Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympic Update: It's Time to Storm

Hi Everyone,

I just borrowed Shannon's latest SFGate blog title. It is quite appropriate. Her first Olympic race is in less than 24 hours. Malinda and I had lunch at the Noodle Loft with her, her friend, and parents on Tue. Tonight (Wed), we talked on the phone....I have called her many times in my life but never to wish her luck the night before an Olympic race so I wanted to do that tonight. I told her about my planned call to the SHC faculty and staff meeting on Thur and the possible 4:00.33 time trial at Kezar Thur night by Coach John Spriggs.....she defintiely thought it was all cool. After all the anticipation, it all comes down to the next 72 hours. The beauty is that although the Olympic experience has been different, she is an veteran at handling herself the last 72 hours before a major race.

Heat sheets for the Aug 21 1500 races are here:

We've been here 2 1/2 weeks now. Some things we have gotten used to:
- The large number of people everywhere you go (especially on the subway) and all the time.
- No 4th floor at most places (the number 4 is unlucky in Chinese).
- The fact that we are paying 2 RMB (28 cents) to ride the subway and 1 RMB (14 cents) to ride the bus. That is when we are paying. On days we have Olympic tickets, public transportation is free.
- Across town taxis are 70-80 RMB (or approx $10).
- The high concentration level that it takes to safely cross the street, avoiding collisions with bikes, mopeds, cars, buses, and other pedestrians.
- We are also getting used to (but not liking) hearing the Olympic theme song almost non-stop and watching 95% China athletes when watching Olympic coverage on TV.

A few things have been surprising:
- There's no good food at the track garlic fries and polsih hot dogs (I miss AT&T park)!
- The Chinese are missing some great consumer opportunities - they are not selling a meet program at the track and the souvenirs are actually reasonably priced. They actually close the gift shops early to get people to leave - talk about missing the boat from a money-making perspective.
- Most restaurants close at 9pm. We've had to search for food after the meet (Ramen noodles the first night). We attempted to get Peking Duck last night but arrived a couple minutes past 9 and were denied.

- We've gone shopping with Monica Z, been to the Forbidden City with Frank, and eaten numerous meals with Tower and his family.
- Tonight we saw some Chinese Acrobats perform.
- We've become regulars at the Hometown Hopefuls Hospitality area. The free massages, meals, and ice cream keep bringing us back.
- We've become real pin traders. I had plans to trade pins all along but it was slow getting started. But while shopping at the official Olympic souvenir store (picture IKEA), the women working kept stopping me and asking to trade pins that I had on my lanyard. Since then we've been on a roll. The Chinese love this Tyson chicken pin that we picked up at the Trials in Eugene. We were literally mobbed at a department store today because of our pins.

Track & Field
- Mon night we saw a world record in the pole vault by Yelena Isinbaeva, which was a real highlight.
- We've also become buddies with Shalane Flanagan's mom, Cheryl (herself a former American record holder in the marathon). We seem to bump into her everywhere. Talk about a modest really have to drag it out of her that her daughter won a bronze medal in the 10,000.
- But the best track story so far comes from Frank. He was watching the women's marathon on Sunday and started running around with a group to watch the race unfold. After awhile it was just him and another guy who could keep up. Turns out that "other fast guy" was Magdalena's husband Richie (sub-4 minute miler) Boulet. Frank did not say if he told Richie he was the Pamakid club record holder in the mile race walk. But it will be pretty cool when at the next PA race, Frank can go up to Richie at the start line and say, "Hey remember me? We ran around together in Beijing and you gave me a ticket for the finish of the marathon in the Bird's Nest."

Malinda is on another computer right now getting ready to upload photos to the Pamakids Yahoo site. Same url:
The newest pictures will probably be on page 2. From the number of new people requesting to be Pamakid Yahoo Group members, I guess you need to be a member to see the pics. Sorry if you are not. If you want to see the photos, submit a request. Both me in China and John Spriggs at home can approve your request and you can quit our group after the Olympics and we won't be offended.

Well, if you can't tell, we are having a great time (it is our honeymoon). I have this excited/nervous feeling in my stomach for Shannon's races, which is also nice. We bought some fabric to make a banner and tomorrow we are going looking for red and blue sharpies. Look for us on TV....we'll be the obnoxious Americans screaming our heads off for Shannon and waving our Go Shannon banner from the 3rd tier of the stadium.

-Andy & Malinda

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