Greetings from Manhattanville College where I am staying for the Empire State Games. I checked in nice and early this morning so that I would get there before the bus loads of kids arrived from all over the place. When Dale and I drove up to Binghampton in 2004 our timing sucked. We got there after the buses and the line was out the door. This time I walked straight up to the registration table got my room key and ID. Piece of cake!
As I came downstairs there was another cyclist waiting for the elevator. She had a Team in Training duffel bag. I said "You do Team in Training? So do I!" She asked me if TNT had gotten me interested in cycling or if I had already been doing some cycling before hand. I told her cycling and triathlon came long before TNT, and that I completed the Triple Crown last fall. I almost get the impression that TNT got her into cycling. Hmmmm, maybe I'll have to recruit from TNT for next year's Empire Games. Though looking at her, she didn't look like the stereotypical TNT newbie that the serious endurance athletes sneer at.
As I was waiting for the bus to go to the Opening Ceremony it was fun watching the kids from the various team sports interacting. Lots of posing for group photos, and lots of giggling. It's funny every time I talk to someone they just assume I'm a coach. I got interviewed by a reporter at the pre-ceremony cookout. She asked me if I was a coach, and I when she found out I was not only an athlete, but a local one staying at the dorm she was interested in that. As I explained to her, I just like taking in the entire Games experience, especially since they are in my home county.
Among all the people at this cookout I actually found one of the guys from my bike club. He's the one that helped organize and select the bike courses. He'll be the one I may be cursing at on my 3rd trip up those damn hills on Friday. It was nice having Mark to hang out with since the kids are too engrossed with each other, and don't want to talk to somebody who's older then their parents. Mark wanted to get reporters attention and get them to come cover the cycling events. We did manage to get photographed, and interviewed for the local paper's website. The picture came out better then the one taken with my "point and shoot".
The other amazing coincidence was running into my friend Judy who was working at the Opening Ceremony as a volunteer, and is competing in the masters division in swimming and running. I had no idea she was even competing, and what were the chances she be volunteering in a spot where I'd actually see her? Judy is an inspiration to me. She's a leukemia survivor and the first person I'd met with the disease when I started doing Team in Training. She's done very well with an experimental course of treatment. Every January 1st when I see her at Marty's New Year's Day party I just continue to be amazed. I think it's great that she's competing in two sports here, and I hope she does well.
The Opening Ceremony includes a torch run, and lighting just like the Olympics. The first time I attend in 1992 I had no idea they actually did that so it was very cool, and I got all goose bumpy. 15 years later I still think it's cool, but I don't get goose bumps. This time I tried to take a picture, but it didn't come out all that well. That's what happens when you wait until the same day to buy a new digital camera!
My fireworks pictures were interesting at best.
After the fireworks were done we piled on buses and went back to Manhattanville. I got myself organized for my first race of the Games. I was a bit neurotic as I made sure I had the right shoes and right helmet. It would really suck to get there and discover I brought the road shoes, not the tri-shoes. I guess I would have had to borrow some regular Look pedals. It's much easier to get one's stuff together when there is only one sport to deal with. However after several "paranoia checks" I was confident I had everything set. Stay tuned to see how my competitive comeback starts off.