Upcoming events –

Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
Noble Canyon 50km Trail, September 20, 2014

Friday, September 8, 2000


G'day, mates! It's been a windy, warm day here in Brisbane. Last night there were reports of strong winds down in Sydney, but it seems the winds moved north and hit us pretty hard today.

I got out to the track at the University of Queensland this morning and thought I was back in Northfield, Minnesota in the fall when the wind just won't quit. It was one of those gusty, dry winds, too, that seem to pick up all the dust and leaves and swirl them around at your feet and up into your face. It wasn't the best weather for a speed session on the track, but if it is going to be windy in Sydney it was good practice.

After training today, I had one of my first "Oh my goodness, I am really in the Olympics" moments. I was given my official, bonafide, real Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Credentials! It will be my photo-ID for the next three weeks allowing me to get into the Olympic Village, eat meals at the Olympic dining hall, gain access to the practice track, and (drum roll, please) enter the Olympic Stadium!

I've been able to stay pretty loose and relaxed about this whole big Olympic adventure, but I must admit to getting chills when I put the credentials around my neck. Looking down at my own face and the Olympic Seal stamped across the front makes it suddenly seem very real.

The closer it gets to the Opening Ceremonies, the harder it will be to stay real relaxed and focused. Being up here in Brisbane and away from the Olympic Village, it has been easy to pretend that I am at just another international competition. I don't see the silhouette of Stadium Australia on the horizon. I don't walk into the Olympic Village every day after practice. But next week I will be going down to Sydney for the first time and it will all be there. All the athletes of the world will be there. All of my other U.S. Olympic teammates from 28 different sports will be there. It will take a lot for me to stay calm and not get too excited.

Of course I am excited and nervous and anxious, but I don't want to get too emotional. There is a fine balance between being "up" for an event and being over-excited. I remember the first BIG international racewalking event that I went to. It was in Beijing, China in 1995. I had qualified for the U.S. team competing in the World Racewalk Cup and I would be racing against the five best 20K walkers from every other country in the world. I made the mistake of stopping to think a bit too long about what that meant. I thought, "Here I am on the starting line with the best in the world. These guys are so fast. Look at how lean and muscular they are. They must have trained so hard to get here. Gosh, they are really going to do well today because they are such wonderful athletes." All of that was true, but I forgot to remind myself that I was one of them. I forgot to tell myself that I belonged right there on the starting line with them. I got too excited and I panicked. I had a bad race because of it.

So this time at the Olympics—the biggest race of my life—I will stay relaxed and remember that I belong here. Of course it will be difficult, but then it wasn't easy getting here in the first place. It will be just one more challenge for me that I am really looking forward to facing.

That's it for today. Coach has been kind enough to give us a day of rest tomorrow, so I hope to enjoy it. Maybe I will check out the swimming pool here in the hotel and ride the ferry up and down the river to see the rest of Brisbane that I have missed.



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