posted 03/07/14 at 3:29am
on USWNT: USA Draws With Japan in Algarve Opener
posted by Ask Lauren Fleshman
Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 7:57am EST
Welcome to Ask Lauren, where you get bomb diggity advice from a pro distance runner who's been through it all. Also, don't be afraid to check out the Journal for some unfiltered pro-runner life, Lauren style. Peace out!
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Everyone was talking about it. Ashton Kutcher was doing it. I finally signed up. I didn’t get it.
So when someone followed me, I’d scan through their tweets to get a feel for how other people were using it…a quick way to learn the nuances of how to use a scant 140 characters to be useful, interesting, pointless, hilarious, narcissistic or snooze worthy, depending on what you’re going for.
Sally Bergesen, ladies and gentlemen.
And then there was cyberstalking
Sally Bergesen is CEO and founder of her own women’s running apparel company in Seattle (Oiselle), mom, runner, and creator of a string of hilarious, witty, and thoughtful tweets. I followed her back, hoping I could learn a thing or two about using twitter, and since Picky Bars was just getting going, maybe learn about running a business while I was at it. This is what I learned:
Her kids share my love of handstands...
She shares my obsession with birds, but actually has the guts to paint them on her living room wall...
Her husband is a cyclist who sports Picky Bars, like someone else I know...
She's not afraid to look ridiculous for a good cause...
Pretty soon Oiselle people seemed to be all over the place. I’d see a random graphic tee I liked on some chick, compliment her, and she’d go on to tell me that it’s made by this women-run business in Seattle, blah blah blah, Oiselle. I realized some of my favorite ALF readers, commenters, and twitter personalities happened to be Oiselle brand ambassadors, and then there was more evidence of awesomeness:
Even though I wasn't on their Hood to Coast team, I could tell I would have fit right in with ambassadors like Erin Ward. I own that headlamp. And that banana phone.
I got an inside look at the design process...
Sara "Mac" Robinson not only worked at Oiselle, but ran fast, modeled, wrote an interesting blog, and was super cool when I met her randomly in Eugene...are all of them this cool?
They take working out seriously. The office was a multi-use environment...
Before long, major Girl Crush, and brand crush.
A fantasy took shape about an alternate, impossible life where I’d get to run for a company like Oiselle, and work closely with the people that were featured on Sally’s Instagram. But that would never, ever happen.
At the end of 2010, Oiselle was a small brand. Nike probably made more money on winter glove sales in California than Oiselle did on their entire line that year. And running a small business of my own, I knew that sponsorship beyond a little bit of free stuff is impossible until your company gets to a critical point of growth. I’d tell myself,
Maybe in a couple years when my contract with Nike is up, they’ll be big enough. Maybe it’s possible. Maybe…
But there was no way.
In 2011, the crush just got worse. We hung out at a few running events. They kept coming out with awesome, creative products. For the first time, I became jealous of another brand’s stuff. Their tweets were too funny. They were too talented. They followed and supported the entire women’s running world, regardless of what brand the women wore. These Oiselle people were clearly crazy. They were having too much fun.
Day of the week undies for runners? Yep.
@Jasyoga took us through some runner girl yoga moves.
By the time the end of 2012 came around, I was a goner. These clearly insane, fashionable women…they were officially my friends, in real life. With my contract coming up in a few months, it was time to explore the real possibility, so I went to Seattle to check out my new friends’ operations and feel things out for a long weekend. Surely they couldn’t be this cool in their natural human environment, they’d let me down gently, and I could finally put this fantasy out of my head.
Bob and Sarah Lesko
We ran, we talked, we did yoga, we worked on our respective jobs, we giggled like teenagers. I spied on everything in their office, the office I’d only seen bits of in pictures, and got a feel for the inspirations that moved them. My creative energy was flowing and I was in awe. I stayed with Bob and Sarah Lesko, new twitter friends who were ex Yale student/atheltes, previous Gag’s runners, track fans, and Oiselle investors/super fans. We boated in the autumn sun, played guitar, sang songs, and stayed up past 1am talking every night.
Everyone I met was even better than what I imagined from the internet. I’ll never doubt eHarmony again.
Sarah and Justin Lesko, part of the hard core Oiselle #Totallytrials Cheering Squad.
As Sally and I picked sushi off the conveyor belt during our final lunch, we talked about our visions for the future. I didn’t feel guilty about wanting to take a year off to start a family. I felt supported when I talked about the uncertainty of the future, and my commitment to a balanced life, even if that results in 5 seconds off my ultimate super-human 5k potential. Sally talked about her dreams for Oiselle, her passion for her family, a vision of collaboration, and a desire to help shape the sport she loved. Things lined up, dream for dream. We didn’t know how it would work out exactly, but we knew we wanted it to.
The birds made some Fleshman Flyer shirts at the Trials and tweeted out a Eugene street corner, date, and time...and some awesome people showed up!
At the Running Event in December, I wanted to take one final opportunity to see how Oiselle stacked up next to every other brand that was there, but I couldn’t get myself to do more than browse elsewhere. I tested the gear and hung out with the team. I quizzed all the sales reps that I could, and scoped out the line for 2013. Winner: Oiselle.
So today, Jan 1, of the year “Lucky ’13,” Oiselle and I tie the knot!!! I am so freaking fortunate, grateful, and excited. Sleep has been impossible.
To all the Oiselle Ambassadors and fans who have been nudging me (whether you meant to or not) this way for the past couple years…I’m honored to join your team. To the group of women in the Seattle office who make all the magic happen: Sally, Mac, KMet, Kerr, JJ, Czabrina…it’s your fault for being awesome and causing my heart to stray. And to the Lesko’s, all five of you, for being fans, supporters, investors, advisors, and friends: thank you for keeping it real.
And finally, to my family, friends, my ALF readers, commenters, pro running peers, fellow writers, tweeps and internet peeps…thanks for all the inspiration, the sense of community, and for encouraging me to follow my heart.
As Desmond Tutu says,
“A person is a person through other persons.
None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are…”
“Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
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