It’s the end of the season and the work is done. Nick finished his last official workout this morning, and now all that’s left are three short races: a heat, a semi, and a final. There’s no last minute cramming for this test. It’s only fine-tuning from this point on. Though, sometimes that fine-tuning, as small as it is, feels a lot more like a total key change.
The first of these
key changes fine-tunings was nothing short of a complete reversal of our sleeping patterns. Hong Kong is exactly a 12-hour time difference from Michigan, and while that makes it easy to know the time in Michigan when calling my mom, it’s pretty hard on the body. Though, after five days here, I think we’re finally getting the hang of it.
The second big adjustment has been, of course, the weather. The average temperature here has only been about 90 F but the humidity has been around 80%. I thought Michigan summers where we average about 65% humidity were bad, but I am discovering that the difference between 65 and 80 on the humidity scale is quite substantial. I’m also discovering that according to the Sierra scale, running in 65% humidity measures “uncomfortable” whereas 80% measures “delirious.” That’s only one mark below 81% , which, of course, is “instant death.”
For the last few days we’ve had a crew of New Zealanders to hang out with, but the majority of them left yesterday for Daegu. A few nights ago, drug testers came to the hotel with instructions to test the whole group. Everyone had to be gathered together in a small hotel room (since rules require that an athlete cannot be out of the tester’s sight) and played cards and chatted to pass the time until each athlete had produced a sample. Luckily, Nick was one of the first to go, so we were still able to get to bed at a decent hour. That makes three times this month that Nick has been selected for out-of-competition drug testing. I secretly always feel a little flattered when they come knocking, thinking that it’s because he’s running well enough to arouse suspicion, even though I know the selection process doesn’t really work that way. I suppose it’s a lot easier for me to feel flattered at their coming, though, since I’m not the one dropping my pants in front of a complete stranger and peeing into a cup.
Last night Nick surprised me by taking me out for an early birthday dinner downtown. My real birthday is September 3rd, but that’s the date of the 1500m final, so I’m hoping he’ll be a little bit busy that night. The restaurant we ate at was on the 19th floor of a tall building that had glass windows and balconies all around it. We sat at a table right by the edge where you could look out and see an amazing view of the city. The downtown of Hong Kong has a large channel running through it that separates the island from the mainland of China. As we ate, we watched the boats and barges move through the channel and the city slowly light up as it got dark. Everything about Hong Kong feels so foreign—the noises, the thick air, the smell—yet, as we sat and took the view in, I realized that most of the glowing labels on top of the skyscrapers match labels on every piece of electronic hardware we own. Oddly enough, sitting on the 19th floor looking out over a digital wonderland felt vaguely familiar to sitting on our couch looking around our living room.
We’ll leave for Daegu in two days time where we’ll meet up with Nick’s coach, Ron. We’re enjoying these last few days together in Hong Kong before Nick is quarantined away in the athlete’s village—well, not really. They do let him out some times, but security is tight. Then, once we get into Daegu, it’s go time. Or better yet, as Ron would say, “let’s play track!”