Aug. 15: Getting settled into the hotel is the first order of business.
The first night we eat at the hotel cafe under the atrium. Cozy and comfortable dining with dim light from mini candles and soft music from the piano in the lobby.
The hotel room has two twin beds, just wide enough for me to lie down on my back and not fall off either side. I am a back sleeper, though, so I don't mind the narrow beds. I slide my bed next to the window so there is a wide open space in the middle of the room to use for my stretching and tai chi.
The next morning I grab a quick breakfast, then down to the medical room for a massage. I know this is going to hurt, but I don't mind. A deep tissue massage is supposed to hurt a bit.
I take a nap and get ready for practice at Lichterfeld Stadium, about 25 minutes away. Carrie, our event manager, makes sure we have all what we need to get a good practice. I need a few extra discs to throw as I only have the two discs that Carrie brought over in her luggage.
When she returns she has four discs borrowed from a volunteer that happened to have some in his trunk. Wolfgang is a discus thrower competing in the masters division and he let me use his 1K discs. I think his discs might be a bit heavy because every time I throw them they land in the right side of the sector and my discus on the left side.
They will work well for practice, especially since I am too lazy to keep walking out to the field to retrieve my discus. I call it laziness but I know it is just a matter of energy conservation. I save all of my energy to throw far.
Today we walk to the accreditation center to get our credential. Credentials are like gold here; a passport to all things championship. A credential will get you into the venue for all sessions, meals and entry to the hotels, official bus transportation and free travel on all the public transit in Berlin.
Later I travel to the Olympic Stadium and start a practice session on the track. Today is not a throwing day but I have some supplemental training I need to do. One of the men's high jumpers is walking with me to the track and I notice that his pants fit him perfectly in length.
Back at the hotel I nap in the afternoon and then decide to take a trip to the corner store to buy some essentials that would just not fit into my carry-on. I spend about an hour looking at different bottles trying to decide if they are shampoo, conditioner, or bleach. I decide on a few items and hand my euros to the cashier.
I have not yet mastered any German words other than "Danka."
Last night I played a game of cribbage with the USA men's coach who knows a little German. I attempted to speak all of the numbers in German while counting my hand. It was a great learning experience but still I can only retain the ten numbers. I still don't know the word for zero but as poor as I can play the game, I surprisingly never need to use it.
The cashier gives me my change but as I leave she starts to yell at me and runs out the door. Apparently I left a ten euro note on the counter. "Danka," I say.
I walk by a cafe on the way back to the hotel and decide to stop in for an espresso and cookie. I sit down in a booth and grab the Berliner paper and try to understand the captions under the pictures. This holds my attention for a while but soon I find a much more interesting activity, people watching. This is by far the best part about traveling abroad.
Watching people chatting, laughing, walking with dogs on leash, pushing babies in strollers. Most people carrying groceries from the store use small rolling carts as cars are more of a luxury then a necessity. Gas is more expensive. Food prices are very high and portions are small. It makes me realize why many Americans eat too much: The food is plentiful and cheap.
Tonight is the talent show!
Every year the team has a talent show to showcase our talented artists on the team. Most people sing in the show but we had one dancing act. I have to say that some acts were horrible but having the courage to make a fool of yourself in front of a hundred people is talent itself.
Three coaches sat on the judging panel and we had a Simon Cowell judge making everyone feel terrible and two other coaches giving praise.
Our winner was a sprinter named Charles and his voice was magic. Gave me goosebumps. He was the outright winner but was disqualified shortly thereafter due to an anonymous tip that he was not an amateur and had a CD out. I hope this does not carry over to the track. We don't need any more scandalous disqualifications by the sprint team at this meet!
Galt resident and Olympic discus champion Stephanie Brown Trafton is writing about her experiences at the 2009 IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin. The discus prelims will be held on Wednesday and the finals will be on Friday. Following are excerpts from her second and third entries from her blog, which can be accessed at www.stephaniebrowntrafton.com.