Thursday, July 24, 2008

Next Stop Beijing

There is a fear of the unknown if you have never been to the other side of the world. Even though I will be around the U.S. Olympic Team (baseball) almost the entire time -- leaving Aug. 5 and returning Aug. 26 -- I am wondering what is in store for me in China. Mostly I am wondering how I will handle the basics of communication, if I will have taken with me everything I need, how I will handle something unexpected. And, yes, I am wondering about my training for the NYC Marathon. I need to be over 30 hours a week while I am there. All I hear about is the "black air." Do you say hell with it and just find running routes as a "laowai" (foreigner). If your hotel is good enough when you see it for the first time, do you consider mainly crosstraining on equipment instead? Could you risk messing up your lungs for ensuing weeks/months? Honestly I hope that when I am there, running will be a universal language...maybe I will meet friends simply through running. What if I go running and get lost and am 4-5 miles from the hotel? I know zero words and will not retain anything I learn now so no point sending me website pointers as some friends have. Maybe I make something similar to a pace bracelet with phonetic spellings? Have you heard about the propaganda posters? I am so getting one of those to bring back home. I am just waiting for the first Chinese person to ask me one of the eight Don't Ask questions. This morning I woke up thinking about everything, kind of panicky, an excitement teeming with apprehension. I am going to Chinatown and just ask people: What are the absolute musts I should know going there in less than two weeks? The Opening Ceremonies, the Closing Ceremonies, the Olympiad, it will be a beautiful thing. But I'm there to work, I have to be efficient, I have to avoid winding up in their prisons or lost or whatever other nightmares I've had.

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