Sally Bergesen. Runner. Writer. Mom. Designer.
CEO and Chief Rabblerouser at Oiselle.

The Quest of the Monster Bottom

Several years ago, I was at a dinner party with some people I knew, and some I didn’t. And when it got that point in the evening when much food and drink had been consumed and people had transplanted their spots all around the table, I found myself next to a guy who professed to be an ex-apparel person. I was a little surprised, mostly because he had an ultra-casual, essence-of-Lebowski vibe going. But as the din of the party rose, full of voices and music, he leaned in real close, conspiratorially, and told me something that has stuck with me ever since. He said “you know what you need…” and then with full dramatic effect, “a monster bottom.” And to this day, I have agreed with his summation of what can drive a successful apparel company. Bottoms. Because if you give women great fitting pants, tights, leggings, underwear, buns, shorts, whatever-might-be-needed-for-the-situation-in-the-back, you will have won not just their bottoms, but their hearts. As we take our first full strides into Fall, I would say this is our best season yet of some amazing bottoms. Time will tell, maybe even monstrous.

Pictured above, left to right: Portman Pants, Go Joggings, Lux Track Pants, oiselle.com

Abs are Great…but what else you got?

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Last week was a watershed moment for myself and this experiment we call Oiselle. We went to New York City Fashion Week, we brought athletes, and we solidified our commitment to putting feminine fierce on full display and on the biggest stage. NY Times piece about it. This, and the work of the past 7 years, is a huge start. But for me, there’s so much more to do. And one of the biggest problems as I see it, is what’s currently known as women’s interest and fitness publications. Not only do they portray a relentless stream of model-masquerading-as-athlete ideals. But the entire vein of the content is a something-for-nothing attitude (lose five pounds in five minutes, get abs in your sleep, etc.) that goes against everything I know about what it takes to be a healthy, strong individual. And furthermore, what it means to be happy and fulfilled. Yes, the byproduct of being a serious runner is awesome. I wear a smaller dress size in my 40’s than I did in my sedentary, beer swilling 20’s. But it’s the means not the end. It’s the happy consequence of being in love with a sport, and a community, and friendships, and that post-run halo that tells me, somehow, we are all connected. Abs are great, but what else you got?

Fashion Show Intro / Feminist Anthem

Before the athletes came on to the runway this week, we used the feminist anthem by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, also sampled in Beyoncé’s song Flawless (listen at 1:24) to set the atmosphere. 

The words:

We teach girls to shrink themselves.
To make themselves smaller.
We say to girls,
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage.
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important.
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support,
But why do we teach to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors,
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing,
But for the attention of men.
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are.
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes

Pictured: Britney Henry, US Hammer Thrower + Oiselle athlete

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

— Inscription on the Statue of Liberty
Author: Emma Lazarus

What to Wear When You’re on a Hit List #NYFW

There’s A Listers, and short listers, and VIP guest lists. But today as we head to NYC Fashion Week, let’s talk about what you should wear if you find yourself on a HIT LIST. You know, right in the cross hairs of mobsters and/or industry peers who would like nothing more than to see you sweat in non-technical fabric.

That’s right. Even while living with the knowledge that someone wants to gravely injure your person, you can look and feel your best! Radiate confidence in this season’s hottest hues, including gun metal gray, below the belt blue, and Godfather green. Then top it off with what every celeb hit lister will be wearing in the stockade: the Furstenberg Kevlar wrap dress with concrete wedge sneakers. 
Does the weather call for 80% chance of criminal intimidation? Raise your white flag! The latest looks are versatile AND cost effective, as the same outfit can seamlessly take you from the back stretch of the national meet to the trunk of a Chrysler LeBaron. 
Holsters, duct tape, rope and body bags round out the latest accessories. And never worry about over-accessorizing. More is more when you’re dead!
So stride confidently sports enthusiast! Wear your heart on your sleeve, your sport in your heart, and commit to giving a shit. For this, the industry will end you. Or at the very least, beat you senseless.
It’s not that the prodigy lacks joy. Or the newbie, conviction. It’s not that the up-and-comer doesn’t foretell dreamscapes, like halos of spun sugar. It’s just that when the comeuppance is also the comeback, our hearts break into a million pieces and reform into something that looks like hope. We know the loss, the injury, the pain, and the fear have created an environment only a few can sustain. The insanely dedicated. The embattled fighter. The athlete who knows everything counts because everything’s at stake. And we pull for them. Because they believe in their potential just as we hope to believe in our own.
Pictured: Kara Goucher, CU Track, in prep for her return to racing at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon 9/21/14. Photo: Caitlin Fairly.

It’s not that the prodigy lacks joy. Or the newbie, conviction. It’s not that the up-and-comer doesn’t foretell dreamscapes, like halos of spun sugar. It’s just that when the comeuppance is also the comeback, our hearts break into a million pieces and reform into something that looks like hope. We know the loss, the injury, the pain, and the fear have created an environment only a few can sustain. The insanely dedicated. The embattled fighter. The athlete who knows everything counts because everything’s at stake. And we pull for them. Because they believe in their potential just as we hope to believe in our own.

Pictured: Kara Goucher, CU Track, in prep for her return to racing at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon 9/21/14. Photo: Caitlin Fairly.

Athletic fashion is having a life moment. What it once chased (the fashion world), is now its pursuer. But in reality the fashionistas don’t care about sport. It’s just another trend…goth, tribal, motorcycle, punk, …as the NYT fashion critic Guy Trebay wrote, “Fashion is culture’s Godzilla…half the time it doesn’t know what it ate.” And yet steadily, quietly, athletic apparel is mounting its coup d’état. It is, with increasing sophistication and undeniable function, becoming the ultimate solution for the modern woman. The clothing of both comfort and power. The fashionistas have only paused here for a smoke break, but it doesn’t matter. There’s a new runner in the race and she’s moving fast. They might never catch her.
Pictured: Lauren Fleshman, The Dempsey (Seattle, WA), 2014

Athletic fashion is having a life moment. What it once chased (the fashion world), is now its pursuer. But in reality the fashionistas don’t care about sport. It’s just another trend…goth, tribal, motorcycle, punk, …as the NYT fashion critic Guy Trebay wrote, “Fashion is culture’s Godzilla…half the time it doesn’t know what it ate.” And yet steadily, quietly, athletic apparel is mounting its coup d’état. It is, with increasing sophistication and undeniable function, becoming the ultimate solution for the modern woman. The clothing of both comfort and power. The fashionistas have only paused here for a smoke break, but it doesn’t matter. There’s a new runner in the race and she’s moving fast. They might never catch her.

Pictured: Lauren Fleshman, The Dempsey (Seattle, WA), 2014

Team Can Be Temporary (and That’s Okay)

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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.

sexyankle:

Races
Just when I’m starting to get settled! Here’s what the next week looks like:
July 12th - 1500 - Kortrijk, Belgium
July 14th - 800 - Linz, Austria
July 19th - 1500 - Heusden, Belgium

I almost typo’d “K8 raving in Europe!!!” racing is good too. The combo could be deadly.

sexyankle:

Races

Just when I’m starting to get settled! Here’s what the next week looks like:

July 12th - 1500 - Kortrijk, Belgium

July 14th - 800 - Linz, Austria

July 19th - 1500 - Heusden, Belgium

I almost typo’d “K8 raving in Europe!!!” racing is good too. The combo could be deadly.