Friday, March 30, 2018

Up North: Spring Break 2018

Many Minnesotan families plan their spring break trips somewhere south where they can enjoy the sun and warmer weather. This year, however, the kids and I took a trip north and spent two days enjoying time with my parents in Emily, MN and a few days in Duluth, MN. The weather turned out to be beautiful and we had a great time making memories together.

We left Saturday afternoon. To break up the trip and grab a few supplies we stopped at the Walmart in Elk River. I needed a couple tail lights and decided at the last second to get a couple new windshield wipers as well. This turned out to be a very good decision. We of course stopped at the McDonald's in Garrison for a snack and snapped a picture of the giant deer in Deerwood. As we drove we saw a few real deer eating along the road. Traffic was no problem and we arrived at the cabin in time for dinner. The rest of the evening included relaxing by playing games, watching the MN Wild game and Andrew saying over and over again, "Papa look at this..." Isabelle and Andrew both really enjoy the cabin and Andrew in particular loves being around his Papa.

We attended my parents' church Emily Wesleyan Church. My mom plays the piano during the service. She has played my entire life and it is nice to see her serving the Lord with his gifts. After church Andrew and I spent some time shooting his BB gun at a target outside. Then after lunch we drove down to Crosby and went bowling. Jake bet me my $10 v his 2 months of trash and recycling duty that he could beat me. I am looking forward to not handling recycling until June. My dad ended up bowling at the last minute and he beat me twice. I wasn't expecting that! After bowling we went to Zorbaz on the Lake in Cross Lake for dinner. The kids were all requesting this on the way up to the cabin. The nachos and pizza were worth the drive. The day concluded with a few epic games of Uno and some TV. Izzy and Nana baked some yummy chocolate chip cookies.

Other weekend activities including playing Stratego, snow shoeing, some card stamping and a game of Mexican Train dominoes.

There was quite a bit of snow falling in Emily as we left after breakfast. Not far away from the cabin I tried to snap some ice of the wiper blades and the blade broke. Thank the Lord I had new wipers in the trunk. I installed them on the side of the room as was extremely grateful for much improved visibility as we drove the next hour and a half in snowy/icy conditions. We grabbed Subway for lunch in Hermantown and stopped top watch a movie. Isabelle and Andrew wanted to watch Sherlock Gnomes, but Jake and I wanted to watch Black Panther. Black Panther is was and I really liked it. Not my favorite Marvel movie but it was good. The split over the movie choice was consistent with how it went with the kids all weekend. Seemed like there was always at least one dissenter from the group choice.

Before checking into the hotel we went into Duluth to Adventure Zone. We all had a lot of fun playing arcade games, laser tag and mini golf. Jake found a claw machine game and won 3 mini basketballs. Andrew didn't like the laser tag but the two bigs and I had a great times running around pretending to shoot each other with lasers. Mini golf went as smoothly as it ever has with my kids. Dad took home the 'green jacket' on the nine holes we putted through.

We made it to the Edgewater Resort around 6:30. I asked at the front desk if there was any free room upgrades available and they gave us a room in the main building not far from the pool. The kids were happy about having a large room with two TVs so they could watch different programs. We ate and headed down to the pool about 7:30 and swam until around 9. The water park is nice but my kids are all starting to get a little too old for this sort of thing. They didn't go down the waterslide much and mostly just cruised around the lazy river trying to slip each other out of the tubes. After swimming I used my two-for-one drink token and before I could drink the other one Jake spilled it all over the floor trying to wrestle with me on the bed.

Woke up excited about the Tiki Tom breakfast buffet but none of us were very impressed with the quality or variety of the food. Andrew and I decided to swim a little more before checking out of the hotel. Our next activity was touring the Glensheen Mansion. Andrew was very excited for this and I let him use my phone to take pictures as we did the tour. All the kids did great listening to out tour guide and we had a good time exploring the mansion and mansion grounds.

After the tour we drove to Two Harbors. I wanted to stop by Castle Danger Brewery. We bought food and went to the brewery for lunch. It's a cool place and we had fun playing Cranium together and eating there. Then we got back into the car and drove to Gooseberry Falls. This was a highlight for us all from the trip. It was a great time hiking the trails and climbing rocks around the Falls. All three kids enjoyed it even more than I thought they would and we'd all like to come back in the summer when things are drier. It was pretty snowy and slushy and icy. I was worried I was going to run out of gas on the way back to Duluth but we made it with about a 1/2 gallon of gas to spare.

Our hotel for our second night in Duluth was Park Pointe Marina Inn. This was a more basic hotel but it was nice for our needs. Jake was tired after we checked in so he stayed behind while Izzy, Andrew and I walked around Canal Park and did some shopping. Andrew had a ridiculous amount of trouble finding something he wanted but Izzy found a really cute Patagonia hat. We stopped at Hoops Brewing and had a pretzel and beer for a snack. While we hung out there we played a little Jenga and Yahtzee. Super cool brewery with tons of open space and games for people to play.

For dinner we picked up Jake and went to Grandma's Saloon and Grill. Then we went back to the hotel to swim   in the pool and hang out in the sauna. My kids don't like the hot sauna but I was loving it! Then we were going to get a late night snack at the Canal Park Brewery. Their website said 1/2 apps from 9-11pm, but when we got there at 10pm the bartender told me the kitchen was closed. That was a bummer and all we got was some cheese dip, salsa and chips. When we got back to our room our TV didn't work and it took someone from the front desk about  twenty minutes to get it fixed.

We didn't have too much planned for our last day together. I got up early and went for a couple miles jog across the Aerial Lift Bridge and around Canal Park. The cool crisp air off Lake Superior felt very refreshing as I ran. After breakfast we lounged around until our 10:30 checkout time. Then we went back to Canal Park and Jake picked out a Patagonia hat for himself. Andrew was still paralyzed by choice and couldn't decide on anything. We grabbed a treat at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate store and headed to our final activities of the week. Jake found a really cook trampoline park in Duluth called Plan3t Extreme Air Park. The kids had a blast jumping around for an hour and a half. Then we drove home, stopping at Coldstone Creamery in Blaine for our final treat.

I had such a great time with the kids. I saw each of their unique personalities, their smiles, their laughter, their delight. I listened to Izzy and Andrew reading the Action Bible together in the car, we talked about our favorite things, we asked each other questions, we wrestled and tickled, we explored, we tried new things, we sang songs, we found fun in little things. I watched my kids play together and help each and love each other. I felt the loves of my parents and saw their happiness in spending time with me and their grandkids. It was a wonderful fives days toegther.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Recap CrossFit Open 18.2 and 18.2a

Now that I've had a few days to recover I can say that I absolutely loved the CrossFit Games Open workouts 18.2 and 18.2a. I heard the live announcement while I was driving to Skopos on Thursday night and I was absolutely pumped! My kids probably thought I was nuts at how excited I was. I'm guessing I walked into Skopos with just a ridiculous smile on my face.

Here is what the WODS were...

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 reps for time of:
Dumbbell squats (50lb DB)
Bar-facing burpees

1-rep-max clean
Time cap: 12 minutes to complete 18.2 AND 18.2a

The things I was most excited about were the burpees (for time) and the clean. I knew the DB squats would be the hardest part for me. I figured my clean max would be average, so my immediate plan was to attack the burpees hard. This was another WOD were I would be able to utilize my cardio to give me an advantage over most other competitors. I then planned to rest a couple minutes before I started doing cleans.

My goals before the WOD were 7:30 for the squats/burpees and 245lbs for the clean.

I was super happy with how the WOD went. I focused on consistent speed and good depth on my squats to avoid wasting any energy with possible no reps. I never stopped on the burpees and utilized a 90 degree spin on my bar-overs to put me in position to do the next burpee. I beat my squat/burpee goal and finished in 7:06.

For the cleans I started at a heavy, but doable 185lbs. Then I did 205 and 225 pretty easily as power cleans. I was thinking 245 next but my coach said to do 235 then rest and take an attempt at 245. It was a good call. I hit the 235 clean and had three tries at 245lbs. Unfortunately I think I was just too fatigued at that point and I wasn't able to get my elbows under it. Still, I ended up with a 10# PR on the 1-re-max-clean. That's awesome.

As always, Friday Night Lights provided a super fun atmosphere. There were so many amazing performances and people hitting PRs all over the box. It is so cool to be part of such a supportive and encouraging community of people. Seeing the looks on people's aces when they lift things they never thought they could, or when they just grind to get back and forth over the bar, never gets old.

I can't wait for 18.3

Let's go.