What a Run

As the first week of the Olympics wraps, it's tough to believe that it's the last Games we will attend as a family.  Michael has said he will take Mom to Rio, so they can watch the races of 2016 together.  But this is the last one all together.  And while it still hasn't hit us, it will the next few weeks. After every Olympics, there is a time of depression.  Mostly for the athletes, where for four years they've worked hard to compete at the highest level and then it drops off to nothing.  Training starts back up for those who are competing another four years and life goes back to normal.  No magazine write-ups, commercials or photo shoots (for most).  Similar to a roller coaster, the athlete climbs his way to the top.  Excited because you're almost there, almost there, almost there... and then Whoosh! Down the hill you go, the exhilaration of competition and performance is exciting and inspiring.  But then you're back to making the climb and stating from the bottom.  And it's tough.

For the families, the excitement of seeing their loved ones achieve lifelong goals is awesome.  You're proud of them.  You've been on the other end of the phone when there's a tough day and you've watched them do great things; you've been on the roller coaster with them.  You've walked around the streets of a foreign country and experienced great adventures. You come home with funny antidotes about your travels that you share with friends and co-workers.  Then, you return to work and go about your normal day, as if the past week was an exciting dream.  It's an odd few weeks during the Post Olympic letdown.

After Michael's race last night, we went off to the London Eye, a massive ferris wheel overlooking the Themes River.  Made up of large pods, which can hold upwards of 20 people, the London Eye was built-in 2000 and takes a full 30 minutes to complete the turn.  While high up in the sky we saw Olympic Park, Beach Volleyball, Parliament and Big Ben. I have to say, it's really high up and not for someone who has a fear of heights.

Tonight, we are headed to the pool for one last race.  The individual win in the 100 fly was awesome.  Michael is now the defending champion in the 200 IM and the 100 Butterfly for the past three Olympic Games -- the first man to defend his title three times in two separate races. Incredible.

Today is a day full of sightseeing.  There are things that we want to do together that we're going to do before tonight's final swim.  We have had some exciting adventures -- yesterday taking my 6-year old niece to Hamley's, a toy store with six-floors of anything one can imagine! After her adventure, my sister and I found the lovely chocolate shop at Liberty.  We each bought British made chocolate to take back for friends.  I was told the violet was the Queen Mum's favorite!

Live from the Plaza

Yesterday, the Phelps Women were live from the plaza, with The Today Show.  After arriving in London late the night before, there were more than one pair of bleary eyes in the hair and make-up chair that morning.  Hopefully, waking up  on-time yesterday morning will get us on track for the rest of our time here.  With early mornings and late nights, it helps to acclimate quickly. What's funny was that the outfits weren't planned.  My orange J. Crew dress appeared red on TV, so it seemed as if we coordinated the red, white and blue! While we didn't, it was an added bonus that looked oh, so coordinated and styled!

Since Athens, we've been on the show approximately 8-10 times, and it never gets old.  The car picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the International Business Center (IBC), from where most American based media work during the Games.  We had our passes and tickets in hand, went through security and were taken to the set on golf carts -- we were told today that it can take upwards of an hour to walk from end to end of the Olympic Park, so the carts are helpful.

Arriving on the set means a quick hair and make-up.  We had a tight connection, as we were scheduled to go on for a teaser (where we wave and the show says "Coming up next...") a few minutes after arrival.  Touch-ups were complete and onto the set we went.  After the first teaser, we were able to say HI to Ryan Seacrest, who we met in April, when he was in Baltimore doing a profile piece on Michael and the family, set to air tonight (tune into the O-Zone at 7:30pm EST on NBC to see the piece).  Of all the people we have met, in my opinion, Ryan is one of the nicest and most easy to talk to people in the media, which is one of the reasons he is so successful -- he truly puts people at ease.

We sat with Savannah for just under 4 minutes and talked about what these Olympics mean to the family.  This is our last Olympics together,  but is Savannah's first. It is still surreal that this is our FOURTH one!

The interview ended and we headed back to the hotel and out for some sightseeing.  Finding a rustic coffee shop a few steps from our hotel, we stopped in for a pick-me-up.  My initial plan was to grab it to go, but the barista didn't provide that option.  Instead, she said to take a seat and she would bring the order to us.  Sitting outside, the caffeinated beverages were brought in quaint cups, along with a bowl of brown sugar.

Yesterday was the calm before the storm, as the next few days will be filled with action packed swimming prelims and finals.  The coffee wasn't take out, but we did walk away with a HUGE take away... when in England, look RIGHT first and then LEFT -- the opposite of what it is back home in the United States.  On two separate occasions, we forgot that seemingly small, but very important rule and found ourselves jumping back onto the sidewalk to the sounds of car horns.

Today we will figure out the schedule that we will follow for most of the week -- we will determine whether we can adjust our wake-up time, how long it will take to travel to the venue and the time needed to clear through security.  The week is just beginning, with many more adventures inside and outside of the pool to come! Until then...

(To watch the Today Show piece, click HERE)

Arrival in London

We made it to London last night, approximately 11pm local time.  I successfully made most of the flight without sleeping, knowing that London was five hours ahead, and sleep would be the only responsible thing to do once getting settled into the hotel.  With Opening Ceremonies tonight and the swimming underway tomorrow, quickly getting on schedule was important. Gabrielle Douglas' family was on our flight over and couldn't have been nicer or more excited.  You could feel the pride coming from her mother, grandmother and siblings.  It's great connecting with the other athlete's families and seeing their excitement.  The world sees their athletic aptitudes, but the family holds their hand and beams with love.  It's warming.

Top: descending into London, Bottom left: With Gabby Douglas' family Bottom right: Strawberry shortcake dessert Unlike most posts here on Genuine Joy, while in London, they will be in a diary format.  The United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee have strict rules about what can be posted, tweeted and put on Facebook.  Known as the Socialympics, the organizing bodies have put restrictions on what people can and can't say online.  No affiliation with brands, "be nice" and no journalistic reporting for individuals outside the media compound - you must have a media credential to provide a story in journalistic fashion.

Trying to get on a schedule and acclimate to the time, we're up and at 'em! Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I'm drinking a cup of instant coffee as I write this post.  Not against it, just never had it.  In America, most hotels offer a coffee pot; in our hotel, we have an electric kettle with tea bags and instant grinds (regular and decaf) as options.

For our first day here, we're heading to the Today Show for an interview.  We will watch Opening Ceremonies from the hotel before Michael's first race, the 400IM, tomorrow morning.  Fueled with the instant coffee (not so bad!) I'm off to the hotel gym for a quick 30-minutes of cardio before heading out for the day...

Cheerio!  

Our driver was fabulous, and gave us a mini-tour of the city upon our arrival.  On the left, is Harrod's, a luxury department store here in London.  On the right is an image of Michael swimming breaststroke.

 

Accessorizing: Olympics Style

The countdown towards the London Games is ticking down, and with the Opening Ceremonies just nine days away, Olympic fever has reached an all-time high.  Can't make it to the Games?  No worries. You can celebrate in style with these unique pieces featuring Team USA and the Union Jack. First up, are the luxury pieces.  Ranging from $275 to over $5000, fashion lovers are willing to pay roughly the price of an Olympics ticket for a pair of shoes.  They are, after all, decked out in Swarovski crystals!  American design houses, like Jimmy Choo, and British designers, such as Alexander McQueen, are in on the fun, creating unique pieces for fashion lovers everywhere!

 

Of course, there are the Official Olympic ware pieces, which include t-shirts, pins and hats, which one can purchase online.  For graphic t-shirts, shoppers can count on retailers such as Old Navy and Gap to deliver wallet friendly options for the Olympic spirited individual.

 

With reports claiming Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Rosie Huntington-Whitely will attend the Closing Ceremonies of the London Olympics, and stylish British Designers, like Stella McCartney designing the British Uniforms, the 2012 Olympic Games are sure to be fashionable and stylish!

Hilary Phelps Previews the London Olympics {Video}

On Sunday morning, I was live, in studio with WBAL (NBC) in Baltimore answering Olympic related questions, in preparation for the upcoming London Games.  Hear what steps must be taken to secure a ticket, if any are still available for purchase and who you can expect to see in the stands, cheering on the athletes.

Want more? For more videos and segments, click here.