Ready to enjoy it all

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Brittany Bowe, left, with Heather Richardson and Jilleanne Rookard, celebrates after learning she had qualified for the Olympic team.

Pinch me, I’m Sochi-bound!

We left for Collalbo, Italy, last week, equipped with detailed instructions from Randy Wilbur, one of the top exercise physiologists in the world, on exactly when we should be eating and sleeping on the flight to prevent jet lag and adjust to the time change.

I also wore a cool face mask on the plane to try to ward off bacteria and viruses and packed a full bottle of hand sanitizer. There are not many things I find more disgusting than recycled airplane air. But I did everything I could to try to stay healthy and control my atmosphere. There’s no time for getting sick as I taper down training and fine-tune for Sochi!

We were in Italy until Thursday then flew to Munich to do all our team processing -- aka getting goody bags of Olympic gear! I’m pretty sure that’s when it will hit me that I’ve made the Olympic team and this is all actually happening.

Courtesy of Brittany Bowe

The picturesque track in Italy where the U.S. speedskating team trained this past week.

On the advice of other athletes who have been to the Olympics before, I tried to pack light -- just the essentials I need for racing and nutrition. They say the amount of stuff you get at team processing is out of this world. It’s kind of a unique situation. Nike is the overall sponsor of Team USA at the Games, so we’re in Nike most of the time. But then the opening and closing ceremony uniforms are sponsored by Ralph Lauren, so we’ll be in our polos for that. It’s a pretty neat experience, and I’m prepared to get spoiled!

In a lot of ways, I still haven’t really wrapped my head around it all. My friend Elli Ochowicz, who’s been to three Winter Olympics already in speedskating, told me to enjoy the opening ceremony -- to take some pictures and video but don’t let documenting it consume your night. It’s really about taking it in and enjoying the moment. So that’s what I’m going to try to do.

My mom, dad and sister are coming to watch me race, so that will be really special. My mom has traveled the world as much as I have because when I was younger I competed in inline skating internationally, so she’ll be the tour guide. And I know for a fact I’ll be able to pick out my mom’s voice over the other 8,000 people in the crowd.

Everyone keeps asking me if I’m nervous about the security situation in Sochi. Honestly, it is what it is, in my mind. It’s unfortunate and it’s scary, but I know the Olympic Committee is going to do everything in its power to protect the athletes. I can’t worry about what I can’t control.

The same thing goes for the races, really. I want to skate the best race possible, and to do that I need to stay within myself and not let the atmosphere, or the 8,000 people watching, distract me. I need to go through my normal routines.

I’ve been watching my world-record 1,000-meter race over and over and over again. I am going to try to mimic that and hope that will get me to the top of the podium.

It has been a dream of mine to become an Olympian, and I have accomplished that goal. Now onto new goals in Sochi!