Thursday, March 06, 2014

Na zdrowie Will Leer

The craziness began immediately. As Team USA congregated before boarding at gate B48 in Washington Dulles airport we already had our first goal: delay the plane! As athletes arrived at the airport on various airline carriers there were numerous mixups regarding baggage and apparently a security line whose length defied any sort of logic. Walking as slowly as we could down the jet bridge, being unable to find the proper seat and finally pleading to keep the airplane door open a few more minutes, everyone made it on board. The same cannot be said for their bags, but that is an inevitable part of travel. 

Once in Poland things slowed down dramatically. With the Mera Spa Hotel, located right on the Baltic Sea, serving as our weeks accommodation and base of operations, Team USA set up camp. Sweat pants and hoodies have become regarded as almost "formal" attire. Most athletes haven't worn pants with a button since arriving. It is times like this when it becomes painfully apparent how many hours are in a day. Books, movies, card games, a little tourist-ing through town, meals and practice; this is how I have been occupying myself for the last week in anticipation of the first round of competition on Friday. This is, after all, a business trip. 

The 1,500 meters at the World Indoor Championships is a two round affair: prelim on Friday morning, final on Saturday evening. For me, it's one race at a time. I've got to put all my focus on the prelim, treat it as though it is my final, and race hard in order to survive. Only then can I begin thinking about Saturday. When I was last at a World Indoor Championship, 2010 in Doha, I did not race aggressively enough in my prelim and missed out on the final by one spot. I won't make that mistake again.

It has been nice to have Lopez Lomong and Nick Symmonds around. These two have proven themselves internationally in major championships, both having previously made a final. Our collective mentality is "It will be fun AFTER the final when we can..." This is a much more professional approach than I had in 2010.

This winter I have started taking a complete rest day two days before my competition. As a part of my active recovery I took a nice long walk through the town of Sopot. A beautiful seaside town whose livelihood is primarily derived during the tourist season (summer), things are pretty sleepy around here. Lots of the hotels are closed for the winter, which creates a very calm and peaceful environment, perfect for a leisurely stroll. In the middle of town most of the pubs, shops, and restaurants are still in operation. I intend on sampling some traditional Polish food when I am finished competing. Maybe even a Polish beer and some of this Polish vodka I have been hearing so much about.

Today (Thursday) is the first day the competition venue is open for the athletes to see and practice on. I am meeting up with my Very Nice Track Club teammates Nick Willis and Lee Emanuel for a short run and some strides on the racing surface. As nearly every indoor track is different (dimensions, bank of the turn, track surface, size of venue), I find it helpful to get a good grasp of where I will hang out before my race, location of bathrooms, warm up, do drills, and do pre-race strides, so there are fewer potential question marks that arise on the day of competition. It's all about being prepared!

The entirety of Team USA is excited to be here and eagerly anticipating our chance to compete.

Na zdrowie(Cheers or Bless You),


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