Monday, July 18, 2011

Blog 5

It’s 6:25 on Tuesday morning here, meaning the Open Water World Championships start today with the women’s 10K, which Eva and Christine are both competing in! We’re all so excited, and more than ready to begin competing. I’m so excited to watch today, and know that Team USA is ready to do some amazing things. I have to get ready to go to breakfast in a few minutes, so ill just do some quick bullet points on the last couple of days
I’ve now worked out in the hotel pool twice, just to take a break from the open water, and get a pool practice in. the hotel pool is 20 meters, so I’ve had to adjust my workouts accordingly, but it’s been really nice to finally do some flipturns again! Also, there are no lanelines, so it gets a little wavy, which is perfect simulation for the open water
We’re now onto Pirates 3. We’ve finished 1 and 2, and got about halfway through the third one last night before we were all too tired to keep our eyes open any longer (at around 8:50 PM..)
At lunch yesterday, Paul got up and gave a really nice toast to the staff (chefs, waiters, etc), thanking them for the great food and service. They’ve done such a good job of accommodating all of the different teams/countries preferences, and are extremely friendly and welcoming on top of that – they definitely deserved the toast! In addition, our translator, Claire, was able to tell the staff what exactly Paul was saying.
I’ve progressed to being able to eat SPAGHETTI with CHOPSTICKS – I never thought this was possible. It may not be the prettiest thing, but I’m getting there!
We skyped with the pool team for World Champs last night, which was really cool. They’re still in Australia for training camp, and come over to Shanghai tomorrow. Since we won’t really get a chance to see them (their competition venue is about an hour and a half away from us), it was really nice to get to see them over the computer, and it meant a lot to hear all their good luck wishes
I also have now skyped with my parents twice, and yesterday morning even did a three-way video chat with my parents and Ryan .. even though I’m across the world from them, the video chat is crystal clear and it felt like I was right in the same room as them. I’ve also been in constant contact with my other brother (Brandon) and sister (Carly), so I really do feel like my family is right here with me
Claire’s mom got here yesterday, and brought with her a suitcase of Easy Mac, chocolate chip cookies, variety pack of chocolate candy bars .. basically, heaven. The 100 Grand I had last night couldn’t have tasted better. We also have a jumbo bag of Hershey Kisses that Andrew brought with him on Sunday night.. but I believe they’re almost gone.. whoops!


Time for breakfast, and then to go watch the first race of the competition! Send good luck vibes our way, and I’ll be sure to update as soon as possible!
Love from China,
Ashley

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blog 4

Blog 4


It’s Saturday afternoon at 3:45 here! Yesterday we swam twice, and in between practices me, Haley, Claire and Eva watched half of the first Pirates movie. In the morning, it was extremely sunny and hot, and the water was totally flat. However, by the afternoon the wind was blowing pretty hard, and the water had gotten choppy/wavy.. but I find that fun to swim in anyway  They are also still fooling around with the course, and finishing setting it up, particularly the turn buoys, which are really big (or at least bigger than any I’ve ever experienced). After dinner, we had a team meeting, and then I got a great massage from John.. and then me and Haley were able to find My Best Friend’s Wedding on T.V. (in English!, but with Chinese subtitles). We both passed out around 9 P.M. I’ve been waking up for a little bit in the middle of the nights, but have pretty much adjusted to the time change really well!
This morning we woke up, had breakfast, and went out to the open water course, where we had a pretty light workout, and that was our only practice of the day! After a great shower, we went into the team room and watched the same half of Pirates as yesterday (because Alex hadn’t seen it yet).. we had to stop for lunch, so we plan on finishing it tonight! After lunch, some of us took taxis to a mall about 5 minutes away! It was fun to walk around, and we saw some cool pastry and cake shops – I was so psyched when I saw these ADORABLE little pig cupcakes. Me, Alex, Claire and Haley then went to Starbucks and sat there for a while. It was our first venture outside of the hotel/race venue, and it was really nice to be able to get our first real ‘glimpse’ of China. We’re back at the hotel now, and me Claire and Haley painted our fingernails and toenails – I chose raspberry scented hot pink.. the guys almost passed out from the smell when they walked into the team room. Those of us who took the afternoon off are now just relaxing, watching TV (we found the Biggest Loser on TV!)
More and more teams/countries have been arriving, and meals are getting more crowded.. it’s really interesting to see all of the different teams, and hear SO many different languages being spoken all in the same room.
I’m getting completely distracted by The Biggest Loser, so this is it for now, but I’ll write again soon!
Hugs and Kisses from China!!

P.S. – for some reason, I’m the most prone to getting an extremely pronounced goatee/beard from the open water (dirt/particles/etc on my face).. it’s really cute, let me tell you. I get laughed at every time I finish a set/get out of the water

Backtracking to the Keys

Blog 3



I figured I would write about a couple of highlights from our training camp in the Keys, since I never wrote much about it..
Skyping with Misty Hyman – if you haven’t already, you need to watch Misty’s 200 meter butterfly in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Everyone expected Australian Susie O’Neill (nicknamed Madame Butterfly) to win gold, as she had been undefeated in this event for multiple years, and was also swimming in her own country. However, Hyman had the race of her life, winning the gold medal. Skyping with her was awesome, and she had some really great advice for us, including being able to “get into the zone”, being able to “flip a switch” if you happen to find yourself thinking negative thoughts, the excitement and challenge of being an underdog (and how you can thrive off of that), the importance of realizing that while talent is a gift, we must also appreciate that we’ve put in the work to get to where we are, and continuously focusing and working on the little things.
Pictionary – Athletes vs. staff. Currently, the athletes are winning by 2 points  We had some drawings that looked like they were made my kindergarteners (mine included), yet were still guessed correctly by teammates! This will definitely be continued while we’re in Shanghai..
Finally spotting a lobster on our last day in the lake!
Watching montages from 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games – we were able to watch videos that had clips and pictures from the Olympics set to music, and they were extremely inspiring. We watched these at night, but all of us were ready to go out and practice after viewing them!


Just a couple of highlights! Also, every day we’re here, we have a different Chinese word of the day – yesterday was “dog”, and today is “freestyle”. I’ve also set a goal for myself to be able to effectively use chopsticks by the end of the trip.. we’ll see how that goes..

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Safe In Shanghai!

Blog 2


So our travel day began at 2 A.M on Tuesday, when we woke up and drove to Miami Airport. In an attempt to try to begin getting ourselves adjusted to China time, we had to make ourselves stay awake on the van ride over to Miami (an hour and a half), as well as our first flight to Chicago. So we blasted some music on the car ride (a lot of Adele, Taylor Swift, and even some Disney sing-a-longs.. sorry Bryce and Sean!). Once we got to Chicago, we had about an hour and a half layover, so me, Haley, Claire and Alex went to a breakfast place to enjoy one last American meal before we left. The flight over went smoothly, and I was actually able to sleep a total of 6 or 7 hours! I almost slept through the first meal though, so by the time I woke up they only had the vegetarian option left.. I’m not really sure what it was, some combination of cheese and veggies wrapped in a pastry-ish thing..but I have to say, it wasn’t too bad.. I thought of you Kir.

Anyway, we got to Shanghai International Airport around 1:30, where we were greeted by Chinese students who are volunteers working for the World Championships. They were really helpful in escorting us quickly through customs and then to get our luggage. Our translator, Claire, was also really helpful! We then had about an hour and a half bus ride to our hotel, Royal Tulips on the Beach. The hotel is super nice, and I’m rooming with Haley again! All of the open water athletes are required to stay at this hotel, as well as eat all meals here.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of food, but was pleasantly surprised, especially by breakfast, where they had omlettes, fantastic banana bread, muffins, toast.. as well as fried rice, tomatoes, lo mein.. and then a few things that we were unsure of. However, I did try some new things, including a doughy pastry filled with some type of sweet jelly/jam, which was called “reception”. After the meals, we usually head to the team room to get some extra protein and food we’re used to.. today’s after lunch included quite a few spoonfuls of good old Jif.

We’ve gone out on the course three times now, and had some good practices! The course is a 2,500 meter loop, with big orange buoys every 100 meters, so we are able to do many different sets utilizing different buoys/distances, etc. In addition, there is a practice course that is a 250 meter loop. The water has been discoloring our suits a little bit. They’re now red, brown and blue, rather than red, white and blue, haha. But a little muck isn’t going to hurt anyone...besides that, everything has been great! The security at the hotel (and everywhere) is pretty intense – we all have credentials that have to be scanned to get into the hotel and race venue. Our bags also have to go through screenings upon entering and exiting each time – really similar to airport security! Each floor of the hotel also has a security guard.

Well, its about time to head to dinner, so that’s all for now! I believe it’s Thursday morning back in the U.S., so good luck to Rose who is swimming the mile today at Sectionals!! OH, also thanks to Jess, because Giron (my pig pillow pal) was a total life saver on the flight over! And lastly, thanks to Ryan (my brother) for posting these blog entries for me.. I can’t get onto the blog site here because it’s blocked! As well as Facebook and Twitter. I guess it’ll be good detox for me..Missing everyone back in the States, but loving it here in China so far!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

7/11 - Last Day of Training Camp in the Keys

So I figured this would be an appropriate time to start my blog - its our last day in Key Largo for training camp, and we leave for Shanghai tomorrow! Training camp has been awesome so far - the team has gotten some great training in, and we've also utilized this week to really get to know one another and bond. Each day we do an open water practice in the morning, and then a pool practice at Founder's Park in the afternoon. The water in both locations is a little toasty (anywhere from 85-89 degrees), but this is actually for the best, as it is helping us to acclimate to what we will face in Shanghai. After practice each morning, we go to Made to Order for breakfast, where we have been lucky enough to indulge in some amazing food, especially the Tropical French Toast! I know we will all miss this when we leave here. The staff at the restaurant are awesome as well. During the days we pretty much relax - me and my roommate (Haley Anderson) watched TLC's Say Yes to the Dress for four straight hours yesterday :) Our dinners are catered by another phenomenal local restaurant, Key Largo Conch House, and were actually just featured on Man vs. Food for their conch fritters, which we got to try! All of their food has been great. Thanks to both restaurants for providing us with such great food throughout our stay here!!
We have one practice left here this afternoon, then it's dinner, a team meeting and early to bed. We have to be up at 2 A.M. (!) to head to Miami Airport - from there, its a layover in Chicago O'Hare, and then straight to Shanghai!!
Thanks to everyone who provided hospitality to Team USA in Key Largo - we couldn't have asked for a better training trip!