By far the most exciting (and expensive) tickets I had to the Olympics was for a morning of athletics events in the Bird's Nest. That is, this Bird's Nest, the steel nurturer for a nation ready to spread its wings, easing its way into Beijing's once-in-an-Olympics blue sky:
And from close up:
All I knew going into the morning is that our ticket covered whatever happened from 9am to 1pm, and that we wouldn't be seeing the finals of anything. But then we got there, Emma, another girl, and I, and the first thing to start was the finals... for the 20k walk. Don't worry, if you didn't catch the hour plus event on tv, I took pictures:
They're in a pack like that partially because it's the beginning, and you can't get a huge lead when you've walked half a lap; and partially because packs make things respectable, even if that's waddling like a seven-year-old rushing for the bathroom. Coming in first was Mr. Borchin, a Russian whose life story likely begins, "Back in my day we had to walk 10 miles to get to an outhouse..." I'm joking, of course. 20 kilometers is 12.4 miles, not 10.
The morning was really exciting. What I didn't understand was that they do three or four events at once. So while the women's shot put is under way on the field, the women's heptathletes are warming up for the long jump and the men's steeplechase heats are taking place. It was like having seven tvs, and whenever one thing finished--the women's 100m heats, for instance--a flying discus would catch my eye until it fell, and then I'd notice half of a pole vaulting attempt.
I took pictures of all of the events, but they're uninspiring. But, when I slipped past the "don't cross this unless you have a ticket" rope to get a picture of the women lining up for the 100m dash, the picture came out pretty well. Credits to Grandad for teaching me that it's not a real picture unless you broke a rule to get it:
But then I had to get home from the Olympics. Although it was my fourth time to see an event, it was also my fourth venue, but lots of frustration, several subway stops, and a taxi ride later, I made it home. I made myself a late lunch of leftover rice and sliced apple-pear, and took a nap. When I woke up, I realized that the way I had locked the door left my Chinese mom locked out for the last forty-five minutes. What stress I had relieved sleeping was back in an instant as I insufficiently apologized.
But when you talk to Norwegian Olympic athletes on the subway about innovations in swimming, and see scenes like the one pictured below, there isn't much room for dissatisfaction.