Sunday, July 20, 2014

Let's go Giants

It’s game day and the Huffmans are wearing their best combination of orange and black.
To celebrate our girl turning 20, my husband bought tickets to take the girls to a Giants game at AT&T Park.
I’ll go too, I say, to his surprise. The last time I went to a Giants game was 14 years ago, when the stadium opened.
But with College Girl home for a few short days, I don’t want to miss out on any mother-daughter time. Even if it’s her, me and 41,541 other people.
Ready to cheer on his team, my husband has on orange shorts, a black Day of the Dead print shirt and Giants hat. College Girl is wearing an orange Giants headband, Giants uniform jersey with “Posey 28” written on the back, black leggings and black Converse high-tops. She also carries a giant orange foam finger.
I’m wearing a plain orange T-shirt. I think I need to step it up a bit in the team spirit category.
Arriving at AT&T Park, we are immediately caught up in a swirl of thousands of other orange and black-clad people moving very quickly toward the entrance gates. Inside, we head up multiple ramps, higher and higher until we pop out at the top level of the stadium.
I learn that it’s bad baseball manners to find your seat when someone’s at bat, so we wait in a holding pattern at the entrance tunnel before the usher gives us the nod and we dash up the aisle. Our seats are at the top. The very top. Like small aircraft altitude. The rows are so steep I gulp as I look down, wondering how easy it’d be to just topple right over the edge onto first base.
My husband and the girls immediately announce an expedition in search of a specific vendor’s calamari stand but I’m happy to just get acclimated at my new perch and people watch.
A few rows below me, a man heads up the steep stairs precariously balancing two beers filled to the brim. I am sure he will spill them. He does not.
One couple get to their seats by climbing up and over empty seats like mountain goats.
I watch enviously as a group of fans pass a box of gourmet mini cupcakes back and forth. Why didn’t I think of that?
A woman two rows over wears a sparkly Giants tank top, Giants flip-flops and Giants stick-on tattoos under her eyes. I make a mental note to shop for a better Giants shirt at halftime, then remember there is no halftime in baseball.
Between one inning, a “kiss cam” puts seatmates on the spot. Some kiss cam couples give each other a PG-rated peck but the stadium goes nuts when one pair smooches dramatically. Another camera keeps going back to a dancing grandma wildly waving streamers. The crowd loves her.
During the game, everyone claps in perfect synchronization to certain songs. I catch onto the clap-clap-clap end of the “Let’s Go Giants” chant but a longer, more complicated clapping routine has me stumped until about the eighth inning. Then finally I get it. It’s the intro from “Car Wash.”
I’ve mastered all the clapping songs, I tell my husband, when he and the girls finally return with calamari, hot dogs and a soda in a big plastic Giants cup.
Now I just need a better T-shirt.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Run like the devil

Giving birth three times was hard, but after finishing my first half marathon I can now name the fourth hardest thing I ever did.
If you’d told me a year ago I’d run 13.1 miles, I would have said “What? You must have me mixed up with a much younger/fitter/way more ambitious mother runner.”
But after I heard about a half marathon to be held in Napa at the end of June, I signed up. A lot of it had to do with the sparkly race medal. I like accessories. I wanted that medal.
On race day, the first six miles felt great. A couple times I got the “Wow, I’m really doing this,” running chills. At the halfway mark, I looped around the turnaround cone and gave a big fist pump, feeling strong.
By mile 8, my pace had slowed a bit. I stopped for water and picked up two new people: a devil runner on one shoulder and an angel runner on the other shoulder.
They started talking to me.
Devil runner: “Why are you doing this? You could just walk. You don’t have to run.”
Angel runner: “Keep running. You trained for months for this. You can do it.”
At mile 10, my angel runner reminded me that I only had three miles to go.
“Three looooong miles to go,” taunted my devil runner.
At mile 11, there were only about 10 other runners around me.
Devil runner: “Look, everyone else is walking. You can walk.”
Angel runner: “You trained to run this distance. You can do it.”
Me: “Shut up both of you. I’m trying to finish this.”
A friend and her baby waited for me at mile 12 holding a big pink sign. “Trust your training,” it said.
“Only one mile to go,” she shouted as I wobbled past her.
Halfway through mile 12, I could see the finish way down the road. It was so close but so far away. My breathing was shot. My legs were jelly. Devil runner finally got me. I walked for a few minutes.
I saw another runner who’d already finished walk by me wearing her finisher’s medal. I hated that she was already done and I was still limping along, but there was no way I was not going to run across that effing finish line.
Angel runner: “You do not want to walk across that effing finish line.”
I started running again.
Near the end, I saw my husband. The girls are right ahead, he said. All three were there, even College Girl. I managed to give them a thumbs-up as I ran around the last turn. Crossing the finish, I saw my mom and my running coach.
“You did it!” they said.
I fell into them for a hug and burst into tears.
“It. Was. So. Hard.” I sobbed.
I grabbed my husband’s arm to keep from falling over while I bawled like a baby.
“Get your medal,” he reminded me.
Gasping, I put my prize around my neck. It was so beautiful.
Even my devil runner agreed.