Stealing Third

steal third

Last weekend, Caitlin had a tremendous opportunity to participate in a feature at
Angel Stadium called “Stealing Third”. The privilege came courtesy of
our local office in the AF Pacific Region and a generous person from Angel
Stadium marketing. (Thank you Maria!) Essentially, the chosen child (aged 8-12)
runs the third base foul line, grabs third base, and runs back, racing the
clock. If he/she beats the time, a section of the stadium is awarded a free
Sobe beverage.

When we got the call with the offer, I deferred to Caitlin. It’s our rule now,
that she gets to make the decision on whether to speak at an event, or
participate in anything having to do with her arthritis. I used to always just
say “yes”, but now it is her choice. I admit that I held my breath as
I listened to her side of the phone conversation. I sort of assumed that she
would say no. I sort of assumed that my daughter, who describes her own running
as looking like “a one-legged penguin” would not leap at the
opportunity to display said run in front of a stadium of people. I took it for
granted that the pre-teen, who had her right hip replaced only four months ago
and is still sporting a sizeable leg differential… the one who has been on
pass-rest P.E. for six months…. the one who won’t leave the house without coordinated
accessories to go with her outfit would say “No Thanks.” I was wrong.
She surprised me and said “Absolutely!”

With only two days to prepare, we set about trying to figure out how long the
distance would be, and how much time she would have. Luckily, several other
proud parents have posted videos of their kid “stealing third”… so
we had some reference. (We’ll forget the fact that one of the first videos I
found was a poor boy who tripped three steps out and fell on his arm, breaking
it badly… then running all the way to third cradling the sagging limb until
somebody came and escorted him off to medical care.) What we decided was that
the run would be about 150-175 feet, and she would have 35 seconds.

So, we practiced. She was in tears after not making it the first few times. You
could see the point each try where she gave up, slowed down, started to fold in
on herself. The morning of the event, we were in front of the house with a
stopwatch, trying again and again. What we were unprepared for, was how
difficult it was for her to do the repeated cardio work. Six months without
P.E., and she does not have the breathe strength of a normal 12 year old. It
was a big wake-up call that it’s time to step up the low-impact cardio (biking,
swimming, elliptical….). But, after a few tries, she made it! Her confidence
boosted, we headed off to the stadium.

We had terrific seats, but Caitlin sat pale and quiet until the middle of the
second inning when they came to get us. They escorted us to the backstage area,
and then out to the field… Caitlin looked like she was walking to the
gallows. At the edge of the field, we were met by three young women, members of
the “Angels Strike Force” – a sort of cheer, community support team.
I had e-mailed the contact ahead letting them know why Caitlin was not the
typical 12 year old runner… and when I let the Angel Force know, they were
very sweet… “WOW, that is Sooooo Cool! So, you have, like, titanium
hips? You rock!” The marketing guy took me aside and whispered, “Can
she do this in 30 seconds?”. I answered that we had practiced with 35…
no problem he said.

Those minutes that we were waiting seemed so long. I was so excited… but also
so worried. There were 28,000 people at Angel Stadium that day. What if Caitlin
didn’t make it? I know failure is an important part of learning… but
sometimes, the memory of failure stalls future efforts. What if this became
some horrible line in the sand marking the point where Caitlin stopped taking

But as usual, Mom was just over emotionalizing. They actually gave Caitlin 40
seconds, but I think she completed it in 30. She came running back, and the
relief and elation in her face was palpable. She has a commemorative third
base, a t-shirt, and hat to remember that day….. but I think the good it did
her heart and spirit will not be soon forgotten. Caitlin has not run normally
since the age of 3. All those years of swollen knees, ankles, hips, toes,
shoulders, elbows…. there was so much guarding and adapting just to be able
to do the jogging necessary to play softball (which she did for seven years).
Now that the arthritis is controlled and the hips are brand new, her PT
struggles to identify exactly how we can fix the mechanics and help her gain a
more normal stride. We stretch, and squat, and bend….Not because she has such
a great love of running, but because we want her not to have to sit out of
activities, because she feels like a “one-legged penguin”.

But I was reminded as my twelve year old took a chance in front of so many…
the funny stride, the side to side does not matter. The size of her spirit and
the strength of her determination does…..and so far, she’s at the head of the

Here’s a video of Caitlin stealing third:

This entry was posted in Overcoming obstacles, PT - OT, Sports, Surgery, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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