I know I promised to get this post done for the opening of the Olympic Games, but I wanted to keep the chocolate post up at the top a bit longer. I got some yummy chocolate for Valentine’s Day from Sweet Earth Chocolate, by the way -so AWESOME!
Okay, so back to me and my athletic stardomreality stories. Settle in for the truth. And, Bish, my dear, you rock because you just keep a-guessin’! Thanks, Girl!
1. TRUE I did set the record for the long jump at my high school when I was a freshman on the track team. And, of course, there is a story: It was a cold, stormy, Spring afternoon in the Bay Area (gee, original story beginning, Eileen. I know, keep reading.) and we had a track meet at my high school. All I wanted to do was be home soaking in a hot bath, but no, I was out running in the rain. You need to know I am like a cat -I detest getting wet, unless I am soaking in a tub. Hence, why I wanted to be home instead of where I was. Anyway, I had my last jump of the day and then I could go home. I peeled my soaked sweats off, made my jump, and left. The next day the entire team had the weekly team meeting to talk about the meet. Our coach announced two school records had been set at the meet, despite the terrible conditions. One of the records was my long jump of 14’11″! I was shocked. I hadn’t even stuck around to see what my jump was the day before! I just wanted to get home. I thought there must have been a mistake, but it had been verified at the meet. People had looked for me to tell me the news, but I had already left. I was in the bathtub having a soak when news came in about my record. That bathtub was really a motivator! That record wasn’t beaten the entire time I was in high school. My name and jump distance was up on the gym wall with the other records. Ah, glory days. Honestly? I think the guys doing the measuring were as fed up with the weather as I was and measured it wrong, but no one seemed to care.
2. TRUE I helped spark the Olympic career of an Olympic rower. (At least that’s the way I like to tell the story.) I was on the crew team when I was in college. I had the honor of rowing stroke on the women’s varsity open-weight 8 boat. The brand-new boat I rowed in was named after my coach’s mom: the Radmilla Gogo de Baya or “The Rad” for short. (Remember, I am not making this stuff up!) I’m not huge (5’9″) and don’t weigh a lot (I’m not telling you that) but I was rowing with women who were 6′ tall or more and/or outweighed me by a good 30 or so pounds. What I lacked in size I made up for in technique, strength, and my ability to hit a 32, 34, even a 38 stroke rate and maintain it like it was my own heartbeat. So I became the stroke of the varsity boat. For those of you who don’t row, this was a big deal. And then other things became a bigger deal. My dad died right at the beginning of the race season and my edge, concentration, and drive evaporated, for obvious reasons. I missed a huge regatta up in Sacramento because I was at my dad’s funeral. Another teammate took over my position as stroke. A novice (first year rower) filled her seat in the boat and rowed 2-seat. The novice’s name was Karen Kraft. After the meet my crew came to my house and they all gave me the medals they had won at the meet. (We came in third.) Karen insisted I keep her medal even though it was her first time rowing varsity and her first medal ever at a regatta. Karen went on to row for the US Olympic Rowing Team and compete in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympic Games. She is a two-time Olympic medal winner and is being inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut on March 20, 2010. I like to think it was that first taste of victory when she took my place that may have driven her all the way to the Olympics. (Nice ego, Eileen!) I still have that medal she gave me. She taped a message on her racing jersey during the race and later put the message on the ribbon of the medal. It said, “DO IT FOR EILEEN”.
3. FALSE. Obviously, those truths make the third statement my lie. I did NOT help my cross-country team win anything much less a championship. I was more of a sprinter in high school (see truth number one above). I signed up for the cross country team because I didn’t want to have to do regular PE and my coach knew this. He would yell at me at the meets as I ran past him, huffing and puffing in last place. He would throw his clipboard down and scream at me until he was red in the face. “Why don’t you just quit! You are ruining our team!” Nice. That’s motivating. (Someone needs to invent a sarcastic font) Ironically, I am now an avid runner. I always say running is my church. I run half marathons FOR FUN. And I do pretty well in them. I even have a “top finisher” mug that I won in a local half marathon. I’m drinking my coffee from it as I write this post. How do you like me now, Coach Wainwright?
Well, those were my glory days. Not Olympic class or anything, but I’m glad I have something to tell my kids when I feel the need to “back in my day” them. As always, thanks for playing along and for listening (reading) my stories. Now I’m going out for a run.