So I decided to start New Amsterdam…

…and it’s medically terrible.

No nuance for New York City – as anyone who has ever lived or worked for decades in NYC could tell you, none of the clothing options for the characters are in line with the weather or seasons, and Lauren Bloom is so far removed from reality as an EM physician that I wonder who approved her as a character that’s indicative of anyone in emergency medicine…

The naïveté and earnestness of Max Goodwin, the new medical director, is nice but absolutely not rooted in reality. You’re supposed to love Max, but like MANY medical TV series, somehow everyone is an expert in every medical subspecialty, and can scrub in for surgery at every turn. It makes me laugh at the absurdity, which is why I still keep it on.

Despite everything that doesn’t work for the series, I’ve found myself in tears from the humanity of the many situations that come up. Like the DNR for a patient that is within moments of meeting her granddaughter. Or the dying woman reunited with her dog, only for Kapoor to figure out she’s not dying, just misdiagnosed. The gifted child with multiple tumors.

Two seasons on Netflix is easy to get through in the background while doing menial tasks like laundry, cooking, and dishes, and it’s actually giving almost decent characters, like Dr. Kapoor played by Anupam Kher of Bollywood royalty. I absolutely laughed aloud when the small nuances of Hindi in conversation was absolutely well written, his portrayal of South Asian cultural shame and judgement evident. The conversation about boundaries within family when he brings in the future mother of his grandchild… priceless. I’m certain I see it vastly differently when I can understand the cultural expectations of “this is what family does!”.

What is at a loss is some of the portrayal of the Black community – it plays into some stereotypes which can be highly damaging. I personally appreciate Grey’s Anatomy more in this regard – the conversations are far better in my honest opinion.

“I did a year of med school but I couldn’t cut it… and I spent the last ten years kind of numb because of instead of helping people, I ended up doing the exact opposite.” -Aneel, an insurance agent

I have found that many who have dropped out of medical school couldn’t cut it and continue onwards in life to pretend otherwise. To be explored in another post.

Lauren walking into an NA meeting and seeing the sex-only doctorate she’s replaced her addiction to drugs with… priceless.

Oh, and anyone who knows emergency medicine knows that NO EM physician gets away with using the Q-word.

Add in the conflict of religious belief systems and medicine, and there’s always a reminder of the multitude of methods and pathways that religious beliefs can inhibit appropriate medical care. I can always appreciate this aspect of the reality of healthcare when it is approached well with appropriate context and nuance in TV and film.

I’m just going to end up finishing the series only because I’ve had the benefit of working on set multiple times and know exactly where it’s filmed, so it’s always fun to see the difference of TV magic and lighting. I usually don’t intentionally watch the TV/film projects I’m “in” as a SAG background actor, but this was pre-pandemic and I’ve always enjoyed portraying Muslim characters, especially in medical shows as we exist and aren’t seen often enough in these spaces. It’s a simple fact that you’ll have Muslim physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers on staff simply because of our aggressive cultural dynamic to push our families towards medicine.

I know how medically inept so many aspects of this show is. It is incredibly annoying to notice them, and usually I have would shut it off by now. But the absurdity of the situations here allow me to not constantly think about the very real public health and medical situations at hand. Some of the poor attempts at humor are fun (but not as good as Grey’s – I’m a big fan of Grey’s until they were completely incompetent with regards to portraying COVID protocols. I will get back to it – it’s still great drama that is better done, better character development with better looking actors – I appreciate beauty as a part of my entertainment value. But it’s on hold. It’s also possible with New Amsterdam that knowing what it means to be a healthcare worker in multiple NYC hospitals diminishes my enjoyment of an inaccurate portrayal of this beloved city and its communities). And if I’m being honest, when presented with mortality and real trauma throughout this ongoing pandemic, an escape is necessary. Anyone in healthcare who has treated and is still treating COVID+ patients from the beginning in the worst hit locations can understand.

I miss long runs.

I just really miss long runs.

There’s nothing that can’t be thought about during a long run.

Your grades, your relationship, your friends, the news you’ve just read…

And then, of course, there’s nothing at all.

There are the runs that allow you just keep going, your mind finally put on pause as the miles click by.

There are the runs that allow you to process grief, where the tears stream down your face and sometimes you’re not even aware that you’re crying.

There are the runs that let you know you’re not alone, whether it’s alongside a friend, your teammates, or a sign from nature letting you know that someone recently deceased is still with you. I had plenty of those when my uncle died.

There are the silent runs, where you and your running partner(s) are in sync and don’t need to say a word.

There are the competitive runs when with a new training group, and these were always fun, pushing harder than you probably should just to be competitive and prove a point. I absolutely miss those. They really are some of my favorite ones. Be better every day is one of my favorite mantras to accomplish goals.

There are the angry runs, the ones where all of your energy just goes into the workout because there’s no better way to work out injustice or the day’s irritabilities than with a good, hard run.

But I really miss long runs.

I miss the long runs on the trails, where I can just breathe in the beauty of being in God’s backyard, honoring my body because it’s the only one I have.

I miss the warmups, and the drills.

But most of all, I miss the peace.

Running isn’t a replacement for therapy, it never was and it never will be. Running is, however, therapeutic. Whether you’re running away from something; whether you’re safely listening to a podcast, music, today’s lectures to study or an audiobook; or you’re running toward a healthier, better version of you, running is probably the easiest, no-nonsense sport there is. It’s certainly the most inclusive.

All you need is a good pair of running shoes and the decision to just GO. Heck, there are plenty of young children that will prove you wrong and run in anything – it’s the adults who make the excuses for not getting out to better themselves. So. Many. Excuses.

I mean, this guy decided he was going to break a 400m record while racing in Crocs. Feel free to read about this pretty damn fast half marathon in Crocs as well.

Hey, if it ain’t broke… 🙂

And if it is broke, I see ya.

Haven’t spilled my thoughts on here in a long while. Let’s just say the new year has come with a multitude of ethical and moral obligations.


A Runner Not Running

Truth in Statements, Part 1

Please forgive any formatting errors – I am not a professional blogger, I am new to this.
Bullying by a teammate. Unfortunately, we experienced a situation during the past 3-4 months where a Volée teammate repeatedly defamed and disrespected Kelly via team venues, such as Facebook, Twitter, and our online portal, which caused us to remove her from the Volée. We welcome questions, conversation, and critical feedback, but we have zero tolerance for bullying.” Sally Bergesen, CEO of Oiselle.
Merriam-Webster defines bullying as: 


  1. :  abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. :  the actions and behavior of a bully
I’m having a flashback to 2015 when Nick Symmonds, 2x Olympian, US World Silver Medalist in the 800m, 6x USA 800m National champion, asked the USATF (the governing body of USA Track & Field) to define a “Team USA event” in the contract he was to sign in order to compete at IAAF Worlds. (Watch an interview here. I love the passion he has for what’s right and fair in the sport. At 3:45 he talks about how he was bullied & harassed by a governing body larger than him.)
In not receiving clarification on the matter, Symmonds was left off of the 2015 World team, because he would not sign a contract with ambiguous wording – regardless of his value and worth as an asset to Team USA, as he was the only athlete qualified for the Worlds men’s 800m team at that time whom had proven he could race through rounds on a world stage, and had a silver medal to defend. (Clayton Murphy, the athlete that took Nick’s place at Worlds, has since evolved into an amazing elite runner himself, taking home the bronze medal in the 800m at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.) Yes, there were many other elite athletes that signed the contract and went to Beijing that year, but Symmonds stood up for the values and beliefs he has had regarding athletes and their sponsors in sport that he has not shied away from since day one.
I came back to this sport because of voices like Nick Symmonds and Lauren Fleshman. I’ve long admired the stands they take on important issues within track and field, and enlightening others with their truths. In having conversations with them both, learning from my mistakes when Lauren has pointed them out, and meeting many, many other professional elite athletes and learning their stories, some of whom I am able to genuinely call friend, I have become a stronger version of the woman I was before coming back to the sport. Because of their genuine love and passion for the sport, I have been more inspired by the day.
Oiselle used to have an official team Facebook page that was administrated and watched over by the headquarters. When the decision to move to a private team portal on the platform Ning was made and the deletion of the official Facebook forum announced, women were upset that the page would be gone for a variety of reasons. Facebook was simply the preferred method of communication by many (not all) members of the team. Many felt that a daily positivity would be lost without the Oiselle page. Watching this unfold, and saddened by the thought of losing team members by the switch to Ning, I brought up the idea to HQ for an unofficial fan page instead, and it was approved by (then HQ Volee-leader Heather Stephens and Dr. Lesko). Lesko’s response when I asked to start a fan page: “You are your own woman! If that moves you, do it! Just specify it is a fan page not managed or affiliated with O Nest; there are a number of examples out there if you need! Thanks, lovely! No clipping wings from us, woman! Go for it!”) This group (that was until recently named We Love Oiselle!) was begun in April 2016, with the specific indication listed within that it was NOT an official team forum. Women truly loved the positivity and team camraderie it brought to their lives daily.
We based our interactions on the team manifesto Principles of Flight held as members of Oiselle, but by no means was it for team members only to discuss official team situations. That was for Ning. We invited non-Oiselle friends to the secret page to spread our love for sport and life and created a community as official team communications moved to Ning. I, with other team members functioning as admins & moderators throughout the year since it began, hosted a Facebook forum that was always listed and functioning as an unofficial fan page. The secret FB group, formerly known as We Love Oiselle, is a safe, private space for women in the group (we had one #BroBird, a male member of Oiselle Volee). There is a sanctity within the space where these women came to share dark secrets of infidelity, marriage struggles, mental illness, and eating disorders, alongside positive and happy moments in their lives.
I’ve poured my heart and soul into supporting my teammates on all social media platforms, especially the Facebook forum. I’ve placed an extensive amount of time and energy into maintaining this specific Facebook forum almost daily (I often spend a lot of time on set in “hurry up and wait” mode – I’ll write more about that in another blog. It’s a very common situation to be in for models and actors for TV/film/commercials). I’ve personally reached out to so many that have been dealing with difficult situations, no matter what team they are with. I’m never more than a text message or a phone call away to anyone in my life, regardless of the time of the day. As I watched over the forum and moderated conversations within it with the help of various other Volee teammates, I became well aware of each teammate’s struggles, their journeys, their joys, and their heartbreaks.
I’ve never held an official position within the Oiselle community. I am not a team leader for the Volee, I have not modeled for the brand, I am not an elite athlete in any form, I was simply a proud, paying, cheerleading member of the team. Running the Facebook page was voluntary, and had no official team overview. Therefore, I ask questions and cheer the community the same as any other member is welcome to. I had two public tweets addressing the issue prior to my membership being rescinded directly questioning Oiselle why Kelly, a blogger, was misleadingly listed in the company of elite professionals. I am not Megan Murray, listed as the press inquiries contact for Oiselle, who tweeted “If you’re uncomfortable w/banditing, I’d take a long look a the history of women’s running. Disobedience = our tradition. #BobbiWasABandit” on her personal Twitter page. She wrote this in response to the banditing uncovered by Derek Murphy about Oiselle athlete Kelly Roberts, which was then hastily retweeted (and un-retweeted) by the official Oiselle Twitter account. 24 hours later, Oiselle’s twitter account posted this. (The original Murray tweet has now been deleted after a highly contentious Twitter conversation, prompting Sally to state in a blog that Oiselle does not promote breaking the rules of a race. They still sponsor Roberts after she has been seen to break the rules of races more than once.) Runner’s World also immediately responded to the support of banditing races with this article.
It’s no secret that Oiselle has a private online forum for members only, a platform called NING. As this is the only official space to for team members to communicate with HQ and have their views directly heard, I have reposted my parts of the conversation as well as posted additional commentary in the thread from others as anonymous after seeking permission from the commenters. I had always had a good relationship and respect for the members of HQ regarding any issues prior to my rescindment, and never felt as though I could not ask questions. I always sought their opinion whenever a member had a question I thought was appropriate for them to answer. I’ve conversed with Sally at meet-ups since the first February 2014 NYC run we had together prior to my joining Oiselle Volee in fall 2014. In fact, after having a quick conversation to catch up with Sally at the team meetup post-Women’s March January 22nd, after personally struggling with the best way to let HQ know about questions regarding Kelly’s addition to Oiselle for about a week, I asked her directly on how to handle the questions in the Facebook forum. Should I send her the pertinent questions from the conversation? What should I do? She responded with, “I don’t care what happens on the Facebook page, I don’t care about it at all. If anyone has a question, they should contact me via email or on Ning. They know how to reach me directly.” Fair enough. So I stated that to the members of the forum, and I did not begin the thread on Ning. Here are my exact words on Ning asking for transparency about Kelly Roberts from January 2017, and the responses from the Nest leaders (the Nest is the name for the official Oiselle headquarters):
Oiselle terms & people to know as you go along:
Sally = Sally Bergesen, CEO of Oiselle. (@oiselle_sally)
Lesko = Dr. Sarah Lesko, Oiselle HQ, Corporate Development. (@drlesko)
#FlyStyle = wearing Oiselle clothing
Volee = dues-paying members of Oiselle team ($100)
Haute Volee = elite level athletes sponsored in some way by Oiselle looking to break into national/world level competition, currently there are at least two Olympians classified as Haute Volee
This thread was deleted, and ironically on the same evening the Oiselle “Speak Out” t-shirt was launched. I think it’s only fair that since my words are being called into question publicly, I state them here, especially since many team members were left behind wondering what was actually said. I stand by what I’ve stated.

Jan 25, 2017:

Original Post, NING (not by me, anonymous): Pictures of Kelly Roberts decked out in Oiselle with captions hashtagged with flystyle are suddenly flooding my social media feeds even without me actually following her directly. I am just curious…why is Kelly the only large-ish/er woman posted on Oiselle’s Twitter, Instagram,and blog? We have SO MANY beautiful and inspiring Volee who have a similar physical profile to her, not to mention who have wholeheartedly invested in Oiselle, that would love to be featured. People that came to Oiselle on their own, people that believe in the O and its mission, people that love to run and love the #runfamily, etc. The Volee alone represent hundreds of normal, everyday people without 30,000+ followers on IG. Is that the goal with Kelly? To be able to reach the masses?
Jan 26, 2017:
My response to the post (clarification – I never sent the copied parts of the thread, I never sent the draft of the email I quote here):

First off, THANK YOU to XXX for posting this here. I am so happy that we are beginning/continuing what I surely felt was a very involved & important discussion on the Facebook page over to Ning. I have also, since speaking to Sally at the run this past weekend, reminded everyone in the FB forum to bring up anything that should be known to the Nest on Ning or by email since the forum isn’t an official Volee site.
Since I already had an email ready to go for the Nest.. this is what I had written as a draft last week, in addition to transcribing the FB discussion (100+ comments on one aspect, 300+ total on the whole thread if you all missed it).
“We had a very intense discussion arise in the We Love Oiselle FB page. I normally text you ladies with items that should make you smile, since for the most part it is a very happy and loving forum! But this did bring up confusion and a lot of opinions, and many birds messaging me about it. It also brought up the context that expressing discontent with something O does is fear inducing & so some women won’t speak up. Only after realizing other women felt the same did they feel as though they could come forward and say “hey, I don’t like this either” or “I don’t agree with this” or “I thought I was the only one who felt this way!” regarding Kelly. Others were saddened that some were questioning the motives of the new muse. There are over 200 comments on this thread & 100+ comments to the #sportsbrasquad/Muse situation so I thought it was important to bring up to you. Condensing the conversation to bring up pertinent issues + reiterated points, I am listing the main questions below & copying over parts of the thread. I am also the messenger – not every question is mine (but I do have some!). I don’t believe anyone was being malicious or mean – I do fully feel that everyone was stating an opinion that they had every right to have.
Also, I made sure to personally reach out to any women that stated they felt slighted or that the commentary was mean-spirited. I watch these women post daily – I have come to know their posting personalities, so I understood that no one was being mean. Regardless, I reached out to everyone as best I could. Since this set of posts, women have started new blogs & IG pages about #RealRunning & their own stories. So, it’s been motivating our women to speak out in the voice that they want to hear.
Points that are not clear to our Volee:
What is a Muse & their specific relationship for Oiselle?
Is Kelly KR sponsored by Oiselle? Is she receiving free gear? Why isn’t it clear in her social media either way? (She used the words “Oiselle invested in me”)
Was/is Kelly KR a member of Volee?
Why not elevate the voices of our own Volee as opposed to someone from outside our team?
Why is this specific Muse being given more attention than the others? (as of today 3 blog posts within one month)
Points that were repeated:
The Haute Volee, professional runners, & fellow Volee are empowering. I would rather hear stories from the teammates that support me or professionals.
Is this the prelude to a larger set of clothing?
I’m serious about my running & this doesn’t feel like a passionate runner or a genuine message.
At the end of it all, there is a strong reaction to this woman and her presence with regards to our team and I thought it was worthy of your attention.”
There are many concerns that are brought up. Change is inevitable with life. And it looks like Oiselle is beginning to sponsor a variety of ladies (there’s a badass 70+ elite granny tweet out now!). At the end of the day, O is a business. They will extend this brand as only O knows how to. This whole thread started with wondering about Kate Grace & O (Long Race Kate The Great With Grace! We heart Kate so much) and became the type of discussion that you can only get with so many women with so many viewpoints and so many questions. Hell, I am not fast & I have small sponsorships starting & in the works.
Personally, I didn’t know a thing about Kelly until this FB thread, when I was reminded she was the “selfies running with hot guys” viral post. (A model friend of mine from RI sent it to me saying I should do that at my next race, I said I would never take a selfie while racing! but then that led to a discussion resulting in her meeting me in Boston to #SelfieStop my first Boston Marathon. And the rest is history lol). I saw her first blog post for O, and I thought it was great. Everyone should wear what they feel is comfortable. Especially to train. If it helps other women, AMAZING! But as I went through her social and her brand to learn about her, she simply isn’t an inspiration to me as a runner. I love that she can be herself & put herself out there. That is NOT EASY. But like others have said, it’s partially because the O partnership doesn’t feel genuine. It does feel like she came out of nowhere. I don’t run so I can eat all the food, I eat because I have to fuel my run (and because I’m hungry haha). I eat so that I can fuel the amazing things my body can DO & will be able to do. Actually, I disagree with parts of what she has to say because although I know that O has always worked to be inclusive (and I surely try so hard to be certain that everyone feels included on our FB page at least) there are posts that are prominent on her social media that actually make me feel like my strong body has no place in her world as she sees it. My strong body (vs my partially broken/injured out-of-shape body now) eats more, runs faster, trains harder, lifts more weight, does a dirty dozen a couple of times, and happens to be skinny/slim by the majority of societal views. I’m #SorryNotSorry but strong looks different on everyone. Being healthy and fit is what I want to hear about. Even her bio on the O site doesn’t have the same type of structure as that of the other Muses. And no, not everyone profiled or working with O has to resonate with every Volee member or every O runner. We have sponsored HV pros that I do not follow nor does what they have to say inspire or motivate me. I respect their presence & ability, of course. And then we have HV whom I WISH they would tell their story because I think it could make so many women say, yes, I have just as busy of a lifestyle or I’m in school now & it’s so good to see how a pro attacks her training in this situation! I am also well aware that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I am a normal person, not a pro, that loves this sport, misses what my body used to do, and have goals for what I want to get done. I’m not a big deal & I’ll always happily say hi to anyone regardless of social media presence. Everyone is human at the end of the day, after all. If what I say or do gets someone to get out the door and make themselves a healthier, happier, more fit human being, then I am grateful to have had the opportunity to bring some positivity to them. #AlwaysBeKind is a huge part of my life.
I get it. She is speaking out to a community of fuller-figured women that may not feel they belong as an athlete & telling them that they do. And that’s wonderful. I agree 110% that needs to be happening. But this is a sport I love. I want to hear about the love for the run no matter what your pace. I’m a huge fan. My friends run with various teams for a living, for fun, or for a different sport. I love learning about everything they do. I’m happily competitive and just want to be the best version of me that I can be even though I’ll never be an American Olympian (unless, yanno, Pakistan decides that they’ll dual-citizenship and somehow I get into the political game to be appointed HAH… well, I’d think twice, but story for another post). But I will always cheer for EVERYONE no matter what their pace. I’m the biggest cheerleader there is. And even if I’m a nasty person with a ton of #swagger during a race, I will always be all smiles after leaving my heart on that course. Every story I have read about a fellow Volee member, I have heard their love for the run in their post. I basically hunted Natalie Fixler down to add her on FB because her story inspired me. She’s not a pro. She’s not super speedy. But she had perserverance. I think we all know running is hard. It’s not easy. We all know there are good runs & bad runs. I want to know that the runs mean something to you. That you love this sport, the way I love this sport. I want to know what drives you.
It’s late. I have to be on set in the am. And I probably went off on a zillion tangents. But I’ve had a zillion conversations regarding this situation since it came up. And it feels petty compared to what is happening in the world, for the big picture in life, but I love this team. It saved my racing. It brought me back to a sport I love. It’s made me new friends and given me the greatest experiences (Olympic Trials, anyone?! Bird camp? I could go on and on!) and I think everyone on Volee is pretty awesome & has a story to tell. I want to hear them. All I ask is for genuine love from anyone. That’s all. Xo
Love love love to all,

A member wrote that she doesn’t feel supported at races, running a slower marathon than most of the team, because no one was waiting at the Oiselle Cowbell Corner (cheer location). My response (5:30 refers to a full marathon pace, not a per mile pace):

You’re not the only person who has said this about missing a Cowbell Corner. I reached out to another woman on the team who mentioned that as well. I feel awful knowing that you or anyone misses the corners. I know that our NYC leaders had everyone on tracker at NYC 2 years ago and they made hella sure that we waited on everyone- a bird running 5:30 pace if I remember correctly was so happy we waited… and I remember tweeting out that this made me love this team to see that happen. I was on my feet for over 6 hours this past weekend and tweeted a newfound respect for anyone on their feet running a marathon that long (Kara liked the tweet if it makes you feel better). Anyways, I hope that the next time you run a marathon the O birds in charge of CC are sure to wait for you. And if you run NYC please let me know and I will stay for you with the birds!!!

Jan 26, 2017:

Me: I thought that our dues money for Volee went to the pros… I LOVED when I joined that my money would be helping Kate Grace & those like her get to the Olympics (she was the first person I knew on Oiselle) … Obviously my gamble paid off lol 😉 But honestly, if parts of my dues are going to sign influencers and support them… I would hope that we would be told of such a change. If indeed these Muses are being paid.

Lesko: Hi! More communication to follow tomorrow, but I want to clarify a few points of misunderstanding: The $25 of the Volée membership goes to the Emerging Elite Fund, which supports only the Haute Volée. Please see our list of 37 HV on the  team page. These are athletes looking to break into the next higher level (Pros!), and the Emerging Elite Fund directly and concretely affects how many HV we can support. The Volée should feel very proud of and involved with the Haute Volée’s opportunities! Please see many blogs on this topic, including Megan Rolland’s most recent one ( Our Pros (Kara, Lauren, Devon, Steph, Brit, and previously Kate) are not supported by the Emerging Elite Fund. Neither are our Muses.

“Our team mission is also on the team page.
Since day one, our mission has been the same: to create a sisterhood of support at a variety of levels from beginners to professionals, from the roads to the trails to the track. We are committed to fostering a team that challenges, supports and empowers runners of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Each of our stories are interwoven into one collective voice and that voice is behind every mile and every individual flight.

My response to a comment about Kelly’s health due to her physical appearance:

Being in the fashion industry, I could expand on this about a zillion times… on both ends of the spectrum. Being a runner I hope that we can all continue to urge for health to be a priority. Trust me when I tell you a part of me is always debating to publicly publish my bloodwork just to prove that I’m healthy on the days or points in time I feel overly attacked.

In response to a comment about seeking transparency from our own team (anonymous): I would have to agree. We are constantly encouraged by Oiselle to engage in open and honest dialogue. It is difficult to navigate a topic that has so many different angles and emotions, and it’s unkind to criticize differing opinions.
Me: Thank you XXX. The need for transparency in our sport (running, USATF, elite levels) is something Oiselle has advocated for from the beginning. I don’t think it’s wrong to request that from the company we race in solidarity with regarding this choice.
After all that was said and done:
Sally: Oiselle has a long history of involving and highlighting many types of women in our business. Not just modeling and advocacy, but also in areas behind the scenes such as women lawyers, artists, and investors.

With these partners, it runs the gamut: Volée, non-Volée, people we’ve known a long time, some we’ve just met, serious runners, recreational, slow, fast, etc. By no means is it a perfect model of inclusion, but we’re committed, and we’ll be doing more – especially as it relates to diverse body sizes/shapes and ethnicity.
The first point in our manifesto is “Build the sisterhood.” And in doing that, treating each other with dignity and respect is our number one requirement. From where I sit, a thread on the team portal to question the value and role one of our teammates plays is incredibly harmful.
Kelly is a valued addition. As Lesko described, Kelly is not connected to the Emerging Athlete Fund. If you find your Volée experience is diminished by our working with Kelly, and you are unhappy, please feel free to contact Lesko or Feather for a refund of your membership, with no hard feelings on our end. Life is short, positivity is calling.

Lesko: Hello all! Thank you for your comments and input. Please know that we have read them and find many to be helpful. We are talking things through as a team, and we are always looking to improve. Please know that we are planning on deleting this thread to protect everyone involved. We are always available for direct feedback and your input. Team love. Lesko
Sadly, the questions, criticisms, and critical feedback we wanted to address with Oiselle were directly curtailed with Sally’s statement above. We shouldn’t have to feel as though we have only two choices with Oiselle: remain silent when something isn’t clear, or leave the team. We don’t have to agree 100% with everything a company does, but this specific company branded itself as the one that calls to light the injustices of the sport. This specific running company prided itself on demanding transparency and clarity from the governing bodies of this sport and other running retailers at all levels. But would not provide the same answers they’ve sought when the requests for clarity came from within.
I want to touch lightly on the topic of bullying, as it was addressed on the Ning forum and in Oiselle’s blog post:
Anonymous O member: “I’m going to add here what I wrote in the FB post because I think it’s very important:
There is a difference between being mean and expressing you have a different opinion than what oiselle has chosen to do. I haven’t felt comfortable saying anything about Kelly because I feel like everyone on the volée loves kelly and they were going to get angry at me (and I know other feel the same way). I find it highly ironic that when people do say something expressing their difference in opinion on oiselle signing Kelly, others said it was mean, criticizing or bullying. It is not personally offensive to others to have a different view/opinion. If this is not a space for open discussion and a difference in opinion, it is not the sisterhood I believed it was.”
Questioning a role that was not precisely defined in many aspects, never directly contacting the member in question, abiding by the requested routes of conversation within Oiselle (Megan Murray asked me to email her after I tweeted the incorrect label for the Strava panel, which I did) and following the leadership’s requests for subsequent questions/comments was met with a rescinded membership (for me). There is only one official team forum that has existed throughout this entire set of communication (Ning), and I have listed my statements above. I made no other statements regarding Roberts on Ning after this deleted conversation and I stand by what I relayed and have said. When it was publicly seen that Kate Grace was not racing in a Oiselle elite kit and a member tweeted about it, Dr. Lesko of Oiselle HQ responded to help clarify the situation on Twitter that Grace’s contract was up and she was a free agent. If something is listed incorrectly publicly in April about a role that elicited clarification requests in January with no definitive response and a muddled social media presence by the subject, why shouldn’t we ask the question about an incorrect title in a public forum? The first public statement that combined the words sponsor, Kelly Roberts, and, now “pro athlete” in any official Oiselle capacity (a now-named label in June other than the initial previously specified role of Muse) regarding the blogger was by CEO Sally, nearly 5 months after the question was first brought up in Ning. It was a sudden post on the heels of a public controversy, without the normal thoughtful rollout that Oiselle normally has in announcing their newest action with the company to change the way we look at sport. The status of “pro athlete” as applied to Roberts continued to be expanded upon the same day it was first stated via this lucky-in-timing request for commentary by none other than Mario Fraioli, a highly respected coach and writer in track and field, whose column I have come to genuinely greatly respect, even if I don’t agree with his stances at all times.
Having a different viewpoint from someone is not bullying. Respectfully stating facts is not bullying. Having a meaningful conversation and discussion contemplating many aspects of a situation is not bullying. Stating your opinions based on the facts, and respectfully agreeing to disagree is not bullying. My freedom to question what is placed before me is protected by the First Amendment in this country, it is a right granted to me by my birthplace here in the United States, and it is a freedom I do not take lightly. My freedom to express my beliefs and speak out for what I believe in is not punishable by death in the US, as it can be for speaking out in other countries around the world.
But calling someone slurs, wishing ill will or death upon them or their family members, making fun of their physical appearance, their race, culture, religion or lack thereof, encouraging someone to kill themselves, or demeaning someone for something beyond their control is unacceptable. It is one thing to state the truth and to have an opinion, and another to be ruthlessly mean. In the same respect, publishing a misguided person’s personal, non-public information in the hopes of shaming them and causing them harm is also unacceptable.
Recently, Nick Symmonds went on his vlog series and stated that whether or not he agreed with the rules of USATF, he always abided by them. (Follow along for his commentary here: starting at 1:00 in, he has every right to talk about trolling. He didn’t break any USATF rules, and has made every effort to know the rules of his sport.) He has put his money where his mouth is, literally, risking losing out on potential monetary bonuses in racing at Worlds from when he spoke out against USATF for their lack of transparency and clarification about a team event.
With the new information presented this past week, at this point I will wonder aloud, as was asked in the initial Facebook thread in We Love Oiselle, if the residual salary that Kate Grace left behind is the same budget/allocation pool that has granted Kelly Roberts monetary reimbursement in her contract to “pay her bills” as the now CEO-stated “pro athlete”. I do not expect or request an answer, of course, but I am allowed to curiously contemplate. I am perfectly content with the fact that my membership fee contributed to those Haute Volee elites (including one 2x Olympian Maria Michta and many others whom I have watched race with great enthusiasm) and their dreams. In the meantime, I simply hadn’t purchased from Oiselle for months (with the exception of Spandos, because Kara Goucher, elite marathoner & woman I admire for her courage in speaking out, wore them and I am only human with marketing, but I sold them to another teammate soon after). I wholeheartedly agree with Kara’s statement about banditing here.

And to think, all of what has been stated above started in January with this simple comment on Facebook by a Oiselle member, “I hope Oiselle is putting as much effort into re-signing Grace as they are their #sportsbrasquad. #SorryNotSorry.” For those of you who aren’t runners, Kate Grace is an Olympian, formerly sponsored by Oiselle, now signed to Nike, who made it to the Rio 2016 800m finals. Her performances in 2016 were nothing short of phenomenal, from her first-ever podium finish at the Olympic Trials to earning PR’s on her way to the finals at the 2016 Olympic Games. I don’t believe you will find anyone to validly counter the label that Kate Grace is a true elite professional athlete in track & field. Another Oiselle member stated on the same initial sets of January threads, “It seems that we traded our Olympian for a blogger. (I do not mean that harshly, it just is what it is.)”.

Sure seemed that way from when we first started asking questions, didn’t it? Judging by what the CEO of Oiselle said in this article by Mario Fraioli, placing Roberts alongside the same pro runners Grace used to be amongst, we weren’t wrong. As for the topic of bullying, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. More to come.

One Love. Run Love. Xo.

When You #SpeakOut Against a Cheater

I stand by everything I have said on social media because it is the truth. Kelly Roberts is not an elite athlete. I can admit if I’ve made a mistake or had misinformation, but a 1:42 half marathon on the roads for a non-Paralympic woman under 30 years of age can universally be agreed not to be at elite levels of racing. Oiselle did not comment on the incorrect representation on the Strava panel at Boston Marathon (one of the most prestigious marathons in the US), nor did either party correct it or acknowledge the misinformation. But my membership with the Oiselle team was rescinded within the same day. This isn’t the first time Oiselle has inadvertently condoned listing Kelly as an elite.

At this point, it’s disheartening that the value Oiselle placed in honesty, integrity, truth and transparency from the running community is no longer enacted upon. All these years with the CEO publicly calling out Nike, IAAF, IOC, USOC, USATF, amongst others for ethical issues is not at the forefront of what they believe as a company any longer, as evidenced by their actions in supporting an admitted, unremorseful cheater in the same sport that they sponsor elite athletes. The reason I personally joined Oiselle was because of what they unapologetically stood for – inclusivity and justice for the love of the sport for everyone, no matter their race, pace, size, shape, or fitness level. I also joined because a part of my membership fee went to their elites – to help other women pursue their dreams of racing at national and world levels. This was a beautiful way for me to give back to the sport that I love.

With Oiselle supporting an admitted cheater without confirming her actual role as a paid representative (only confirmed via Kelly’s own words in a later interview, not by Oiselle: “Oiselle is a partner of mine, so they pay my bills”) while concurrently advocating to #SpeakOut has spoken volumes of irony to many. Multiple members requested answers, and were told by the CEO to not question the role of a teammate. Instead, we could be refunded our membership. This “shut up or ship out” mentality doesn’t strike me well. I prefer open, respectful dialogue. To agree to disagree. Yes, conversations can become intense, but it is surely better than staying silent. Especially when the actions and statements of a “teammate” don’t add up. All we asked was for clarification of her actual role when her social media and interviews stated that she was “invested in” by Oiselle, that she was “sponsored like Lauren Fleshman”, that Oiselle understood that her story was not free, without properly documenting the hashtags “#ad” & “#sponsored” FTC regulations required across the board.

Oiselle’s actions speak louder than words and they are no longer their elite racing community’s advocate, by adding a non-elite member whose selfies are celebrated in lieu of acknowledging the elite team members winning races and competing across the country. At the end of the day, you cannot advocate for honest racing when you openly support and elevate a woman with no respect for honest racing in multiple situations. All I ask is that you stand by what you say you believe in. Sadly, if you are but a small piece of the puzzle and speak out for the truth to be stated, Oiselle then becomes the bully they’ve been publicly denouncing.

Cheaters take away from the sport of running at all levels. Whether it is doping, a bib mule, using someone else’s bib without a sanctioned transfer, creating fake bibs/copying them, cutting the course, no matter the level of competition, it is a thief of honesty from those that have worked hard to race a time that is honest. It is a theft from the races themselves, that have to pay to have all the resources available to each runner. It is a theft from the time and effort that is placed into making sure all runners are safe by securing permits from the city. And in the cases of prize money, status, bonuses, podium places, it is a theft of someone’s honest and fierce running efforts that suddenly aren’t good enough. Elite or non-elite, the question of being “good enough” will run through one’s mind.

With the new information brought to light of additional disrespect to our racing community here in NYC and across the nation, I implore anyone who has bought a bib and could not run in with it at a race to call for the banning of Kelly. She clearly broke the rules and unapologetically stated she isn’t remorseful for using someone else’s bib in the race that brought her public attention in the first place. She has stated that she does not regret it, and has proven it as she illegally bandits other courses across the country. Her actions should not go without consequence, as NYRR rules clearly state that she should have been DQ’d & suspended from the 20+ races she has run in NYC since. We have all had races that we paid for that we could not race, that do not allow for transfers. The majority of the running community is an honest community, and would not sell or give away their bib as it is against the rules. We’ve all been injured, we’ve all had emergency situations come up, we have all wished we didn’t have to waste the money. But we followed the rules, and let the race go, no matter how hard it was.

Some of those races are certainly more meaningful, like the Boston Marathon. The BAA has no tolerance for cheating. Many have been caught, and banned for life. Yes, life. As Oiselle has called out cheaters for a lifetime ban, keeping a cheater in a prominent position on their team is hypocritical. Especially since Kelly’s public goals have been to prove to herself that she can achieve a BQ (Boston Qualifying time). Ask anyone that has qualified for Boston – that honor is a privilege, it is earned through your qualified effort for your age or fundraising for a charity. The title of being a Boston marathoner is sacred in the sport of running, and the goal of a BQ is elusive to many. I wouldn’t want an admitted cheater to be racing alongside me if I ever qualified for Boston. I would want to know that I worked hard and gave it everything I had to be there on the starting line by doing everything right, and that the others alongside of me had done the same.

The worst cheaters are the ones that are so narcissistic that they do not believe they were wrong in their actions. Email if you agree.

I stand for the love of the sport. #BanKellyK

One love. Run love. Xo.


A Few Quick Thoughts About Cultural Patriarchy Encloaked Within “Religion”

I grew up in a patriarchal culture.

Where the man, no matter his educational background or lack thereof, has the final say. That respect must be automatically given, not earned. An elder even moreso.

Where men sit in the front, and the women sit in the back. No questioning.

Where men dictate what women wear and how they present themselves, and the ladies just go along with it.

Where it isn’t a man’s problem that they are aroused by a woman’s dress, but a woman has to take the responsibility not to enable the man’s weakness.

Where if your husband approves it, then it’s okay if you wear something other than what you were raised in.

Not all of the above apply to me. But we have witnessed it throughout so many pieces of news from Pakistan that’s made its way to the US.

“Honor killing intended to avenge daughter’s indiscretion”

It’s OUR fault if we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were raped.

Arranged marriages are encouraged by the way of the land, and divorces are demonized, even if the man is so abusive that the woman no longer has a will to exist. But suicide, too, is forbidden, so the culture places women in a space that has no way out.

It’s OUR fault if god forbid we fall in love with someone our family doesn’t approve of, and we must suffer the penalty of death to avenge the family name. (Not nearly this severe in my family, but the shame imposed upon us for deviating from what is expected is similar.)

Somehow it was how we dressed, or the situation we found ourselves in, or the fact that there was yet another man who couldn’t control himself.

Somehow what I wore was the ire of my family, even if I was fully covered. God forbid you had any self-expression as a Muslim woman.

Even women in hijab are relentlessly pursued. “Your hijab should cover your ears! How dare you wear earrings! Your neckline is showing! There’s a piece of hair coming out!”

In my household, fashion was discouraged. Self-expression? Only an aberration from the norm, listen to what you’re told is right.

In my household, my father’s views of femininity prevailed.

“Women have long hair, men have short hair.” Hiding our haircuts as we grew up was absolutely a thing.

It’s one thing to please your husband if he prefers something, but you should WANT to do that. You should have the agency as a woman to do so.

It took me until I was 13 to realize that the religion and culture were separate aspects of life. The religion said I had the right to say no – the culture implicated otherwise. The religion was supposed to trump all. But cognitive dissonance won so very often.

Islam also states to protect your life. That yes, pig is forbidden as food, but in the event that it’s the only food available to save you from imminent death, you eat it. That you do what’s safest.

So scorned is mingling with a man who is not your husband, brother, or father that if you were to walk through an alleyway as a woman between a pig and a man that is so narrow such that one would have to brush against one or the other, the suggestion is to err on the side of the pig, not the man.

The religion tells us that Heaven is at the foot of the mother, four times over.

Yet we are the ones who have to hide ourselves in the shadows of men.

A reminder that women in this world are fighting for their lives, some of us more than others.

Protect women.

(For all purposes of my post, a woman is defined as an adult human female.)

I miss my friend. RIP Steve.

My grief wakes me up in the early morning in tears. How does your grief present itself?

I have derived a few truths in my lifetime that I share with others for their completely factual nature: Strong Looks Different On Everyone and Grief Has No Time Limit.

My friend Steve died two years ago and with him went a friend who knew me, the real me, the skinny bony girl who loved her sport as much as his skinny self loved his, a support for the deep conversations that would never end that only a brain that worked well enough to keep up could have. The real me who loved academics and all things science and my happiness on the robotics team alongside the calculus 3 class nerd he met. The countless discussions about life and the vastness of the universe and the neuropsych courses I told him to take. Endless days wherever he was working, hours at the cafe off-campus until it burned down. It never stopped. The topics never stopped flowing.

I lost my friend two years ago, yet this week I lost faith in the integrity of this life and I needed someone who knew me, the real me, the whole me, one of the incredibly few who would understand what it meant to think the way we did.

I wanted to talk to Steve. I wanted to talk to my friend. The same friend I sat with at his hospital bed, happily figuring out differentials for hours when no one knew what was wrong. The same friend who was there for my first modeling photos and work.

The same friend who got it.

I know that if he was here, he would have been so excited to see me go back to school. I know that I probably would have had a lot of fresh insight for the problems that we began to foresee during this ongoing pandemic, and I know he would have pushed for me to do better, would have given me some of the best perspectives that I get to derive on my own now.

He was so proud when I started to race again, because we both knew it has always been about the love of the sport. From the very first days when we would support each other at practices in school. He’d show up to mine and I’d go to his. Just because that’s what friends did.

And I wish I read aloud the Aaron Freeman passage we both said countless times was perfect upon our deaths. As science nerds, we both loved it. I wish I had gotten up at your funeral to read it aloud. I didn’t, because no matter how strong I am, it hurt too much to admit it – I was scared to have to admit you were truly gone. I’m so sorry I didn’t.

It still hurts. Especially on days when I want to discuss quantum mechanics with my friend, and our purpose in this world. To talk about whatever insane situation one of us has managed to get ourselves into. The confidence to keep going.

I have many friends, all of whom are important. But I wanted to talk to my friend who got it. I wanted to talk to you.

My soul was hurting this past week and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I have many friends, but you are, indeed, energy that has not died, you’re just a bit less orderly.

I miss you.

A Physicist’s Eulogy

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.

-Aaron Freeman.

RIP Matt Scherer

I think the first thing I do after getting news that someone I knew died is that I go through our old text messages and relive those moments. Today, I could only go back into my Facebook messages. Sadly, I didn’t reactivate my Twitter account in time last year when I returned to school, and have lost all of the valuable Twitter DMs.

The messages where he explained what happened during the USATF Indoor Championships when Gabe Grunewald was DQ’d after winning her heat. How learning about that allowed me to become friendly with Gabe, and subsequently her sister. Which brings me back to the immense loss the running community has felt between Gabe’s passing, and ultimately Abigail’s earlier this year at the hands of a drunk driver. My mind has just drifted to the chain of events and I’m grateful to have a long enough break on set today to be able to put my thoughts down.

The beauty of Matt’s friendly nature was that he was kind to everyone. With every running drama that escalated, I was able to hear a point of view not many were able to know. And I could ask questions openly in confidence about so many running things. The first time I went to Millrose, we finally got to meet in person.

I was just coming back to the sport, learning what things like the Diamond League was, how crazy Nick Symmonds’ 5th place at London 2012 Olympics stacked up against others, and what it really meant to be a rabbit. He has been hailed as one of the best rabbits ever, and quite frankly, if you were ever able to have a conversation with him about how happy and selfless he was to lead others to so many personal bests and records, that light was unmatched.

Even the night that everyone was in NYC for Millrose I was insistent that these elite athletes get the treatment that they deserve – and so I learned my lesson that champagne and sushi plus a nightclub isn’t exactly the down-to-earth nature of most runners (I have many, many stories otherwise, but those will go with me to my grave, #SorryNotSorry!). Nevertheless, I’m happy to have helped celebrate an engagement that night.

The last time I got to see Matt was at a NYAC gala a few years ago. I won’t forget how he made sure I felt alright to go home after Millrose that other year, because it turns out I was actually having a medical issue that needed attention. I was asked often to collaborate with males within the sport in some capacity (modeling never hurt for that) and since he knew everyone, he always let me know when one of the men in the sport was suspect and who truly was a moral human with integrity. I appreciated that so much.

He truly was one of the good ones. We need more of him in the sport who help hold others accountable. I pray for his family and friends to find peace. He taught me to #AlwaysBeKind.

RIP Matt. The running community was better with you in it.

Bunnies are good people. 🐰

Kelly Roberts, Just Stop Lying Already.

Written November, 2018.

Just Do It Kelly Roberts. Stop the lying. Stop the hypocrisy. Stop twisting the truth. Stop pretending to be something you’re so incredibly NOT.

From deleting all your anti-Nike tweets after applying for Project Moonshot to claiming “#BQorBust was never about a time” in your latest Instagram post. From shaming those who apologize to you in your passive aggressive blogs to then crying about how you’ve suddenly been “injured” as an excuse for the past 2.5 years? No miss, I don’t believe that for a moment. You play the victim, time and time again.

If you thought I was going to let you get away with lying & playing the victim yet again, you surely don’t know me yet. It’s amazing how you managed to twist #BQorBBQ into an attack on your physical being without giving the entirety of the social media post. I have always stated to the general running public: I don’t care what you look like, what race you are, what pace you are – if you’re an honest runner, I’m happy to run with you. Fat and skinny are descriptors – cleaning them up by saying “larger” or “lean” or whatever else is considered “nicer/PC” to say within society doesn’t change the meaning. I get called both on a daily basis. SO. WHAT? I’ve ALWAYS said it’s what’s inside that counts & what #TheySaid doesn’t matter. Strength is the power that lies within. It’s called SELF-love.

But here’s the actual truth – fat liars and hypocrites are just as immoral as skinny liars and hypocrites. Public figures that deceive their sponsors & following over and over again with incomplete information & promises of a false goal should be called out. It’s not bullying if it’s the truth backed up with facts & behavioral patterns that you repeat – but you continue to delete the commentary of those that bring it up on your page. #BQorBBQ was said by someone else in reference to your inability to BQ & had nothing to do with your physical (but you do love eliciting that sympathy card by because everything is about your size with you, even when it never is – it’s about the lack of responsibility for your actions). As always, you paint an incomplete picture to play the victim, the same as you have about those individuals & companies that have apologized to you in the past but you continued to shame & doxx them in passive aggressive manners on your blog, creating narratives where they never existed. Your collegiate degree in theater has surely been worthwhile for your existence as a fictional storyteller to the running public.

You’ve been far more consistent in chasing ice cream trucks, ice cream, sheet cake, In-and-Out burgers for every #BQorBust attempt than you have with genuinely pursuing a goal. I, unlike you, own my words and actions. When I tweeted that I overheard #BQorBBQ, it was actually someone else that was telling us that in reference to your repeats of “woe I was injured/hurt during the marathon, but I found someone else suffering, and together we found the joy in running!”

I am simply the messenger, I cannot take the credit for the pun, but there is no one to delete the 200/300+ comment threads on Facebook or the Oiselle team pages about your divisiveness or lies lest you see them in an effort to “protect those involved”, meaning, there’s just no way to tell the truth about you directly without your playing the victim Kelly Roberts. You are being judged not by your physical being, but by your lack of character, integrity, and the results of your actions. Which is what you advocate for, right? ‘This is what strength looks like but I’m such a victim because everyone is thinking about what I look like and not what this body can do?’ No. I’m here calling you out for being a consistent liar, fraud, and hypocrite because of what you DO. It has nothing to do with your physical look. It has everything to do with your constant deception. (Those that did judge your physical being & wrote about it in forums are actually still on the Oiselle Volee – they were not dropped from the team. Just an FYI).

(By the way, I find it VERY interesting that in your NYCM recap, you suddenly found someone at the marathon walking at the same time as you, who had a similar story to you, who just happened to be able to tell you that you were the reason she was doing the NYC marathon. That was quite convenient for the social media post).

You told the same story for London (I was hurt, I uploaded selfies in real time instead of racing for a BQ, I called Dr. Bob so he could tell me to quit, but I found someone and found the fun in the run, because it’s not about a time!), you told the same story in NYC 2016 (so many photos of you crying to your coach as you walked parts of the NYC marathon, but “I found a way to smile and love the run!”), you told the same story for the initial BQ marathon this year you DNS’d with an injury you claimed to have for 2.5 years. (The same 2.5 years within which you PRed with a 1:42 half, calling yourself an elite athlete at a Boston panel, allegedly injured). Run Selfie REPEAT indeed. Why? Because you KNOW you’re deleting tweets to deceive companies. You deleted every social media post demeaning @nikeNYC & #ProjectMoonshotNYC when you applied. (Does “wow people pay for coaching?! Sounds like such a Nike thing to do!” sound familiar?)

You have been riding this false claim of being an elite, pro athlete ever since it was mentioned you were on the Oiselle elite team on the Strava panel in 2017 (it took you a year to claim it as a mistake by the PR company for Strava).  You’ve mentioned multiple times in interviews how you’re a sponsored runner just like Lauren Fleshman. You’ve also gone on and on about leaving a dream to be an actress to be a pro athlete. “Who can say they dropped acting to become a pro athlete?” The reality is that the only way you could prove to yourself that you are anywhere near a worthwhile runner was to take your self-stated “This is what strength looks like!” body and try to hit the holy grail of age-graded qualifying times for the non-elite, regular runner in the manifestation of a Boston Qualifier time.

Let us look to the definition of a BOSTON QUALIFIER – it’s a specific TIME you need to qualify for Boston. The problem with trying to say that #BQorBust was never about a time is that, a BQ is actually a time. A time goal that you have to hit while racing (yes, I said the word racing, key point: you don’t take selfies while you’re racing & upload them as you’re running like at the London Marathon when racing is defined as besting a time or a place in a race). The fact is that since the BQ times have gotten even more difficult, the running community can watch as you continue to pretend to care to BQ as you misrepresent yourself yet again to another company & fraudulently garner their sympathy because of all you’ve “endured” (taken directly from your Instagram as you mocked your banditing the morning of the Boston Marathon).

You put down women that are a size 0-2. You put down women that wear makeup to work out. You claim that you support all women, but in reality, the women that try to correct you are greeted with a snarky response on your IG.

But you ran with the label of #ProAthlete & being sponsored like Lauren Fleshman beyond quickly when you could in every podcast interview you gave last year, even with the fact that a 1:42 half marathon on the roads by a non-disabled female under 30 was surely not an elite time. You couldn’t correct it when you were called out as being labeled an elite on a panel at the prestigious Boston Marathon, but one full year later you blamed the PR company for an alleged “mistake”. Stop lying Kelly Roberts. I’ve called you out on your lies and hypocrisy before & I have no problem doing it again. You mislead your following over & over again. You’re misleading them now, and you’ve misled them trying to state that “A BQ was never about a time” yet saying you were going to try to PR at NYCM with a 3:45 (misleading yet again – your PR for 26.2 is a 3:41 in Boston. Had you ran a 3:45 or better my guarantee lies that you would have posted something along the lines of “American Record in NYC these Loch Ness abs did it!” Similar to your “World Record” 1:42 half).

You’ve disrespected this sport on so many occasions. You’re proud of mocking the police presence at the Boston Marathon, because you were caught as a rule-breaking bandit multiple times and still couldn’t take responsibility for your actions, just the money of your sponsor at the time, blaming tragedy & an insufficiency of the world to forgive instead. I believe our extra police presence in Boston is incredibly necessary to keep those that should not be on the course following what was an immense tragedy for the entire running community, as well as the police forces that are in effect at every sporting event that can afford them – feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. In light of the proven fact that you’ve been on courses you did not have registration or permission for prior to your run in Boston… Tragedy does not excuse your choices to do wrong by the running community. In fact, tragedy is never an excuse to do wrong by or to others. Let’s Make Running Great Again. Ban Kelly Roberts. #BanKellyRoberts #BanKellyK #MakeRunningGreatAgain #MRGA #BanditSelfieRepeat

“Can we race you Aysha Khala?”

“Alright kids, come here and let’s clean up the mess outdoors from the party! Whoever collects the most trash gets a prize!” I yelled across the lawn.

“What’s the prize?”

After a long-filled day of mass amounts of sugar at the birthday party for one-year old twins, all I could muster was “Chocolate & a cookie!”

Beanie baby looks up at me and goes, “Uhm, Aysha Khala? Can we race you instead?” Four other sets of eyes wide open from children pleading and excitedly jumping up and down saying, “Yes! Let’s race!” joined her request.

I thought about my injured knee and my day in heels and said, “Of course you can race me! Let’s clean up!”. One of my purposes from being a distance runner who tries to maintain some semblance of continuous endurance and strength is the capability of tiring out seemingly endless-energy in children on sugar highs at birthdays. It’s the least I can do as a non-mom and so it’s my time to shine 🤣

Khala is one of the most precious titles I own. It means “mother’s sister”. I am not “Auntie” ☺️

You don’t see enough Pakistani women unabashedly pursuing sport at higher levels. I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve been called selfish for doing so. But it’s a necessary part of my life and soul. I am the only woman in my family who has pursued competitive sport past the high school level and was offered collegiate athletic scholarships not once in my life, but upon my return to school last year as well on a running scholarship. It takes a village to raise a child and these children have always known me as a runner.

The love of the sport is a beautiful lesson to teach our youth. To be active is one of the elements to #ElevateHealth. My nieces and nephews will NEVER pass up an opportunity to “let’s run fast, Aysha Khala! Can we run fast?” And so we “race”.

So we lined up and I let them take a practice race. All shapes, all sizes, all ages, boys and girls, exactly how the most inclusive sport is supposed to be. It’s the most beautiful version of running there is.

And we let loose and dare I say it felt amazing to just stride out for the first time in weeks with barefoot strides as the little ones tried so hard 🥰 (of COURSE I gave them a headstart!)

“Aysha Khala I almost caught you! Let’s go again I can catch you!” as Beanie rushed back to the start for another chance, over and over again.

I’ve watched her grow up these past ten years as she’s become a passionate & talented gymnast. Yes, Beanie baby, I hope you do catch me one day 💜

Let’s just say it’s about time for the Mirza Games 2022: The New Generation 😈

#StrongLooksDifferentOnEveryone #AmericanRunner #MuslimRunner #PakistaniRunner #AllAmericanGirl #XCisLife #XCisForTheGirls #LoveTheSport #MirzaGames



JUMMAH MUBARAK. Fridays are a blessed day in Islam. It’s only appropriate that ten weeks ago on a Friday, I was privileged enough to be able to get my second Moderna vaccine injection. This means I’ve been fully vaccinated for over 2 months. I’ve been so blessed to be a healthcare worker during the pandemic, earning my vaccination, but it meant that I saw how devastating #COVID19 was from the beginning in NYC & NJ. 

The HCWs at the clinic told me they hadn’t seen a patient so incredibly excited to get their vaccine… if I could have shouted it from the rooftops I would have. But there’s a superstitious aspect in our culture – that of the “evil eye”. 

I am a scientist through and through, but I too have sentiments that keep me from being as transparent as I’d like for the greater good. I’m well aware from the stalkers and harassment I’ve endured while working in COVID and during my research at school here, the death threats and the violent threats that are publicly documented against me, that there are those who wish poorly upon others. The “evil eye”. 

The evil eye is why you don’t announce your pregnancy right away after having lost a child. The evil eye is why you don’t post meritocratic accomplishments. The evil eye is why some of us tend to hold back.

It’s incredibly difficult for me to be away from my family, to protect my parents as much as I can, having done what so many had to a year ago, keep them from leaving the home, trying to explain the science in simpler terms when so much was unknown a year ago. It’s how I found a passion for public health, because so much of it is in education and preventive measures with regards to elevating health.

Ramadan is a holy month, filled with family and friends, reflecting upon the precious quality of life that we are gifted daily. We fast from food, sex and water (yes, no water) from sunup to sundown daily for 30 days. To empathize with those who do not have what we do. To realize the strength we have in ourselves. We have special prayers called Taraweeh – they go through one part of the Quran each night for 30 nights, completing the entire holy book over the month. My father would ask near daily if he could go to the masjid…I hated having to say no. I did everything I could to be certain they avoided exposure. I overcame my issues with having to grocery shop and especially during the pandemic, fearful that my time in the stores would bring the virus back home. Anything to keep them from contracting what I watched kill ruthlessly, with no real funerals, family or burials, which left others with #LongCovid, medical issues that have not yet resolved, regardless of their health statuses prior. I didn’t break my PPE throughout 8 hour shifts, adopted an extensive decontamination routine, fasted during my shifts to exhaustion. Double-masked in my own home, kept away from my family, utilized separate dishes, everything I possibly could. 

I am so incredibly blessed that I can say due in great part to my extreme measures, light OCD and diligence in taking extensive precautions, and insistence to the point of much resistance my parents and I are fully vaccinated and never caught #COVID19. I know that they may have absolutely hated how incredibly strict I was about everything – scolding them so often. Keeping them away from other family members, no matter how great our need for family was. I’m so happy that they can safely interact with other members of my family this year. I’m so utterly humbled that I still have them in my life. As the vaccine has a greater availability and is now open to nearly all, I urge you to protect others and get yours.

We do everything we can to protect our friends and loved ones. It breaks my heart not to be home with them. I have a complicated history with Ramadan, but I’ve never been this far away from my family during the month, ever. Every Ramadan we remind ourselves that it might be our last. To invest in ourselves and our faith the best we can, to honor our life. We only get one life and one body. May we all respect it this Ramadan. I make dua for everyone to be with theirs, and that I make it home safely to be with mine, insha’Allah. #RamadanKareem #RamadanMubarak #MuslimRunner #MuslimAthlete #MuslimStudent #NotYourTypicalMuslim #StrongLooksDifferentOnEveryone 

I’ve outgrown him.

December 25th, 2020

Christmas Day during the pandemic

So today I noticed something. 

I noticed that someone would constantly insist on sexual jokes and commentary, alongside innuendos. We were never a couple, or together, nor had he ever asked me out on a date, but we had been intimate on two occasions. College happens. It’s possible I loved him once. I am not perfect. After a few actions on my end, I effectively ended any chances for fruition of a real relationship, knowing full well what I was doing as I did it.

With regards to him in this moment, I finally realized that my body is mine, and I have agency over who has access to it. That his constancy in my life with commentary that was inappropriate no matter how many times I addressed it, or catered to it as a joke (because he really is that sarcastic, and quite frankly people need to be less sensitive – I can take a joke). 

But those blurred lines enabled him to think that he had access to me in a way it felt he demanded of me. Somehow, perhaps because of a past, it seemed he felt entitled. No matter how many times I let him know I didn’t want the advances or the jokes, he still tried. 

Because he was my friend, I wanted to share the moments in my life where I felt beautiful. And happy. Or gorgeous. I don’t trust many to that aspect of myself. Being vulnerable is always a risk. Doing so often ended up in a response that sounded like “Well, what do you expect me to say or ask for when you look like that?” This wasn’t always the case. I would simply ignore him once he brought up anything sexual. He did end up being much better about the commentary closer to the cutoff.

Whatever magic/love/infatuation/care in any romantic or sexual fashion had stopped on my end years prior. I recognized that I was never going to be his first choice, that I was never good enough for him to love (there are many manifestations of not being “good enough”), that if he cared he would have, at some point, knowing me as well as he did, extended a romantic gesture. A first date. That’s what matters to me. Being “official”.

But he always fell in love with someone else, there was always someone he was with. It was almost like being the Joey to Dawson, who didn’t realize her physical beauty until much later in life. She, too, knew that she deserved to be treated better considering her intelligence, her character, her morals, her integrity, her values, the aspects of a human being that matter in a relationship of value. 

(Now, I don’t remember what happens with Joey & Dawson, but suffice it to say it’s similar to what I remember of season 1). 

If you didn’t love me for who I was before I was considered any societal semblance of attractive, you certainly don’t deserve to pretend to care now that I am seen to possess the physical standards of beauty you held your women to over the years. 

The last time I saw him, he insisted that he wanted to have my leg in his lap. He insisted he wanted just to have human contact. (He was single at the time, but it didn’t really matter, the inappropriate nature of the conversations over and over again… the need for physical contact or imagery…). The pandemic was here. I was uncomfortable for multiple reasons. And no matter how deprived I have been of meaningful human contact, I put my values above all of it. It’s not that difficult.

Caressing my leg, as innocent as he felt he was being, I simply didn’t want or need it. It was annoying, in fact, to have to push his hand away from going further up my scrubs, over and over again. It wasn’t overt force, there was no fear of anything going in a disturbing, non-consensual direction. Simply frustrating to have to say it.

I have self-respect and willpower. Yes, we crave physical connection, but I already made the decision that the next man to have any intimate contact with me would be in a committed relationship with me. During the pandemic, this decision was even easier in order to save my life and the lives of those around me. Hello, celibacy for over three and a half years. Never have been a fan of one-night stands, and the one relationship I have been in was with an intention for marriage. (Obviously, that didn’t work out.) 

Sexual intimacy is superior when accompanied with love, care, trust, compassion, and respect. Full stop.

I had been working for the hospital sites in the locations worst hit in the US during the initial wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Even meeting outdoors 6’ apart for an evening (because it didn’t matter, it never mattered, he was always that important to me to merit a trip to where he was) was something I wasn’t comfortable risking without proper PPE. I’d seen enough within the hospital walls. N95, additional mask, face shield, goggles…

He never took the pandemic completely seriously but listened to everything I witnessed and felt. I showed up that night, after a 12 hour shift, nearly an hour away from home, to catch up, to see a man I have lived through so much with, who knew me better than I knew myself, and yet couldn’t seemingly exist without a sexual overtone with me.

That evening, over far too much wine on his end (I had to drive) and way too many cheese and crackers, he asked me why I didn’t have the strength to ask him to love me over the years. To tell him that’s what I wanted. 

And I was taken aback. Shocked, to be honest. Because anyone who knew us, who knew who we were, who knew our history – it was obvious. He was well aware. He knew how I felt. Shifting the blame to me was probably the last thing I was expecting, and it was unfair. It was a low blow to the young girl in me who wanted nothing more than to be cared about by this man, and who had finally grown up and knew he wasn’t for her. 

Within the next few days, he brought up an attribute of my personality that I constantly try to work on that isn’t my finest, and insisted that it isn’t worth continuing a friendship. That it was no longer tolerable.

I’m fairly persistent. I worry about friends, and mental wellness during a pandemic is an even more heightened situation. I checked in. I let him know he was being thought of. Everyone deserves to know they’re cared for and thought about. But this semester, I was reliving parts of my past that demanded I utilize my own strength I’ve built over the years. 

Strong looks different on everyone. 

As a neuroscientist by trade, the brain is the most fascinating 3 lbs I’ve never wanted to lose. It felt surreal, to be able to analyze my situations in a manner conducive to being even better suited towards learning how to treat & counsel patients. To be in an environment that when presented with the same situations that broke me in the past, enabled me to overcome it all and then some.

He is not a bad person, he is human. He is who he is. His contributions to who I am today are immeasurable, and he has done so much for me – I would venture to say a priceless aspect of my being. I am grateful for him and will be forever so. I make no excuses, I have done my share of good deeds and misdeeds and he has done his. He is a good man, and I want nothing but the best for him. For him to find the truest love, and to be happy. I’ve never wanted any less for those I love. I want him to heal, I want him to feel, I want him to live. There is no need to block, to unfollow, to remove myself from his existence. There is simply a path and it seems as though it has diverged into multiple routes, where I can still see him, but I have no desire to take the one that continues to converge with his, like an asymptote to a sine curve.

Today, I realized: I’ve outgrown him.

And I’m okay with that.

It’ll Grow Some Hair On Your Chest

“It’ll grow some hair on your chest!”

Outdoors, every day before 3pm, we knew the drill.

Coach, whom we knew as “Chomick”, would gather us at the track and explain our workout. When it was a particularly tough one, he’d tell us to “man up” because “it’ll grow some hair on your chest!”

One of my favorite expressions.

“You don’t need a watch to race. It sucks the energy right out through your wrist!”

Learn to run by feel. Invaluable to a runner. To this day, one of the best lessons I’ve learned.

Senior year, toeing the line of my first XC race of the season: “Aysh, she’s faster than you. There’s no way you’ll beat her.” He knew my competitive nature. He knew how I had to strive to be the best in everything I did.

The reverse psychology worked. I dug down, led from the beginning of the race, and never looked back.

He was always prepared. He knew everything about our competitors, always. He always had the clippings from the newspapers. He did the research.

And he told it to you straight. Stopwatch in hand.

My last race before counties: “You won’t beat her, Aysh. She’s the top in our division.”

Kicked it in to the end with a 30 second lead.

My record was 9-0 going into counties with the fastest time on the GMC course coming in. That was all Coach.

If you teach someone to run with their heart, they’ll never need anything else.

Running and racing taught me about life. It gave me the ability to be better everyday. It taught me that I can overcome. The track was home. To this day, nothing feels as real as training on a cinder track did when I was younger.

And when we had a bad race, he had a shrug and an “oh well, what are you going to do?” A few words on where we lost it, but the lesson was – move forward, and try again. There will always be another race. Perspective.

Devastated at the loss of my high school coach. The world needs more like him.

RIP Chomick. You taught us more than you know.