MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Arriving in Sochi, awaiting sleep

3:34 AM.

The clock on my computer is staring back at me, screaming, “GO TO BED!” in its non-threatening, tiny white font.

And yet, I am nowhere near tired.

Welcome to the road-trip life, nine time zones away.

I have officially arrived in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Over the next few weeks, I will cover the Games for my current station, WXIA-TV/11Alive in Atlanta, as well as stations and newspapers across the country owned by our parent company, Gannett.

(As for what exactly I will be doing, that will be the subject of an entry in the near future.)

This is a truly exciting opportunity, one that I cannot wait to tackle.

But first, somehow, I have to get my body right.

WXIA photographer Jon Samuels and I departed from Atlanta Saturday evening; we arrived in Sochi three flights and 18 hours later. Technically, we got here Sunday evening, but I still felt like I was still living in the previous day, as if I was experiencing one super-long, mostly plane-bound day.

Six hours later, I have completely lost my time frame of reference. It’s dark; I’m not tired; I need to be awake in five hours; and I know, at some point, my body is going to re-synchronize with my mind and tell it to go to bed.

But not yet.

For now, I feel like I am stuck in some sort of time purgatory — no longer on Eastern Standard Time, but not yet on Sochi time.

In a way, though, this is a good thing. I honestly have not spent enough time truly letting this assignment — and this opportunity — sink in.

Most of my time this past week was spent covering the two-inch snowstorm that brought metro Atlanta to a day-long standstill. I worked 17 hours Tuesday, standing on the 17th Street Bridge for nearly 12 of them, recounting the events of one of the most surreal news stories of my life. I spent most of the next two days reporting and recovering, finally receiving a full day Friday to take care of a mile-long to-do list for Sochi.

That to-do list extended into Saturday and left me exhausted for my flights. I actually slept quite a bit, which is partially I feel wide awake now.

But I finally, now, feel the magnitude of this event.

I am back at the Olympics, which I so enjoyed four years ago, working with extremely talented journalists on one of the biggest, most storied, most captivating sporting events in the world.

I am in Russia, which is much further from home than any of my previous work destinations.

I get to share my stories and observations with metro Atlanta, stations across the United States, and people across the world.

After realizing all that, I can finally say this:

I am ready to roll.

First, I just need some sleep.

FOR MORE ON MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: Preparing for Sochi, remembering Vancouver
FOR MORE ON THE ATHLETES: A tale of two Atlanta bobsledders

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at


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