After graduating from Davidson College, Erin Osment was faced with a tough decision: finding the role that running would play in her life. With the encouragement of her Oiselle Volée teammates, Erin decided to put running in the center of her life and pursue her dream of making the Olympic Trials. She did not arrive at this decision because it was easy, instead she took a chance on the little voice inside her head that said she had a shot. We are beyond inspired by her bravery and are so excited to watch her fly high at the Olympic Trials in LA.
Welcome to the Haute Volée, Erin! Hear from her on how an OTQ dream became a reality.
2016: A new year filled with opportunity. Opportunity for reflection, growth, and change. It’s a big year- among many things, it’s an Olympic year.
At 22 years old, I have been running for a solid third of my life. Competing in high school carried me to the collegiate world, where I raced for the Davidson College Women’s Cross Country and Track teams. Now I’m out in the real world, playing at adulthood and pursuing my dreams of elite running.
Leaving Davidson was bittersweet for me. I was sad to be losing a group of caring and dedicated teammates who had supported me for the past four years. I was unsure of what direction my running career would take – however, I knew I wanted to continue to train and compete at a high level. Right out of school I was struggling to find anyone to run with locally and any kind of group to associate with. Along with meeting some local runners and learning the Charlotte area, in late July, I heard about a limited number of spots opening for the Oiselle Voleé ambassador team. I joined and was amazed by the strength of the Oiselle Voleé community! The support of these women, some of them hundreds of miles away, gave me the same strength and encouragement as I had at Davidson.
I began August training for two specific half marathons in an attempt to get the OTQ time of 1:15.00. The Savannah Rock N’ Roll half, on November 7th, followed by the Kiawah Island half on December 12th. My coach, Jen Straub, Director of the Davidson Track program, and I laid out a plan in which Savannah, as my first race at the distance, would be a dress rehearsal for Kiawah, where I would shoot for the qualifier.
Then, real life sunk in. I had a very tough fall trying to adjust to post-collegiate life while maintaining the level of training necessary to be an elite athlete. This included dealing with not enough sleep, nutrition, as well as endless stress over money, income, rent, etc. I worked briefly at a local coffee shop in Davidson, but at the end of three months of 5 am wake ups and little time to run, I broke down. I’m talking full-on, crying on the phone to my mom every night, breakdown. At this point, I sat down and laid out my goals. What exactly did I want to achieve? Was my running my primary focus?
I ended up quitting the job at the coffee shop. I took some crucial steps to making sure I could focus on myself, mentally and physically. Six (pretty bumpy) weeks later, I stood on the starting line at my first half marathon carrying a lot of doubts – about whether I really belonged there, and if I could really do this. I felt nervous, so nervous that I couldn’t even get myself to say hello to the other Oiselle jersey I saw in the crowd. After the race, I received an incredible amount of positive messages, congratulations, and cheering from the Voleé community! It was astounding to see how these ambassador, and elite, women connected in Facebook messages, email, and other ways to support each other and cheer me on. Having that experience under my belt really served as a motivator for my training through the winter. With Kiawah up next, I knew that I wanted to continue to grow my involvement with the Oiselle community and give that qualifier another shot.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I came away from Kiawah with a new PR in the half but a mental defeat. It meant several days of considering the race, highlighting positives and neutralizing negative thoughts. Having come closer to the time cut pushed me to hone my training over the holidays. I had initially thought that if I didn’t get the OTQ at Kiawah, that would be it. Done. Move on, girl. But, a last minute surprise! Allie Bigelow, one of the Oiselle Voleé southeast region leaders, put me in touch with the director of the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, Richard Fannin. I can’t say enough about these two people – Allie, for her support, and Richard Fannin, for organizing the race. It was about to be the start of 2016, and I was headed to Jacksonville for one last shot.
The Jacksonville Bank Half was one of the most exciting races I have competed in. I relived the whole experience on my blog, but some of the biggest highlights of the entire weekend were: racing in an enormous pack of elite women, meeting some of my Oiselle Haute Voleé teammates, and nailing the OTQ! I crossed that finish line almost stunned, and beyond thrilled to have the OTQ. It was a great moment for me, not only to run a personal best but also to do it in a Oiselle singlet. It’s crazy how much the encouragement of others can inspire you to run your best, and I can definitely say the encouragement from the Oiselle flock inspired me. Getting the OTQ was a huge milestone for me, which was fueled by the support – both logistical and emotional – of my Oiselle teammates.
Since the race, it’s been one big, bubbly, bursting whirlwind. I’m honored and thrilled to be joining the Haute Voleé. I’m looking forward to competing in LA, and could not be happier to say that I will be standing on the starting line, wearing the same uniform as 17 other incredible Oiselle women!
- Erin Osment