Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First 18 hours in London

I sat down for a very late lunch/early dinner across from Hyde Park around 4:30 pm and wondered why I was suddenly so tired. Then I realized how much I had done in just 18 hours! But so far so good. 

Travel was smooth and on time, but each time I fly I am thankful I am no bigger than I am. Those seats are so small! I watched three movies: 42, the Jackie Robinson story; The Great Gatsby (never read it and now surely never will), and Stoker (weird, very weird...)  I barely have the attention span for movies at home, but put me on a plane and I'll watch anything. I've been sporting my glasses as much as possible thanks to an eye issue that popped up days before departure.

I was happy to see my bike had arrived!! However, my pre-booked transport had not. But soon after a phone call, I was greeted by a driver with my name on a placard. He was from Somalia and we enjoyed a lively conversation about Magnesium on the way to the hotel.

The hotel has grand "curb appeal" and inside it's very up-to-date. Though the room is cozy, it's immaculate and has what I need. I had to push furniture around just to be able to fit the bike box on the floor.

I was glad I had written out my little itinerary for the week. I woke up and mindlessly got on things, as written, starting with a tasty breakfast in the bustling restaurant. Then I put the bike back together -- very smoothly and confidently I might add - and set off for a run/walk/sightseeing tour to get my bearings. I hoofed it about 5 miles or so, walking most, and admiring this clean city with such well-appointed people strolling about. It feels safe and welcoming!

I checked out the race venue and the area of the Serpentine that is cordoned off for lap swimming. The team from Mexico was headed in to train. It was pretty chilly and I opted out of swimming. I'm told the water is 61 degrees. New Zealand was 55, so I should count my blessings.

I am so thankful that all of the intersections are labeled with crossing instructions. So far I have managed not to be run over.

I stopped off at a small market around the corner for some snack food - mainly drinks and fruit.

After a refueling, I headed out on the bike. I braved the roads around Hyde Park some (fun to be passed by a double decker bus!) and then found the areas within the park that permitted cycling. After tomorrow no cycling will be allowed in the park aside from racers so we will have to venture out to train. I cycled past Kensington Palace and all sorts of gardens and monuments. There were lots of tourists on rental bikes and some groups of riders on horseback too!

Kensington Palace. As I was doing the 'selfie' someone offered to take my pic, so nice!!

no idea what this is, but it's impressive. I'm a terrible tourist. I'd rather be pedalling.

I returned to the hotel to shower and head down to the expo and packet pickup. That's where I started running into friends including Coach John Murray who was out for a run with some of the paratriathletes including Tisa Cawthon (below). Can't miss that Team MPI gear!

Note to future Team USA folks -- race apparel at Worlds sells out FAST - shirts, jackets, etc. This year I managed to get one of the last jackets in my size and the Expo had only been open a couple of hours. It's crazy. If you want something, don't delay!!

I've got everything laid out for tomorrow morning's Aquathlon. It's a 1k swim and 5k run. We are not getting body marked, we just wear a race bib number for the run (and bike for tri).  That's kind of strange. On more than one occasion I have had to look at my own body to remember my number and find my transition spot. So for this race, I wrote my number on my athlete wristband.

This will be my warm-up race, the one to try out the swim, let out a bit of my race self, and take the edge off the nerves. The whole thing should take less than 45 minutes.

That's it for Day 1!!