running retreat

Birds of a feather, fly together.

I have had nightmares (some real, some imagined) my whole life about spending extending amounts of time with large groups of women. It was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I set out for Oiselle's annual bird camp this past Friday-Tuesday to be held in Leavenworth, WA. I was excited to meet and spend time with many of the Nest, Haute Volee and Volee, the majority of whom I have either never met or have only known through social media. But let's be real, I was nervous. Would they like me? Would they accept me? Will I fit in?

Colchuck Lake. Photo credit Oiselle!.

Colchuck Lake. Photo credit Oiselle!.

I kind of chuckle to myself now that I was even nervous because I wouldn't be on this team or a part of this "run family", as Sally calls it, if it wasn't made up of accepting, sweet, strong, beautiful, interesting, badass women who many of the same fundamental principals (all beautifully summed up in the Oiselle Team Manifesto). In fact, the experience didn't just exceed my expectations, it was problem the most satisfying four days in a row I've spent doing anything for a long time. 

It's all fun and trail games until you bust a hole in the side wall of your tire. Lauren Fleshman is one tough chick!

It's all fun and trail games until you bust a hole in the side wall of your tire. Lauren Fleshman is one tough chick!

And these days were not magical because of some over the top production or bought experience. It was the people, the experiences we shared together and the community we got to build and deepen. We got to run with different ladies from all over in extraordinarily beautiful setting, we ate amazing food at our retreat location Sleeping Lady, we enjoyed smart, funny and insightful talks, we got to sit down together as a Haute Volee TEAM and discuss how we continue to grow and support each other across disciplines. I loved being able to spend time with women who inspire me deeply and are my "sister-heros" and connect with women of all abilities, backgrounds and experience. 

Colchuck Lake.

Colchuck Lake.

I walked away from these few days absolutely inspired and happy, having learned a great deal from each and every person I had the pleasure of spending time with. 

This is what I believe. Oiselle makes the most amazing clothing for female runners. Watching nearly 100 women walking around in every stitch the brand makes all weekend really brought this home. We looked fierce, all of us different shapes and sizes, and put together and ready to run, hike, bike, chill or take on the world. We witnessed some design ideas that were so excited I think our minds were all blown. Oiselle's product game is on point. But as a brand, they are much much much more than that. They are trailblazing towards a new paradigm in women's running. They are changemakers, who want to see the sport evolve, grown, deepen and include. They want to build a community that accepts us all, from short to tall, from 100m to 100 miles (or less or more!) to throwing heavy objects or jumping over things, that supports us, that drives this sport in the right direction with passion and love. 

My twin from another mother and soul sister, Dr Dre. Photo Andrea Duke.

My twin from another mother and soul sister, Dr Dre. Photo Andrea Duke.

I don't just believe this, I witnessed this in action this weekend. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of #birdcamp15 and to be a part of the Oiselle run family. I cannot wait to see the heights to which we can soar together.

Weekends with Friends, 2 ways

Hanging out on a giant pencil before the run

This past weekend, I rented a gigantic house in Arnold California to pre-celebrate Nathan's upcoming 30th birthday. I invited up some ninjas, many fresh off their North Face 50 mile races, to come up, hang out by the fire, eat great food, play endless word games and do a little running. When I planned the weekend, it was possible that there would be snow in Bear Valley and that we would get to go snowshoeing or cross country skiing. However, it was very pleasant chilly weather and though we ran, it was not a running centric workout. It was more about the getting away from the city and hanging out together than getting in miles. While I did manage to get out on Sunday morning and hammer out a 2 hr run with 11 miles at 6 min pace, I really was only running that fast to get back for the waffles that Nathan was making. Delicious. It was a fantastic weekend through and through. There really is nothing like getting together with a group of friends away from home to do the things you love.

Which brings me to an exciting announcement! I am joining Ian Sharman, Geoff Roes and Bad to the Bone Events for their All Star Running RetreatsFor 3-days/4-nights, based in Las Vegas in January (26-29th) and February (16-19th), we will be running some of the great trails outside of Vegas including Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire, hanging out in luxury accommodation and even enjoying a cooking demo/lesson from yours truly. Much like the weekend I just enjoyed with friends, I look forward greatly to hanging out and running with some incredible individuals in a fun location! 

Want to learn more or sign up? Check out the website: here! I really hope some of my readers will be able to join us, it will be an experience to remember!

From the press release, which is also at this link:

December 9, 2011, Charlottesville, VA— From the folks who brought you UROC 100K, the groundbreaking, rule-changing Ultra Race of Champions, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports founders J. Russell Gill and Dr. Francesca Conte are excited to announce a new concept in running camps for 2012. Not a grueling boot camp for runners, or a dense, pack'em in (runners and miles) seminar, All-Star Running Retreats allows runners to combine the fun of a weekend getaway at a unique destination with running and learning from some of the fastest and knowledgeable elite ultra runners competing today. The January and February retreats will take place over three days and four nights in Las Vegas, NV. They will feature Ian Sharman (USA Trail 100 Mile Record Holder), Geoff Roes (Western States 100 Miler Record Holder) and Devon Crosby-Helms (50 Mile & 100K US National Champion and world class chef).

The dates for the 2012 Las Vegas winter retreats will be: January 26 through January 29 and February 16 through February 19. All training runs will take place on the most scenic trails in and around Las Vegas, including Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire. Each retreat includes all meals and accommodations, two daily training runs focusing on different aspects of running and training, roundtable discussions with the All-Star staff and social activities, including the "must see" Blue Man Group on the strip. 

"The concept of a running camp is not new, but the combination of an All-Star staff with different strengths and knowledge bases, plus a unique destination like Las Vegas certainly is. The retreats will focus not just on the mental and physical aspects of running, but will also include the social aspect of running--Vegas baby!" says Gill. Retreat Leader Ian Sharman adds: "I am very excited about running and spending three days on the trails around Las Vegas. I have been to Las Vegas many times, and I know how much it has to offer."  Lead Runner Geoff Roes, who spends much of his time in Alaska, echoes that sentiment with enthusiasm: "I can't wait to run in Vegas in the winter!" The retreats will also showcase other qualities of the All-Star athletes, including the culinary knowledge of Devon Crosby-Helms who focuses her cooking on the perfect foods for endurance training. Crosby-Helms will offer a cooking masterclass for all the participants. 

Maintaining their "best of the best" motto, Bad to the Bone All-Star Running Retreats will house participants at the Vegas retreat in a luxury mansion, which they will share with the All-Star staff and other participants. "This will foster the close culture already present in the sport of ultra running," says Conte  "while taking advantage of the best that Las Vegas has to offer." While the philosophy of the All-Star Running Retreats is to offer participants an exceptional opportunity to interact with the All-Star staff in a unique environment, the winter retreats in Vegas also represent one of the best, early training opportunities for runners to get ready for any spring or summer race. 

To learn more about Bad to the Bone All-Star Running Retreats and to register for the January or February dates, visit

About Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports
By directing premiere endurance events, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports strives to motivate athletes of all backgrounds to challenge themselves. For almost 10 years, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports events have reflected owners' Gill and Francesca's decades-long knowledge and passion for running.  

About Ian Sharman
Ian is a Brit and started running 6 years ago after seeing a TV documentary about a race across the Sahara. He kind of got addicted and started running races most weekends around the world, mainly in Europe. Then he moved to the US in 2009 to get married and found the ultra culture to be even more fun this side of the pond and makes it his mission to race the most interesting courses and most competitive fields he can find globally. Ian is also a coach. 

About Geoff Roes
Geoff grew up running cross country and track in school and then after nearly 10 years without running much at all he found his way back to running because of his desire to get out into the mountains and explore his surroundings. He considers ultra running to be the perfect blend of mountain exploration, high level competition with some of the best athletes in the world, and plenty of time for personal introspection. He can't think of anything he'd rather be doing with his life right now.

About Devon Crosby-Helms
Devon is a certified personal chef specializing in organic, natural cooking as well as special diets. She runs her own personal chef company, Fast Foodie, in San Francisco. Also, she absolutely loves to run and enjoys trails, roads, and every surface in between from distances of a marathon up to 100 miles.