This weekend the Little Wing girls and I ventured out of their run/eat/sleep/repeat comfort zone to take in some local athletics of the non-endurance variety: a Bend Elks Baseball game.
(side note: a friend questioned the existence of this since a “reliable source” told him all ball sports had been banned in the endurance/adventure-junkie city of Bend. I can confirm there is at least one exception to that unverified rumor.)
As a bipartisan athlete - I played softball through college before finding running in 2009 - it was my job to 1) make sure no one said anything embarrassing like “when’s halftime?” and 2) figure out how to get a crowd of baseball fans to care about “just running.” You see, when people are used to running being a small component of a sport instead of the whole sport itself, it can seem a little snoozey on its own. Trust me, I know. I’m still repenting all the snickers I made at “our sport is your sport’s punishment” shirts and years I spent thinking XC and T&F were for girls too uncoordinated for volleyball, soccer, and softball. Sorry, runners.
Anyway, I think it went well! Here were our keys to winning over the bleacher bums, or at least not getting popcorn thrown at us:
The expressway to the heart runs straight through the stomach, didn’t you know? We got off on the right foot by handing out Picky Bars the the entrance - carb to protein ratio wasn’t the captivating product feature it is to the enduro crowd, but people really dug that they’re local, healthy, and tasty! The Jesse Thomas name drops helped, too (he grew up in Bend and is apparently a bit of a local legend)
Plus there were a lot of grateful parents who got to skip the cotton candy line and hungry guys in the dugouts - maybe that’s where all their hits came from??
A Strike and a [surprise] Song
It’s true, Lauren Fleshman is good at everything. It’d be easy to hate her if she weren’t so damn likeable. While warming up for her ceremonial first pitch she revealed a softball background dating back to age 14 before it got the boot in favor of T&F (probably the right call…)
About 30 minutes before game time I was in the press box going over event scheduling when someone mentioned they didn’t have anyone to sing the National Anthem. Knowing Lauren’s talent (yes! another talent!) and that she’d admitted regret about chickening out of Open Mic Night earlier, I offered her up like a prized show pony.
“Lauren could do it before she throws the first pitch! She’s a great singer!”
So they let her. And she nailed them both.
Photo Credit: Bend Elks Baseball
Video from: @sarahoual
More FREE!! Stuff
The same way that a salad someone else makes for you tastes exponentially better than one you make at home, a tshirt (regardless of size, shape, color, etc) wrapped into a ball and chucked at you while you waive your arms and almost fall into your nachos is way cooler than one you buy off a boring ol’ rack. I’m not sure how many attendees were runners, why young boys were pouncing like hungry wildebeests, or whether or not the begonia Winona tank that landed in a middle-aged mans hands is going to be a gifted to his wife, but I guess that wasn’t totally the point. Maybe someday they’ll read about Little Wing in the Bend Bulletin and remember our night, recognize the Oiselle tags in Footzone downtown, or tell a romantic tale of one-handedly catching a size small womens shirt without spilling their beer, impressing the woman a few seats down so much she later exchanged her phone number for it and they lived happily ever after*! What a fairytale!
(*completely made up story)
(**but if this did happen to you, please contact me immediately)
“I Can Beat a Girl!”
What’s better than a foot race from the outfield to home plate between a denim-clad long-legged beauty and two ambitious 12 year olds?
A girl that doesn’t take it easy on them. They don’t call her FastK8 for nothing, boys!
The Hot Seat
Maybe putting people on the spot in front of a crowd and asking them obscure trivia questions isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but a screen printed Bend Elks stripey baseball shirt convinced one fan to take on the challenge. It was really cool hearing the bleachers yell out their guesses trying to help her.
Want to play? No pressure, but she got all three right (*answers below)
● 5k, the distance Lauren has won two US championships in, is equal how many laps around bases? 82, 456, 1000
● Little Wing team member Kate Grace is a great American Miler. How fast can she run a mile? 4:25, 5:00 5:15
One of the greatest aspects of sports - all sports, but especially participatory sports like running - is the sense of community that effortlessly ties everyone together. Oiselle has created a virtual community that is so impressive and interactive it feels like the real deal, but you may not realize that the actual “on the ground” community is just as important to them. From the dealers across the country who carry the brand, to fellow local businesses, to the race courses we all line up at to chase after big dreams, to the people in the stands cheering it all on. Oiselle is about much more than just running clothes, and this weekend’s “meeting the neighbors” was about that.
Bend baseball, meet your Bend runner girls. A new team to root for in the off-season, maybe?
Alright I’m hanging up my glove, back to Rookie Running Fan Girl… right after I finish this proposal to change the Elk’s 7th inning stretch entertainment to “bring me some peanuts and Picky Barrrrrs…”
*Hot Seat Answers: 456, 4:25, Washington