Monday, November 19, 2012

Little Spartans @ Fenway Park

Mom always says....
It is 5:30AM on Sunday, November 19 when the alarm sounds at our bedside in a hotel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Immediately, I remember that I have to wrangle two sleepyhead children out of their slumber, get them dressed and fed and be out the door in less than 30 minutes. Let the shenanigans begin. I open my eyes to find every light in the hotel room is already on and my 6 year old daughter is peering under my nice warm blankets waiting. "You awake mommy?" Our 8 year old son Noah is already dressed and having breakfast.

Fenway Park all to ourselves? Woah.
This is a morning my kids have been looking forward to for quite a long time: the morning of their first Spartan Jr. Race. For weeks, they have insisted that I provide them with WOD's consisting of burpees, rope climbs, squats, lunges, pushups and whatever I can think of to occupy them. The morning has finally arrived and they are ready to go. Now.

While the kids' race is not scheduled until noon, I have signed myself up for the 8:30 time trial so we hit the road and search what seems like all of Boston for an attended lot where we can safely leave our dog in the car with the windows cracked. My husband Dave has somehow agreed to play gear and snack sherpa for the day while the kids and I indulge in a morning of play. Arriving at Fenway is immediately like a high school reunion of friends from earlier races colliding with memories of Red Sox games. An eclectic mix of emotions and memories. Realizing that I don't have the privilege to chat and soak up the moment as we are already running late for my heat, I quickly move through the 4 different registration lines we need to get us all set up. Waiting until the last minute to do this stuff = bad call. Bibs, numbers, t-shirts, snacks, photos, water, more photos...check... finally we head into the park, chatting and catching up wherever I can (and probably driving my husband nuts).

A stow away child in the starting corral.

And back over the barriers you go, kid.
The kids are warmed up and ready to race. But it is my turn first, so Dave psyches them up as my personal cheering squad, which seems to be a welcome distraction. Daddy= 1. Kids = 0. As I line up for my 8:30 heat, the kids are beside themselves with excitement. Charlie even decides to try to stow away into the adult heat multiple times while I continually lift her back over the barriers back to the spectator viewing area. Was I supposed to be doing something? Oh yeah, I never warmed up. At all. Crap.
Do child raises count?

My time trial begins and I am off for a Fenway adventure of burpees, stairs, walls, ball and spear throws, burpees, carrying heavy things up and down bleachers, box jumps, etc.

View of Fenway from the pavilion.
Being New England Red Sox fans, Dave and the kids had little trouble entertaining themselves climbing into and on top of the dugouts (did someone say they couldn't do that??), taking in the sun behind home plate and making friends with other Little Spartan families getting ready for their turn. As I snake through the stadium I periodically get kisses and hugs from the kids while they jump up and down wildly cheering. Yeah, I am that important. I brought my own fan club.

Having way too much fun while mommy runs. Mom didn't say we couldn't stand on the dugout.

Somehow I always seem to take a good gladiator pit.
Notable moments on my Fenway race: spear toss failed. Row 500m in 2 minutes. Good one Spartan. With just 15m to go, the darn computer sent me for burpees. Fail. And the sandbag carry up and down bleachers 5X: nice touch Spartan.

My fan club was waiting for me at the finish with snacks and warm hugs. We snacked on our Simple Granola and Fuel bars (like the kids needed MORE energy?) and enjoyed the warm November sun.
Snacking on some healthy Simple Brandz snacks between races.

Dave quickly recognized that I hadn't had enough and offered to hold down the troops while I played another round. I am so grateful that he embraces (tolerates) me and my idiosyncrasies. Within 10 minutes I had secured another timing chip (thank you season's pass) and slipped into the last grouping of the 10:30AM heat with plenty of time to change before the kids' race.

And then it was time. Within minutes, the infield was filled with over 150 miniature Spartans, mostly decked out with their signature orange Spartan t shirts. The parent's were spread out throughout a half mile course that weaved in and out of the field and over and under the adult course that the bigger kids would conquer twice. There were little kids. There were big kids. As the kids charged toward us, it was like the running of the bulls with a single rabbit out front in orange running for his life. There were giggles. There were smiles. There were crashes. Charlie stopped as she passed me, rolled up her pants and said "look mom, I have scratches on my legs like you". Spartan scratches. Charlie and Noah fearlessly mantled up and sailed over 3 1/2 foot walls, crawled through tunnels and raced the bleachers in a blur of little bodies and ponytails.
Charlie racing through the bleachers in the kids' race.

Noah with the characteristic tongue-out-of-the-mouth look.

After our own round at cheering, lifting the really small kids over the walls, and directing traffic, we realized that the only action photos we have of our kids were a blur. I guess this is a good analogy to raising kids anyway.

Koenig kids proudly displaying the fruits of their labor.

Upon crossing the finish line, the kids each received their finisher medals from Wally the Green Monster. Sadly, at that point I was nearly a quarter of a mile back and missed it. It was impossible, however, to miss the smiles on their faces since they are still there. We bid Fenway adieu and headed back to the car for annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Pennsylvania. As the kids snoozed in the back, we could hear the occasional clang of their medals that hung around their necks.

As for me, I finished both of my races within 30 seconds of one other and earned a 7th place overall finish for women (out of 1,124 women). Being the first female finisher over 30, I am happy to say us old moms still have a little fight in us too.

Next time, the whole Koenig family takes on the adult race.
Another one in the books- this time family style.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Waiting For Winter

This week marks the beginning of another transition up here in Maine: the ski season is finally under way. For those of us who work in the ski industry, this comes after weeks or months of preparation and waiting for the first snowflakes to fly (or in our case, high volume snowguns). I had the privilege of sitting down with the folks at Sugarloaf to talk a little about our community of skiers and snowboarders here in Carrabassett. It was a little scary, but mostly fun. For a change, here is something geared not to obstacle racing, but to life in the Valley.

Thanks for Sugarloaf's True Blue series for this one. This is episode #3 of 4.

Link to Sugarloaf mountain True Blue- Shelley Koenig

Happy trails. May they soon be snow covered.

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