike: Tiger Rock, or The Orchid Loop hike. These hikes were just some options if you didn’t want to do the big 22 miler. They had us raise our hands for Mount Ena and Karina, Robin and Stacey raised their hands. I just sat there fully knowing that “I can’t hike 22 miles, it’s not my strength level.”
Stacey looked and me and said “What?! why aren’t you doing it? If you can’t do it, I’m not doing it because you’re the strongest one here.”
I said that I’ve never hiked that much in a single day and seeing as the hike is over 5000 feet of elevation gain, I’m scared I might not make it and don’t want to risk having to turn anyone back.
Hailey and Eduardo looked at me like I was silly saying I definitely could.
Knowing all these hikes started together gave me some relief that if anything happened, I definitely could make some of the smaller hikes my final destination if I wanted to.
DAY 4: Mount Ena
We had an earlier start to our day to eat and make lunch for our trips this morning and I showed up knowing I don’t need to be in fear because I can always choose a smaller hike. We started off on the driveway talking and getting excited. We soon made it to Tiger Rock and I felt a lot of energy and no pain. A couple girls stopped there and well, as you probably guessed, I kept going. It was tough at some parts but my excitement for being here with all these people I loved kept me going. We had a few stops for views and the day was long but WE MADE IT.
We are so much stronger than we believe we are. We had perfect weather and it was a long way back. On the way down I started to have a lot of thinking time with myself.
I did this.
I am strong.
Why do I hold myself back so much?
Why do I believe I can’t before I even try?
This day was the icing on my fear parade. It completely brought me to a whole new level of possibility. I am no longer going to think that I am not capable of things.
Back at the lodge the other girls started banging pots and pans together as they saw us walk the driveway back to the Lodge. Cheering and whistling and I got to talk with Hailey on the way there saying “These girls need to come to our races. I’ve never heard people cheer louder”
It was a beautiful day. On the hammocks that evening I was reading The Motivation Manifesto and came across this quote:
“What if the world isn’t giving me what I want because, based on all my distractions and lack of discipline towards a goal, it’s simply unclear what I am asking for?”
Something to think about right? I wanted to say no to this summit the day before, I must stop thinking I can’t. The universe will give you what you believe you can handle.
DAY 5: Community Project in San Jeronimo
The day begins and we have our last morning together at the Chakra Lodge. We walk over to the river where we can circle up and have some meditation and stretching. We take turns talking about our time here and everyone gets a little emotional. The sound of the river fills the space and when my turn comes I start to cry and talk about how much I needed this place. More than I realized.
In regular life I don’t sit around and talk about feelings and have happy tears of joy very often so being here has been a heart-opening experience for me.
After this we head down the driveway for the last time back to San Jeronimo and spend an hour giving back to the community by working for an hour in the garden pulling weeds and filling little plastic bags of soil for fresh growth. The people of Costa Rica are some of the nicest people I’ve ever seen.
We then head back to the van that takes us to Dominical to have a couple days in a hotel by the beach. The moment we arrive, WiFi is available and my heart starts to beat a little faster.
Nooooo. Not the real world.
Once we get checked in we all have some lunch at a Thai place in our little beach town then have time for whatever we’d like to do.
This was foreign to me because I was so used to constantly being together as a group. We had time at the beach, pool and dinner together.
DAY 6: Uvita National Park
Today we head to Uvita National Park for a beach day. We played on a couple slack lines and went paddle boarding through the Mangrove Forest. The whole day flys by and we finish off the day with a nice last dinner together.
If you read this far, congratulations. I didn’t know how to shorten something that was so important to me. I didn’t think that I even had the words to write about something that can only truly be experienced in person. You will just have to see for yourself. I showed up without expectations and I left knowing that this was exactly where I was meant to be. When I first got home to Washington I had to leave my phone off in different rooms and also turned all the notifications off on my phone. Since then I don’t get anxious from all the constant blinking from stressful notifications that caused me anxiety.
I also started creating huge run/hike combos that I never had done before. I now know how capable I am to do great things and that I am much stronger then I thought I was. I have so much gratitude for this trip and if you’re interested in going on a retreat with Run Like a Girl, here is a link to their retreats page:
AUTHOR: TIARE VINCENT
Tiare is the founder and owner of Choose Mountains. She grew up in Hawaii but has lived in Washington for the majority of her life. She loves being outside every chance she gets. When she’s not out exploring, she’s teaching Power Yoga.
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