About the title – I couldn’t help myself.
Right now, I’m writing to you from 6,000 feet.
It was back in January that I last traveled to the Springs. I was attending a youth and junior coaching certification program at the beautiful Broadmoor resort. In between lectures and day-long sessions, I got a glimpse of the mountains. Always choose a seat by the window. The resort itself was posh with turn down service and chocolates on the bed. I was by myself in an elegant room with a fluffy bed. I should have felt like a princess. Unfortunately all I remember feeling was engorged. Always pack your breast pump. Especially when you’re leaving for 3 days.
As if that weren’t enough, I felt the altitude. It was several years ago that I declared altitude is not my natural habitat. I was somewhere around 10,000 feet, biking my way up a mountain when I had the immediate urge to dismount my bike, burst into tears and knock my head against the pavement to relieve the horrible pounding in my head. I did get off my bike. And I did cry. At that moment, I also had an epiphany: I like oxygen. I belong in a fully oxygenated habitat.
Since then I’ve only traveled to altitude when heading out to Colorado Springs for coach training. Every good coach – or every good ANTYHING – should always be involved in the process of bettering themselves through education. I read a lot of books, listen to podcasts, talk to other coaches but nothing replaces the experience of submersing yourself – focused – in an educational program for a few days. I got accepted to this mentorship program and I was thrilled. Not only would I be away by myself for 4 days (heaven, really), but I would be learning from some of the best in our sport. And, I would get to stay at the Olympic Training Center.
I didn’t know much about the OTC so I did some research. First of all, there is WiFi. Crisis averted. Second of all, we get to the use the gym and eat at the dining hall. Dining hall? Flashbacks of 15 years ago making a meal out of Golden Grahams in college because I didn’t like the food at the dining hall. The good news is that I can live for at least two years off of nothing but Golden Grahams. The bad news is that I don’t do well in situations that require living in a dorm-like setting and sharing a bathroom. And that reminds me: I really should have brought shower shoes.
I read about the athletes currently living at the center. Would I see Phelps? Would I accidentally bump into Ohno, like, arms wide open and I just happen to walk right into him to give him a full body hug, grab a strand of his hair, excuse myself all psychocrazy and then run the other direction waving his hair? Sadly, no. There’s not too many athletes that live here.
After a 2 hour flight delay and a 2½ hour flight, I arrived late at night in Colorado Springs. It was snowing.
Waiting for my luggage, I heard a faint “is anyone here for the Olympic Training Center?” I was told to look for a van with the Olympic rings. But the driver came inside to find me. You expect things involving the Olympics to be lightning fast and she was. By the time I heard her, she was walking away. I had to run across the baggage claim, hurdle a few bags and caught up to her.
Are you an athlete or visitor?
Any athlete in this position would probably also have dreamed of being able to say athlete but alas I am just visitor. But she was picking up another person who was an athlete. Wow! A real live athlete. He was in the modern pentathlon. All that I know about pentathlon is what I’ve learned from Bruce Jenner on Keeping up with the Kardashians. Which is not a lot. I think it involves javelin, right? Running at high speeds with a long stick? Impressive considering I can barely do a flying dismount. And I thought multisport was rough – what about the gear, training and cost of 5 sports. Could you imagine?
We arrived at the OTC. Even at night, it’s impressive. The Olympic rings resonate throughout the campus. Walking into the Resident Hall, I see posters for a talk being given by Bonnie Blair. A quote of the day. How to create your best athletic resume workshop. There is an energy here, it’s a language I understand. I might not be totally fluent in it, but I – as just an ordinary athlete – understand the bits and pieces of what makes a dream, the drive to achieve a goal, the vision to work hard now for something far off in the future.
Today begins a busy schedule. In between learning there is a dining hall to raid (memories of a plastic try, a line to move through….) and workouts to be done (hopefully!). Though the pool schedule offers me a slim 30 minute window to swim and I didn’t pack my winter running gear (I swear the forecast said it would be 70). I’ll report a little about the happenings out here but for now, I’ll leave you with the quote of the week.
Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them. -Ann Landers