In Which I See My First Olympic Events In Person!

Guess what has sore shoulders, wood chips in her clothes, and saw some Olympians today.

Oh, right. Me!

After going to bed around 2 am last night (er, morning), I dragged myself up at 6:40 so I could go see the women's triathlon in Hyde Park. Woo! I still hadn't gotten food for myself, so on the way to the bus I got fruit for breakfast (super filling... or not) and a triangle sandwich to have for lunch later. Oh, how I missed triangle sandwiches!

I got off at Green Park because it's right on the Jubilee line (which I was already on) and I didn't want to transfer just to go one stop. So by the time I took the bus and the tube and walked, it was probably after 8. The race didn't start until 9, but the Serpentine (where the swim and the run were going to take place) was already full. I decided to just pick a spot along the cycling route so I could have a front row seat. There was a decent amount of waiting time before anything happened, since not only did we have to wait for the start time, we had to wait for them to finish swimming. But it was really, really cool! They did seven loops of the course so we got some pretty good action. Everyone was so excited and cheering and waving their flags the whole time! :)

When the cycling was finished, I allowed myself to get shunted along with the crowd to try and catch a glimpse of the run. The best I could do was from really far away, but I heard them announce the finish -- did I hear correctly that it was a photo finish?? -- and made my way over to the BT London Live screen. That's where they're airing live coverage and, since I had some time to kill before the next event in the next park over, I figured I'd lounge around and watch a bit. It turned out that we weren't allowed to bring food inside (it's more like a festival than a park atmosphere), so I sat under a tree nearby and ate and people-watched until I was ready to go in.

Security at this place was like an airport -- they actually went through people's bags, not just poked them. But once you're in, it's pretty much a free-for-all. There were four screens airing Olympics coverage, plus tons of food vendors, a Cadbury House (not sure what that even is, since I didn't go in), little sporting activities, etc. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. You could just pop a squat on the ground wherever and watch what was on. The ground was covered in wood chips, though, and I was seriously missing grass. But I braved splinters and dirt to watch some athletics; the javelin for the women's heptathlon and a couple of heats for the men's 100m. I got to see Jessica Ennis do her thing, and Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay. It also rained for a few minutes while it was sunny, so I used my umbrella and sunglasses at the same time, so there's that.

After track ended, I moved to a different screen to watch trampoline gymnastics. I don't know if I've ever really watched it before, so that was kind of cool. I was super tired by then, though, so I fought really hard against dozing off while I was lying down. I think I succeeded, and stayed until the event was finished before filling up my water bottle and walking over to Constitution Hill to see the men's 20 km race walk! It's one of the more bizarre sports I've ever seen, but the commentator said these guys walk a mile in 7 minutes and I can't even RUN a mile in 7 minutes... so they have my respect! I was actually shocked by how many people there were to watch a bunch of dudes in short shorts walk, but I was happy for the racers. The crowd was actually awesome, just like it was at the triathlon; even the person in last place got huge cheers. One of the later-finishing walkers appreciated it so much that he smiled and waved. It was such a feel-good thing! Is it British? Or a byproduct of the Olympics? Or do people actually do this?

Well, whatever. I'd gotten there pretty close to the start time of 5 pm so my spot wasn't great, but I saw enough to be satisfied. One guy actually collapsed, I'm pretty sure before he got to finish the race. It was rather sad, but we cheered for him as he was being put into the ambulance. :P There are no heats for races like this, though, so on my first real Olympics day I got two see TWO event finals for free!

By the time the race was over, it was after 6 and my back and shoulders were in incredible amounts of pain, so I decided to head home and BUY FOOD! Finally. I made myself dinner, wrote a story for a deadline, watched the BBC stream of Team GB dominating athletics today, and now I'm showered and ready to pass out on the keyboard!

Tomorrow I'm going to try to pick up my and Chandini's tickets at the CoSport will call center -- wish me luck!

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