The Olympic closing ceremonies are tonight. For two solid weeks we have sat on our couch, night after night, watching the world’s greatest athletes show their stuff. We have watched and watched and watched and watched….glued to the TV and the incredible athletes showing their physical and mental toughness. They are amazing.
And so, in honor of the closing of the 30th Olympiad, I would like to share my own personal Olympic story. You read that correctly … my brush with the Olympics.
It was a story in which I accidentally got involved.
And let me assure you before I tell this story … those athletes train HARD. Very HARD. Trust me on this … I trained with one.
You see, Bill and I were spending a weekend, back in 2007, in Hilton Head, South Carolina. (I love Hilton Head … one of the three places I would love to move when Bill retires). Bill worked for a couple of days when we arrived so I “scouted” things for us to do. I went and found him one afternoon and said … “hey … are you ok if I sign us up for a dolphin kayaking adventure tonight?”.
His first question was “is it safe?”.
It TOTALLY cracked me up that he would wonder if it was safe. It had never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be safe. Why wouldn’t it be safe?
He agreed, despite his safety concerns, and that evening we went out with a guide … each of us in our own kayaks, and looked for dolphins in the Atlantic ocean.
It was INCREDIBLE.
The dolphins jumped up in the water in their graceful way and I caught my breath every.single.time.
We watched the sun set on the peaceful water and it was beautiful. Magical.
I loved it so much I asked if we could do it again the next day.
(this is where I learned that maybe if something is truly amazing, you should take the memory and go … not try and recreate it)
Bill agreed and so EARLY the next day we headed back to the beach and met our same guide. He said one other person would be joining us. He also expressed some concern as the weather was looking less than ideal.
But there were dolphins involved and I said I wasn’t worried.
The other kayaker showed up and off we went in search of another pod of dolphins. We went out. WAY out. And while we were out the weather began to turn and it grew windy. VERY windy. VERY, VERY WINDY.
And as we rowed back my arms began to ache. And my back. And before long I was counting each row thinking keeping my mind off my sore muscles was the only way I would make it back to shore.
As the weather began to deteriorate, our guide, Duane, asked me if I wanted to tie up to his kayak and he could pull me in.
Of course, I said “no”.
I was mortified.
I mean … he didn’t offer that to the other woman who was kayaking with us. It made me SO mad. Did he think I was some kind of weakling? (Y’all this is so funny because I was, in fact, some kind of weakling!!!, but of course I didn’t want anyone to insinuate that).
Several times Duane made the same offer.
Every time, I refused.
Why was he only offering this to me? Did he think I couldn’t keep up? How embarrassing. All I could think was …. “I’ll show him”.
I grew more and more determined to show him what I was made of by the minute.
Bill was saying things like … “you don’t have to be a hero” and “let him pull you in”.
I wasn’t listening. In fact, I’d glare at him or act like I didn’t hear him.
I was going to show them all that …. despite waves and wind, I could row my kayak back to shore.
As we came back towards shore, the people standing out on the pier began cheering. I didn’t even acknowledge them … how could I? If I, FOR EVEN A SECOND, stopped rowing, I knew I’d never make it.
Plus I couldn’t have lifted my arm to save my life. :)
And when we got to the beach, I stopped rowing. I was so tired I couldn’t stand up. It would involve me using my arms and, as I’ve said, that was impossible. They were completely useless.
There was however, no way I was admitting I was spent. I wasn’t a weakling. I was still planning on showing our guide he had totally misjudged me.
Then he said … “I have never, EVER seen such determination in a kayak…. and I’ve been doing this a long time”.
And I decided to tell him how mad it made me that he thought I needed help and not the other woman with us.
So I told him.
“Oh, I wasn’t giving up. I wasn’t going to be pulled in. Not when you never offered it to HER”.
“Her?”, he questioned … as he pointed to the other kayaker.
“Yes, her”, I flatly replied.
“She is training for the United States Olympic kayak team. This was part of her training. I couldn’t help her.”
He never told me that.
I promise … no one EVER mentioned that.
Not that I heard anyway.
Bill began to laugh.
And laugh, and laugh.
He thought it was hysterical that I was adamant against getting pulled in all because I didn’t want to be shown up by an Olympic athlete.
And after I laughed and reprimanded them for not making it VERY CLEAR to me that I was rowing against an Olympic hopeful, I stood up.
And I promptly fell out of the kayak.
And I walked, soaking wet, back to our condo, knowing my Olympic dream was over … before it ever really started.