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Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Let the Games Begin!

Today's Olympic Village Headline:

Let the Games Begin!

The Olympics have been in full swing for 12 days and today for the first time I really really feel like they have started. The reason for that, I think, is that all of my friends and family have arrived. My parents and high school track/cross country coach got in two days ago. My brother arrived yesterday. And my girlfriend, her mom and two sisters, and my cousin arrived today. Now we can start this party!

The past three days have spun by pretty quickly. I've gotten into a nice routine of training, eating, sleeping, visiting with my family, more eating, more sleeping.

My typical day in the Olympic Village begins around 8 am when I wake up. My two roommates, Jason Pyrah (1500 meter runner) and Pascal Dobert (3000 steeplechase), are usually still asleep. I get dressed, walk up the hill to the main road that runs through the center of the Village. Within 30 seconds, a bus comes by, stops to pick up me and other athletes and takes us two stops down to the main cafeteria (open 24 hours a day). I walk into the HUGE white, circus-like tent where hundreds of other athletes have been eating breakfast since dawn. This morning, it was raining, so I hurried in, found some hot cereal, a banana, yogurt and some orange juice. Normally I just have cold cereal, maybe some toast with peanut butter and jelly.

By 9 am, I am back at my house ready to go to practice. Curt, Andrew, and Coach arrive and we walk back to the bus stop, take the bus to the International Zone at the other end of the Village. We walk outside the Village fencing, down the hill, and to our two kilometer loop along a flat, paved bike path. Today, Andrew and I were met by Matt Zaffino, the reporter from KGW TV back in Portland, OR, who did a short interview and then left his cameraman to film us stretching and training for 45 minutes.

After the workout, two young girls rode up on little scooters and asked all three of us and the Hungarian walking team for autographs. They were excited because the new development that they moved into a year ago is adjacent to the Olympic Village, which will be turned into a lovely suburb once the Games are over.

Once back inside the Village, having survived the accreditation badge scan, the airport security bag x-rays and metal detector, I jump on another bus that takes me back to the U.S.A. area. After nearly every workout, hard or easy, I try to get in to the Sport Medicine clinic to get some help stretching out and loosening up my muscles. I spend from 15 to 45 minutes there before going back to my room, showering, and by then it is usually lunch time.

After eating a high-carbohydrate meal, I waddle back to my room and lie down. I met one of the mountain bike riders from Colorado earlier in the week, and she summed up the three rules for endurance athletes prior to a major competition: 1) If you are standing up, sit down. 2) If you are sitting down, lie down. 3) If you are lying down, put your feet up. To that I usually add, eat lots of carbohydrates and drink plenty of fluids.

In the afternoons I sleep about an hour, read my book for another hour, and then sit up to watch some of the Olympics on TV. The great thing about being in the Village is that we can watch any of the events, live, at any time. There are 25 different Olympic channels piped in from all the different venues around Sydney.

The past couple days, I have been over to the Olympic Park to meet up with my family and friends in the late afternoon. Yesterday, I went into downtown Sydney to meet Mom, Dad, Malcolm (my twin brother) and Coach Bailey (Lincoln H.S. Go Cards!). Today I met up with the same group and my girlfriend and her family who arrived today. It's nice to spend a couple hours outside the Village relaxing and talking with the people who came all this way to see me.

Dinner at 8pm, relax and read for another hour, and then to bed around 10pm (now!).

My race is less than 36 hours away and I am starting to get a bit nervous. I've received lots of emails from school kids (THANK YOU!) who have asked me if I get nervous before a big race or not. Of course I get a little nervous, but I have also been in many big races before. I know that if I get too nervous, I will begin to worry and not be able to relax and race as well as possible. The key to racing well is being excited and confidence, and maybe a bit nervous, but not anxious and worried. In order to have a great race, you have to care about how well you do. If I went into this race thinking, "Oh, it's just any old race, whatever," I wouldn't do very well. I need to think, "This is a great opportunity for me to really get out there, have fun, stay relaxed, and walk super fast!"

It's time for me to get some sleep now. Let's hope that the U.S. baseball team doesn't wake me up when they get back to the Village carrying Tommy Lasorda on their shoulders.

Cheers from Sydney,


Cheers, mates!


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