Earlier this month, I checked off a biggie on my bucket list: Attending an Olympics. Beyond that, I logged my first-ever trip to London, and basically had the experience of a lifetime. While I worked approximately 12-hour days for 10 days straight, I wouldn’t trade any of my time there for the world.
My London home base was the Flemings Mayfair, a lovely boutique hotel nestled a few short blocks from the Buckingham Palace. My main workplace: the BMA House, an artfully-architectured building a short Tube ride from the hotel. During one of my many daily Tube commutes, my co-worker discovered my most memorable London food: A yogurt cup from Camden Food Co., with Greek yogurt, oats, honey, cranberries, pistachios and apple bits all mixed together. I’m missing it already and desperately need to recreate it. 🙂
My shopping outings were limited to Niketown London – located on the shopping mecca Oxford Street, the Nike Stratford location flanking the Olympic Park, and the historic British fashion emporium Liberty London. I also visited the slick new basketball court, The Regal, built in a disadvantaged London borough; the #legendsrunforever event with Paula Radcliffe and Carl Lewis at the Nike+ FuelStation at Clapham Common; a USA Women’s Basketball practice at the University of East London (where Apolo Ohno made a surprise appearance); and Olympic events. Plenty of Olympic events, including:
- The August 4 Athletics (otherwise known as track & field) evening event, where training partners Mo Farah and Oregonian Galen Rupp took gold and silver in the 10,000m, Team GB’s Greg Rutherford took gold in the long jump, and Britain’s darling Jess Ennis won the women’s heptathlon. Needless to say, it was a big night for the Brits, and the energy in the Olympic Stadium was electrifying. Bonus: Totally unexpectedly, I ended up sitting in front of my Portland book club friend Lindsey – small world!
- The August 7 Football (otherwise known as soccer) semifinal game between Japan and Mexico, who ended up grabbing gold by defeating Brazil a few days later. Wembley Stadium, one of the world’s most famous football fields, had an air of dignity punctuated by fervent Mexico fans cheering their team to its 3-1 victory.
- The August 9 Men’s Beach Volleyball bronze and gold medal games at Horse Guards Parade. Located on the prime minister’s doorstep, the grounds still host the Trooping of the Colour event that takes place on the Queen’s birthday each year. My co-worker and I enjoyed the party-like atmosphere as Germany took gold, Brazil took silver and Latvia took bronze, with a dance troupe gyrating across the sand during timeouts and the London Eye ferris wheel turning on the horizon.
- The August 10 Men’s Basketball semifinal game between Russia and Spain. The game tipped off at North Greenwich Arena, a 20,000-seat basketball court situated under a huge tent along with movie theaters, bars, restaurants and shops…it felt like a tented mall with a b-ball court in its heart. Spain punched its ticket to the gold-medal game before losing to the stacked USA team on the closing day of the Games.
- The August 11 Athletics evening event, a perfect end to my Olympic experience. I saw Mo Farah nab his second gold in the 5,000m (and the stadium went WILD), Jamaican Usain Bolt take his third gold in a world record-smashing 4x100m relay, and more. Both Athletics events were by far the highlights of my trip!
Another bonus: Running into one of my favorite bosses of all time Terri from Dow, who unlike Nike was an official Olympic sponsor. She and I caught up and even did a little bit of shopping together.
Overall, I had an absolute blast – big surprise, right? Of course, I was also excited to get home, see Jeff and Cooper and get back into a more normal existence. But even my flights were fun: Twice I sat next to nice, chatty CEOs, and then I spotted Matthew McConaughey and his wife Camila in the Dallas Airport customs line. Yep, I’m still pinching myself, and I have a feeling the awesomeness of the experience is still sinking in. 🙂