Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekend Away: Army/Navy Game

I travel a fair amount, but it is incredibly rare these days that I do so for something other than a race.  Even rarer that I get to head to the airport without toting a 50-pound bike box and pay an extra fee no matter what airline I'm flying on.  So it was nice to have the opportunity to do it this past weekend. 

My uncle Matt went to the Naval Academy and played tight end for the football team "back in the day."  So for him and his family and friends it is usually an annual thing to attend this game.  This year, for the first time, the game was held at FedEx field, where the Redskins play and also very close to where my cousin Trip lives with his family, so some of the rest of us decided to make the trip.  $49 fares on Southwest and a house to crash in made it an even easier decision. 

Friday for me began at 4:30am in a scramble to swim, get my long ride in, and transition run with just enough time to get cleaned up and throw the last few items in my backpack before catching the plane at 1:40.  Rushing around and my nutrition being sub-optimal made that particular bike ride feel like I was trying to climb Everest or something.  I haven't even gotten to the real long rides.  Even cookies 'n cream Powerbars weren't helping.  But I managed to survive and get to the airport to board the short, though hour-delayed flight down to Baltimore. 

We had a fairly quiet evening before heading off to bed to rest up for the big day.  Saturday was early for me, sneaking out before anyone else was up to get my run in.  It always makes the time go by faster to run someplace new, although I did fear I might have been lost as I tried to retrace by route back.  Their neighborhood has a lot of streets that loop around a lot, so at least to me it seemed like certain streets actually intersected more than once.  But I did make it back without overdoing it too much. 

We hit the road at about 9:45 for the relatively short drive to the field to join 90,000 people for the game.  This was nicer than a Patriots game in that it didn't take us an hour to go the final two miles to the parking lot.  It was a sunny but quite chilly day, down in the 40's which feels a lot worse when standing around instead of, say, running.  We spent a couple of hours tailgating, which as a non-drinker I don't really understand.  Why is it fun to stand around a parking lot and eat and drink?  Can't you do that at home in your living room for a couple of extra hours instead?  I guess this is why I'm not into football that much and not a guy. 

Eventually it was time to head inside.  I went in first with my mom, whose knee has been bothering her so she thought she'd be slow.  Also, the president was at the game so security was pretty thorough and entering the stadium took a little while.  We made it inside without posing a security threat and I actually paid $6 for a hot chocolate that probably cost them twelve cents to make.  I really think as a society we should all band together against ridiculously overpriced concessions.  How does popcorn and a soda cost $1 if you buy it at Target and $10 at the movies?  Anyway, I wanted it more for a hand warmer than anything so I guess I got my $6 worth anyway. 

Then we found our seats.  Oh, our seats.  I'll admit I've been relatively spoiled when going to professional sporting events by usually having pretty decent seats.  I did sit way, way, way up high at Fenway recently but even from there had a decent view of the game.  And I've been in the last row at the Garden and while it's far away, again, I could make out what was going on.  It's a very good thing that I didn't care about watching the game, because we arrived to something like this:

That picture isn't actually from Saturday, as the end zones were painted with Army and Navy, but you get the general idea.  The overhang was so low you couldn't see sky or even many of the fans on the opposite side of the field, and a good portion of the field was blocked from view by that giant pillar there.  Oh, but it's okay because they put TV's in there so you can see all of that stuff on the field you wouldn't be able to see otherwise.  How are stadiums designed with such seats and how are they even allowed to charge for them?  We also got to pay four times the face value.

Well, again, since I didn't really care about the game, the seats were far more funny than infuriating.  We were all interested in watching the jets and helicopters fly over, which meant we had to find somewhere else to stand to actually see the sky.  Us and the dozens of other people who couldn't believe what their seats looked like when they got to them.  This caused a lot of random people yelling about standing in their way and not being able to get through aisles to their seats and just a lot of unpleasantness.  It amazes me the kinds of things people choose to get worked up and angry over.

Well, we did survive seeing the fly over without getting into a fight and even saw the president out on the field tossing the coin before we headed back to those uncomfortable but very expensive seats so we could sit in the cold in our little stadium cave and essentially watch the game on those TV's and just kind of look around laughing about the situation and wondering how early was okay to leave.

Turns out eight minutes to go in the first half was deemed appropriate, and that was our stint at FedEx field.  Originally we had planned to get Patriots tickets since they were playing the Redskins there the next day.  I can't even tell you how glad we were that that plan never materialized!  We went back and had a nice casual dinner at my cousin's house and warmed up before watching Rudolph while discussing with my cousin's 11-year old son that the whole special actually sounds racist if you think about it. 

On Sunday we took a brief driving tour of DC headed up by my cousin Trip where we saw all of the good stuff without having to leave the car.  I saw a lot of that stuff up close thanks to a basketball tournament in 1992 where we all played tourist while wearing our hideous, yellow polyester uniforms to see the Lincoln Memorial and such.  This was much better.  My mother pointed out that the last time we were there I spent the whole time complaining about being hungry.  Come on, I was twelve!

The boys spent the afternoon watching football while the girls went to the mall to do a bit of shopping.  It's always good to be at the mall with your mom around Christmas.  And after a bit of a delay thanks to a flight attendant who appeared to have had too much to drink and needed a replacement, we made it home.  It was definitely a fun little visit in spite of the terrible seats.  And fortunately an experience like that lets you know that you don't ever have to agree to anything like that again! 

Now it's just back to the regular stuff.  Tough start to the week with getting home at midnight on Sunday, but going to bed at 8 last night helped.  I've been on the bike trainer more lately instead of outside which isn't as much fun, but BST workouts are less painful when you get to watch Christmas Vacation while you do them.  And in less than two months I'll be in Florida, so who cares, right?

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to write because my brother went to Annapolis years ago. And I was fortunate as a kid to have him and four other Annapolis guys stay at my house when the game was played in LA one year, and got to go to the Army Navy game with them. It was such a blast and reading your blog brought back some fun memories.