Last night on Aug 8th my entire family as well as the Coffey’s (technically also my family) flew from JFK to LHR. This was the first time that most of them had ever flown internationally and besides Katie Coffey none had been over the Atlantic. They arrived early this morning just after 7am and then it was time to manage luggage, navigate the tube and check in. Meanwhile I was finishing up another day of tapered training with TEAMmate Rachel and joined by Trevor jogging next to us. I had just enough time to train, eat, shower and sign up for Village guest passes for Saturday before it was time to meet them at the Westfield shopping center next to the Athlete Village.
I was so excited as I had not seen them since July 25th! At the same time their arrival marked the near end of my 2012 Olympic Games experience. It was so great to see everyone and to finally get a real hug not a Skype hug from Joey! They were all starving and exhausted so we settled on a local rrestaurantin the Mall called Giraffes. The food was different then back home, but the best I’ve had since being here, it’s amazing how good chicken tastes when it isn’t dried out beyond belief!
After a relaxing meal I agreed to head down on the tube to London bridge. It was still over 2 days out before racing and at 1pm I was not ready yet to go back to the Village to just sit on my butt. The tube down to London Bridge from Strafford Station is a straight ride on the Jubilee line making the trip very easy. Today it was definitely on the warmer side from the weather I had been use to here in London and this was very noticeable on the hot AC-less tube car. We got out and first walked to and on London Bridge, which is rather boring and really not picture worthy. The bridge that is spectacular and partially because of the huge Olympic Rings adorning it, is Tower Bridge. You can see the bridges from one another, and it was just a short walk between the two. We were able to get some great touristy shots with both families, one just may make the Christmas card this year!
Then everyone wanted to go all the way down to Tower Bridge and walk over it, this is where I called it a day and was done sight seeing. I said goodbye to everyone and they all wished me luck as they would not be seeing me until I stepped out on the race course on Saturday because I needed to lay low and relax on Friday and they planned a jammed packed day of sightseeing.
It just so happened that I got slightly side tracked on my walk back to the London bridge station to take a photo then out of nowhere I hear, “Maria!” It turns out it was my roommate Amy (5x, yes that’s FIVE TIME, Olympic High Jumper) was passing by looking for the P&G House. It’s quite hidden if you don’t know how to get there so I decided to show her the way. Unfortunately, she did not have the greatest of days and didn’t make it on to finals, finishing 20th overall. I know she was bummed but I was still really impressed by her! Amy is obviously a stellar athlete to make 5 Olympic Teams, but what’s even better is that she has so much wisdom and is so humble at the same time. I loved listening to her stories, not once did you feel she was bragging or lecturing. Now that’s a true ambassador of the sport! I was psyched to be in her company again, even if she wasn’t in the highest of spirits.
The P&G House is this awesome oasis in the middle of the city where USA athletes can come and relax, unwind, or celebrate. It’s a chance to escape the Village, have some good food and enjoy the company of fellow athletes and family. Each athlete is entitled to four guest passes. This is very generous of P&G to spoil not only the athletes, and support our Moms, but also whoever we choose to bring. The only downside is once again the number of guest passes is limited to four. This is a problem when I am fortunate enough to have such a large support staff of nine family members come out here to London to watch me race.
Luckily for me Amy graciously offered to give me two extra passes that her family wasn’t going to need. This helped me now get six people in, but still three short. I really wanted my Mom to come, because she more than anyone deserved to be rewarded and pampered and pick up her special P&G Thank you Mom pin. I also wanted Kristie to get in because she could get to meet one of her high jumping role models, Amy. The other catch was if my Mom came down that afternoon she could receive a free camera compliments of P&G all she would have to do was use it to take pictures of her trip and then give them access to all the photos that she shot. Well this couldn’t be anymore perfect for my Mom seeing as we just finished scolding her as a group for walking off and taking pictures and not telling anyone where she wondered off to. Seriously, we needed one of those preschooler backpacks with the lanyard attached to it so she wouldn’t get too far out of sight. If anyone deserved to have a new camera to capture each and every moment of this once in a lifetime trip she sure did.
The tricky part was how to communicate this info to my family as I only had a british cell phone that I couldn’t call a USA number or needed WIFI for my iphone. Good thing the P&G House had a small internet station where I would have to sign on each time with a new network key, good for 20min, then sign into Skype and try to reach Joey on his global phone. This was quite challenging when you are dealing with a connection that is so so at best, where you are lucky to get one out of every three words out over Skype or resort to delayed Skype messaging. In the end after two full internet sessions I was able to get the message through to Joey, he brought my family to a well known landmark near the P&G House and I was able to meet up with them to show them how to get there. Joey’s parents and sister were rather exhausted and opted to stay back at the hotel which worked out guest pass wise. It would have been perfect to get them all there, still trying but so far no one else I know has extra guest passes.
The Michta part of my family and Joey got their credentials, welcome package, and pin of the day plus my Mom got her Thank you Mom exclusive pin and her camera. My brother, Dad, and Joey got a beer, my sisters some soda and we all picked at some snacks. Since by this point it was after 5pm they were serving dinner and I decided I would prefer to eat here then back in the Village. They all ate a little so as to save an appetite to eat with the rest of the Coffey’s. We lounged around, took some photos, they signed a good luck wall to root me on and at the very end when we got to the ice cream bar my sister finally got to meet Amy! This was so awesome and I am so glad that she got this opportunity to meet one of her high jump stars! My family also got to meet my roommate Lacy and John Nunn all by chance.
Thank you P&G for creating such a great atmosphere to come to relax, enjoy and unwind. Just wish I could have gotten everyone in! When all was said and done it was nearly 7pm and it was time to head back underground and take the tube. Now I was ready to be back in the Village and ready to relax and watch the remaining Olympic Events that evening on TV. I won’t spoil anything for those of you back home but track and soccer are both worth watching!
Time for bed, it’s almost T-minus one day til competition. I can’t believe my race is finally almost here, wow this has all gone bye so quickly!