Saturday and Sunday, September 3rd and 4th
Greetings from China! I made it to the other side of the world with relatively no problems. The flight was long, but wasn't nearly as bad as I had been warned it would be. As soon as I got on the flight, I fell asleep and slept until China's morning. Once I awoke, I probably annoyed everyone around me because I spent 10 minutes out of every hour walking around, stretching, or running in place in the back of the plane. Our flight touched down 11 hours and 49 minutes after leaving San Francisco, and luckily the bikes and bags all showed up unharmed.
Once in the Beijing airport the swarms of people were crazy. Thousands of people hustled all around my mother, fellow teammate, and I as if they knew exactly where they were supposed to be headed. We did not. The instructions we were given: look for the USA Triathlon banner and our guide would be there. With so many people how were the three of us supposed to find one person? After about an hour we were able to locate our guide and he took us to the hotel.
As if the airport wasn't enough of an adventure after throwing our internal clocks for a spin, dinner created its own challenges. The U.S. coach wanted us to eat at the hotel restaurant until we were able to find other places that we could be sure were safe. The menu was 84 pages long. After searching through the pages of Crispy Pigeon, Fungus Soup, and other Chinese delicacies we resorted to pointing to chicken and noodles on a translator. Though a struggle to order, the food was incredible. During dinner we were treated to a traditional Chinese show. The stage was filled with acts of magic, umbrella spinning, and a story I wish I could have understood.
The next event on the agenda was training. It was 8:30 pm Beijing time, but it had been almost 24 hours since our last training session, so a teammate and I took off on a run. It was dark, and the sights were incredible. We ran through a street market and passed vendors selling everything from fresh fruits to colorful socks. Our run was a little bit painful as we tried to get blood flow back into our legs. We came back to an early bed time.
Monday, September 5th
First things first, the entire team needed to swim. All six junior athletes along with the 4 coaches, our team organizer and our travel guide were taken through the busy city to a very nice outdoor pool. After a quick hour and half swim we headed to ride the bike course. The course is amazing. Very, very hilly and technical; it will make for an intense uphill and a tricky and thrilling downhill. The course is surrounded by beautiful trees and extremely pretty structures we are told are temples.
The struggles to find food are still present, but as a team we are getting better about what we should and shouldn't be eating. So far no one has gotten sick.
The night concluded with a trip to The Great Wall. The views were astonishing. The team and I were asked lots of times to be in pictures, our guide claims it has something to do with the very blond hair.
Tuesday, September 6th
We again started the day with a few workouts. On the agenda for today a track workout and a swim. Both times we have been to the pool we are swarmed by people handing us bottles of water. If you try to deny them they just keep handing you more bottles, so we just kindly accept. Once in the pool area there were about 15 different languages being spoke at all times. At the pool today were the teams from France, Hungry, China, Japan, Canada, and Australia and many others. The run felt nice but very, very hot. Although you can't usually see the sun, it keeps the air rather warm and it is very humid. We shared the track with a few junior athletes from Europe.
Upon returning to our hotel some of the coaches told us they rented a bus to take us deeper in the city. We drove for about an hour and were able to see the Forbidden City, Tian An Men Square, The Bird's Nest, The Water Cube, and spent a little time shopping at Silk Street.
There have been many culture shocks since arriving in China. One is the fitness in the communities. Every park we drove by today was filled with workout equipment and people of all ages dancing and doing tai chi in the open spaces. Even the TV's have workout ideas across the bottom during commercial breaks.
The sightseeing and touring is coming to an end, tomorrow we train and start focusing all of our attention toward the race. I am finishing the night with a cup of Chinese tea and some stretching then it's off to bed.