We are armpit-deep in baseball here at the Vollmer house. Our boys joined the Academy Little League (ALL) baseball club here in the Springs, and we have been busy with the boys’ respective schedules. More »
Just before the boys left Florida for good, T’s baseball team enjoyed an evening with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. I had written about the Blue Wahoos games in a previous post in 2012.
The kids got to take part in the team’s “Field of Dreams” experience, which was a block of seats together, dinner, getting introduced as a “featured guest” at the game, and a chance to hang out with the Blue Wahoos players before the game, either by singing the national anthem with them, or else running out to the field with the players as the players’ names are called.
This year the boys are both on very good, very hard working teams. It’s nice to see their hard work and tons of practice pay off in good records. Since it’s become apparent that the boys are serious about their baseball, we made the investment in some better-than-beginner equipment for the two of them.
I took our good camera out to the fields earlier this month, but didn’t get the best pictures because I had to deal with the chain link fence. I was able to use the manual focus on most of them, and all things considered, I’m pretty impressed. Enjoy! More »
It’s baseball season here — the boys are both in Navarre Youth baseball this year, and they got their uniforms and had their first games this past weekend.
Enjoy some pictures!!!!
|At practice, Timmy is got some time as a catcher.|
WARNING: This is a LONG post. I debated dividing it into two parts, but couldn’t find an easy dividing point. So instead I put in some headers to try to break up the story a bit.
It was our entire motivation for our trip to Atlanta last weekend: we had Braves tickets!
During Jacob’s baseball season, we promised to take him to a professional baseball game in the area. We didn’t realize it would be over an hour away (Mobile, Alabama has a AA team). Dave suggested looking into Braves tickets, and we could take a long weekend in Atlanta for sightseeing.
I got a great deal on StubHub.com on a set of four tickets to the August 14th Braves-Cubs game right behind home plate. Someone was probably breaking up a set of multi-game tickets, and I scored some great seats for about $20 each. It turned out to be near Dave’s birthday, so we considered the trip a birthday gift for Dave.
Even better? I found us a hotel room right across the street from Turner Field! Whoo hoo!
Military Ticket Promotion
I had made these arrangements back in May, so the excitement for all my boys was pretty built-up by the time we actually made the drive. They were so happy to see Turner Field and were incredibly excited about seeing Sunday’s game…
…so excited, in fact, that on Saturday morning Jacob and I walked over to the box office first thing and bought tickets to see the Saturday night game. We took advantage of the Braves’ military promotion — Active duty military can get buy-one-get-one-free Upper Box seats. (So can students and AAA members). And they waived the $3 surcharge for same-day purchase! Our original tickets were to the Sunday afternoon game.
|Happy Dave. Sandwiches and beer at The Bullpen. $3.50 bottles here vs. $7.00 bottles at the ballpark! Dave opted for a solid red Braves hat.|
After Friday night at The Varsity, then Saturday morning and afternoon at Stone Mountain, we had dinner Saturday evening at The Bullpen, a burger/beer joint between our hotel and Turner Field. We took a risk heading over there — after all, what restaurant next to the ballpark was going to have seating 90 minutes before gametime? We thought The Bullpen would be waitress-served meals, and were expecting the worst in terms of a wait for a table.
We were greeted with a pleasant surprise: cheap food, REALLY cheap beer and plenty of outdoor seating. Sure, it was hot, but at least we had seating.
Another nice perk — free parking since we were staying at a hotel nearby. We found out that the local businesses near Turner Field (including our hotel) sold extra parking spaces for $20 per game! So over the weekend we saved $40 in parking charges, and we had a VERY short walk to the field, just diagonally across an intersection from the gates behind home plate….although the main entrance was behind the outfield.
The Saturday Night Game!
It’s a sight to see — that look on a kid’s face when he see something he’s been excited for for so long. I remember that look when my boys met Mickey Mouse. We saw it again when the boys saw the bright green field and the HUGE video screen when we got to our seats. For the Saturday game, we sat near the very top row, but it was essentially behind home plate. It was hot, but at least we had a good enough view to command the boys’ attention for most of the game. The Braves lost the Saturday night game.
|The view from the top. Not bad. The giant TV screen (“Braves Vision”) helped us see anything we needed to see in more detail.|
|You can see how high up we were.|
|Two of Atlanta’s biggest sponsors, literally: Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A. Each of those things are 40-feet high.|
|The Chick-fil-A cow does the tomahawk chop with his (her?) right arm when the (FSU Band) music played!|
|The boys all brought in their gloves, but we were sitting a bit high to catch a foul ball.|
|And if there’s a home run, the 40-foot Coca Cola bottle launches a WHOLE BUNCH of fireworks! This was during the one-and-only home run from both games: Dan Uggla in the 4th inning. Dave took the boys to get snacks. I saw it, they missed it.|
The Sunday Afternoon Game: Foul Ball Drama
The Sunday game gave us a MUCH better view! Unfortunately, the seats remained in the sun the entire time. After 3 hours in the sun, during about the 7th inning, we moved to shady seats two rows up.
Those original seats were in the very front row of the upper deck, behind home plate. About halfway up in the stands…definitely foul ball range! A most-awesome view!
Statistically speaking, what are the chances of a foul ball landing in one of our original — by then, vacated — seats??? I don’t know, but that’s what happened. A man from the group right next to the empty seats ran over to the seat and plucked up the ball, full of happiness and celebration. I tried, but didn’t make it…
Meanwhile, my boys were in tears…Timmy ran back over to the original seats and sat with his glove at the ready for about 10 minutes. Jacob was pretty upset for the rest of the game. Dave — whose original seat the ball landed in — explained that he wasn’t really paying attention at the time the foul ball came in and assured the boys he might have gotten hit on the head.
So to accompany that look of delight when the boys saw their first major league ball field, was the anguish of missing a foul ball that we SHOULD have caught! Oh well…life goes on…
|Nice foam tomahawks, right? This was before the foul ball — and the emotion that went with it. It fell right into the seat Dave was sitting in here…except we had moved from those seats when the ball came in.|
|This was our view from our seats. So much nicer than the night before! But quite sunny…|
|I thought the sun would head behind the awning…instead it PARALLELED the front edge of the awning. So hot…so frustrating.|
The Running of the Bases
When Jacob and I went to the box office to get the Saturday night game tickets, we learned of this “Running of the Bases” activity the Braves hosted on after their Sunday home games. The kids line up after the game to go down to the field and they get one pass around the field. After yet another loss against the Cubs, not to mention the Foul Ball drama, we weren’t sure the kids were going to handle the LONG line to run the bases. The kids didn’t know what to expect, so it was clear Dave and I were more excited about this than the kids.
But they stuck it out, with the help of some other kids in the line who had done the activity before and assured the boys that the experience was really cool. I knew Jacob would appreciate learning how much longer the baselines are on a Major League diamond compared to what he runs in Little League.
After about a 30 minute wait (relatively not long at all), we saw the beautiful field up close! The kids were put in a line and the whole experience — as cool as it is — is very very fast. They are sending kids out about every 2 seconds. I didn’t get good pictures of the running itself, but here’s a video of the boys that gives you an idea.
|Yes, Timmy’s wearing a Pirates shirt. Those two shirts came from Old Navy.|
|Jacob took this picture…I like it 🙂|
|The kids in the line leading up to home plate. Say nothing about the boys being in Crocs (J’s wearing yellow, T’s wearing red). I didn’t think about how much better this experience would have been if they were wearing sneakers.|
|The boys received free t-shirts when they finished. The Braves logo is on the front, this beat any $20 t-shirt at the souvenirs stands!|
The Braves Kids Club: A Nice Gift Idea
|Photo courtesy of Field Trips With Sue.|
The boys kept seeing ads for this Braves Kids Club on the video screens and on posters throughout Turner Field. This evening I finally remembered to look up the website and see what this Kids Club involved.
Seems like a pretty cool deal. I was reminded of the old Lego Brickmaster Club from about 2007 or so, when $40 would get you 6+ great little kits, plus coupons, and the magazine. For $20 you get 2 Braves ticket vouchers AND 2 Gwinnett Braves (their AAA affiliate) vouchers. Plus a ball cap, Chick Fil A coupons, a certificate, VIP access to the Kids Running of the Bases, among other things.
Since a Kids Club membership is valid for a single baseball season, we convinced the boys that this wouldn’t be a good idea this late in the season. I put a reminder in iCal to look at the Kids Club membership thing again in mid-November for the 2012 season.
This Atlanta blogger shows how the Kids’ Club items are nicely packaged up for the holidays.
Earlier this month the boys enjoyed a week-long Challenger British Soccer camp put on at the Navarre Youth Soccer complex up the street. My sister’s oldest son had attended in North Carolina in the past and really enjoyed it.
The week was VERY hot, and the first day was pretty hard on the boys. But by the 2nd day they were really enjoying the skills-building, mock World Cup, and new friends. I wonder if adding some Gatorade to their drink coolers helped things out for them.
Enjoy some pictures I took on the last day.
|Jacob’s team won the mock World Cup — they’re lifting the pretend trophy into the air.|
|A nice group shot of the whole camp — this is only about 2/3 of the kids who started. I’m guessing a lot of kids had a tough time with the heat.|
You can say I tried. I think Jacob might have a future in long distance running…Timmy probably won’t.
At a Mother’s Day function this past week, one of Timmy’s classmates’ Moms tipped me off to a 1-mile kids’ fun run in Navarre Beach last Saturday. That night I headed over to one of our local hangouts in Navarre Beach, Juana’s Pagoda, for the registration. The owner of Run With It, a local running store, was taking the registrations and I was flattered that he remembered me from when I visited his store a couple months ago. It was very cute how the kids received t-shirts and runners numbers. The boys and I stayed for dinner Friday night and enjoyed the volleyball area and beach area.
On Saturday I took the kids over to the race. Jacob was quite excited, but Timmy? Not so much. Jacob met an 8-year-old girl who was getting ready to run the 5K with her Mom and Jacob seemed interested in that, but perhaps we need a little training first.
|The medal is really really nice (considering it was for a 1-mile fun-run)! Jacob is incredibly proud, as am I!|
I forced myself to do a deliberate training program. Starting right after the early February Double Bridge Run, I ran 2-3 x “short runs” of 3-5 miles each per week, plus 1 x “long run” approximately every week. Sometimes our family’s schedules make things a bit crazy, so that long run was about every 8-10 days instead of once a week, but it worked out well. My longest “long” training run was just under 13 miles and after dealing with that one, in mid-70s sunshine on the beach, I felt I was ready!
We were doing some Cub Scout camping in the town of Defuniak Springs, about 70 miles northeast of here, this past weekend. I left Dave and the kids at the campsite Saturday night, drove home and got a very good night’s sleep beforehand.
As is the case in most Florida warm-season races, the start time was 7am so I had to leave the house before 6am for the 30 minute drive to Pensacola Beach.
The sun was just rising as I was coming across the Pensacola Beach causeway, and you can see the low stratus clouds pouring onshore from the gulf. This is what it was like for the whole run! The clouds were great, but the 100% humidity still made it uncomfortable.
I want to show off this runner’s bib. I didn’t really pay much mind to the part of the registration about what I wanted my bib to say for a name. I never had a custom bib before. I wish I had put “Major Mom”.
I asked a random guy to take this picture of me about 15 minutes before start time. I’m all geared up here — bandana tucked into my waistband, headphones at the ready, Nike+ sensor on my shoe, and an 800 mg Motrin pill & Clif Gel in my back pocket (the Motrin sorta dissolved in my pocket during the run, UGH!).
What’s funny about these kinds of races is that I spend so much time weaving my way through people who run rather slowly, yet are at the front of the pack when the gun goes off. It took about 3 miles before I didn’t have to worry about passing people. And then I had to go to the bathroom — rrrr! With the incredible humidity I had chugged a LOT of water just before the start, and it was catching up with me. So I took a 2 minute potty break at the 3-mile point. There was a race photographer right by that porta-john so I’ll have to see if there are pics of me waiting, ha ha!
Other random thoughts while I was racing:
- We were running on roads that were alongside the beaches. There were so many dead crabs on the roads…and people were just crunching away at those crabs!
- Even though the roads were closed for the race, there were still cars on our route, driving just as fast as we were running. That exhaust didn’t help one bit!
- I got to see the race leader pass me when I was at about 5 1/2 miles heading east. The westbound route in the opposite direction was just past the 9 mile point. Whoa….
- Even though the course was flat flat flat (yay!), the cant in the road on the curves was tough on my ankles.
- At the end of the Air Force marathon there’s a loopy type of thing at the end…you’re coming a little down a hill and the finish is right in your face, but then you turn AWAY from the finish line and do another 1/2 mile or so weaving through the Air Force Museum outdoor displays before you get to the finish. In this race, the weaving and looping around is done in other parts of the course, so when you are heading in the last mile towards the finish, it’s a straight shot! Thanks for that!
- The last mile or so was pretty tough. By then, you’re among a group of runners with similar experience and training, we’re all going at the same pace, and we were all stopping to walk for little spurts here and there. We saw someone get hit with a pretty bad cramp and an ambulance had to rescue her. I felt rather insensitive passing her with the EMTs and not saying anything, but what do you say to someone about get put on a stretcher? She was probably feeling crappy enough…
I had set a goal for a 2 hour race, but I don’t know what I was thinking. In my training runs I never ran that fast, and perhaps a more realistic goal would have been 130 minutes. I finished in 127 minutes and I’m thrilled at that!
This is my soaked-in-sweat picture about 10 minutes after finishing. That humidity took a toll!
|My info is just above the halfway point of this list. These are the preliminary results, before all the runners had some in (or not come in, in the case of some of them). Once the results were official, I somehow went from placing 440 to 380. Official results are here.|
The finisher’s medal…and my inspiration for this race — we needed a good strong bottle opener!
What’s next? I don’t know. There’s a Pensacola Fiesta 10K on the 30th that I’m interested in, but I think the kids’ sports might impact that. We’ll see. Folks say it’s a very beautiful point-to-point course that ends in the historic Seville Square part of the city. That’s actually a hilly race (yes, hills in Florida!) and it’d be a good challenge. Other than that, there are no more long-distance races in the area until the fall.
That’s what I’d like to think… 🙂
Obviously, our training dwindled some after the kids arrived, and between Dave and me and our double-jogging stroller, we’d always managed 1-2 races per year even after the kids were born. Then we hit a lazy streak in Nebraska, Dave’s job was really busy, the weather was a pain-in-the-rear (I hate running in the wind!), and Dave had several medical issues that all combined to keep us from do any more working out than necessary.
After a couple years of lollygagging, I took the plunge and signed up for my first running race since June 2009.
Which race? No, of course I don’t go easy and sign up for a 5K. Here is the race I registered for.
Hence signing up for a 15K race right off the bat. This spring I’d like to do a 1/2 marathon, I’ll wait to sign up until we see whether I can do this 15K okay.
First off, I was in desperate need of new running shoes. I was in the same old Brooks shoes I’d had since Spring 2009. Spare me the lectures, I know one should be replace them every 500 miles or so. So with one of the gift cards I’d received for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad Vollmer!), I got a nice pair of trail running shoes. I prefer trail running shoes for the broader, thicker soles.
|From 2011 01 06 Navarre Beach Bridge Run|
I started my “training” in earnest this week, which meant increasing how many miles I run each week. Normally I do three 5K runs per week, but now I need to do at least 4 runs per week, and at least 15 miles total per week, slowly increasing that up to about 20 miles per week. I’d like to do 5 runs per week but real life might make that a less-realistic goal. Included in that is one “long run”, which needs to increase by 1 to 1.5 miles per week, hopefully I can do that on Fridays.
Our neighborhood is expansive enough I can plan lots of great routes or any length I need!
This past week I did a 5 mile run across the Navarre Beach Bridge, so I could get ready for the bridges in the race. Check out these magnificent views during my run!
|From 2011 01 06 Navarre Beach Bridge Run|
|From 2011 01 06 Navarre Beach Bridge Run|
|From 2011 01 06 Navarre Beach Bridge Run|
Unfortunately, after that 5 mile run last Thursday (which felt great at the time), my knees were REALLY REALLY sore for 2 days. I could barely walk on Friday! Not sure if it’s old age or the extra weight I’m carrying around, but I hope this isn’t a permanent issue or else long distance runs won’t last very long in my future.
Also, I’ve noticed over the years that my legs, knees and hips are now more sensitive to the cant of the road. My neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, so I’m on the far left or right edges of the road surfaces, and if there’s a slope for too long, I feel it in the arches of my feet and in my hips.
Here’s hoping I stick to this fitness plan.