Up & Running LIVE in Italy – Good times and Nutella pizza

Thank you so much for your comments on the Elephant post! You all rawk and I feel about 237% less loony now! :)

Last summer Julia and I became possessed with the idea of an Up & Running retreat. We'd just enjoyed a brekkie in Brussels with Cels, a lovely Up & Runner, and discovered that meeting the woman behind the 90 x 90 pixel forum avatar was bloody amazing. We had do it again. En masse! With running! And yoga! And goody bags! And wine!

We settled on a cosy gathering in Bologna, Italy in order to align with Julia's very own Running Festival race. We held our breath when we announced it on the Forum (you know that throw your own birthday party will-they won't-they feeling!?), but we ended up with Up & Runners travelling from England, France, Germany, Guinea, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates with Australian Jo scoring the prize for furthest travelled!

We took over a bed & breakfast in central Bologna. Julia had done a brilliant job scouting it, and when I saw the sun-dappled foyer with Fiat lurking in the background I sighed happily, "Ahhh… Italian as f*ck!"

Casa
The most gleeful part of organising was the goody bags. What's the point of going to meet a bunch of internet people if you don't get a goody bag, I ask you!? The goods included snacks, a hand-made Up & Running headband, STICKERS! and nail polish in the perfect shade of Up & Running pink.

Goody bags, full of goodness
Goody bags, full of goodness

My spewy nerves dissolved the minute the first runner came through the door. Cate, an expat Aussie in Switzerland, had a smile even more dazzling than her avatar and it hit me, "Holy crap these people are REAL! This is going to rock!".

After that initial weirdness of connecting real bodies to internet voices, soon the room buzzed with exotic accents and laughter. There was wine and delicious pizzas, those amazing wood fired ones that I will be dreaming about for months to come. Especially this baby for afters…

Nutella pizza. If this is wrong I don't want to be right.
Nutella pizza. If this is wrong I don't want to be right.

Friday morning began with Coach Julia's Boot Camp. She didn't bring her whistle or megaphone but I insisted on calling it a Boot Camp just to mess with everyone's heads.

Coach Julia pretty in pink
Coach Julia pretty in pink

I shed a few tears at the sight of our runners taking off for their warm-up run with Coach J out in front. Okay, it was a lot of tears. Not even a year after our very first 5K Course ended, here was a group of women from all over the world, zooming along together. Behind the international keyboards had lurked real life runners, after all!

I'd hoped I wasn't alone in feeling a sense of community and deep connection on the Forum right from the start, but oh man, it was so real. They were such a genuine, funny, warm and beautiful bunch of women. I was totally overcome with emotion all weekend long. Apologies to everyone I blubbed on!

Anyway… after the running came a runner-friendly yoga cool down.

Post-BootCamp yoga

 

Yoga
Love that smile!

 On Friday night we had a pasta demonstration at the B&B from a handsome young Pasta Man.

Pasta Man
He rolled it paper thin… amazing

 

Pasta lessons
Tessa gives it a go, sporting her official headband with the wee Italian flag on it! Swoon.

 

Julia shows the dough who's boss
Julia shows the dough who's boss

As well as the most light and tasty pasta ever, there was a mega load of antipasti. I particularly loved the artichokes, the hunks of Parmesan, the local soft cheese whose name I forget and the garlicky bruschetta. And another hunk of Parmesan for good measure, yes please…

Just part of our Friday night feast

Tiramisu
And homemade tiramisu for pudding. Oh my stars.

Saturday was a free day to explore Bologna (or in my case, fall deeper in love with coffee, eat gelato and chit chat endlessly). That evening our resident runner/photographer Sara set up a photobooth for us to play with.

Photobooth
There was a minor incident when some espresso-fuelled loon wondered aloud if one could be photographed mid-air by diving onto the bed, and then kinda almost broke the bed attempting it *whistles*. Thank goodness the camera did not catch that moment.

Julia and I attempted yet again to get a serious photo for our About page.

Trying and failing to get a professional team photo
This is where I suggested we do cheesy poses like the opening credits of The Young & the Restless

My buddy :)
My buddy :)

Now all we had left to do was Sunday's race…

Thanks Sara for pasta pics and photo booth and Cate for tiramisu and Pasta Man.

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25 thoughts on “Up & Running LIVE in Italy – Good times and Nutella pizza

  1. Oh my gosh…….I SO wish I could have been there! What fun!! Please, please do more of these retreats. I just have to make it to at least one!

  2. Yep! I’m jealous! Some day, some how, I will go on that retreat (and there had better be Nutella pizza). I’m so glad y’all had fun!

  3. Wow I’m jelous! I love Italy and it looks like you all had an amazing time :)
    Do you think you’ll do another one?
    I’ve just signed up to the 5kn programme off the back of this as I really need motivation when it comes to running and I am really excited to ‘meet’ the others on the course and you and Juila too!

  4. I literally just started a running program this week. That tiramisu alone would motivate me to run a marathon. What a great event.

  5. Sigh. It looks soooo lovely! Glad you guys thought of doing it!
    Amazing stuff!

  6. This was such a fantastic weekend which I am still buzzing from. It was so wonderful and inspiring to be surrounded by such an incredible bunch of women from all over the world :D <3

  7. Oh Shauna, I’m very proud to call you my friend! What a legend you are – you inspire me!

  8. Looks like you had so much fun!!!! I’ve never had a nutella pizze, but everything tastes good with Nutella so I’m sure it would have been fantastic! The photos are lovely Shauna. :)

  9. Shauna, you captured the retreat to perfection! I am so thrilled and thankful that I was able to be a part of it and meet so many inspiring, wonderful women. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It was totally amazing to meet your gorgeous self in person! Oh and the goody bags rocked!! xx

  10. Ooh, so much fun re-living it through your post – it definitely goes down in history for me as one of the BEST WEEKENDS EVER!!! And it captured the fabulousness of Up & Running so well.

  11. I adore that last photo of you and Julia :) I really hope I can make it for the next one!

  12. I just want to say.. in spite of all the ‘I’ve gained weight and haven’t lost it’ angst in the last post. You actually look super cute.

    Also, I hate you because you went to BOLOGNA, stayed in a fab B&B and ate NUTELLA PIZZA and other stuff that makes me want to not be here in cold NZ, working, studying…

  13. Wow, sounds like it was lots of fun! Glad to hear y’all had such a great time. Say, any chance you guys will plan anything similar in Canada any time soon?

  14. @Sara – Thanks mate and my sympathies on the winter studyfest!

    @Julie-Andrée – We hope to do something like this in the future on your side of the planet, definitely! We’ll just see where our runners live and what location makes sense :)

  15. Hello. And, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, just departed from blogland for a bit. Love to see you and your smiling face. That retreat looks amazing and such a blast. Good for you for making it happen.
    Hope you are happy and finding yourself in loads of mischief. :)