Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Last Weekend: CrossFit Games Viewing Party and Many Goodbyes

It's taken me 3.5 weeks to get back to the blog since we've repatriated.  It's as I had worried - we fell right back into our pre-expat routines (plus getting re-settled).  At night the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a laptop and type.  Today (Sunday) we decided to take a break and go do something in Indy, but I'm going to try to knock out a blog post before we go.

This "final weekend" will not be the last you'll hear from me.  I have many ideas for blog posts in my head (I've taken zero notes) that I'd like to write about before I get too comfortable in the pre-expat routine, but I want to do it right - or at least as best as I can juggling everything else.  Hopefully, in time my thoughts will distill down to be more valuable instead of forgotten?

So what's coming?  At least there will be a post about our first days back in the USA, the "inside joke" of pretending to be Brits at the Indiana State Fair, a post from Kerry recapping her thoughts on a year without a car or job, and maybe a well-thought out list of things we miss about the UK and things we love about the USA (I'll really need to be taking notes if I want to make that happen).

On the Sunday of our final weekend, we hosted an open house of sorts with our CrossFit Nottingham members and alums - shoutout to Rob and Ath, owners of Deviant - so we could watch the final day of the Games - the last stage in the competitive exercise season where the fittest men, women, and 6 person teams from around the world give it their all to get the title "Fittest on Earth" (a bit dramatic, I suppose).  You'll recall my previous posts where I talk about the Open and Regionals in Copenhagen.

But before I dive into that, the rest of the weekend was a blast!  Friday night we hosted our neighbors Phil and Chris, for one final dinner.  I grilled hamburgers on our mini grill, and the evening was so nice (and mosquito free!!!) that I moved our dining table outside so we could enjoy some dining al fresco.  The conversation and wine went late into the night, and we said our final goodbyes to the best neighbors we've ever had.  (Well, they did stop by one last time to lend us their luggage scale).  Unfortunately I forgot to snap any pictures.

Saturday we went out for a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) intro lesson (thank you Stacy!) on the Trent River near the National Water Sports Centre.  By the way Team GB puts out a lot of gold medalist rowers, so their facilities are top notch.

Trent River canal boats

A manmade whitewater rafting course, getting pretty high!


These old tough Landrovers are popular here, way moreso than Jeeps in the US

A coach riding alongside his athlete with a timer

Cool looking high ropes course nearby

Our kit - some are inflatable
We went around on our knees for a few minutes to get the feel of it, then popped up.  It's pretty easy in calm water, but if a boat went by you had to pay attention to your balance as you went over the wake.  The paddle helps stabilization.  

A couple of naturals

A gaggle of geese marching by

Since the CrossFit games are in California, they are 8 hours behind us.  Nikki came over for dinner and we all watched some of the Saturday afternoon events streaming over the website before turning in.

The next morning we had a lot of preparation work for the open house - we were expecting up to 30 people in the bungalow!

Room starting to fill up around the TV!

I found an extra tv stand in the garage to raise ours up for better visibility in the crowded room - what do you all think of our lovely curtains by the way?  I don't miss those...

Grill ninja - my last time with the mini grill that I drilled holes in the bottom for better airflow.  I cleaned it up and passed it along to Jessie on my last day in the office. 
Burgers and veggie/haloumi cheese kebabs.  Never had haloumi before but it's very good and doesn't melt.

The garden finally gets some use as an overflow area between events.

I've noticed our couple shots got rarer and rarer throughout the year

A nice picture of Nikki and Dani

Matt gave me a very nice going away present of a UK flag bandana and a bottle of gammel dansk (inside joke from Copenhagen).  I felt bad that I couldn't fit the bottle in my luggage, but most of it leaked out on the back seat of his car, so I did at least have a farewell drink with him.  This stuff has a certain smell that might be hard to get out...

The party went on from about 1 pm when the earliest folks showed up.  But they didn't crown champions until the last event ended around 8 pm Pacific... yep that's 1 AM GMT on a Sunday!  I made it very clear people were welcome until the very end, and even though I live 9 miles away from Nottingham city center we had a core group stay for it!

I was very wise to provide tea and coffee with milk for these hardcore fans.

Congratulations to Sam Briggs from Manchester for winning it for the women - she won't be as popular in the UK as track and field gold medalist Jessica Ennis, but the amount of work she did over very broad fitness domains from swimming, rowing, sprinting, weightlifting, and just moving heavy loads long distances quickly is arguably more impressive. 

Also congrats to Rich Froning from Tennessee (same region as Indiana) for wining his 3rd straight Games.  And my hat's off to Ute Crossfit for having the fittest team by a wide margin.  They're doing something right because they qualified 2 teams to the Games - that means their 2nd "B" team was in the top 3 in the Southwest region!  That is more than just luck folks - it's the pursuit of and dedication to excellence.  We can all learn from that and apply it to our lives in many other ways.

Finally, I didn't get a picture of receiving this gift, but I want to take a moment to give out a huge thanks to the crew at CrossFit Nottingham for the best, most special gift to remind us of our time as the "unlikely" expats.  

Signed CFN nameplate from regionals
At regionals each team is given two nameplates which are out on the floor when the team is performing, so the audience knows who is who.  Coach Andy, Katie, and Kristen got many of our friends from the gym to sign this, frame it for us, and then shipped it overseas to our US address.   It's hard to express our gratitude and the meaningfulness behind this gesture - it seems like "unlikely" just no longer makes any sense...  We'll sorely miss our UK friends, both at the gym as well as the other great people we met during one amazing year.

Moved in, this was the first picture hung!  Next to my pull up bar and rings.

Surrounded by friends...  Take care everyone, and we'll be back!

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