A Oiselle Birdcamp Story (Okay, Maybe Two...)

First I must preface this with a little writing tip, as some folks who do not know how to pronounce Oiselle (it's a hard vowel: Wa-Zelle) might think I have made a grammatical error in the title.  Heaven forbid anyone should think that! Moving on!

As with last year's retreat, there were so many awesome moments at Birdcamp.  Alas, if I were to write them all down, it would take me HOURS to finish this post.  Since I am lazy, I shall share just one that really summed up my experience...

It was the first night, our first gathering and breakout session after our welcome dinner.  We were paired off into groups, each led by one of the Haute Volée (elite team members) to talk about our goals.  My group was with Devon Yanko, a badass ultra runner and Olympic Trials marathoner, among other amazing accomplishments.  We were joined by Heather Stephens, our Volée Team leader from Oiselle HQ and the overall female winner of the Lake Sammamish Half in under 1:20 - her FIRST half! (Where I also accomplished my current PR nearly 40 minutes later, haha!)  Rounding out our group was Leana Keto, who seems to run marathons like NBD, has run a half dozen half Ironmans and just signed up for her FOURTH full Ironman.  Needless to say, I (the stay at home mom who runs roughly 20-25 miles a week and has no real desire to tackle a marathon) was feeling a little bit nervous to talk goals with these ladies!  

The funny thing was that each of us started the conversation by talking about things we knew of each other, and shying away from talking about ourselves.  And, of course I deferred talking about my goals until the bitter end, frantically combing my brain for anything interesting I might be up to in my running.  As the self depreciating words were coming out of my mouth, "I'm just doing the mom thing, keeping up with my fitness, maybe a goal 5K soon or 13.1 next year..."  Leana piped up with something along the lines of, "Um, Andrea, you are killing it with your run streak - what day are you on?" Oh. Yeah. That! (460 as of today, BTW.) It took someone else to point out a pretty nifty accomplishment I've achieved in my running.  To me, since I'm not a crazy high mileage runner, or fast runner, I had completely glossed over the streak.  It's just something I do now, like brushing my teeth.  But it's still a goal, albeit daily.

What's even more awesome, it made Devon chime in with, "Ohhhh, yeah!  Were you the one who commented on the Facebook thread where someone asked about the pros/cons of rest day vs. run streak?"  Now, I hope everyone I know has the pleasure of meeting Devon one day.  If she read this, she'd probably chuckle at me, but I must say I was initially a little unnerved to answer.  She is a straight up super tall, super cool, and absolutely no bullsh*t kind of gal. I very sheepishly admitted that I did, because I was the only person that was in favor of streaking - with the caveat that as a 20ish mile a week runner, it's TOTALLY doable and that it should be like a 10 minute meditation on rest days.  After my admission, she said that my comment was really insightful and she thought it was great.  To hear that from her was pretty awesome, and the fact that she and the other elites on our team are interacting with us on Facebook is such a rare and fantastic thing.  

Being able to interact with women of all different abilities and talents was my biggest takeaway from Birdcamp this year.  We ALL have something to learn from each other and bring to the table.  One of the most striking things Lauren said as she introduced almost 20 elite members that made it to camp this year, is that one day, they want to be us!  To be able to have running as a part of their lives when they inevitably move on to other pursuits is truly a goal for elite runners - really interesting food for thought.  That Lauren, always so insightful!  So if you're ever at a loss for what your strengths are, or need someone to lift you up, having some sistas in sport it a good way to go.  I was definitely feeling pretty high all weekend.

I usually don't write long Instagram posts, but for the following picture, I did.  Because, I think, it also sums up the Oiselle experience.
Looking through #Birdcamp15 images and trying to pick out the best one to sum it up, I had to go with this one. I got this shirt at my first Oiselle sample sale shortly after I joined the team over 3 years ago. It's had a good run, and I loved it dearly, but I knew what joy it would bring to @fleshmanflyer, since she's always trying to bribe it off me - oh, and it's the shirt that made her discover Oiselle, yet she never got one of her own. This team is about lifting each other up, and supporting each other (even giving the shirt off your back, deodorant residue and all). The structure of things has changed A LOT since the days when @kristinmetcalf would post our race results on a white board picture to Twitter! And the way it is now, they expect NOTHING from me. Yet they have given me so much over the years and will always have my heart. Lauren repeatedly asked what she could give me for her shirt: keep fighting the good fight lady, I expect nothing. Much love!

Thank you Oiselle Team, and especially everyone at HQ for the years of awesome and for another fantastic Birdcamp.  

And time for the photo dump!  Thank you, Andrea, of Thomas and Velo Photography for the beautiful pictures (team shot above, and the next two).

Until next time, Leavenworth...


  1. I absolutely love this, Andrea. You have summed up the experience perfectly. Although every women in that room felt insecure and a bit nervous to talk about themselves and their goals, we connected in a real way. I love this community of women. I actually thought that it would have been nice to have more of these small group sessions. They were stand out favorites for me at both Birdcamps. Well done!!

  2. I love this post Andrea! So sad I had to miss this! Thank you for sharing your experience and the pics. I hope to see you at the next one friend? :)

  3. I love that this moment was on the first night was one that helped to sum up the entire experience for you! It is pretty amazing that something small can have a profound impact on someone else. For example...maybe at the time you didn't realize how much the "we believe in you!" cheer at Ragnar NWP meant to me? I also didn't really realize that my comment that first night was a moment for you! I think sometimes as runners and athletes that it is really easy to get caught up in the need to go further or faster to feel like we are truly accomplishing something. Social media almost tells us that should be the case, right? The truth is a winning accomplishment looks different to every individual. I can't even begin to contemplate a run streak, yet you are killing it and getting it done ever day. I think that is amazing and truly awesome!

    The thing that I loved about that first night is that it doesn't matter what your goal is or how fast you are. Running is a beautiful thing that can instantly bind two strangers together. We all have ups and downs. I think it is amazing that you have found something you love so much so keep at it. And thanks for all of your great words that evening too. For what its worth I feel very shy talking about Ironman (in person anyway!) because I feel like I'm such a back of the packer. Sometimes I don't really see what an accomplishment it actually is so thank you!! :)

    1. This was the most lovely comment EVER. THANK YOU. I seriously cannot imagine thinking of oneself as a 'back of the packer' Ironman - every finisher is a freaking HERO!