In a word:
…I loved it!
This unplanned weekend getaway to Philadelphia turned out to be an incredible one full of meeting new people, forging new friendships, learning about how to be a better blogger, and experiencing a new city and community. Before going into any more detail, I wanted to say a big thank you to Attune Foods for sponsoring my ticket to the summit! I don’t think I would have bought my flight and made the journey if it hadn’t have been for that sponsorship and I am so glad that I ended up in Philly this weekend (thanks, Annelies!). Because I have so much to share with you guys and thought I’d break it down into two posts. So to begin, here are a few of the things I experienced this weekend in the City of Brotherly Love:
Friday: Evening Cocktail Party
LOTS of self portraits and push ups before the event: feeling pumped up pumps me up about how I feel!
Prepared for rain – it was thunderstorming like mad when we all arrived!
Shots of the fun: lots of mingling & chatting! Since I was just floating around getting to know others, I didn’t snap any personal photos – there was SO much to take in & I simply enjoyed being present and connecting with others.
(Photos courtesy of Tina)
Cheers to a great night out (& 2 tries to capture it)!
Saturday: 14 Miles & Many Sessions!
Just before I left for the cocktail party, I was checking twitter to see if anyone was making plans. I saw a tweet from Ericka about running 15 miles tomorrow and felt a twinge of excitement course through my body (you think I’m being overdramatic but I’m serious!). You mean I could actually run with other runners for a long run?! This sounded perfect as someone who usually runs alone. Although I’m not training for a race I love to run long and tweeted her back, jumping at the chance to run with others:
I connected with Ericka that night (I told her to look for the girl with blonde dreads) and found out that people were gathering at 5 am for the run. I committed, still excited despite a long day and the threat of this early morning, and after chatting with her for a while we both parted ways and headed to bed.
4:30 am came quickly, but somehow I bounded out of bed, got ready, and ate a small peach – the only food I had! – while I read some of my Bible before heading over at 4:53 am to join the others at the hotel. Ericka saved me and brought me a CliffBar to munch for fuel; I certainly couldn’t have run long without it (thanks, Ericka)!
A large group gathered and beeps from Garmins filled the air as we stumbled out into the dark of the early morning, not a long sleeved shirt to be found (quite shocking to me at the hour of am!).
(Photo from Meghann)
I had no idea how far I was going to run except I knew I wanted to run more than 10 and probably less 15 miles.
Running with the speedy Freya, who came from near London to the HLS!
I ended up running with different packs of people, snaking along the river in the pre-dawn dimness, until settling with Tina and Monica who were running 14 miles. Even though I had run 12 miles two days earlier, I felt refreshed and happy, so thrilled to be running long, feeling great, and meeting other blogging runners!
We chatted the entire time and the 2 hours truly flew by for me as we arrived back to the hotel, showered and ready before 8 am for the Attune Foods breakfast!
After checking in and receiving my free bag of swag (filled to the brim with goodness!), I settled in to eat.
(Photo from Meghann)
Breakfast was tasty after that long run, and I dug into some gluten free cereals from Attune Foods with some yogurt and a barrage of fresh fruit! I had to go back for seconds because the cereal wasn’t super filling – although tasty, after that long run I needed some substance!
The rest of the day was filled with interesting sessions and great conversations with people around the tables. The sessions I attended included: “Budgeting for a Healthy Lifestyle” with Lauren; “Utilizing Social Media to Network and Make Friends in Your Area” with Theodora, Cynthia, and Ashley; an incredible talk on inspiring through writing using Action Mantras with the keynote speaker, Dawn Jackson Blatner; “The Numbers Game – Motivation for Goals In and Out of Numbers” by Tina, Janetha, Beth, and Lisa; and “Monetizing Your Blog (Without Selling Out)” by the social media queen herself, Katy! Lots of learning, lots of fun, lots of information to take in one day; I’m already excited to bring it home and start incorporating some of the things I learned.
After a day of good food, great people interaction, and thoughtful topics, I found a group to head out with and had a great time wandering through the streets, chatting and laughing with new friends. I even wandered right up to the Liberty Bell!
Eventually we ended up at Farmicia to eat (photo from Tina), and OH MAN was the food ever delish!
I split the Tres Tamales and Mega Dose of Veggies and Whole Grains tray with Jamie and both were tasty, fresh, and organic.
It was great to get the chance to try a new place with mainly local foods, enjoy great service, and take in all the conversation around the table. We hung out for a while, taking our time and enjoying the experience before heading out to the place where ALL good bloggers go for dessert: fro-yo! Then it was to bed for the last time in Philly; I was ready for a good sleep and a morning run!
A “sweet ending” indeed! (Photo thanks to Monica.)
Sunday: a Fun 5km & a Goodbye
I woke up slowly this morning, packed, and headed out the door to meet up with a big group for a 5km walk/run. It was a blast! We walked to the Rocky steps, located 1.5 miles from the hotel, talking with one another and taking up all the space on the sidewalk! We took photo ops along the way and those who wanted ran back to the hotel, eager for breakfast sponsored by Quaker Oats!
SO happy to have met Lisa this weekend! Some pics of us on the steps!
A delicious build-your-own-oatmeal bar complete with some of my favorite toppings (ground flax, almond butter, cinnamon, & fresh fruit!).
And that brings me to the present: stuck at the Philadelphia International Airport due to storms in Toronto AND storms here in Philly.
Edited to add: Shoot! My flight was cancelled due to bad weather, and there are no flights out of Toronto to Calgary later tonight anyways. Guess it’s off to a hotel for me! 🙁
But that’s okay – I’ve got loads of free swag to munch on, my favorite coffee by my side (the Bay Area’s own Peet’s Coffee!), and time to reflect on my second HLS post: What I Learned. It’s one thing to experience an incredible weekend and another learn from it (and, subsequently, to write about it)…but thanks for sticking through a long update for the time being!
I hope you had also experienced a fun weekend wherever that took you – to another city, state, country, or restaurant in your hometown! I’ll be back with a more concise (and certainly less picture-heavy) post on what I learned, including special appearances by near-and-dear friends. Catch ya on the flip side,