Wednesday September 7th
Our journey in China continues. The five other junior athletes and I are starting to figure things out around here. Our meals have settled down a bit and are not nearly as stressful as when we first arrived but we are still presented with challenges at every meal. The hotel is staffed with 4 people who work for ITU (International Triathlon Union) who are here to help us translate. They are also a great help whenever we are trying to find something or get our bus to come pick us up.
Today all athletes trained at race time, so the 3 of us girls at 10:45 a.m. and the boys at about 4 p.m. We started with a swim in the outdoor pool we have been using all week. The air was very smoggy today so we were informed that the filtered masks we had been casually wearing needed to be worn at all times when we are out of the hotel, unless we were training. We all look a little goofy, but hopefully it will save our lungs later. After our hour and a half swim we loaded back into the bus and were taken to the race site for a bike ride. Our intentions were to ride the course, but the course was closed due to an age group race. So we explored other roads around the mountain. We only spent about 50 minutes on our bikes, mostly easy with a few sprints mixed in the middle.
The rest of the day was pretty relaxed. I ate some chicken at the Chinese restaurant in our hotel, I had some time to do some studying and even to see our massage therapist.
Later in the evening my mother and I took a walk down to the Wal-Mart about 800 meters away. The walk was terrifying. Although most people get around on bikes or walking, the cars never yield to pedestrians. Wal-Mart has some similarities to the ones back home, but many new experiences as well. The entire bottom level was filled with live fish. When someone orders one the worker grabs the fish, hits it on the ground to stun it and wraps it up in paper. A little different than how we do it in the U.S.
Thursday September 8th
Today was a super busy day. There were lots of events centered around our racing. We started the morning with the course familiarization. Pretty much this means that all 150 Elite athletes, 150 Under 23 athletes, and 125 Junior athletes are all given one hour to ride the bike course and one hour to swim in the lake. It gets pretty crazy. Since it was the first time we were able to ride the entire course, there was a fair amount of chaos. I rode most of the bike course with a fellow American and the Japanese and Australian teams. I am very much enjoying getting to know other athletes and hearing about their experiences and lifestyle. I finished my training day with a light, 20-minute run.
The course is a fairly simple layout. The swim takes off of a pontoon and heads strait out for 375 meters before taking a left, heading 70 meters before taking another left and 90 meters before taking a final left and ending at the transition area. Then we will head out on bikes starting with a 1.5 mile harsh uphill. The course then takes a fast, twisty, downhill for around 1.5 miles. Then we flatten out and head for a mile out and back section along the grandstands. We do that loop three times. The run course is fairly flat and takes an out and back loop junior athletes will complete twice before finishing.
After training we headed back to the hotel where I had just enough time to see the massage therapist and shower before heading to our race briefing. Race briefings are mandatory for all athletes and just review the rules and course. We are told of the expectations of us and how race day will work. At this time we are also given our race numbers and swim caps we will be required to wear. I am number 7, which means that out of the girls racing I get to pick my start sport seventh. My teammates are numbers 36 and 48.
Once we finished our briefing, I returned to our hotel to see the chiropractor, eat dinner, study and now I am getting ready for bed. A simpler, more relaxed day tomorrow and then race day on Saturday.