Quick update on the results from today’s 800m final. Victory! (in case the title and picture didn’t spoil the surprise) Was able to avoid trouble, got in a groove, dictated the pace a bit and finished strong – worked out just like I had hoped it would, I knew a time for the ages was not going to happen so winning was the only thing. Check.
We hit the town pretty hard yesterday in my only day off with the family, spent some time in one of Budapest’s famous “spas” – hot spring baths that are a cross between a throwback to the Roman times and your basic public pool. Even saw the world’s earliest HydroWorx prototype – each pool had a different temperature and accompanying “purpose”, one of the cooler pools was oval shaped with folks “jogging” around it like a track. Aqua running! Kids did a lap or two, don’t know if the locals thought two American kids playing in the middle of their workout was cool or not, but I think if they had a problem with it they’d get over it. Afterwards we saw the sights on a Segway tour, very fun. Don’t know how much it saved the legs since you were standing and working the device the whole time, but everyone had a blast and the local guide was great. Lots of history, thought it would be a little weird for him to discuss the Iron Curtain and the 45 years of Soviet “rule” with the two Russian girls in our group, but he did a great job “telling it like it was”. Pointed out the first McDonald’s, which arrived in 1988 while the Soviet influence was still in strong – said he remembered when it arrived nobody went because they all thought it was a “trick/trap” to lure people in to the western restaurant, which they all thought would then mean “trouble”. Things you don’t think about in Enola PA….
Dinner at Fictiv’s Pub as usual, Budapest tradition still in tact (6 for 6). Ready to go this morning for the 4:30 start. Was the top seed after Wednesday’s semifinal, which put me in lane 1. While warming up on the infield just prior to our race I got to watch the W45 race being held just before ours. Bernadine Pritchett (the Brit who hosted me on the way over) got into a scrap with about 3 other women trying to get out of an early box – short of pulling hair and eye gouging I think every other means were used by her to escape or one of the other ladies to prevent her from doing so. She eventually got to the front only to lose at the wire, can’t believe that her tussle didn’t effect her ability to defend her lead at the end. Her loss was my gain, however, I decided then and there that I would lead….
Easier said then done, however. I don’t know why, but these European fields are chock full of guys who take “getting out” to a whole new level. It took waaaay more effort than it should have to get to the second turn in the lead, through the first lap in about 27 flat. Wasn’t sweating it too much because I had been here several times before this year already, plus I had to figure that if it came back to haunt me I would definitely kill those guys who had already bitten off more than they could chew. Once in the lead, however, I settled in and didn’t get any challenges. Through the half in 58-59, right where I wanted to be. 1:29.xx at 600, could still hear them behind me but was very relaxed and had a good feeling at this point. Took things up a notch on the last lap, glanced behind briefly and saw someone a couple yards behind, never let up though and never got challenged. Think the final time was 1:59.36, great feeling to have the “W” in the bag. There’s a different type of pressure when you are the favorite, almost like you can only screw it up – don’t get me wrong, I’d way rather be the favorite than not, but I knew nobody was going to roll over and just hand it to me. I guess instead of being 100% jubilation, it’s more like 95% jubilation and 5% relief. Either way it was a fun win, and like most wins being world champion again never gets old.
Unlike Kamloops where the medal ceremony was a cluster and we just took our hardware and split, this one was scheduled and was nice. Got the modified version of the Star Spangled Banner, played it right up to the point where I guess they decided everyone had heard enough and the DJ just pressed the audio version of “fade to black”. No worries though, we all got the picture – gold for Team USA and Team Berra.
1500m trials tomorrow, no rest for the weary. Fully expect this to be another tactical jaunt, if it works out that way it’ll be fine with me. With the 800m done and mission accomplished, this one will be much less stressful so I am really looking forward to it. More to follow from #awesomeBudapest – have I said lately that I love this place?!?