It is Sunday morning in Beijing and my first real day of discovery in Beijing...so, of course, I headed out for a walk in my neighborhood....
The air conditioning in my room is sublime. As I began to nod off on Saturday night, I actually got off the sofa, and went to my room, sleeping until a phone call came from Customer Service at 7 am. They wanted me to know that breakfast was from 7 to 9 am. Feeling pretty good, I headed down to the Clubhouse and grabbed some coffee, nice and strong, fresh fruit, noodles and eggs.
The houses are single family dwellings with apartment buildings at the end of the development. We are situated in the condos or apartments. I took a 45 minute walk after breakfast, trying to build myself into dealing with the stifling heat, although the nice wind truly cooled things down.
Walking the neighborhood-Gerhard Style
Gerhard Behrens is a schoolmate from University. He was also my training partner. After college and his return from the Peace Corps, we would get together for early morning runs. My sense of direction is, to say the least challenged, so Gehr would take me through neighborhoods, one block at a time. We would do this before sunlight and by the time the sun came up, we had run 70 minutes or so, our typical morning run.
Gehr lives with his wife and two daughers in Coos Bay, Oregon. I think of him often as I do my morning walks in various parts of the world. One block at a time...checking out the scenery and enjoying the similarities and differences in the countries I visit.
My forty five minutes of discovery.....
As I headed out of the club house, I felt a nice wind coming through the neighborhoods. I walked the six or seven blocks, up one side, down the other, and noticed the houses are mostly two stories, adobe color or pastel yellow or green. This is a upper middle class neighborhood, with Audis, Mercedes, in much prominence. The houses are on small lots, with backyards, most yards filled with flowers, even some rose bushes.
It is early on Sunday, about 8.30 am as I began my walk. I noticed women cleaning the sidewalks and streets, that were already pristine. The roads are clear of debris, set up much like a neighborhood in Las Vegas. The red brick roofs are seen all over the neighborhood and the windows have a dark pink red border around most.
I say "Hello" to all I meet, with a smile and a wave. Many wave back, including a group of sixteen security guards, in white shirts, ties, black berets...I notice a grandmother and her daugher with a stroller out walking in the morning...a group of young mothers, with their baby carriages and children stopped and chatting on one block.
The sky is cloudy and the sun barely comes through, but, for this day, the heat has broken. I spot a local finishing his run and say "Hello" and he responds in English, helping me find my way back to my apartment. Just as I headed back, I spotted Spencer Nel from adidas, who showed me again which building we were in. Thanks, Spence!
There are security guards at the ends of most blocks, most wave and smile at me as I walk through the neighborhood, with my Olympic credential around my neck. As I am twice the size of most in the neighborhood, I do stand out. My forty five minute walk left me completely soaked in my Polo shirt.
Today, I am planning to go to the Omega press conference, and then make my first venture to the Olympic media centre. I will check back then.
Michael Phelps is racing. One new friend noted that Mr. Phelps is quite confident and seems to be able to race in whatever he wants. No super fast speed suit on the competition is going to hurt him. " It seems that others have forgotten that even with a new speed swimming suit, one still must race against Mr. Phelps."
On complete honesty..TV and its control of the champs
Last night, watching Chinese TV, it was clear how proud the Chinese are of these Games, their country and their countries' history. The Beijing Games, as I have said before are the coming out party of China as a modern nation, all five thousand years of history, the good stuff and the warts.
In all honesty, the media should be looking at the control NBC has over the Olympics. Moving the Games to August 8, while a day of good luck, was a comprimise-the LOC first wanted the Games in September. But NBC, all $900 million of sponsorship, wanted nothing to do with that, as it would hurt the Democratic and Republican conventions and football. So, you have athletes having to deal with heat that makes Chinese cringe--it would be nice if NBC did address that.
Summer Games will always have that challenge, very warm weather whereever we go, however, it is a bit disingenuous of our friends at the peacock Network to pop in a hip dig at China and its a) Politics, b) treatment of whoever and not talk about their role in putting athletes into harms' way.
Look, I love the coverage. And this year, the Olympic coverage will be 1000 hours more in US than every before. It is the only way to see the Opening and closing ceremonies. I would not give up my seat at the Olympics in track and field for the past five Olympics for all of the tea in China, as some have said.
The IOC hurts itself in their comments on the non issues of weather here. It is a huge issue, as it is in any championship. That is why a championship runner is quite different from a world record or fast time runner. That is one of the reasons why Osaka was so much fun last year--the racers won out. World records mean little at the Olympics, one must be focused on the day and call on that supreme effort to take one past the best athletes in the world.
Alright, ready to start my day. Speak to you all soon! My best to my son, Adam, who I miss already.