Monday, December 06, 2010

Team Fear

This year, Tori started racing in a series of splash and dashes; short ocean water swims with an even shorter run at the end. All of these races were at the beaches near our home and required only a little advance planning. A few months back Tori asked me if she could do an adventure race and I said yes, thinking it was more of the same. The name of the race- Team Fear- should have clued me in. This race proved to be much different from Tori’s previous sprint races but she loved it all the same!

Early on a recent Sunday morning, we, including Grandma who was visiting, caught the 6:30 am ferry boat to Discovery Bay, where the Team Fear race was held. Discovery Bay is on Lantau Island, a large island with Hong Kong’s airport. Discovery Bay is mostly an expatriate community with its own schools, restaurants, stores and most notably, no cars. Once there, I started to get more and more information about the race. I quickly realized Tori needed her gear to be functional not just for some sort of check list but for actual safety. Unfortunately, Tori’s helmet was missing some crucial pieces but with the help of a friend and plastic ties the helmet crisis was solved. All that remained was for Tori to actually do the race.

Tori and her team of two other kids competed in the Under 10 division. Tori's team, along with hundreds of other kids, started the race with a run up a hill, rock scrambling through a gorge and then running up and down another hill until they reached the beach. On the beach, there was an obstacle course with bamboo walls and things for the kids to climb over. At this point, I breathed a sigh of relief. Tori, a big fan of the monkey bars and climbing trees, was in her element there. From the beach, the kids climbed rock walls, worked their way along a rocky shore line, rode bikes, ran some more and jumped into the ocean.

It was all quite arduous, even for spectators! We had to take public buses around Discovery Bay to get to various viewing points for the race. We would get to one viewing point in time to see Tori run by and start something even harder. Grandma started calling it Team Torture but every time we saw Tori she flashed us a big smile. When she and her team finally crossed the finish line, their final time was 1 hour and 56 minutes!

After the race, Tori promptly sat down and ate a bag of nuts, one hamburger, two orders of fries and two candy bars. Then she told us that she thought her team won. Sure enough, they did win their division though how she kept track of her competition I will never know. Tori was soaking wet, covered in scratches and bruises but as happy as can be. She is climbing mountains and doing it all pretty fast and all on her own. She is utterly fearless. And I am afraid that the days of her holding my hand to cross a street are almost over.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Singapore Swim Meet

The girls and I recently traveled to Singapore for a swim meet. Previously, Tori has been the only family member on the team. This year, Royce was thrilled to join us. On the plane ride there, she wrote cute little notes like “my first international swim meet” and “this is what the Olympics feels like.” Once she got a good look at the long course pool (we typically swim short course, 25 meters instead of 50 meters), her enthusiasm waned but only a little.

Our swim club here is large and our club took over 100 swimmers to the Singapore meet. We coordinated our travel with another good friend and got to Singapore a little early. Our family has been to Singapore before, as has the family we were traveling with. All little girls compared notes on what they remembered and liked. We managed to get them to the well known Night Safari and to swim with the pink dolphins, another well known Singapore attraction. But our favorite was a return visit to trapeze set up on the beach. Years ago, Tori could do a few tricks and now she can do a lot more. And this year, Royce climbed up and swung out on the thirty foot high trapeze without a backwards glance. After all that kid activity (and on a crowded public holiday too), the adults swung by one of their favorites. We visited Borders bookstore and the Gap clothing store, both of which are not in Hong Kong.

The swim meet itself was lots of fun. The girls swam fast and improved their times. Royce swam all 50 meter events and Tori swam 50 and 100 meter events. There was a lot of time to watch other swimmers. We in fact knew swimmers from other teams and had fun catching up with them. During the meet, Tori improved her freestyle event by a substantial amount of time. I asked her how she managed to do that. She said she had watched some of the older kids swim fast and just mimicked their strokes. At least all that poolside sitting time paid off for someone. Royce and I just read Pippi Longstocking one more time and played many many rounds of checkers.

Singapore was a great sporting weekend and we swam at an outdoor pool. Despite being November, it was quite hot and humid there. Apparently, Hong Kong has hotter summers than Singapore but Singapore just stays hot year round. It was nice to come back to Hong Kong and pull on the light cardigans we wear here for winter gear. Adam, left in Hong Kong, got more than mild weather. It rained and rained while we were away. Adam was supposed to be at a boy scout camp out. He went but was turned around before the actually camping due to rain and mud and cold. He was feeling a little sad to miss Singapore until he heard about all the swimming, the early morning warm ups and the late evening relays. Swimming is exciting, particularly when you belong to a club that swims a lot of international meets but you still have to do that swimming part.