Today is the day after the race. I'm kind of sore, but not any worse than I was yesterday, so I'm pretty good. There was a team ride early this morning. A lot of the athletes who competed yesterday did not show up, oping instead to sleep in and rest/recover. I figured it would be a good flush out ride. I was already awake, considering my brother jumped on me at 3 and again at 6. He woke me up my playing with my Garmin. The beeps of the buttons and bezel woke me up.
The ride started off poorly. We had our accreditation and passports to get through security at the race site. They let the first 20 athletes through, the shut the gates our faces (including me) almost causing several riders to crash. We tried explaining out situation to them, saying we were a team, and that we were just going to ride the course in order to get a feel for what it was like. The didn't speak English, but I think they tried to say there were too many riders already out there. Luckily, Joyce - our Team Manager - was there. She speaks Mandarin, and was able to talk them into letting us in. By that time, the first group of athletes was already gone, but we weren't sure where they went. I led the riders around the course, which was even more picturesque than normal. The rain had cleared much of the particulate out of the air, allowing us to see much further than ever before. While yesterday, you couldn't see the mountain across the reservoir due to the smog, today you could see mountains behind mountains, behind the mountain across the reservoir. It was beautiful.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the course, there was yet another barricade. After several minutes of pretesting, the soldiers decided to let three paratriathletes through (two used hand cycles, the other had only one leg). No amount of arguing from Joyce would change their minds. Nearly 100 of us (from many different countries) had to turn around and go back. A car, a but, and an ITU Official all got turned around, two. Yesterday, the team went for a ride while I was racing. The same thing happened to them .When they went back to the start, they got rejected there too, and had to find a side road that took them through a Chinese market, downtown, and around the city to get back to their hotel. We decided to take the same road today, instead of getting turned around at the barricade again. Unfortunately, the riders forget how to get back (apparently, it's two simple left turns). We got terrible lost, switched back twice, got about 20km (12.5 miles) off target, and finally made it back, more than an hours after we expected to be back.
We also went for an easy run, scouting out the course and figuring out the flow of transition from swimming to biking, and biking to running. This time, we got through security and they let us on the course. Earlier, they said they were protecting it for the athletes. We are the athletes. They also said it was blocked off because the elite (pro) competitors were using the course. The segment we were on was not even part of the elite course. Other than those slight mishaps, it was all good. To complete the training for the day, we had a team swim in the reservoir. I really focused on my technique during the swim, trying to emulate the better swimmers around me. I really felt an improvement, although my left arm was hurting after. The last 200m of the swim was kind of unclear. The course was not laid out properly. To make things worse, it was full of weeds (in that section only) and was extremely murky. It was so dark, that if you stood on the top step to climb out of the reservoir, with your foot just barely under the surface of the water, you could not see it at all. The muddy water was so thick, you could not see your hand right in front of your face. If any water gets in your mouth, don't swallow.
After the swim, I happened to see Paula Findlay (and I got a picture!) and someone who looked an awful lot like Alistair Brownlee. Paula is Canada's top female triathlete, currently number 1 in the world (although she's #3 in ITU Series points this year). Alistair and his younger brother Jonathan, from Great Britain, are currently ranked numbers 1 and 2 in the world. They have been crushing the series this year, and are the favourites for the race this weekend. Both Paula and the Brownlee (if it even was one of them) were running, as I was walking back to the hotel.
After lunch, we had a meet'n'greet with the entire age group team. I had though there were a lot of riders out there today, but Team Canada filled an entire banquet hall. There are hundreds of us, and this team is apparently much smaller than previous years. The food sucked, we took a good team picture (after all, I was in it), and boarded the bus for the Opening Ceremonies. After a long bus ride (it was only 4 miles, but it took forever due to traffic) we got there. All the other teams were there with their cheerers (eg my parents and brother). We were all given small Canadian flags, and a few pins were passed out. I was given a massive 6-foot flag to carry (yeah!). We marched through the streets of Beijing (specifically the suburb of Chamgping) waving at all the people lining the streets. Cars on the road were locked bumper to bumper. Some seemed thrilled to be locked in a traffic jam next to a parade (they waved, smiles, and took pictures). Others looked like they just wanted to get home, but most smiled at us waving at them. It was a blast representing Team Canada, but that was just the beginning.
We entered an indoor stadium, where the walls were lines with ITU triathlon posters. There was a large circle of all the flags of the countries competing, hung from the roof. At the front, there was a stage, upon which sat several large screens. Mostly they just flashed trippy colours, but accasionally they displayed text (of whatever the speaker was saying, in another language) or video. There was a Chinese rock band playing music very loudly. After we all sat down (and Canada started the Wave), the Ceremonies started with an introduction from the Deputy Secretary General of Beijing. Several other keynote speakers talked, including the President of the ITU (International Triathlon Union; equivalent to the NBA, NHL, FINA, or FIFA), some other officials in Beijing (the Mayor?) and the winners of the triathlon at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games: Emma Snowsill (I met her!) and Jan Frodeno (beat Simon Whitfield in the last 100 metres). Some hosts introduced a few performances (mostly dance) and a band took the stage, playing several songs. During one of them, I saw the President of the ITU dancing. The Mayor of Beijing joined her and all the photographers stopped taking pictures of the band and started taking pictures of them. I got a few (blurry) shots, too; Thy were the only blurry ones, I swear! The band concluded with "I will Survive," the only song I recognized since coming to Beijing. The music at the venue is terrible. Just saying. Okay, it isn't that bad, but it definitely isn't "pump up" music for before the race, and it definitely isn't dubstep. (Imagine how much better the day would seem if they cranked nonstop DUBSTEP!!!)
After the Opening Ceremonies was supposed to be a Pasta Party - I was actually excited about it! It turned out to be right in the stadium. You turned your food voucher in for a bag, containing a cardboard box (labelled "Special Food") full of food. By the time I got there, they were out of pasta. I was about to start rage-ing, but several other athletes did not want theirs, so I got three helpings of pasta. It was quite good, especially compared to the "Special Food" in the box. (It consisted of milk that tasted like cream, a rock hard Chinese biscuit, a cold "chicken" leg, and some fruit. Everything was vacuum wrapped, making it nearly impossible to open without sciccors, and a sign said it all expired at 9:00, a mere hour after it was given to me.) I ate the pasta, then got some more stuff back at the hotel.
During the Ceremonies, they raised three flags: the China flag, the ITU logo on a flag, and the Dextro Energy Triathlon 2011 ITU World Championships Grand Final Beijing logo on a flag (yes, that's a mouthful). The same security guard from yesterday found me, and started talking to me again. We had a lovely conversation that seemed way too awkward. He is really a very nice person, though.All in all, it was a very full and eventful day, but was lots of fun. Tomorrow, I'm relatively free, so hopefully I'll have time to clean my bike, finish some homework, and work on my swimming some more.There, I said it. Now you have to hold me to that. Damn accountability, how I hate thee.Anyway, have a good night, world!