Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Two Days in Des Moines (Our Jr. Olympics Experience)

When Ben first told us he wanted to do track we though, why not? He likes to run and has lots of endless energy so it seemed like the perfect fit. If you would have told us that he would end up qualifying for the Junior Olympics I would have called you a liar :) His team practiced three days a week from April-August in freezing temperatures, wind and rain, and scorching heat. Even if he hadn't made it as far as he did, we are all proud of the hard work and effort he put into this sport. 

After Ben qualified at districts and then state, we knew we would be headed to Des Moines. Junior Olympic events were spread throughout the week and consisted of almost every sport you could imagine. Ben qualified for one event (1500 meter) which meant he only competed one day and luckily it was the first one that day. We made the 4 hour drive the day before which gave us time to explore the city, check in for his event, and get a good night's rest before his run.

We made it into Des Moines around lunch time and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Fuzzy's before walking across the street to check out the Science Center of Iowa. Although it was a little smaller than we expected, it was still worth the visit. We were also looking forward to The IMax Theater, but it was closed during our visit due to damage from recent storms.

One of the kids' favorite thing was the airplane making/launching station. And when your dad is an engineer, you can bet your airplane will go far :)

After leaving the science center we checked into our hotel, the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. The hotel was fantastic and within walking distance to the river and downtown. They also have a complimentary shuttle which can drop you off and pick you up. The weather was beautiful so we walked to dinner and then took the shuttle back to the hotel. We ate at the Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company but I wouldn't eat there again. 

After a short rest at the hotel, my brother-in-law and niece joined us for a walk by the river and we saw the most beautiful sunset. 

The next morning we all woke up feeling excited and nervous. Before leaving for Des Moines, Ben and I had looked over the heat list and seed times for the other runners. He knew he wouldn't place in his event, but he set a goal to try as hard as he could and get a new personal record.

The best part of the entire experience was when he crossed the finish line and saw that he had beaten his previous best time by 3 seconds. He raised his fists in the air and cheered for himself because he was proud of himself. And of course that made me cry. 

After countless hugs, kisses, and a $60 Jr. Olympics sweatshirt (insert eye roll), we celebrated with breakfast at Waveland Cafe which I highly recommend. We we're so hungry and the food was so good it was gone before I could take a picture. 

We let the boys have a quick swim back at the hotel before checking out and heading home. We left Des Moines with full bellies, great memories, and hearts bursting with pride.  
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