Upcoming events –

Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
Noble Canyon 50km Trail, September 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What now?

Standing on the infield of the Olympic Stadium I realized, I don't want this to end. Not just this evening, which has been amazing, but this lifestyle. I've been going to the Olympics as an athlete for the last three Olympics. I want to feel like an Olympian every day, forever. Watching the Olympic flame go out and realizing that it was all coming to an end, I felt like Cinderella at the end of the ball knowing that I had to go home. No more dancing. No more music. No more bright lights.

There are some things that you never want to end: a good book, a favorite TV sitcom (The Simpsons, of course) and the Closing Ceremonies. Okay, maybe for you folks at home after watching too many hours of Michael Phelps and gymnastics drama (is she really 16?!), you were ready to tune out the Olympics and get some fresh air. But being in the middle of it, breathing in the Olympics in the Village, the stadium and sharing memories with other Olympians, I wasn't so sure I wanted it to be over.

It's time to move on, of course, and I suppose that's the hardest part. What's next? Getting to the Olympics takes incredible discipline, perseverance and passion. I'm told that these are transferable career skills: anybody hiring? :) Seriously. I need a job.

My friend Kathy Colin competed in the Olympics in the sport of kayaking in 2000 & 2004. She and I marched into the Olympic Stadium together in Athens and I talked to her a few times before leaving for Beijing about what it's like to not be going to the Olympics. She wasn't sure how she was going to feel watching the Opening Ceremonies from her couch instead of being there. She said she might not want to watch and be so far removed from that lifestyle. She works more-than-full-time now and doesn't paddle nearly as often as in the past. She enjoys the freedom of not training every day but misses the competitions, the traveling, and the camaraderie and friendships that go along with being an athlete. It's just not the same at work.

I've told many friends that this was my last Olympics and they say, "Keep going! Train for London. Don't get a real job. You've got plenty of time to work 40 hours a week like the rest of us stiffs." My mom doesn't let me talk to those friends anymore. Hah! Seriously, though, I talked to Curt Clausen (three-time Olympic racewalker) and he said he doesn't miss the training but he misses the lifestyle. I can relate to that. I love the traveling, the racing, and the more flexible daily schedule. But my body is starting to wonder how much more 50km training it can take.

I'm sure I could ramble on more and more about what's next, but I'll focus a few more entries on what I'm doing here in Beijing before heading home. When I get home, then I'll start banging down some doors trying to find a job. References available upon request.

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