The musician Meat Loaf has a line in one of his songs, “Objects in the rear view mirror often appear closer than they are.”
Well, I live both with intention and intensely; thus leaving a lot in the rear view mirror to be just that….clearly in the rear view, never to be revisited. Then life changed as I decided to pursue professionally the sport of Skeleton and aim for the Olympics.
Our prior topics embraced topics whereby choices as older athletes are made that impact others close to us; we also make choices that impact us. Let’s face it. Doing any sport at a professional level does require a financial & time commitment. Nobody can walk in blindly not knowing that.
That said, what I was not ready for, and blind I was indeed, was the other choices I would make and continue to make, that I thought were very much in my rear view mirror of life.
At a certain age there are things in life we simply no longer need to do, want to do or would never consider doing based on who we are and our own personal DNA. YET as an athlete pursuing an elite status, all of these rules kinda need to go out the window. Here is a brief list of some of those things.
THINGS I NO LONGER NEED or WANT TO DO but have done and will continue to:
· Living in an athlete dorm that smells like lip-gloss, bubblegum, testosterone (males and females have plenty of testosterone in elite sports), AXE for men and sweaty compression gear.
· Sleeping three feet away with three twin beds in one room and sharing a bathroom with these two other athletes who I compete against at night.
· The dorm environment is not the party it once was. I was never a dorm person or a party person but 20 years old in a coed dorm is one thing; it definitely is not a party if you are older. Instinct is Run as far as I can… But nope, not an option. Made a choice, this comes with it. The noise and the smell alone hit me hard and fast. Within a minute I made the decision to put all of who I thought I was and liked regarding privacy, hygiene and personal space on hold for some indefinite period of time. This is not easy to do for someone who has never liked sharing a bathroom since I was 5 years old.
· What to do in a coed dorm? Thank Goodness for technology and texting… we all sit on our bed most always in silence except for the occasional outburst of laughter from a personal joke in a text. We are all texting anyone – anyone that is NOT in that room! There are some public spaces to get away but everyone there is doing the same thing. There is down time between cafeteria feedings and workouts in the gym or at the track.
THINGS I JUST NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD DO:
· Once I had a really cool roommate. She is an outstanding athlete 25 yrs. younger than me but we never thought about it. In fact this athlete I call a friend, although a competitor. We shared a room at an Olympic Training center. Cafeteria opens at 5:00AM, I was usually in there early, working and coffee time. Consequently I would see what the breakfast forage was early. If there was bacon I would text her. Athletes in explosive sports often love bacon… even if someone denies it—we all grab as much as we can when the chef makes bacon. (NOT turkey bacon.) We who love bacon and slide in the cold will hoard it. When bacon is served I have seen groggy athletes from other sports run into the cafeteria barely out of bed with Ziplocs and fill them up with bacon. Having texted my roommate one word, “bacon”, she texts back “turkey?” I text “no, pig”. Into the cafeteria would come my roommate, half asleep, grab a water glass, go get the bacon and go back to bed.
SO here it is: Something I never thought I would do…. Fill a plastic 20oz red water glass with bacon as stuffed as we could… this water glass of cold, congealed greased bacon would sit on our nightstands until foraged- whacked! Licking the grease off of cold bacon at 10PM after sliding actually tastes really good!
I never thought I would actually contemplate let alone like having a red water glass of congealed bacon next to the bed. Yup, never thought I would do that. Never thought I would admit it and never thought I would put it in print!
· I never have been a “girly girl”whatever that means, but let’s just stipulate to the fact that most woman at any age, let alone 50, do not have a makeup drawer that looks like mine. One day in Nov 2014 when I was getting ready for a meeting, it dawned on me as I was looking for an eye shadow color, that my makeup color pots were surrounded by superglue to fix a shoe, a zip tie for my sled crate, a track spike wrench for my shoes and a bungee cord. My makeup basket looks like a “where’s Waldo”.
· Athletes in sports often have certain similar traits from physicality being similar to personality disorders for lack of a better way to frame it. I am only speaking for myself but I have heard plenty of skeleton athletes and coaches in the sport of skeleton admit to being OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I had no idea when I started this and yet it suits me just fine as I have my glorious share of OCD tendencies. It is not a weakness, it seemingly makes us who we are and somehow a lot of us who slide head first at 90MPH have some OCD – go figure.
I mention the OCD purely for context because often with OCD can come order, precision and a bit of a bent for extremes and hygiene cleanliness.
I never thought I would be chuckling with another human so like me in a kitchen, not using other people’s silverware, having food allergies and eating the exact same things and being built exactly alike. It is kinda fun!
Some things that I have done and I never thought I would do. No, it is not that I “thought” I would never do it; these things are so afoul to my DNA that it is safe to say I would NEVER do this.
And then came skeleton… and I have. If I don’t gross my self out telling you, I will just laugh!
· We wear bite guards and we all tuck them somewhere after a run- in the front of our speedo, up a sleeve, hanging 50% out of our mouth, etc. It is pure habit, helmet off, bite guard out and tuck it. For me it is the top of my speedo.
- Now I have to use the ladies room – got to take off the speedo to do that and bite guard falls on the floor of the athlete start house bathroom, which has likely not been cleaned in months. Well, I am sliding next and I simply have said, oh well, picked it up, rinsed it and put it back in my mouth, immediately blocking the experience from my brain. Unfortunately this happened again this week… gross!
· I never thought I would have chocolate stuck in my hair in the morning, skittle indentions in my thighs in the morning or found popcorn under my pillow… disgusting! Eating in bed but I was still hungry and so tired.
Quote of the week: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell
Perhaps it is as simple as once I chose this path I had to be willing subconsciously and otherwise, to do what Joseph Campbell says.
I encourage all readers of this blog to think about that quote. If you think you want to try something but think for any reason you should not… think again… it might just be the life you were supposed to have.
Yours in Ice
Guest post by Anna Prata, an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day. In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround. Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR. Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical or psychological advice.