When I was in high school, I ran with the fast kids and not the athletic kind. At 16, I moved out of my Dad’s house, drove cars sans license or permit, and “camped” in the hills of Berkeley with a roving pack of similarly undomesticated teenagers. It was a lifestyle which, oddly enough, was not uncommon in NorCal in the mid-80’s. I proceeded to gallop like a wild horse without a fence through college at Oregon until I’d had enough, arriving at the edge of my 20’s both winded and hollow. I was tired; and in being broken down realized I was ready to grow up.
That’s when I found running - a little like Forrest Gump - without much of an inkling of where I was going or when I’d stop. And then the days and miles ticked off and after I moved to Seattle, I kept at it, right foot, left foot. I joined a local running club. I met people. Most of them still say hi to me. And even though the bright orange singlets of my local club were ill fitting, with a different way of being ill-fitting from year to year, it was a very good group. And it was well organized, sending full men’s and women’s teams to Cross Country Nationals every year, including the year we won the title in 1997 on the Stanford Campus (thank you Bill Roe).
I ran for the club through my mid- to late-20’s, and then again after having babies. Even though it was never the same group from year to year, the team was a constant in my life for more than a decade. They were people that I knew would be there when I needed them, and easily recede when I didn’t.
I believe this is the best role a recreational team can play in someone’s life — and my hope for The Flock. When we are little, we have our parents and they are our first family. And then we go to school and/or get a job and that becomes our second family. Running is like a third family — especially in the early 20’s when, remarkably, the world is both an oyster and an impenetrable clam. It’s a type of camaraderie that sits just outside anything else you might be doing, or not doing, with your life.
And while this might sound odd, I genuinely hope that people leave us. Or let me put it this way: I hope that Oiselle Team, in whatever form, can be a place where people join, connect, run, and then when the time comes for them to move on to the next thing - they know we’re high-fiving them as they go. In the ideal scenario, Oiselle ends up with hundreds, thousands? of alums - who will always be part of our family - and who will always be welcomed if they want to return. Or simply head home, sheepish and tired, from stealing their parents’ car.