Olympic dreams change with age

?What do you want to be when you grow up?? I remember my junior high physical education teacher asking that token question.

Before reaching that point, my answer had varied?ballerina, optometrist, lawyer?the options were endless. But in that moment, my answer was an Olympian. It was my young dream to play volleyball or compete in track and field for the USA.

But the closest I came to my Olympic moment was a two-time stint competing at the state track and field meet at Cessna Stadium in Wichita?in two events as a sophomore and four events as a junior. Even now, I clearly remember the butterflies in my stomach as my coach drove our team into the stadium parking lot and I caught a glimpse of the large arena filled with people. Although I never won gold, I did make it on the medal stand?what an impressive moment.

And, though I lost some of my athletic prowess through a season-ending injury my senior season, my competitive streak runs deep. That is why I continue to anticipate the Olympic Games.

Since the start of the games, my television has consistently been tuned to NBC. I have watched in awe as Michael Phelps won gold after gold, setting world record after world record. I cheered on the American gymnasts even after it became apparent that China would win the gold. I nearly cried with Nastia Luikin as she received an all-around gold in gymnastics?her childhood dream fulfilled.

In addition to me living vicariously through the athletes, the summer games have served another purpose: Motivation to lose my remaining ?baby fat? and regain some lost muscle tone.

Early last week, soon after the Olympics began, I stole out one morning while daddy and baby still slept. I wanted to jog. I made it about five blocks before my lungs nearly exploded.

So, to continue my workout (and to make sure I made it back home alive), I slowed to a walk and began doing lunges. In a twisted way, I enjoy lunges. It?s amazing how something seemingly simple (bend, stand, bend, stand) can have my thighs burning and crying, ?Uncle,? in a matter of minutes.

When I arrived home, I turned my attention toward my (lack of) abs. Although I couldn?t claim a six-pack, at least before my pregnancy my stomach muscles were strong enough to handle Anna Woods? aerobics class.

After pregnancy, my daughter can do more crunches than me. (I think she stole my muscles during her nine-month incubation.)

Anyway, later that day, my leg muscles began to protest. By the next morning, I had trouble lowering myself (and standing back up) from the porcelain throne. Bending to pick up my 4-month-old wasn?t pleasurable either.

Apparently I have a long way to go?.

But not much time in which to do it.

Next Tuesday I will be playing volleyball in a women?s league in Newton. Several former Tabor College volleyball players (myself included), as well as a few other die-hards, will test our skills in the ?competitive? bracket.

Dubbing our team the Has-Beens, we will (hopefully) keep up with the best of them. I for one can?t wait to get my hands on ?Wilson? and compete on a team again.

But, to my fellow Free Press co-workers, if I fail to show up at staff meeting on Wednesday, I?m probably stuck on the toilet.

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