One of the things we love most about running is that it isn't subjective. It isn't a beauty pageant. There are no deductions for artistry, or songs, or hair ribbons. Elite running is a meritocracy - and talent can come from anywhere. And you, me - anyone - can go as far and fast as our legs will carry us.
Nowhere was that more evident than with our Haute Volée athlete, Erin Osment, at the recent Olympic Marathon Trials. Erin graduated from Davidson College as a second-team All-American, with PR's of 34:14 in the 10K and 16:32 in the 5K. Erin didn't have any offers for sponsorships or training groups. She decided just based on her internal drive that she wanted to continue running and racing. Erin bought a Volée membership in July of 2015. And seven months later she was toeing the line as one of our elite athletes. Unbelievably, Erin placed 18th overall at the US Olympic Marathon Trials, in her FIRST marathon, at age 22!!!
In what sport - and I dare say on what team - is this possible? We are incredibly proud of Erin's achievement, and as we consider opening new spots for the Volée, it makes us excited to welcome all kinds of women, all kinds of talent - all kinds of stories.
You finished 18th at the Olympic Trials Marathon! Can you talk about what this experience was like for you?
For me - and I know from many of my friends, I sound a little nuts - the Trials Marathon was, most simply, FUN. The entire weekend was a unique and incredible sequence of meeting new friends, preparing for and running an intense but exhilarating race, and being so close to others who were going through the same emotions and hype.
What made you want to continue to pursue your running after graduating from college?
I knew already before graduating that I wanted to continue to run and run longer distances, and at the end of the NCAA meet last summer (June '15) I really decided that this was my passion, and I wasn't going to just let it go at the end of my collegiate career.
How did you hear about Oiselle and what inspired you to join the Volée when our team opened last July?
I heard about Oiselle through some friends (Sydney at the Nest!) and wanted to join because the team seemed like a great place for support as well as the possibility of more opportunity if I improved my times. I also joined because I felt lost no longer being on a college team, so was looking for some community to be a part of as I continued to run.
Did you have a specific goal for your running after college?
I wanted to put my toes in the water and test out a half marathon, marathon training and racing, and shoot for the OTQ. Ultimately, I wanted to really get a feel for post-collegiate running and what that would mean for me.
Was there a race or moment that motivated you to pursue the Olympic Trials standard?
My breakthrough 10k last summer at NCAAs made me think, hey, maybe I could be even better at this, maybe I have a shot. That race fueled my dreams of professionally running more than I expected.
What was it like to stand on the starting line next to legendary women in our sport?
It was incredible...to say I felt honored and thrilled would be 100% accurate. And, I was completely that fangirl on Friday ogling Kara, Shalane, Desi, and other athletes doing their pre-race and Saturday warming up...a little starstruck!
You qualified for the Olympic Trials with a half marathon time, how did you feel about running a marathon for the first time on such a large stage?
I was pretty nervous. I felt like a complete rookie and a little clueless, even though I was still really excited.
What was your goal and race plan?
I had some time goals going into the weekend, but with the heat and everyone else adjusting what their race strategies would be, my ultimate goal on race day was to enjoy it and run with strength. I do remember telling my boyfriend the night before that it would be cool if I could get in the top one hundred...
What was going through your head while racing?
I was really enjoying the race. I worked really hard to stay focused on getting my bottles and gels (I was nervous about that part) and keeping to pace in the first half. I was so happy and excited every time I passed my family, Oiselle Team, and fans cheering. It was awesome!
Can you talk about that feeling of crossing the finish line and finishing in the top 20?
Unreal! The crowd was so loud at the finish and my legs so happy to be done running, it was definitely a surreal moment, and I'll remember that forever.
What would you tell a collegiate senior who feels dissatisfied with her running career so far?
I would say, don't ever let the difficulty of the journey distract you - running can be filled with disappointments, struggles, and trials, but in the end, the process makes it worthwhile. Running should make you happy, and if that's true, then the feeling of being dissatisfied will only be temporary. Also, you can always continue to run - don't let anyone tell you that college is the end, because it's not!
Do you have any feedback for Oiselle about what the Volée and Haute Volée have meant to you?
Being a part of the Volée and Haute Volée has given me hope and courage when running was sounding like a ridiculous dream that I should give up, and go for a normal 9-to-5 job and move past my college career. This community of women runners that Oiselle has created inspires me, and being part of the Haute Volée has not only given me some incredibly dedicated and inspiring teammates to call friends, but also the warmth and courage that comes from watching these women run.
What's next for you? Do you have a race or goal in mind?
I'm gearing up for outdoor season and am looking to race some fast 5ks and 10ks on the track. I want to aim for the outdoor Trials cuts in those two events which also means goals of new PRs in both. Right now, I'm preparing for Raleigh Relays at the end of March for my first 5k, and I want to run a 10k at the Payton Jordan Invitational in May!
Read more: 26.2 And Counting: Trials Reflection by Erin