August 31, 2011
Today I ventured out into the heart of Daegu. I walked to the subway station on faith (I had heard it was in a particular direction) and on my way there ran across a bus station where I booked a ticket to the airport on Sunday. I made my way into the subway station. They all pretty much look alike around the world, so I figured out which was the station I needed to get to for the Athletes Village and I jumped on the next train. The coaches credential I have provides me with a free transportation card, so that makes it easy.
When I got off the train, and went upstairs, I snagged a bicycle; the Athletes Village has loads of bikes around for the athletes and coaches to snag for short trips. I picked up a bike and rode the few blocks to the Village. There is a great little coffee shop with a nice deck with umbrellas that I have met Mike at before, so I went there not sure when he would show up (we had left it sort of loose the day before). While I was sitting there, I met an Australian fellow who is a sports agent and we talked about him becoming a distributor for our product for us in Australia. So that was cool…could be a significant relationship. Mike showed up and then immediately disappeared again.
I met Mike at the Medical rooms a little later, and treated his foot in preparation for the days run. Then we went down to the practice track and met with the Special Conditions Coach who presented the Marathon team with ice vests for their pre-race warm-up, to help them lower their core temperatures. This is very cool (no pun intended) because the conditions here are so very HOT. The guys went out for a 20 minute run to ‘test drive’ the vests. While they were out, I chatted with one of the Jamaican sprinters while she stretched and did calisthenics. After that, Mike and I went back up and I treated his foot again, this time a little more thoroughly given he was done for the day. I chatted with the medical team guys, making friends.
After the medical tent treatments were over, we went to the downtown market. That place was disgusting! I will post pictures soon, but the market almost made me puke. There was a ton of raw food on display, along with snakes, frogs, turtles AND DOGS! Honestly… it was horrible! So we bailed and went further downtown to Daegu’s version of NYC’s “Times Square”, except that it goes on for BLOCKS and BLOCKS, and is enough to give you a seizure. It’s really a less impressive version of Times Square, but on steroids, if that makes sense. We ate very traditional food and Sergio, the US Champion, who was with us was unimpressed. Mike wanted more food. I thought that our meal was too much work for not much protein, but it was very tasty. We walked a bit more and eventually I had had enough and voted we leave. Back to the subway, and then a walk back to the hotel. I was bushed so went off to bed quickly.
Today was a light day at the track with only the 20K race walk for women scheduled. I spent some time with Maria, an American, after her race when we were in the medical suite, and we agreed that I will work with her from afar (she is in NYC) but I will put her in contact with one of my OptoJump clients there to help her.
So a good day, though it was strange in so many ways. Tomorrow, back to business as usual.
August 30, 2011
Wow…already Day 2! I quickly eat breakfast next door again: $4.50 for a bowl of broth with vegies and an egg, and a lot of Kimchee. After breakfast, I hail a cab and quickly realized the cab driver doesn’t understand where I am headed, and he drives off in a random direction! Wild gesticulating and gesturing on my part, and repeating over and over again (in English) “Athletes Village” while pretending to sleep…eventually he gets it, re-routes and we arrive at the Athletes Village.
Getting out of the cab, I walk straight into Robles, the great Cuban hurdler. He is adorned in his usual gold chains, but he is very friendly and accepts my congratulations (even though he got DQ’d for his race the night before). I wait for Mike, but because we had a miscommunication about the time, I missed him, so I headed to the Stadium to catch the morning session: Women’s 3K heats, Mens 1500 heats, Women’s Long jump and Triple jump qualifiers and one or two other events like the Heptathlon Javlin…seems like a long time ago.
Triple Jump Qualifiers
I finally catch up with Mike at the medical center and we set about treating his foot. So far so good. His Plantar Fascia is holding up! We head to the drug testing center where they take his blood (they are testing all the athletes here) and then to the local mall to see what that is all about. I have to say this about Korea as a result…people here LIKE BRIGHT COLORS! It’s pretty much all western stuff, except the colors are almost cartoonish, they are so bright. This is true across the city, even in my hotel room (which is adorned with sconces that emit rotating pink, blue and purple accent lights). If I didn’t see the same commitment to garish colors all over the city, I would think you could rent my room by the hour!
We ate in a food court of the market, which was interesting. They have a cabinet of the plates on display, as an example, and they are all numbered. Essentially Korean, Chinese, and Japanese styles. So you select a number and then you pay for that number. Then you go and sit down and wait for your number to show up under the neon sign near the kitchens. Once your number shows up, you go and pick up your food. Compared to the Korean BBQ we ate at the night before, this was a step down, but worth doing once.
After dinner we head for the Stadium to watch the mens 800, the Womens Steeple Chase
and Pole vaulting, and Discus for the men. We go and sit down by the pole vaulters because one of the girls we met the day before in the medical room is jumping and has a good shot at a medal. We hang there for a while and watch that event plus a couple Heptathlon 800 heats, as well as the 1500 semis for the women before we try to reposition for the 800. We end up on the wrong side of the stadium, but still have great seats for the home stretch (opposite side, level with the finish) and the winner pretty much runs away with the field. We move again for the Steeple Chase and are at the first hurdle – a perfect position for the finish and an amazing performance. The Pole vault winner sets a personal best, a South American Record, and Meet Record and wins the gold, while the Steeple was won by a Russian woman who sets another Meet Record running the fastest time in the world this year.
After the steeple, we went back to the Athletes Village to avoid the crush as the athletes try to squeeze onto buses.
Tomorrow is the Shot Put. I hung out with the Shot Putters from the USA today while I was waiting for Mike in the medical rooms…really good guys, huge for sure, and FUNNY too. Also Bernard Legat runs and that will be a site to see!
This is really so exciting…I told Mike it is sort of like crack for track and field junkies. None of the distractions an Olympic Games offers (other sports, multiple venues and so on). It’s simply all track, all the time, with the entire center of the Track and Field universe right here.
Mo Farrah and Mike Sayenko
For example, walking into the Stadium tonight, we found ourselves walking next to Mo Farrah, the great British 10,000 meter runner who just barely lost his race on day one. But we quickly discovered that he is an Arsenal fan and was actually more upset about Arsenal losing to Man U, 8-2, than he was at losing the race on Sunday! Love it.
I started the day trying to find food. I was directed to a tiny place around the corner…I mean like two-tables-tiny. And since neither the host nor the menus could communicate in English, I just pointed at the menu and rubbed my tummy like I was hungry. What I got for breakfast was a bowel of beef and vegetable broth with Kimchee on the side. Very tasty, but unusual. I’ll do more of the same each day. I finally figured out how everything worked in my room, and they have a computer too, hence this blog, but the OS is in Korean so I have to guess at everything.
After getting situated, I took a cab to the Athletes Village, and received my accreditation card which gives me access to almost everything except the warm up track and the dope testing area. I went into the Village and waited for Mike to surface. We had arranged to meet – it was just a matter of figuring out where. While I was waiting for Mike, I met the coach of the UK Para-Olympic Team. He was really nice and made a lot of good suggestions for me for meeting the Canadian coaches.
Once Mike showed up, we went and picked up my official backpack and the schedule for the day, and we made a plan. First we went to have lunch in the athletes Dining Room. The place was ENORMOUS with literally 1000 athletes in there eating. The food was good but very mixed up (beef stew next to kimchee next to pasta next to something that tasted good but was not recognizable). It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, of course, and my goodness, can some of those athletes eat! We sat next to a GIANT thrower from Spain who literally ate 6 plates of piled high mixed food stuff. Impressive. While were in the lunch area, Mikes roommate, Bernard Legat, (one of the the worlds fastest 1500 m runners) came over and joined us. What a nice guy. He talked about possibly moving to Seattle, which would be ultra cool!
Mike Sayenko with Bernard Legat
After lunch we went to the USA Team sports Medicine area and treated Mikes foot and taped him up for his run. I tried a new taping idea based on his feedback. Mike went off to a meeting and then his run, so I explored the Village.
Team USA Medical Suite
I went to the practice track and watched the Hammer throwers (who had their Final in the evening) practicing. It was good to see how exactly they warmup, and I have to say it is a very impressive sport. So much torque. I also went to the track and watched the Jamaican sprinters warming up and practicing. I met one of the Jamaican sprint coaches and we talked a while about his training philosophy.
Once Mike got back from his very first pain free run (yahoo, the new taping idea worked successfully), we treated him again and headed off to the track. While he was taking a shower, I hung out with Bernard and Mikes other roommates, the rest of the Marathon team and one of our speed-walkers. All really nice guys.
The Stadium in Daegu
We caught the bus to the track and made our way through the Athletes Path to the stadium and we arrived in an amazing stadium. The Koreans have spared no expense. The meet runs like clockwork, there are an abundance of people volunteering to assist and everything is spotless. I am in awe of almost every athlete here.
Every single person here is in the best shape in the world, and they are incredibly disciplined. The track meet was really amazing…kind of like a perfect 3-ring circus…lots going on, but between announcements, on time track performances and so on, I kept pinching myself because in so many ways, its like heaven!
August 28, 2011
The first challenge was finding the gate at the airport since the screen was flipping back and forth between English and Japanese faster than I could read through it. So I wandered around until I came to a Delta gate where there was activity, and asked one of the gate attendants to figure it out… no worries, it was the next gate over!
On the plane, I sat next to two Korean women who were in Japan to shop..they did not stop chatting and laughing in apparent glee as they paged through perfume catalogs the whole flight…even so, I managed to catch a little shut eye.
Once in Korea, I followed the crowd to customs and stood in line with the masses. The girl right behind me was a US college student who spent a year abroad in Daegu, which was awesome since she gave me the low-down on the best way to Daegu from the airport. Following her advice, I made my way to the bus transportation area and figured out how to buy a ticket for Daegu. I then spent the next harrowing minutes (the last bus left in 10 minutes) a little panicked, trying to figure out which of the 10 buses parked along the road was the one to Daegu…
I made it onto the bus and slept fitfully for the 3 hour journey. The bus driver made two quick stops, but I was not sure if I could get off or not, since nobody spoke English, so I just stayed on the bus, even as others ran into the store to get a beverage or a snack. Keep in mind it was approximately 3:00 am for me…so I was not too swift for sure.
We arrived in Daegu and I retrieved my bag and hailed a cab. I had an address and a phone number, but the cabbie spent 5 minutes debating the location of the hotel with his pals, even though he had a GPS in his car. Eventually we depart and he literally drove around in circles, muttering in Korean (no english). He finally follows his GPS critically yelling at it (I think) and stopping to look at the address again and again, and eventually pulls up, and goes into an all night store to ask for directions. I am sitting in the cab, waiting, when I look and notice that we are parked right in front of the hotel! I guess what threw him was that the hotel had an English name (Motel Castle). We then try to figure out how much to pay him…”$10.00″ ..well I wasn’t sure of the exchange rate exactly, but we worked it out and I went into the hotel.
Once in my room, I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to get the lights turned on…everything was remote-controlled and, of course, I can’t read Korean..but no matter what button I pressed, NOTHING (keep in mind it was about 4:00 in the morning for me, and I was operating on about 2 hours of fitful sleep)! In the end, I figured out that there was a fan in the room that worked, but all that really did was circulate boiling air around…even so, I collapsed in the humidity and woke around 7:00am.
I was finally able to get someone up to the room to show me how the buttons all worked. I learned that you needed to insert your key into a magic slot to allow things like the AC and lights to work. Who knew?
I was directed to a little Korean place for breakfast, Korean style…a beef and veg broth with kimchee on the side…as hungry as I was, I devoured it. I took a shower and now I am headed out to meet up with Mike, get my coaches credential and take in the day.
I write this sitting in a little Japanese snack bar in the airport at 1:30 a.m. Actually it’s only 5:30 in the afternoon here, but it’s 5:30 TOMORROW afternoon!
I still have an hour or so to wait till I board my flight to Korea, the I have a couple of trains to catch to get me to Daegu. I’ll probably arrive there at around 8:00 a.m. Seattle time Sunday morning, but it will be around midnight Sunday for me. I need to try to sleep because I need to pick up my coaching credential and find Mike around noon.
The first leg of the trip over was mostly just long, but I was sitting next to a couple of engineers from Alaska, one of them an Eskimo…pretty interesting guys.
That’s it for now. A plane and a train to go. Gotta say, I am already shattered!
August 25, 2011
Well I am on my way to Daegu for the World Track and Field Championships with my patient Mike Sayenko who is representing the USA in the Marathon!
I plan to blog from the World championships where I will be on the inside a little bit with a Team USA Sports Medicine credential.
At the moment I am a little worried since my accommodation is a bit up in the air. But this is what makes this a great adventure!