Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympics dreams

Citius, Altius ,Fortius...that's the official Olympic slogan. It means Faster, Higher, Stronger (in Latin). It's everything that the Olympic pushing themselves beyond their limits to achieve more...more than their best, more than people thought was possible...athletes laying everything on the line to achieve their highest goals.

As a child, I remember being really excited that the olympics were on again. For two weeks, you would find me planted in front of the tv as much as possible. The athletes could do amazing things that I didn't know were even possible. And it almost didn't matter what the sport was, I was enthralled by the superhuman abilities. To this day, there are very few sports I won't watch during the olympics but there are a few I don't care about watching at all. I can't tell you most of the names of the athletes I watched or what country won what medals in any events but the feeling I got while watching them has always been with me. They always tell the stories of the underdogs and their rise to the top. These inspiring stories taught me to dream big because it is possible!

We had lots of pairs of roller skates growing up so we were out often skating. When I felt like I could have some privacy for a little while (long enough to practice some) I would dress up in my bathing suit, my tourqoise skirt and tights, with a scarf tied around my waist. I doubt it looked much like a real ice skating costume but it made me very happy to be wearing it. Then I would run downstairs to the basement and put on a pair of roller skates. I would do my routines down there in secrecy. I was so sure I was going to be a great figure skater someday if I could just get on the ice. Evetually, I finally got to go ice skating. I loved it every bit as much as I thought I would. When I 16, I took a beginner's class with a friend of mine from Australlia. The beginner's class was all 4-6 year olds, except us and we mastered the moves much more quickly than them so we had a lot of practice time and it was a little boring. But after I got married, I worked at a rink and I used a pair of rental skates every day. One day, Don (the owner), got in a shipment of new rental skates. I asked him how much they were and if I could buy a pair with his bulk discount. He made a call and next thing I know, I had a pair of very nice skates on the way. It was Christmas gift from him. He wanted me to have a good pair of skates because he wanted to teach me some moves. I hadn't asked him to teach me anything...only to do them so I could watch. After I got the skates, everyday, during the slow times he would go out with me and teach me something new or try to fix what I was doing wrong. That was the funnest job I have EVER had. I never became great at it but I was proud of what I was able to learn to do in my short time with him.

These pics were taken as Don was melting the ice (it was a portable rink) so it was very sloshy and I fell in the puddles many times but I had fun. This was the last time I saw Don.

Landing from either a toe loop or a salcow.

Preparing to spin.

In the middle of a spin.

I had another olympic dream. When I was 19 I started biking. I rode every waking moment...well, as much as I could anyway. I decided to try my hand at racing after a year or so. I participated in the Eureka Road Race in Eureka, Utah. My parents drove me out to the race. It was a 40 mile race. The first part of the race, I was out in the lead (which I found out later was a bad move). I felt amazing! after sometime, we came to this giant uphill (I was already lagging way in the back) and the sag car was behind me. I pushed so hard that I was SOOOO sure that the people in the car were going to see me throw up but that didn't happen. There was no way I was going to stop, not with a car following me. So I peadled on. I caught up to the youngest of the racers (13). At that point, Mom and Dad were in the car behind me acting as the sag vehicle. I was so tired and ready to stop but I didn't want them to see me stop so I kept on...and kept on and kept on. At the sprint line, the 13 year old took off at a sprint. I tried but it turns out, I was already going all out and no more speed could be had out of my tired legs. I crossed the finish lines after 2 hours. So I averaged 20 MPH for 2 hours making it the fastest ride of my life. It was exhausting, tiring, painful, gruleing and exhilirating. I couldn't wait to get better so I could do it again.

Later in the season, I met with a coach and spoke to him about my hope to someday make it to a Category one and maybe the Olympics. We rode together and he told me what he liked about what he saw and what needed work and that he felt that I had it in me to make it to a category 1...he didn't really mention the olympics but let's face it, I was already 20 and people are already ready for the olympics by then, or at least well on their way. So we started working together. At my next (and last) race, I was 1 of 3 woman racers in my category. This was a criterium race which means it goes in a circle over and over. It went around the outside loop of UVCC (or whatever it is now). The first couple of loops, I stayed in there with everyone else (all categories were out there together but not competeing against each other). Then, I started to fall behind. I kept my speed up as much as possible. I started to get a terrible stomach cramp but caught up to the older brother of the 13 year old I biked with in my first race. He gave me a Goo packet. It was horrible but was amazing for the stomach cramp. It went away almost instantly. One more lap around the college and I felt like I was going to explode. I made it to the top of the hill where my coach and all the spectators were. I pulled over next to the coach and told him that I had to quit. He told me "I won't coach anyone who quits." He told me I could do it. I could go slower, but don't quit. So I used my inhailer and got back out there. I put everything I had into it and each time I came back across where the crowd was, they were all clapping and yelling my name and it gave me the strength to go on. It was such a great feeling to have all those people pulling for me. In the end, I finished 2nd in my category. That was the last race of the season that year. And then I met Adam and moved out to Georgia where I pretty much quit biking.

Picture taken on my touring bike (not my racing bike) as I took off for a ride here in Georgia many years ago.

You can still find me planted in front of the tv for the two weeks of the Olympics every two years. Obviously, at 30 years old, I will never be in the olympics but I'll probably always have that big dream in the back of my mind...the one that makes me push myself to achieve more than I thought I could... Citius, Altius, Fortius!


Valerie said...

I wish we had some pics of you in your ice skating costume. :) Sorry you might not make it to the Olympics, but you're an amazing biker! Enjoy watching the rest of the Olympics this year.

Tiff :o) said...

lol...MIGHT not make it? I'm quite sure at my age that I've lost my chance...especially since I'm not in shape. Thanks for the compliment.

Us said...

How did I not see this post?? I didn't know that you aspired to be in the olympics. Not on your bike anyway. You really amazed me with your bike. I remember you talking about rollerblading across the US and then switching it to bike. At first I didn't think you could do it, but it was obvious how dedicated you were and I believe you could do it.

Stella Andes said...

That is so awesome, Tiff. Sorry that you didn't get to achieve the dreams you had. You have shown amazing determination in your life, so keep it up! You were so secretive that I had no idea about you skating in the basement in your little olympic outfit!

Tiff :o) said...

I may not have made it to the Olympics, Mom, but I don't really feel crushed by it. I have been blessed throughout my life with opportunites falling in my lap to learn more about the things I am interested in.

Thanks, Jared. I felt that way abotu your running. I never could understand how you ran so much.

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