2014 National Speed Climbing Championships!

That’s right! Jack made it through the Divisionals in Houston last month and thus earned a berth in the National Championships which (thankfully) were held here in Atlanta this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 10-12. Here’s the video (this was uploaded in HD, so crank up the resolution and watch it full-screen!):

Thursday, the day this video was shot, was preliminaries. There were an absolute TON of contestants from all over the country, and only the top finishers moved on to the finals on Friday. Unfortunately, Jack was literally the first person after the cut-off, meaning if he had done better than ONE other person, he would have made it to the finals on Friday.

Needless to say, we were crushed to learn just how tantalizingly close Jack had come to advancing to the finals, but both sets of grandparents who attended and of course also we, his family, were SO proud of his finishing time of 12.13 seconds. This was Jack’s first year of competitive climbing, and for him to have made Nationals is a tremendous achievement. We’ll get ‘em next year! Go Jack! :)

Welcoming Meredith to an Atlanta tradition

Every July 4th, the AJC hosts the Peachtree Road Race.  From it’s humble beginnings in 1970 when 110 runners did the course on sidewalks, it has grown into the largest 10K in the world with 60,000 people braving the heat and humidity to run, jog and walk the scenic route from Buckhead to Midtown.  There are elite runners from all over the world who start the race in seeded positions with a goal of the prize purse ($100,000 this year), but the vast majority of participants are running for The Shirt.

The official race t-shirt is perhaps the most popular aspect of the Peachtree Road Race, perhaps due to the limited numbers of t-shirts available in the early race years. Each year a different design is chosen through a contest sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper and a limited number of shirts are made. T-shirts are only available to runners who finish the race, and thus have become a status-symbol among Atlanta culture.

No one know which design has won until the first runners collect their shirts.  The winning choice is very hotly debated, but regardless of your opinion of the shirt, you wear it with pride for the rest of your Independence Day celebrations.  In fact, I have mine on right now and it looks like this.

For this first time this year, Meredith and I got do the race together, along with Todd, Heather and Todd’s BFF Jeff.  It was something I’ve done a few times before and I was just thrilled to get to share it with her.  We were lucky enough for an outstanding day, weather wise.  Just before we got to the starting line it was 69 degrees with relatively low humidity.  Absolutely perfect.

The start is set up in waves of several thousand runners in order to handle crowd control.  Our group was assigned wave Y.  We tried to sneak in with group R and got totally busted by the PRR security and were escorted outside a fence to wait for our wave.

I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures, with captions that I hope will give you a glimpse into what a fun tradition this race is….one I can’t wait to do again next year!

 

Summertime, Summertime

Welp, it’s summertime across the USA, and as yesterday was the Inverness 4th of July pool party extravaganza and we have ourselves (courtesy of Wells Fargo) a shiny new GoPro Hero 3+ to play with, we figured, why not take the sucker for a spin? Note: this thing’s got pretty amazing resolution, so crank the settings up to full and hit full screen. Summer, y’all!:

Meredith loves riding

I got a new snazzy lens for my camera today, so I stuck around for Meredith’s riding lesson and took some shots. I haven’t actually watched her ride in a while and I was impressed with her progress. She’s really getting good. Enjoy!

 

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Scout Camp!

Jack was very nervous about his first week of sleep away camp, but I was really happy to see his anxiety tempered with a lot of excitement this morning! I hope he has a fantastic time!

Ready for camp 1

Ready for camp 1

Read for camp 2

Read for camp 2

Packing the trunks

Packing the trunks

Jack, James and Sean

Jack, James and Sean

Herding cats

Herding cats

HERE!

HERE!

Buds 1

Buds 1

Buds 2

Buds 2

The gang

The gang

The gang 2

The gang 2

Looking forward to fun

Looking forward to fun

Laguna Beach

photo of Lars and Beth sailing

Not actually Americas Cup…but still!

Yes, Lars and Beth went to Laguna Beach, CA this past week. Not the entire week, just Sunday through Wednesday (5/11-14). It was what Beth called a “recognition event” from her employer. They called it “Celebrating the Stars,” which amounts to the same thing. In essence, throughout the nation – and at all levels of the company (or nearly all) – managers and co-workers were asked to nominate people whose work had been truly exceptional over the past year, and the recipients of this honor were invited to bring one guest and attend this event.

Though it was employer-based (and paid for!), it was only nominally a “work event.” In fact, there was only one short meeting of all the employees, for about 90 minutes, and that wasn’t even truly work, it was more a welcome and a short presentation on what criteria people were chosen on, and how to continue high caliber work in the future. The rest of the time we were explicitly told to have fun, NO work. Laptops not allowed, etc. So we did. Join us after the fold to see what we mean – let’s just say it was an incredible trip :)

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Jack at the 2014 Regionals Climbing Competition!

In the rock climbing world, there are fifteen regions in the USA, which in turn make up five larger divisions (click the map (or here) for interactive map at USAClimbing site):

image of USA climbing regions

U S A • C L I M B I N G • R E G I O N S

Annual competitions go from local “comps” to (for those who score high enough to qualify) Regional competitions, to (again, for climbers who make the cut) Divisionals, and finally to Nationals. Saturday, May 10th was the Regionals competitions for climbing regions all over the United States. And Jack, having placed high enough in local comps, was invited to compete at the Deep South Regional in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here’s the video I took of his three attempts. This year, each climber in Male C (Jack’s age group) was given only ONE attempt at three different problems. I missed the very beginning of route #1, but got all of #2 and #3. Enjoy! (and apologies for the shaky/grainy camera work: I had to climb the stairs across the warehouse to get a decent vantage point):

 

Oh…and if you were wondering? Jack placed 7th out of 15, ensuring him a spot to go on to Divisionals in Houston in June! Yay, Jack!

The Big Easy, Olsson Style

The last vacation we all took together was 2 years ago, spring break of 2012 when we went to visit DC and meet my then-newest niece, Ella.  So this year, we decided to head south to the coast to spend a few days in NOLA (New Orleans, LA).  It was an all around fantastic trip. Here are my thoughts, day by day, with some pictures to round out the post.

photo from New Orleans

Click to embiggen!

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First outdoor climb

For Jack’s birthday in December, we decided to spring for a guided outdoor climb. Pricey, but we figured worth it since all we had ever done was gym climbing. Unfortunately, the day of the climb turned out to be about 40 degrees and pouring rain. We FINALLY got the climb rescheduled for a day that looked like good weather….and oh, boy, did we luck out.

We hooked up with Alembic Outdoors to be our guides.  One of the owners, Josh Whitson, manages at our home gym, Stone Summit.  He’s an incredibly nice guy working hard to get his new venture off the ground.   I can’t say enough good about Josh and Michael, our second guide.  They were fun, encouraging, patient, enthusiastic and the kind of people I wish I could spend all my spare time with – true examples of why I love climbing so much.  I couldn’t hand pick better role models for my kids.

We invited a bunch of Jack’s friends from the gym, but only one, Zander, was able to make it since spring break is going on for much of Atlanta this week.  (Jack asked some of his school friends and while they were initially all intrigued with the idea, when he warned them it would be about 8 hours of climbing, they all politely declined! LOL).  Fortunately, my Auxilliary Back-Up Son, Drew, who lives across the street we able to join us and we set out for Sandrock Alabama, (population 509) about two hours away.

The weather was perfect, just about 68 degrees and partly sunny.  We brought the dog, the 4 kids, one of our gym moms, who is swiftly becoming a good friend, and lots of gatorade, food and a birthday cake.  The kids were generally top roping, which means climbing routes with a rope looped through anchors bolted into the rock at the top and having a belayer below.   Each climb took about 15-20 minutes and they ranged from about 45 feet to about 75 feet.  Meredith and I each did a climb as well (Lars opted out due to relatively recent rotator cuff injury).  Drew climbed several times and I can’t even guess how many routes Jack and Zander did.

The day could not have been better.  Jack climbed until his feet were swollen (climbing shoes are very, very tight) and the skin was literally peeling off his fingers.  He loved it and can’t wait to go again.

And to top off the night?  He and Zander went to the gym for a lock in, where they climbed until about 2:30 am.  Unbelievable.

Here are some choice photos from what can only be described as an epic day.

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