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Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Games Have Begun!

This is the flat I’m renting for the next month:
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This was my flat this afternoon:

Seeing the Olympic cyclists race past my front door was pretty surreal- as was watching the Opening Ceremonies from a pub in Trafalgar Square with 2 former teammates, heaps of Brits, and fervent fans from around the world.
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Although I’m living 2 train rides away from central London and most Olympic venues, I couldn’t be in a better area for either the Games or my project. Teddington, a suburb in southwest London, is not only beautiful, safe, clean, and teeming with cute cafes; it is the permanent home of some of the UK’s best runners and the temporary training base for Olympic track teams from South Africa, Ireland, Australia, Japan, and some US runners. I’m a half-mile from the popular St. Mary’s University track and just a mile from Bushy Park, one of the Royal Parks that offers an extensive network of dirt and grass trails- and even some furry-antlered deer I mistook for Rudolf and the gang!

The thrill of the Games aside, my time in London has been incredible so far. My runs remind me of October in Texas, a far cry from the triple-digit weather I’m used to. The runners I’ve met seem nearly as excited to chat about their own experiences as I am to hear them. And the generosity I’ve been shown by total strangers- a man who gave me a fist-full of coins for a pay phone call; an Apple employee who gave me a charger for free; and my neighbor who sheltered me with an umbrella while I filmed the bike race- excite me about the year ahead and inspire me to keep the kindness rolling.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

How to Prepare for a Year on the Road

(… or at least trick yourself into thinking you’ve prepared)

If you’re looking for a fun challenge, or a real-life Tetris game, try to fit all the clothes and belongings you’ll need for an entire year into manageable luggage. I’m starting my Watson Fellowship tomorrow, and will be visiting at least 4 continents over the next 365 days. (Check out the tab above to read more about the grant and my project). Because I can’t return to the U.S. for the whole year, planning and packing for a variety of climates and dress codes has been quite the task over the past month. My preparations have yet to be tested, but I’ve discovered a few valuable, if not practical, tips along the way:

1. Find yourself 2 brothers, a sister, and a lifelong friend who will drive home from Houston and Austin to say bye and help you pack… and to claim all the valuables you’re leaving behind (Luke).

2. Spend as much time as possible with your parents and friends, whether cooking, renting disturbing documentaries, or watching your dad hand-feed peanuts to his squirrel friends. Also, be sure to burden your mom and dad with hours of logistic help and jokes about shotgun weddings.

3. Seek advice from experts related to the purpose of your trip (running, for me). Some, like 3-time Olympic Champion and former world record holder Peter Snell, will live nearby and graciously invite you into their home. (I learned, among many things about New Zealand, that Dr. Snell ran to and from his 8:30-5 job everyday and considers warming up overrated.) Others, like former Adams State and U.S. Olympic Coach Joe Vigil, will call you with ideas, contacts and contagious enthusiasm for all things running. And still others, like my Rice Coach Jim Bevan, will unknowingly inspire this whole project and help you in more ways than you can count.

4. Don’t be afraid to blast Christmas music for 3 weeks straight. If you’re like me and your holiday season begins on Halloween, this is a great excuse to start a little early. While I’m sure Christmastime in places like Ethiopia will be awesome, it’s important to get your familiar fix in while you still can.

5. Waste a few hours creating one of these: 20120724-164749.jpg
It may not serve any practical purpose, but believe me- when you stand on your bed and look down on that completed mosaic, you’ll feel pretty accomplished.

6. Finally, don’t worry if your own mosaic looked like the picture above. Hope that you have an awesome and packing-savvy aunt who will miraculously fit everything into these:
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A couple last thoughts before I fly to London, my first stop: Thank you in advance for delaying all major life changes and extremely fun events until August 2013. And Mom, if my homeless sign collection is gone when I come back, you better hope Dad shares his souvenirs with you. Love and peace to you all!

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Uncategorized