Posted by Steve Magness
England on the other hand was nice and cool. It was a good break for me both physically and mentally. I started off with the intention of using it as a down week but still running twice a day. But after a few days of trying that and being exhausted I decided to shift most of the mileage to the morning and do singles. The traffic is so bad in London, that we were walking all over the place, so by the time the afternoon/night came my legs were fried.
It was a great vacation though. I really enjoy going to Europe because it's so different from what we're used to here in the U.S. It's very weird in a way because in some instances it's much better but in others its so behind it's rediculous. FOr example, the fact that they charge you a congestion charge of $16 to drive into the center part of the city is rediculous. Traffic also sucked big time. Roundabouts are one of those things that seem cool at first, but then you just get pissed off at them when you run into one on what seems to be a major road that holds up traffic for ever.
It's also probably the most expensive place I've ever been to. Everything was at least double of what it costs here. Gas was almost $8 a gallon...(which is why the biggest car we saw was one pickup truck). The food was rediculous too. I normally paid at least $20 for a dinner at a not so fancy place. We ate at places the equivalent to a Chile's here and burgers and fries were about that much.
The country side is where it is at. There's not much better than going around the countryside looking at century old Castles out in the middle of no where. That's probably my favorite thing to do in Europe, wander around and try to find all the obscure castles that are off the main tourist routes.
The highlight of the trip was probably the trip to the Iffley Road track in Oxford where Bannister first broke 4. It's hard to explain but you just get a feeling when your walking around the stadium where such a spectacular event took place. It's not like going to other stadiums where records have been set, because it was such a small and relitively insignificant track for such a performance to have taken place at. The fact that they have the original stopwatch (which would be cool if they set it to hit time), the finish post, and some cinder was really cool too.
Going to my first European track meet was an experience. I've obviously been to a lot of meets around the country and the only meet that I can compare the London Grand Prix meet to is the Pre Classic. It reminded me of a baseball game here in many ways. The stands were pretty much full and the atmosphere was great too. The crowd went nuts for the hometown athletes, such as the battle between Jo Pavey and Lauren Fleshman in the women's 3k. I definately felt like the outsider yelling for Lauren when everyone around me wasn't.
Lastly, for all those that don't know, first class has it waaaaay better. We traded miles in to go first class on the way there and then we went regular on the way back so I had a nice comparison. It was my first time to fly first class and what a difference it is. The difference between the service in both sections is light years apart. You get everything you could ask for in first class. The dinner they served had like 5 courses and it felt like I was eating at an actual nice restraunt (as compared to the crap food we got on the way back). You also get a different (and better) selection of movies (on that note, I'm adding the movie Waitress to my Worst movie ever list. It was absolutely horrible). The biggest benefit though was the space and comfort. You had all the room in the world and the chair's were beyond great. They folded so much that you were basically completely laying down, which made it a whole lot easier to sleep.
Is it worth the money? Not in my opinion, but it sure was nice to be spoiled for a while.
I'm pretty tired though, so hopefully that was a coherent enough post and I may add or fix things up a bit later. The flight was looooooooooong.
at 3:39 PM