A running camp in Oregon, hosted by Oiselle? Sounded
good brilliant to me. Having been a counsellor for a high school cross-country camp recently, to be on the other side of the fence, a running-student once again, was something I was really looking forward to. And ‘Bird Camp’ as it became known or, aka #birdcamp, did not disappoint.
Bird Camp was held in Bend, a bustling Oregon town, full of the old and the new. Bend sits at 3,000 ft on the eastern side of the Cascade mountains and flowing right through it’s centre is the Deschutes River, a water source that became a key part of camp – but more about that later!
There were three main awesome aspects of the camp:
- The People. 2. The Environment. 3. The Food & Drink.
1. The People. The people at Bird Camp made it what it was: a memorable, informative, and transformative experience. The yoga, the expert talks and presentations, the pre-run activation exercises and running drills that we learnt were all spot on. The whole Oiselle Team, my room mates, Jas Yoga and Little Wing all contributed something, whether it be a simple high five or a late night girly chat! Dr. Sarah Lesko also led the group through a set of exercises known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’ – a hard core set of strengthening activities that by the end had many of us floored! Oiselle ladies are a talented bunch, graceful and stylish, flying along.
2. The Environment. The combination of high desert, with pine trees, juniper and sage PLUS running water in the middle of summer was a winner. Luckily, the location of the camp, Seventh Mountain Resort, was right next to the Deschutes River and the trail that ran alongside it for miles was fantastic! You could run uninterrupted for miles and then cool off in small ponds near the resort. As we ran along the trail on Saturday we saw people fly fishing, rafting, hiking and mountain biking. In winter the outdoor sports are obviously very different – but you’d still be spoilt for choice! On Saturday Oiselle took us out to Smith Rock State Park, which was totally breath taking. The landscape was dramatic, and deciding on a route to run was nearly as tough as the actual trail running! But the views rewarded our efforts and I think everyone agreed it was a running highlight of the camp.
3. The food and drink. Oiselle kept us very well ‘nutriented’ with a great range of snacks (including Picky Bars and Wild Friends Peanut Butter) and meals that included everything from a BBQ to a tasty taco truck. Nuun electrolyte tabs and drink containers were also at hand to ensure we had enough fluids to stay hydrated. But Bend has all these things called ‘breweries’, which sell something called ‘beer’. So, like good birds, we all worked on our beer training too. The Deschutes Brewery was one place that really challenged us by not only providing excellent beer, but also by hosting the Twilight 5km race! The whole Oiselle Team took part, decked out in the bright and colourful new team vest, and after the run, we carried on with our beer training using the Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale.
As we were leaving Bend, someone asked what my favourite part of the whole camp had been. The question really made me think, and aside from the actual running along the Deschutes River Trail, two sections of Bird Camp stand out in my mind. Firstly, the Q & A panel with elite athletes, Lauren Fleshman, Kara Goucher (via a Skype-video link up), Kate Grace and Stephanie Howe. The frank answers the line-up gave to the questions were refreshing, at times hilarious but also reassuring. Elite athletes are real people who take their work seriously but as we learnt from the panel, it has it’s ups and downs just like every other job. Secondly, the presentation about the Oiselle clothing design and manufacturing process given by Chief Bird Sally was great. Again, it was open and honest and if you’re interested in the entrepreneurial spirit – read the Oiselle story HERE.
One of the most impressive aspects of camp was meeting so many women who balance relationships, motherhood, work and running – regardless of whether being at elite level or not! It’s amazing what people can do! It was definitely inspiring but more importantly it affirmed the fact that it’s ok to dream and to have goals – you’ve just got to be patient, determined, and organised!
A few extra lessons from Bird Camp: that eating a fried egg with oatmeal is ok (so that the yolk mixes with the oats); that refined sugars are also ok but in moderation (ideally the middle of long run); that singing makes great cross-training (think lung expansion); and that ice cream can help you become an Olympian! OK – you might need Kara Goucher DNA for that one to work!!
As I write now from Seattle, I’m already missing the Deschutes River Trail and the dry altitude of Bend. A huge thanks goes out to Oiselle, Lauren Fleshman and the Bend Birds for making the camp happen. But the Pacific North West has more in store and on Thursday I’ll be connecting with the Nuun Team for the Hood to Coast relay – running from Mount Hood to Seaside. More running, pine tree and sunbeam chasing tales to follow.