Oiselle Volée 2013-2014

I am thrilled to announce that I was selected to represent Oiselle’s Volée team for another year! Since joining the team in April of 2012, Oiselle has gone through some big changes and, much like a fine wine, seems to only get more sophisticated and delicious with every passing year. Being a part of the team has been like joining a family– a family full of badass, intelligent, sassy, funny, and amazing women runners. Now our flock has expanded from 150 runners to 250, and the Haute Volée team has 24 fast and fierce elite level runners.

The team manifesto is the best explanation I can think of that speaks to why I am so proud and excited to have another year of running for Oiselle!

principles of flight
a team manifesto

What follows are not rules or requirements, or club commandments…but rather ideas we think are important in forming a family of fast runners. Ideas we hold dear…and that we feel lead not only to successful competition, but to creating positive energy in our sport. We’re not building a single runner. Or a single performance. But rather a movement. A new kind of family that breaks from some of running’s old ways especially as they pertain to women athletes. It’s about progress and change. The future, the flight, the journey is new again – and ours to define.

1. build the sisterhood.
We are only as strong as the bonds we build. And while most of us have them, we want to do more. We want to raise the ante in showing how women can support other women. To go further with the sisterhood …fostering strength and leadership not just in competition, but through every action, every day.

2. eat like a human.
No disordered, underweight competition. We know for a fact that this approach is a short-term benefit that detracts from strength, and can spread like a disease. Fuel your body, honor its workload, and create an image of health for other women to follow.

3. tell your story.
Running and racing is not enough to kindle a fire under track & field. By telling your story, you capture hearts and minds. And when you capture hearts and minds, you build the overall success of our sport. You are the story. You are the magic. Let her rip!

4. race with fire.
Fierce, beastly, carnivorous racing. The win, the podium, the qualifying time, the team score. We seek serious victories on significant stages. No matter the goal, the effort is marked by an unconditional desire to push to the limit…to go fast, and take chances.

5. compete clean.
No doping. No cheating. No monkeying with our natural state via chemicals or prescriptions. Eat well, work hard, run fast. Period.

6. be a superfan.
Get fans by being a fan. By being a crazy, cheering, yell ‘til your voice is hoarse superfan. After all, being a superfan, regardless of brand affiliation, is one of the most powerful things we can do to strengthen ourselves and our sport.

7. spread the love.
Oiselle won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. But if you choose to be here, join because you’re nuts about the brand. You dig where we’re going, and you want to be a part of it.

L-O-V-E baby, that’s all there is.

Race Report: 4th Annual Run with the Kenyans 8k!

So I have had the best intentions of writing a blog post per week, including a post about injury and another about what it means to compete as a mid-to-back of the pack runner, but sadly those posts still are suspended in the liminal space.

Anyway, since my somewhat ego-stifling performance at the Shiprock Half Marathon, I’ve been on an anti training plan. This has looked like running when I feel like it, for however long I feel like it, and at whatever pace I feel like running- usually without a Garmin. This anti-training period has been wonderful for reminding me of what I love about running: the sheer joy of it, the ability to see things from high up places, the adventure of it all, the companionship–and for minimizing the parts that have felt frustrating since coming back from an injury: the uncertainty, the unpredictability, the difficulty of trying to push past a stuck place.

Based on my anti-training mantra, I decided to sign up for my first 8k race this weekend “just for fun.” There were other reasons: The 4th Annual Run with the Kenyans for Global Health 8k is a race that supports a cause that I believe in (improving the quality of and access to preventive and primary health care for Kenyan children) and the race is organized by a friend in the running community. Also, it’s an out and back course with legit elite Kenyan runners participating in the run, so it’s actually like, for a millisecond or two, you get to run *with* elite Kenyans.

Elite Kenyan runners at the start. If you look really hard you can see my shoe in the back of the picture. Just kidding, you can't.

Elite Kenyan runners at the start. If you look really hard you can see my shoe in the back of the picture. Just kidding, you can’t.

Okay, the other thing is that all entrants get a hand-carved giraffe. And if there’s one thing that pretty much everyone needs in life, it’s a hand-carved giraffe. I was pretty excited about mine.

Best race goodie ever.

Best race goodie ever.

So race morning, I skipped breakfast like a anti-training champ, and hopped in the car with my running buddy Allison. We see lots of our running pals at the start of the race, and since I was wearing my Oiselle Long Roga shorts which comfortably fit my iPhone 5, I clearly needed to take lots of pictures to take full advantage of this perk.

If you stand next to a speedster like Arlene, some of their speed might rub off on you. Or so I hoped!

If you stand next to a speedster like Arlene, some of her speed might rub off on you. Or so I hoped!

It had been a windy and ominous sounding night, but the race ended up not being too windy, and the breeze was helpful as it was a rather warm morning. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself at the start of the race. I wasn’t really nervous because I was running “for fun.” I decided I should try to run at an even-ish pace and maybe speed up at the end, and try for an average pace under 9 min/miles, so basically treat the race like a tempo run. And when I say treat it like a tempo run, that’s hypothetical, because I almost never do tempo runs. Anyway. after a ceremony where we got to hear about how superfast the elites running in the race were, which was pretty neat, we were off and running.

Heel striking like a champ!

Heel striking like a champ!

Mile 1: 8:50. The first mile felt great. I kept noticing that I was inching towards an 8:15 pace and trying to slow down. I felt like I could run superfast forever, but was also aware that this was a delusion. I was running behind a girl wearing a shirt that said, “I need my space,” which I found pretty hilarious.

Mile 2: 8:49 The second mile was also pretty easy, I was just bopping to my music and smiling at people and feeling happy to be alive and running.

Mile 3: 8:44 During this mile, I started seeing the elite Kenyan runners as well as all of the fleet-footed front of the pack runners as they turned around on the out-and-back course. The first three elites that I saw all had the same, faraway and focused look in their eyes. It was if they were completely attuned to an internal world and their eyes weren’t really noticing much else. However, I grinned at each one like a dork and gave them a thumbs up just in case. Once I turned around, I got to do my share of high five-ing and smiling at all the runners I passed. The mile went by pretty quickly.

Mile 4: 8:50 At right about 3.4 miles, I decided that this had been great and all, but I was tired and hot and totally over running. The “I need my space” girl was still in sight, so I focused on keeping her close (don’t worry, I honored her need for a personal space bubble) and thinking happy thoughts about coffee and safari animals. I was filled with an inexplicable urge to walk.

Final .97: 8:36 (8:49 pace) I’m not going to lie. I took a leisurely walk break to get a drink of water at the beginning of this mile. My legs were all, “meh,” and my head was all, “meh,” and I was aware that since I didn’t have a race plan, whatever I was doing was actually my race plan. I passed the “I need my space” girl.  I did start running again, at a decent pace, but I was totally over the running feeling. I was ready for the drinking coffee feeling, or walking slowly while breathing in full gulps of air feeling. Which must be why, a mere half mile before the finish line, I stopped for a walk break. Then the “I need my space girl” passed me again. And then a dude ran by me and said encouraging things, but the subtext was “Are you serious? Freaking run already!” and so I started running again. Then I passed the guy who had said the encouraging things, and said some encouraging things back, and then we ran a few steps together, turned the corner, and Encouraging Guy is all, “LET’S SPRINT THIS IN! C’MON!” And so that’s what we did. He out-kicked my butt.

Encouraging Guy wins the race! But really, aren't we all winners?  Sad truth: no.

Encouraging Guy wins the race! But really, aren’t we all winners?
Sad truth: no.

Overall time: 43:48 (average pace: 8:48).

Must stop the Garmin or it didn't happen.

Must stop the Garmin or it didn’t happen.

I actually was 3rd in my age group of 30-39 and as such, got a hand-carved zebra as an award. Amazing!

Getting my zebra award on the red carpet.

Getting my zebra award on the red carpet.

Lesson learned: Next time, don’t stop and walk DURING THE LAST MILE OF A RACE so you can be a cheetah, not a zebra. The 2nd place woman finished less than a minute ahead of me.

Sometimes you are the predator, sometime you are the prey.

Sometimes you are the predator, sometime you are the prey.

After the race, there was a totally delectable feast of Kenyan food, accompanied by music and dancing. The whole event had a really unique feeling. I will be definitely be running it again next year!

What I learned from this race:

It was a nice change of pace to go into this race with no real expectations for myself. Even though I am far from fast, I am very competitive by nature, especially with myself. Once I started making improvements in my running, I started to get so competitive that I think I was psyching myself out for every race. I could have run faster today, but the point was to enjoy the race, which for the most part I did. I did a 8.5 mile hilly training run the day before this run, so I feel pretty good about keeping a sub-9 pace for 5 miles. I was just happy to be out there racing in my Oiselle jersey with a healthy body and an open mind.

So about that walk break 4 minutes from finishing the race…this seems to be a recurrent theme in my races this year. I realized that this is pointing to one major shortcoming in my training: a lack of tempo runs. I generally enjoy speedwork and can consistently hit my paces for 400s through mile repeats, but I can do it because I know I have that little breather in between efforts. What I haven’t practiced much is maintaining an effort over an extended period without the physical or mental equivalent of a walk break, and I think that’s showing up in my races. As much as tempo runs intimidate me, I think I need to commit to incorporating them into my weekly training if I want to see more consistency in the second half of my longer races this fall.

Overall, the 4th Annual Run with the Kenyans 8k was a great experience, and I look forward to doing it again next year and hope that I can run fast enough to win the CHEETAH!

Oiselle: These are a few of my favorite things

One of the reasons I first thought about starting a blog was to post reviews for different running products. Before I buy any new piece of running gear, I compulsively Google all of the reviews I can find and then spend excessive amounts of time considering the pros and cons of the item in question vs. similar items. The pricier the item, the more I read before I decide.

I feel that I have a lot of blog review karma to repay, because without the blog reviews of others, I would no doubt be running unclothed, unshod, and without water or fuel. And that would not be pretty or safe. Today I’d like to start by reviewing my favorite Oiselle apparel. For those unfamiliar with Oiselle, it’s an amazing Seattle-based women’s running apparel company that is owned and operated by fierce and fabulous women runners.

I first fell in love with Oiselle when I bought one of their simple 50/50 running tees after my first half marathon a few years ago. I don’t even remember where I bought it- probably at an expo- but I remember putting it on and thinking it was exactly the fit I had been looking for in a run tee: body skimming, flattering, but far from tight. When I ran in it, I didn’t even notice I had it on- it didn’t creep up or chafe, and I felt pretty sassy when I wore it.

I didn’t think much about Oiselle again until my beloved tee started to show signs of wear because I ran in it at least once a week. I decided I needed a replacement, and in the process decided to give Oiselle a chance to change my mind about my longstanding hatred of women’s running shorts. I got another 50/50 running tee, which I already knew was amazing, and a pair of Roga shorts. The Roga short convinced me it was finally safe to wear running shorts in public. Why did I hate women’s running shorts? The typical women’s running short sports a gathered elastic waistband that creates muffin-top due to an unfortunate rise (too high? too low? you choose), an inseam designed to create the illusion that your legs are tree trunks, a completely useless vestigial pocket (big enough to fit…nothing), and a lovely bunched front that would be incredibly useful if you ran in diapers, but is otherwise not functional. In addition, many of them rode up while running, adding to their allure.

The Roga shorts, in contrast, had a lovely flat waistband that was flattering and incredibly comfortable, a rise that fit my body perfectly- no yanking up or down to make them feel right, an inseam that showed off my legs and didn’t make me feel like a nun or someone who had accidentally forgotten to put on pants that morning, and a zip pocket that actually fit the types of things I took on my runs. After buying these and loving them, I looked up Oiselle and started following their blog and social media more closely. The more I read about the company, the more I loved them. When I read that they were accepting applications for women to represent them in races, I jumped on the opportunity. In April 2012, I got an email welcoming me to the team. Since then, I’ve put much more of their clothing to through extensive run testing and can confidently recommend some more of my favorites. Roga Short: I’ve already described my love for these above. There’s a reason they joke about a Roga Revolution. Toss those Nike Tempos and give the Roga a chance to change your world!

The revolutionary run short

The revolutionary run short

50/50 tee: If you like your tops body-skimming, not fitted, you will love these supersoft tees. They are multitasking shirts- they look awesome worn casually, but they wick well and I have worn them worry free for 13+ miles of summer running. I now own an embarrassing amount of these due to Oiselle’s talent for finding the perfectly pithy saying to put on a tee.

Running wardrobe essential.

Running wardrobe essential.

Long Roga Short: You know that awkward time in between when you are wearing your winter hibernation fluff suit and when it suddenly gets so warm that you can’t hide your legs in tights anymore? Wait, is that just me? Anyways, these shorts rock because they are long enough to make you feel…covered…but short enough that the leg you do show looks pretty cute. A winning extra feature is the extra side pocket that is big enough to comfortably fit an iPhone 5. These shorts are great for running and hiking and a good choice for those of you who like your thighs 100% covered when you run.

They've got you covered.

They’ve got you covered.

Stripey Scoop Neck: This is another versatile run shirt that wears like your favorite lounging around tee (it is supersoft) but it also wicks well and is perfect for cool morning runs. Thumbholes and the gorgeous bird detailing at the shoulder make it uniquely Oiselle. I loved this shirt so much after my first run that I ended up getting it in 3 colors. Oops.

If you like stripes and you like to run, you probably should buy this shirt.

If you like stripes and you like to run, you probably should buy this shirt.

Lux Layer: I was not prepared for how much I would love this shirt. It is impossibly soft, impressively warm, and it has noteworthy wicking abilities. This is great as a layer for winter runs or on its own on slightly warmer days. You might balk at the price tag, but I promise that this shirt is worth every penny. The only potential drawback: you might mistake it for a pajama shirt due to the snuggly softness and go back to bed instead of heading out for your long run.

Simply Lux-urious.

Simply Lux-urious.

Run Pant: These are magic pant. No, I’m serious. I have never felt 100% comfortable wearing running tights, but have never found a running pant that fit me well and also looked good. I ran 8 miles in 25 degree windy weather the first time I wore these pants, and they were perfect. The straight leg cut is flattering, even if you are gifted with athletic thighs, and it also means that the cuffs never get in your way when you are running. They are the perfect length for me- which is hard to find, since I’m 5’3″-and the flat waistband and seaming are insanely flattering. They also have a zip pocket that is big enough to store essentials. They have the characteristic Oiselle versatility- yes, they rock for running, but they are comfy enough that you will want to wear them for everything else as well. Magic Pants Arm Warmers:  Arm warmers are one of those things that seem like they should be easy to design, but are hard to execute well. Oiselle’s version come in a great variety of colors, they stay put on my arms (due to my massive biceps…kidding), have pretty reflective detailing, and thumbholes so your whole hand can stay warm. They are perfect for races that start out chilly and end up warm, and tuck away easily.

These do indeed keep your arms warm, and your hands, too.

These do indeed keep your arms warm, and your hands, too.

There you have it, my rundown of my Oiselle essentials. I’ll have to update once I try the new line of sports bras they just released- I’m curious if they’ll work for my non-elite-runner body type, but they sure are beautiful!

Race Report: My first 5k!

I have never been particularly curious to try a 5k, for a number of reasons. When I first started running again after a 7 year hiatus, I was so slow that I figured if I wanted to impress anyone with my runner-ness, I would have to run a lot of (slow) miles instead of only a few. I also like to set goals that seem slightly impossible to achieve because they motivate me to push myself, and a half marathon fit the bill better than a 5k. Now I’ve been running pretty consistently for the past three years, with my longest race being a 50k, I finally decided to brave a 5k race just for fun.

The impetus for this 5k was that a fellow Oiselle team member, Karissa, happened to be visiting Albuquerque and we thought it would be fun to meet up and sport our snazzy singlets at a race. I hoped that running a new race distance would help me leave my disappointment about my poor performance in Phoenix behind. I wasn’t too stressed about how fast I would run, as it would be a 5k PR no matter what! My ankle had for the most part recovered (but still needs strengthening), but I was not looking to go all out and possibly re-injure myself. I confess, the thought did cross my mind that if I jogged it, then besting my 5k PR would be pretty easy.

The race was on Superbowl Sunday, and it was a totally flat course. I “prepared” for it by running 8 miles the day before and having a nutritional powerhouse of a dinner that consisted of buffalo chicken wings and java imperial stout.

In the morning, I met up with Karissa (who was very easy to spot in her Oiselle singlet!) and we chatted away as we waited for the race to start. Karissa noted that she shared my special affliction of exercise-induced asthma, and as a Pittsburgh native, she was pretty curious about what it would be like to run at 5000+ feet for the first time.

Here we are, ready to race!

3.1 miles? We got this.

3.1 miles? We got this.

I’m wearing my favorite Oiselle running top, the Stripey Longsleeve Scoop Neck, my team singlet, and the running shorts that first sold me on Oiselle, the Roga short. Karissa is rocking the long Roga short, her team singlet, and a sunshine-y bright Rundelicious pullover. We are both wearing compression socks, which as everyone knows, make you look like a very Serious Runner. They also help cover more of your legs when it’s 40 degrees out.

The race was held at a local school, and the start involved hilariously doing most of a lap around a track, encouraging silly antics such as starting the race at a 7:30 pace.

Starting a race on the track was a curious idea.

Starting a race on the track was a curious idea. This is actually the 10k runners starting, looking very speedy.

Karissa and I parted ways after racing around the track like spirited Thoroughbreds together, and I decided to push my pace and see what happened. I was nervous to run too fast, as I had not been doing much speedwork and was pretty sure if I went out at my mile repeat pace then my race would conclude after approximately 1 mile. I ran the first mile at a comfortable 8:43, and since that felt great, I ran the next mile slightly faster, at 8:37. The high point of mile two was passing a lot of people including several small children and a Serious Looking Runner Guy who I had been following for the first mile. I was still strangely nervous to go all out for the last mile, as I had my floppy Phoenix finish still in my mind, but I ran it in 8:31 and got to pass more people. Serious Looking Runner Guy was close behind me the entire time, which made me determined not to let him pass me. Why? No idea. It was a pretty small race (250 runners in the 5k), so it felt odd to be passing so many other runners. Once I saw the finish line, I sped up to a 6:46 pace for the final .1 (well, .13 according to my Garmin).

The end result? A 26:54, which put me 7th out of 39 in my age group and 68th overall. I feel pretty pleased with it, but I’m also looking forward to running more 5k races this year to see if I can, you know, run them faster.

After I finished, I watched a couple of my super speedy running pals from my Tuesday morning run club finish the 10k race, and then decided to go back out to run Karissa in. I imagined that she was having some choice words with her lungs about oxygen utilization, which turned out to be true. I found her looking determined and slightly breathless about a quarter mile from the finish, and ran her in. She had a pretty good kick for someone who was marginally avoiding an asthma attack! I was also impressed by how well she handled not really breathing while also running for 30+ minutes. You can read her race report here.

Here we are at the finish. Yes, there are striking height differences between us. 🙂

Not pictured: Karissa's 6" stiletto heels. I'm not actually that short. Okay, I really am.

Not pictured: Karissa’s 6″ stiletto heels. I’m not actually that short.
Okay, I really am.

The most amazing thing happened while we were standing around after the race. The Serious Looking Runner Guy that I had passed during mile 2 came up to me and told me that he wanted to thank me for pacing him during the race, and that thanks to me, he had run his fastest 5k in years. I think I responded by looking confused, smiling, and saying, “Great race!” Me? Serious Looking Runner Guy’s rabbit? What?

Takeaway points: running a new distance is fun, my Oiselle teammates are amazing–I can’t wait to meet more of them, and sometimes I surprise myself.