Shot putter Reese Hoffa of Team USA is blogging for Fourth Place Medal from Beijing. Check back here often for more updates.
Thursday 7/31: Travel issues
Today I arrived in Beijing, and after being on a plane for about 12 hours, I'm ready to move on to the village and get some rest. Unfortunately, there were problems with my PVC, the credential that athletes are given before they enter China, so I was detained by the Chinese government until they could verify that I am who I say I am.
After talking and pleading with the passport people, they finally let me into the country, and there are four others who ran into a similar problem. We finally get on the bus, where our teammates have been waiting for about three hours. Lucky for me, my bags were there. What a relief.
Then something really cool happens when we're driving to the village: I notice that police are stopping everyone on either side of the bus, giving us a straight shot into the village. We didn't even have to stop for stoplights. We must be a big deal; I have only seen this much police protection for the president.
When I got to the village, we had a really good dinner of pizza, chicken and orange drink, followed by video games and basketball, at which I was getting my butt kicked most of the time. Then I was off to bed since I leave for training camp tomorrow in Dalian, China.
Friday 8/1: Catching up with old friends
I wake up to the ringing of my alarm clock on my phone, which I almost break because of my small nightstand. I eat a good breakfast of eggs and fruit and more of the orange drink, which is quickly becoming my beverage of choice, even over blue Powerade.
I put my bags on a huge truck that will transport them back to the airport. Then I finally get a chance to say hi to all my friends from past Olympic teams and world championships. This has to be one of the best things about making it to the Olympics -- you get a chance to hang out with track athletes you only see on TV.
While waiting in the airport, I take a few pictures with old friends. And just like the day before, I wind up on the short list of people that the airport has a problem with. This time it's that my middle name is on the ticket instead of my first name. I actually have both my first and middle names on my passport so I don't see what the big deal is. They finally fix the problem by writing my first name on the ticket. I really hope when I return to the village they do not run into the same problem. I really think they have covered all the mistakes that one guy should have.
I get to the training camp in Dalian, China, and check into my room and grab some lunch right before the cafeteria closes. The food is great. Adam, our cook, is better than advertised. The rest of the day is filled with me trying not going to sleep before 9 p.m. -- a struggle when you travel this far. I did not make it. I end up taking a three-hour nap, and I know that I will have problems sleeping tonight. I guess I should find a good movie so I will have something to do before breakfast.
Saturday 8/2: On jellyfish and taking one for the team
I wake up at 3 a.m and I know I am in for a very long day, but at least I have some people that share my problem and we are the first to breakfast for eggs and crepes. We talk about how early the sun comes up and how hard it is to sleep on beds as hard as concrete.
We are told that we can walk on the beach, but that we are not allowed to go in the water for fear that we might be stung by a jellyfish. I don't want to be the guy that has to pee on one of my teammates to stop the pain, but a man has to do what a man has to do and I would take one for the team if necessary.
So with the beach out of the question, I needed something to fill my day. I found virtual golf on the bottom floor of the hotel, and being one who enjoys golf, I give it a try. I played nine holes in about 15 minutes, which is a personal record for me; usually it takes me about an hour and a half. Another added bonus: I was able to play all nine holes with one ball and there were three holes with water. I am not sure what my nine-hole score was, but I did have five birdies, another personal record.
I then moved to my other passion on trips like these: ping-pong. I am not the greatest player in the world -- I think I lose more than I actually win -- but it is always lots of fun and I get a great workout. After winning two games and then losing two, I went to dinner and retired for the day.
Sunday 8/3: Catching up with home
I figured out how to sleep on my rock of a bed -- by lying on a pillow. I know what you are thinking: How does a 315-pound man sleep on a pillow? I do it by putting the pillow on my ribs when I am on my belly and make sure I am perfectly balanced when I am on my back. I will have to continue to work on the balance tonight.
After breakfast, I got a full-body massage and had my back and neck adjusted. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good when I went upstairs to talk to my wife. I have finally gotten her to use Skype, and it has totally changed her life. We are now able to talk to and see each other when I am thousands of miles away. I know that she misses me, but she knows that I am trying to do what is best for our family and she also wants me to do well for myself.
She only has four more days of freedom and then she has to start teaching her trigonometry and algebra II kids again. I am glad she will have something to do while I am gone. I am sure she would rather do something like shopping or going to the beach with her friends.
The rest of the day is filled with watching "Family Guy" and "Transformers". Life does not get any better than when you have quality movies.
Photo via Getty Images.