As a kid, I never played team sports. I danced, played in a symphony…activities that certainly did involve others working toward a similar goal, but I have no recollection of there being a supportive, motivating community. (I probably lacked the maturity to become a full part of the tapestry, but there never seemed to much driving me beyond the fruits of my own 110% effort.)
For the past few days, the arrival of the postman has been the portent of wonderful things. A box of treats that both reward and motivate, all from a group of amazing women entrepreneurs who care about awesome things like community, creativity, health, girl power, color, corporate responsibility, comfort and…running – I know them as the founders and execs of Oiselle. This is my team.
One year ago, on a whim, I responded to a notice they had posted on social media for women runners who might like to be part of their racing team. In exchange for running a certain number of races every year (check.) and maintaining some social media presence (check.), team members would receive a race kit each Fall and Spring that included a singlet for racing, temporary tats, discount cards to make you popular (grin), and some Oiselle signature running apparel.
A slightly-faster-than-midpack, middle-aged, late-to-the-game racing junkie, I never for a moment thought they might add me to the team. And yet, a year ago, I got a box of such goodness and a letter welcoming me to the team.
First reaction? Disbelief. Second? Fear – what if I end up not being fast enough…there are elites on this team! (Of course, they are a whole different category of animal – they are the hawk to my emu.)
Then I realized that Oiselle is apparel for women runners of all ages, speeds and abilities – so, as a woman and a runner, I’d do fine. So off I trotted, glad to be attired in incredibly well designed, comfortable running gear that fits my Mighty Mouse (thanks, Gail) self. (At 5″1, it’s not easy to find running gear that actually fits well.)
Running for Oiselle has been great for my wardrobe, to be sure. That said, the real gift has not come by postman. It is community.
So rarely does a company actually walk the talk so brilliantly. They didn’t just create the brand, they live it.
The Oiselle founders got started to support women runners. They chose to use well-made apparel to do that, but if you look at this company carefully, you’ll see that apparel is a vehicle driving a greater mission. These are warm, supportive, funny, generous real people. Whether it is giving huge shout-outs to the team members competing each weekend, a twitter presence so consistent it’s like having an actual conversation (these gals do social media right) or raising awareness and funds for Every Mother Counts, the real gift to team members and customers is inspiration.
As I thankfully recognize my runiversary as part of Team Oiselle, I am most aware that the early twinge of nervousness about not letting them down with my running/racing abilities has been replaced entirely. I have a 150+ strong cheering section of virtual teammates whom I also excitedly support. The power of that is inscrutable.
In one year, I’ve seen PR’s every time I’ve gone out, a first marathon, top-ten and age group placements and most importantly, huge amounts of joy. I’m most definitely a better runner and a stronger, more confident person thanks to that first delivery last spring that brought great things, and even greater people. It’s no wonder they’re growing so quickly. There is a big team of us cheering them on from the bleachers!
Hopefully, you know this already, the feeling of belonging is incredible. I wish it for everyone, whether you find it on a team, through a group of friends or elsewhere. Be brave. Seek it out. Strive to be a valuable member. It’ll make you better than your former self.