Aug. 5, 2013
As our training camp in Linz, Austria winds down, I realized that I have been so caught up in the excitement of preparation for the World Championships that I haven’t shared that excitement with my Army friends.
Most of the team arrived here in Linz last Sunday but some trickled in on Monday and Tuesday. Of my group (the men’s distance athletes) I had a very small contingent to assist – only Duane Solomon and Brandon Johnson (800 runners), De’Sean Turner (steeplechase) and racewalkers John Nunn and Tim Seaman came to camp – the others have chosen to stay in their training bases in Europe or fly directly from the U.S. to Russia.
Linz has been a fantastic base: the city is quiet, safe and friendly and the facilities are excellent. Europe is experiencing a heat wave so the temperature as been in the 90s all week. We have been at the track twice daily for sessions (it seems that at any given time, one or more of the men and several of the women distance runners have been doing track workouts). When I have not been timing workouts, I have had the pleasure of observing the rest of the team at training and watching my peers with their athletes and the last minute preparations; in addition to our coaching staff, there are about ten or twelve personal coaches here as well, who have all been fully integrated into the camp The team is focused and ready – if the workouts I have seen over the last week are an indication, we will be very hard to beat!
Off the track, there have been some really impactful and memorable moments. Watching the interaction of our athletes with our sports science folks has really, really impressed me in terms of the professionalism and ownership that our top athletes take of every element of their performance and preparation. At the same time, the group has developed a great sense of humor and esprit de corps. I learned a lot about the hidden talents of several of our athletes at the Talent Show – we have some comedians and singers in this group! I have been roomed for the entire duration with Navy head coach Steve Cooksey (I know – what were they thinking?) and it has been a blast – he has been incredibly busy with a large group of jumpers and combined event athletes but we have spent almost all of our time off the track together; it’s been great to leave the “fields of friendly strife” and be on the same staff and same team. We joke around that 363 days out of the year, we are the best of friends.
I haven’t been able to get away from the Army family either. Over lunch yesterday, 1,500-meter runner Jenny Simpson (who herself just finished a three-year stint as an assistant at USAFA) told me stories about her sister’s love of the Army – she is currently a firefighter at Fort Rucker. Anyone at Ft. Rucker, stop by the fire station and tell Jenny’s sister hello – she has to be the only soldier in the station with a sister competing at the World meet and shouldn’t be hard to find.
Tomorrow we fly into Moscow by charter flight (we are almost 125 people) for a few more days of training before the meet starts on Saturday. We don’t anticipate the same ease and comfort we have had in small-town Linz. This has been the perfect site for the camp and I would be remiss if I didn’t give a word of gratitude to the people of this fine city for their hospitality and support.
Until next time…