This year the World Cross Country Championships were held in Amman, Jordan. I had feelings of excitement and nervousness about making the trip. Both feelings were based on the unknown, I had no idea what to expect.
After committing to the team everyone received numerous e-mails as to how we should best prepare for the trip. As we came closer to the departure day it seemed a little overwhelming, and as always I managed to underestimate the energy needed to pack. I did my final workout the day before leaving and felt really good about going into the race. The trip alone was on my mind more than the race itself, possibly a good thing. My first concern was the flight. I’ve never enjoyed flying. A couple things bother me about it, the possibility of motion sickness and crashing, and in that order. I have a phobia with vomiting and it’s a miserable phobia. Surprisingly about 10% of the population has this very phobia. I have a nice record going, I haven’t vomited since I was 4 years old. So, I always come prepared with lots of remedies when I fly, ginger pills, acupressure wrist bands, and emergency Dramamine. So far so good with all of it. But, a 10+ hour flight increases the chances of having to deal with this phobia. I’ve learned that the best way to deal with it is to not think about it, and also serves as an excellent exercise in focus, perfect for a runner.
After receiving the huge package of beautiful USA gear in the mail and doing a little research on Jordan and of course Petra, the excitement level overrode the nervousness and I knew I’d be fine. My first leg of the trip included an 8 hour layover at the JFK airport, which was where the teams would meet up and catch our direct flight to Amman. I had planned to somehow get a shake out run in there. I thought of some options such as, finding a fitness center at the airport, running up and down the walkways in the airport, taking a cab to Central Park, crashing a nearby hotel fitness center, or running in the airport parking lot. I had to do the latter option. I made it to JFK and met up with some of the other team members. Fortunately I didn’t go for my shake out run alone, one of the junior men joined me. We got about 4 miles in while exchanging our life stories. It was nice to get the run in and out of the way. Surprisingly the 8 hours flew by and we boarded the Royal Jordanian plane. We were clearly in the minority, not so much in race, but in age, there were many, many Jordanian toddlers and babies on this flight. My iPod and ear buds would prove to be crucial to get through this flight. Again, surprisingly, the 10 hour flight seemed to pass quickly. I had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the junior girls, Alex Dunne. We had lots in common and got along very well, she’s a great gal.
We stepped off the plane, entered the airport, learned of the depressing exchange rate, made it through customs, and were greeted with blinding camera flashes, TV cameras, and people wanting interviews. It was a little weird. We were hustled onto a bus decked out with fringe, faux crystals, and window curtains. I felt like we were on an episode of “Pimp my Jordanian Ride.” So, we then met the guy that would end up being the most helpful person for us on the trip, Adam. He was a Jordanian that worked with the IAAF committee and was assigned as the US team’s personal guide for the trip. I’m not sure how we would have survived without him. We then started the 45 minute bus ride to the hotel, complete with a couple police cars to guide us there, a great way not to draw attention to the bus full of Americans, ha. Our USOC Security Officer, Larry, put an end to this idea once we made it to the hotel, thanks Larry.
We got to the hotel in Amman and got ready for a run. The sun was starting to set and we were told not to wear any US gear outside the hotel, and not to run alone. I ran with my roommate, Delilah, and quickly learned that Jordan was not flat. The hotel was surrounded by steep, winding roads, along with crazy rubbernecked drivers. We cut the run short and headed to the treadmills in the hotel. Unfortunately we were women, and women’s hours were not at that time, we ignored it and got in with the help of the IAAF people. I lasted about 5 minutes because the hotel decided to combine the sauna with the treadmill room, so I broke some more rules and went back outside alone. I just stayed pretty close to the hotel and was fine. Every car that passed took a long hard look at me, a female, uncovered, and running.
We had a team meeting and then had our first meal. We had all of our meals at the hotel and the food wasn’t too bad. I was happy that there was always rice, vegetables, potatoes, and a meat dish. There was always an interesting array of desserts consisting of lots of puddings and gelatinous dishes.
We all got ready for bed. I was exhausted because I hardly slept on the flight. I slept really well until I was woken at 4am by the sound of whistling winds, driving rains, and the Muslim prayer that gets broadcast throughout the city 5 times a day. It was pretty eerie and at this point it really hit me that I was far from home.
Filed under: cross country, Team USA, World Championship | Tagged: Alexandra Dunne, Amman, Delilah Di Crescenzo, Emetophobia, IAAF World Cross Country Championships, JFK Airport, Jordan, Muslim, Petra, Team USA, USOC | 1 Comment »