I love trail and ultra running. The people, the challenges, the community, the support.
Soul-enriching, strength and character building beyond anything I have ever done or been involved with in my life. Its saved and changed my life in ways I can barely begin to describe. I hold those random, bubbly, precious feelings near and dear and tightly in my heart.
While deeply satisfying and challenging, I will be the first to admit that it is really not a very glamorous sport.
If youve run trails or ultras youll feel this list is missing something. (Tell me what you would add!)
If you have not run trails or an ultra you might be wondering Just how not-glamorous can this possibly be?
Pooping in the woods, snot rockets, chafe, sweat and mud and dirt. Blisters. Missing toenails. Black toenails. Sunburn in the oddest of patterns and places. Did I mention chafing? Squatting in poison oak. Headlamp batteries dying and leaving you in the dark at 4 AM. Hallucinations, scabbed knees, puking, smelling like a yeti, digestive issues, swamp-ass.
I know Im missing some critically UN-glamorous, probably hilarious, things.
Some of you are totally horrified and wondering what on earth there is to possibly love about this sport. Youll just have to trust me. The thrill of covering a whole lot of miles, seeing country I would never see any other way, supported by amazing people and the challenge of pushing myself well beyond the normal boundaries
I feel strong and bad ass and challenged and alive.
Some of the best ultra-runners in the world wear skirts when they run. The woman are strong, talented and fearless. And theyre wearing these practical and comfortable and cute skirts. Win, win, win. Its as close to glamorous as were going to get in this sport. I always wanted to try to pull off that look. Except that I am a larger size than the elites. And having lost 200+ pounds; well, my upper thighs need a little more care and coverage than most peoples. I simply need a longer inseam in the built-in shorts than is typically offered to help prevent the aforementioned chafing.
I searched high and low and experimented with all kinds of product lines for well over two years. I want to look cute in race pictures. (Ego!) I also want to respect the spaces Im running in, special spaces that are wildly scenic. Kind of like dressing up for a party, I like to dress up out of respect for the place Im visiting and running in.
And lets face it I dont need to spend each run looking like Im wearing whatever doesnt smell and like I dressed in the dark with whatever garments I could put my hands on.
Then I found this active dress company out of Seattle
And our local running store,Running Princess, sold the dresses.
I saw one. Bought it. Ran in it the next day.
I wear my own compression shorts under it and WA LA!
Checking out the horizon. Staring at the far off Gooseberry Mesa that Ill be climbing in about 20 days during the Zion 100 miler. (PC C. Stephens)
I finally had the running dress/skirt Id been searching for for over two years!
And theres one additional and really vital thing about them that has become increasingly important to me
Some companies say they do. This company does it in their branding, marketing, size offerings, event support. I know. I watched and looked and snooped around to see if this was JUST their clever marketing niche, or if they really meant it.
Their commitment to active women of all sizes is at their core and its obvious. As someone who was starting to be active and painfully stood out EVEN MORE than I already was at 300ish pounds in my boxy cotton Ts and big and tall mens shorts from Walmart
I instantly felt a surge of gratitude and compassion for this companys approach to helping woman feel strong and pretty and confident while being active No matter their size.
And now a days, Im 180ish pound, about a size 12-14. I find really cute active clothes and sometimes at my current weight and fitness I still dont fit in their largest offering. I can run a 100 miler, but they dont make clothes that fit me. Huh. Their message is clear and frustrating to me. We dont want larger women who are active being seen as our customers or brand ambassadors. OK. Maybe that is not their intended message at all. However, thats certainly what I hear LOUD AND CLEAR.
Spencer and I were having a conversation about a running team that I am on. Last year after some consideration and a wild dose of courage, I applied and got accepted. I never expected a yes. It was totally a thrilling moment for this former 400-pound, non-active woman to be invited to join a running team! I was over the moon. It is a group of women across the country that are all tied to a clothing line by their love of running. I was expressing to Spencer that I was not sure how much longer I would stay on the team after a year of being on it. He suggested perhaps I hadnt given it enough effort, hadnt worked to reach out and meet some of my fellow teammates. I finally said that I never felt like I fit in. They only offer up to size 12 in clothing and I can only fit in a select few of their looser fit garments on a good day.
The racing singlet they give you for being on their team barely fits over my boobs and so I have never even worn it to represent them when I run. I wont wear it in public.
Its great, high quality and fun clothing line for some woman, and while I respect and loved the community of supportive women, the clothes just dont work for me. And perhaps more importantly, their clothing is not an option for the women I am trying to reach, work with and encourage who are learning to love being active and themselves wear sizes 12 30.
I told Spencer that I was in a spot with my running and health and with our business,Novo Veritas, that I was truly interested in finding companies that I could suggest and endorse that embraced the idea that active woman come in all sizes.
I want to find companies, events and products that back up OUR brand with theirs; they show support and exhibit the understanding that woman are fierce, bad ass, healthy inall sizes.
Women (and men, lets be fair!) kick ass, conquer mountains, battle fears and chase down dreams in ALL shapes and sizes.
I told Spencer that I wanted to intentionally throw my support behind those endeavors that recognize active, adventure-seeking, healthy people of all shapes and sizes.
But it turns out to not even really be about the dress. It was more about finding a company and a community that support me and all of the other women I know so we can go out and do daring and bad ass things.
No matter what it may be. No matter our size. 🙂
What daring and bad ass things are YOU up to?!
Clothes arent going to change the world, the women who wear them will. Anne Klein.
Betsy, reach out to Sally at Oiselle. I think she will legitimately want to hear about your experience. Serious. And while I cant say my experience has been profound, some of the local meet-ups have been helpful, for me. 🙂
I have. More than a few times. I think instead of trying to change where Im at Im going to change my thinking and my approach. Besides what they have going on works for so, so many women. Im an exception Rebecca not the rule. And thats OK! I am not complaining. I just realized that perhaps my reality is a little off-center from where I was at and thats OK
I think I can understand that. 🙂 I also think theyre slowly working on expanding the image/audience. so perhaps more good things will come!
I love NuuMuu too! They are great for Triathlons since I can slip it over my swim gear and go. I have major thigh chafing issues so love that I can wear it over capris. Ive also made a few skirts to go with my capris.
The unexpected incidences that occur on the trails add to the excitement. No run is ever the same though I have learned to always carry TP!
TP is a must. 🙂 I can imagine these would be great for Tris. I actually hadnt thought of that! Spring is here and racing season is upon us! Good luck this year!
Good luck to you too! My first race is my annual Mother-Daughter Tri in May with my mother. She said shed do it once to say that she did a triathlon and never do it again. This is our 5th year, and she asks every year Are we going to do it again? It is always amazing to see what your body can accomplish much more than we ever think possible.
They support active women of all sizes.
You had me so convinced!! I clicked on the link and, well Their biggest size is 22. This would exclude any active woman size 24 and beyond. So not all. Oh well, cute dresses. For some. 😉
Catherine! I do hear what youre saying. When I wore a size 32 and people would tell me all sizes I would usually wind up pissed or disappointed. We know that most large/extended size lines stop at 3X or size 26. You are right to comment on my all sizes remark given their sizing chart. I was going more on who the women are in my life of wildly varying heights/weight and sizes who all wear the dresses and giving less attention to their labeled size. I have a several friends who wear 24, 26 and 28. They all wear the 3X in their favorite pattern and cut. They look terrific on each of them. They do fit snug as a workout item should. I tried to indicate when I was writing this blog; it wasnt ever just about the dress. Its about their attitude and desire to help women feel good while being active. And in that, they rock. Im sorry you were disappointed. And I really, really appreciate you writing to me.
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