The U.S. Olympic Team's last workout on American soil

Hunter Kemper  Credit: Mark Gordon/Active.com
On Thursday, Aug. 31, all eight members of the U.S. Olympic Triathlon team (six starters and two alternates) and team coach Michelle Blessing flew out of Los Angeles International Airport, bound for Sydney, Australia.

Earlier in the day, following a swim workout in a 25-yard Air Force pool facility, the six starting members of the team had spent several hours going through processing in San Diego, which involved crating gear for shipment, receiving official U.S. Olympic Team apparel, and doing tons of paperwork.

After the processing was completed, the team scooted up to nearby La Jolla, Calif., for a final workout in the United States before making a quick flight from San Diego to Los Angeles. Ryan Bolton elected to go for an LSD run while Jennifer Gutierrez, Hunter Kemper, Sheila Taormina, Nick Radkewich, and Joanna Zeiger did a light spin workout led by former pro triathlete Emilio DeSoto at Personalized Fitness.

Following the spin session, Zeiger and Taormina hopped on treadmills while the others went outdoors for a five-mile beach run. They were joined by a few employees of Active.com, whose offices are located in downtown La Jolla, and the run even included a quick jog-through tour of the Active.com sales floor.

The following remarks were gathered from the Olympians on the run, literally, and immediately afterward.

Hunter Kemper

How did you come away from Mrs. Ts Chicago Triathlon feeling? [Note: Kemper, second at Chicago last year, finished a disappointing 14th on Aug. 25]

"I swam really well, so thats a positive, but I just had a lot of bike problems. Ill get that squared away by two weeks from now."

Was it just that all the heaped-on training work left you kind of stale?

"Thats exactly it. I was definitely a little flat. I just need two weeks of rest and things will go well."

Conrad Stoltz [who finished second] told me after the race that he expected you to kill everybody in Chicago, based on how youd been training.

"I was hoping for that, too, but it was just one of those days."

Nick Radkewich

Whats foremost in your mind on your last day in the United States before the Games?

"I cant wait to get there. Weve been going through so much stuff just to get over there; it will be nice to have it done and be able to relax and get ready for the race."

Jennifer Gutierrez

Whats your state of mind right now?

"Im so excited to be part of the U.S. team. Im going to go out there just like I always do at big races and race my best. I have my own personal goals, and if that leads me to a medal, great. If it just leads me to a phenomenal performance, representing the USA well, Ill be very happy."

How about the ceremonial aspects of the Olympics the pageantry, the spectacle: Are you excited about experiencing all of that?

"I am. Its once in a lifetime for most people, to be an Olympian. Im going to take this opportunity and enjoy every minute of it, and continue to enjoy it afterwards. I hope to share this story with my kids back at school, to educate them more about the Olympics."

Is that a motivating factor for you having your students in the back of your mind?

"Yeah, but it doesnt take a lot to get me motivated. I get pretty psyched up on my own."

Are you in the shape of your life?

"I was in very good shape for Trials. Its been hard to hang on, because I started training in November pretty hard-core. Im definitely in good shape, but I havent raced enough to see where I am."

What is your race strategy?

"My goal is to run a 37 flat on that hilly course. If Im able to do that I will be very pleased; thats taking 55 seconds off the run time that got me on the team. For me, thats a good run. Other girls can run faster, but maybe they cant swim as fast."

Ryan Bolton

Whats your state of mind just hours before you board a flight to Sydney?

"Im psyched. Im really pumped right now. I feel like everything is falling into place like it should. Mentally, Im prepared for whats about to happen, and physically I feel really good, too."

Do you have any worries?

"Not really. My greatest concern right now is that I want to get to Sydney and get all our stuff in one piece. As soon as Im there and I have my bike together, Ill be good to go."

Do you have a race strategy?

"Yeah, I do. Its the Olympics, so the game plan is go really hard the entire time, and thats about it."

How about contingency plans say if your swim doesnt go as well as planned or the bike packs arent coming together?

"Ive played out pretty much every scenario that could possibly happen. Im prepared for anything that might happen."

How is your swim these days?

"Good. Ive been swimming well all summer. I know Im swimming front-group speed, and if I can come out with those guys Im in really good shape."

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