My NXN begins like everyone else, with a drive to the airport. As I drove to Hartsfield-Jackson, I could not contain my excitement. I was more excited for this trip than I had ever been in my entire life. When I got to the airport, I got my ticket, went through security, and made it to the gate. I met up with Graham and we realized that somehow, I had been upgraded to the very first seat in first class. To me, this trip was about making friends and having fun so I decided to give up my ticket to the nice man sitting next to Graham. I'm sure his day was made. On the flight, Graham watched two weird spaceship movies while I decided on future Oscar Nominee, The Lego Movie 2. I also watched "The Art of Racing in the Rain" and chick-flick "5 Feet Apart." Graham classified these as "Rom-Coms" but I thought they were much better than his movies about aliens.
When we landed, we made our way to meet Dave, our Regional Individual Manager AKA the coolest guy on the whole trip. (Dave if you're reading this, we love you.) We went and signed in and waited on some kids from other regions to meet up with us. They then put us in a 2019 Mercedes and drove us to Embassy Suites. On the way, I made 2 new friends from the Northeast, Liam Murphy and Marlee Starliper. Both were At-Large invites and were just as excited as the rest of us. When we got to the hotel, we checked in, got our rooms, and took a short walk to get dinner at Chipotle. Personally, I hate Chipotle, but I was so hungry from the 6 hour flight that I practically ate the burrito in one bite. We walked back, toured the hotel, got ready for bed, and went to sleep in order to get ready for the huge week of fun ahead of us.
On Day 2, we woke up bright and early, ate breakfast at the hotel, and jumped on the charter bus to Nike World Headquarters. When we arrived at the Tiger Woods Center, I was in awe. We got lined up for our gear drop and made our way into the auditorium. When they pulled back the curtains, we went crazy! We finally got a new jersey color and we were super hype. Personally, I wasn't a fan of the black shorts and arm sleeves but I loved the spikes and backpack. I would show you the video of our reactions, but I am pretty sure I said some bad words in all of my excitement.
After receiving our gear, we made our way to the athlete lounge, one of the main places we would hang during the week. They had a claw machine, a DJ booth, video games, ping pong, shirt customization, snacks and a huge recovery station. We walked around and took everything in before heading out on for our run around Nike Campus. We made our way to the famous Michael Johnson Track where I warmed up, did a quick workout, and even saw 800m American Record Holder Donovan Brazier doing a workout. On my long cool down, I decided to run on the woodchip trail that circles World HQ. This was probably the most I have ever smiled over a 20 minute span. I saw the coolest buildings, people and art as I ran around. I ended my run with Nike EKIN Chris Madaffari, for all you SMRC people, and he showed me some cool buildings I was not able to get in myself. After my run, we went to the Nike Locker Rooms and took showers. And not to sound weird or anything, but that was the best water pressure I have ever had in my entire life.
After that, we went to the athlete lounge to hang for a bit. Since I knew a lot of the Nike workers from the camp I attend in the summer, I was able to get the Southeast boys and myself a cool prototype secession where we talked about upcoming shoes! We gave our feedback and despite it being all negative, it was exactly what they wanted to hear! We knew dinner and opening ceremonies were approaching quickly so we decided to go try our luck with some trick shots off the top of the NYC Parking Garage. We failed at least 500 times before one of our friends from Virginia team Western Albemarle got hit by a ricocheting basketball. Graham had the great idea to upload the video to Reddit, and we got over 20,000 up votes! If you want to watch it, here is the link.
We headed back for opening ceremonies, heard some inspirational speeches, watched the athlete/team introductions and then headed to dinner. We ate our tacos, hung out, and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for our next day. Graham and I watched a couple old race videos, talked about race strategy, and then hit the sack.