It’s not something I speak of often, but I was in the Olympics once.
At Lithuanian camp.
The Olympiad was held every year on the last two days of camp. It was two days of schlepping from one event to another with a herd of teammates thrown together based on our varying degrees of athletic prowess. It was swatting away bugs on the soccer field and running in the opposite direction whenever the ball approached. It was scurrying from corner to corner of the dodge ball court trying to avoid a full frontal hit and puking in the bushes after running the camp marathon in 90 degree heat.
Yet there was one event I always looked forward to, something I could compete in without fear of getting trampled or striking out. Something for which my short legs and feet in their size two Keds sneakers were uniquely suited, a sport which requested nothing of me but to run forward in a straight line as fast as I possibly could.
I excelled in the 50 and 100 yard dash. And despite running against girls who were at least a full head taller than me, I regularly won first place. To this day I don’t understand why I was so fast. Something to do with survival of the fittest, perhaps, and wildebeests.
These days, I only run if I’m being chased. I tried to become fit again a couple years ago, but was forced to quit when my personal trainer ticked me off. I thought I was done with forced competition for good until last month at Lithuanian family camp, when My Friend V (who was a camp organizer), reinstated the Olympiad.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked her. “I thought we had put the past behind us.”
As a child, My Friend V was disqualified from the backstroke competition for veering so far off course that she swam ashore. Also, if I was going to have to play dodge ball again, what was the point in having become an adult? But V assured me that ours would be Gentle Games. We were going to do family oriented activities and take frequent popsicle breaks.
And if not for the final event, she would have been right.
The Lithuanian Camp Tough Mudder(ish) Challenge was for adults only. We had to do some pretty strenuous things, like jumping off the diving board and fetching a greased watermelon, crawling across floating rafts, pushing wheelbarrows with people in them, carrying jugs of water, and hauling truck tires up hills and around trees.
We had to crawl underneath picnic tables on the beach wearing wet bathing suits while gleeful children wielding buckets dumped water and silt on our heads.
I did it for my country. And while the P-Dawg and I did not place in the Tough Mudder Challenge, I still took home gold in the 50 yard dash.
*Photos courtesy of Ingrida Skarzauskaite-KnueppelSubscribe to the blog. (It's free!)