Olé Volée! and a Return to Running

It’s been a while, but it’s good to be back!

Olé Volée!

First and foremost, olé volée! I am happy to announce that as of this Summer I am running wild for Oiselle‘s amateur (emphasis on “amateur”) racing team aka Oiselle Team aka Volée. I cannot wait to rep the women’s running apparel company that is so much more than that.

The Oiselle Team singlet.

The Oiselle Team singlet!

Rewind to circa 2011 when I received my first Oiselle tee as a birthday gift from a friend who heard from another friend that this small women’s running apparel brand is the sh*t. I liked the tee featuring “26.2,” but wasn’t convinced that the tee was running material. So, into the pajama drawer it went.

When I joined Twitter that year, I started following Oiselle. I finally realized that my 26.2 tee wasn’t just for sleeping in and I placed an order so I could check out a few other items from their line. Cue falling in love with their freakin’ cute– not to mention sweat-invisibility-cloaking– apparel. Bye, bye old cotton race shirts as run staples!

Beyond Oiselle’s apparel, I was blown away by their general badassery and determination to cultivate a community of runners who encourage each other to “run fast, take chances” and keep their “head up, wings out.” No matter if you are on their racing team or not, it all came down to the love of running. All were welcome in this diverse “come one, come all” club. They were– and still are– creating a new girl’s club.

So, when I heard there were spots opening up on their team last Summer, I clamored to apply… and was super bummed when I received an e-mail about a month later saying that I wasn’t accepted. But! I took the team manager up on her invitation to keep in touch with the hope that the following year would be my year.

A phone call in early May confirmed that this year is indeed my year to join a team of women who inspire me to fly fast every day. (Is this real life?) I am so very honored to get my wings and can’t wait to race in the Oiselle Team singlet!

Running, Lately

Joining a racing team begs the question: well, how’s that running thing going? Returning to running after a seemingly interminable calf injury has been rocky to say the least. Ups and downs, progress and setbacks. But, I’ve been working freakin’ hard (we’re talking daily PT exercise routine for 4+ months and counting) and learned a ton about what it takes to build a strong, healthy runner body. My mainstays? Relentless optimism and dwelling in positivity. And a healthy dose of stubbornness.

After months on the AlterG alongside PT, finally getting the OK to run outside, and then returning to the AlterG again, I am happy to report (knock on wood, throwing salt over my shoulder, etc.) I am finally starting to run outside FO REALZ. Right now, it’s only 1.5-2.5 mile sloooow runs with two strength training days in between, which translates to about two runs per week. The pain is not completely gone, but has decreased to the point where running short distances is manageable. I’m not going to lie, I do have those days when my calf hurts more than usual and I wonder if this whole recovery has been a wash. But, any running is good running at this point, so I’ll take it!

running track oiselle run

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

It all comes down the pure joy of flying, feeling my lungs burning, constantly challenging myself, defying my perceived physical and mental limits. So, here’s my big, scary goal: I’m hoping that with a smart, conservative return to running, I’ll be able to race a 5k in the Fall. It will probably be slow and the recovery of my injury trumps all, but this is what I’m setting out to do. And, after that, who knows? Whatever it ends up being, I’ll always be dreaming of returning to 26.2…

What big, scary goals are you chasing?

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Spectator Report: USATF High Performance Distance Classic (#OxyHP)

When I heard Twitter chatter between Oiselle Team Manager Kristin Metcalf and a few other runners about heading to Occidental College to spectate at a track meet, I just had to butt in to the conversation and invite myself to the party. After all, the event (the USATF High Performance Distance Classic– or, #OxyHP) was only three-ish miles from my apartment and seemed like a great opportunity to meet cool people I kinda-sorta-basically “knew” from Twitter, give my industrial strength cowbell a workout, and watch elite runners do their thang.

Arriving at Occidental College’s Jack Kemp Stadium on race day, I bought my ticket and happened to bump into Oiselle Team runner Anne Riggin. She introduced herself, presumably because she knew right away I was headed to join the Oiselle crew by the looks of my sweet threads. (For the curious reader, my OOTD included the Lesko Bra, Scantron Tank, Distance Shorts, Feather Spike Bag, & an Oiselle temporary tattoo because why not go all-out O in a situation like this.)

My track meet essentials: cowbell, cookies, Picky Bars, Flyer Club Fan Card.

My track meet essentials: cowbell, cookies, Picky Bars, & Fleshman Flyer Club Fan Card.

Anne and I joined Kristin and Sarah Boone (OUAL), both of whom I’d talked to– virtually, at least– for a while, and settled in for an evening of fangirling.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about track. I ran the 200m and 400m (and did some long-jumping for good measure) in 8th grade, but my knowledge now-a-days is rudimentary at best. Not wanting to embarrass myself at the meet, I studied up on Oiselle’s very own FanGirl Series and Googled “steeplechase.” I still have a ways to go, but when it gets down to it, a fangirl is a fangirl is a fangirl… right?!

On the track meet docket– from 800m to 5k– were six elite members of Oiselle Team (Haute Volée, as they’re known en français): Kate Grace, Lauren Wallace, Amanda Mergaert, Amanda Winslow, Lauren Penney, Laura Carlyle, and Lauren Fleshman. Holy feminine-fierce! And that was just a handful of the athletes set to duke it out on the track on a hot-hot-hot day in L.A.

track meet

These ladies were flyin’ so fast, my poor iPhone 4s could not keep up.

Around and around that oval they went. The birds of Oiselle Team seemed to fly by. These may have been distance events as far as track is concerned, but the longest race was over in just 15 minutes and change. One of my favorite moments? Oh, just that time Kate Grace seemingly effortlessly pulled in front of the lead pack of her 800m heat to finish first. As Sarah noted, it was almost as if Kate was thinking during that last 100m, “Don’t worry, guys, I got this.”

Let’s take a moment now to appreciate the fact that after the race Kate did a full-on workout:

Kate Grace

A blurry Fast K8 doing strides.

And also, while we’re at it, all the sinewy men in short shorts:

Rawr.

Rawr.

Overall, the decibel level of the crowd may have been underwhelming and the commentary shmeh. (Perhaps we should have streamed Flotrack‘s commentary?) But the company was great and it was impossible to not get caught up in the excitement of runners putting it all on the line(s of the track) in each event, as we reminded ourselves just how darn fast they were racing.

From their solitary warm-ups to faces of utter fierceness just before the finish line, these hard working and genetically blessed professional athletes were a sight to be seen…

…sometimes up close and personal, LIKE THAT TIME I MET LAUREN FLESHMAN.

Meeting Lauren Fleshman

#SisterHero!

Yes, she is as awesome in person as she exudes on the internets. And although she was bummed at having to pull out of her event due to Achilles tightness (robbing us of the opportunity to see her famous abs IRL), she was super-freakin’-cool. Genuinely happy to meet fans. Strong woman. Smart athlete. A fan of PB&J. Track Attack Pants Model. I hope to have the opportunity to spend time with her again!

From front to back (and side to side), it was such a great night of spectating. As the evening came to a close, it was comforting to know that even pro runners with insane abs ate the cookies I brought in what is now my proudest snack mom moment to date. I left the event filled to the brim with a renewed love for the sport and determination to continue fighting to fully recover from injury and get back to racing. A big “thank you” to  Kristin for letting me jump on the track meet party train! (Check out the full meet results here.)

 What are your favorite track meet memories?

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