After the eventful day we had on Thursday, Dave and I opted to be more low-key on Friday. Our plan for the day was to get a run in and visit Dr. Sellers a second time at the ART tent, to spend some time walking the galleries downtown, to attend the opening ceremonies for the race, and to have dinner at Scratch, a bistro that had been recommended to us. We did each of those things, but the really sweet and memorable parts of the day were not planned.
To start, we woke up to news about the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage and spent a couple of hours reading parts of the opinion and watching our Facebook feeds erupt into rainbows. I don’t know how much the ruling will change the world for my contemporaries. I think people who today are afraid to be gay and to allow others to know them as they are will still be afraid because fears run deep and one ruling won’t change the hearts and minds that make some of us afraid. But I’m hopeful that the ruling is an indication that future generations won’t view gay as different. Sometime relatively soon, there will be kids who won’t remember a time when gay marriage was an issue or, if they do remember that time, will wonder how it ever could have been a source of division within families or among people. That’s the hope I carry for our future.
After soaking in the news of the morning, we had our new friend Rose over for coffee. She’s the woman who is renting the house across the street from us – the one I had rented the last two years. She’s lovely. She reminds me of my friend Jeanie, as she’s obsessed with the sport and a little bit crazy. Right now, she’s here alone as her “romance” (because she thinks she’s too old for the term “boyfriend”) won’t be able to make it until Sunday. It’s worked out for me and for Dave. We’ve loved getting to know her. We’ve learned that she’s on a running streak. She didn’t run the Friday after Thanksgiving, but she’s run every day since then, at least for a mile, and she’s calculated that she’s averaged five miles a day. She’d intended her streak to last through new years, but now she’s considering pushing for a full year. She inspires me. I’m so glad we’ve met her.
We then went for a short run towards the ART tent. I had hoped we could run the entire way, but as it turned out, we ran about three blocks, which is two more than I’d been able to run previously, so that’s progress. We ended up walking much of the way, and we stopped in a couple of galleries along the way. We saw a couple of sunflower paintings that I loved, but I controlled myself. I’ve made such an effort of purging things from my home lately that it was rather easy to convince myself that I don’t need to bring any more “stuff” into it right now. The author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up said that would happen, and she was right.
After the painful but necessary ART treatment, we went on a hike at the nearby Tubbs Hill. We’d intended to hike the perimeter of the hill, but we ended up taking a path up and over the hill, which was incredibly steep on the way up and impossibly steep, from my perspective, on the way down. Dave had to help me down some of the way, as I have a fear of sliding. He was patient though. He often came back and stood firmly in front of me so I could hold on to him on the way down. I’m grateful he loves me as he does. If he didn’t, he would have found me incredibly annoying.
When we got off the hill that felt like a mountain, we spent the afternoon decompressing. It was nice to clean up and sit on the couch for a bit. I wrote and read for a couple of hours.
Then we went back into town for the opening ceremonies. Normally, I love these pep rallies. I love hearing the stories of what people had overcome to get to the race. I love hearing about the oldest and youngest competitors and those who had lost the most weight training. I love watching the motivational videos. But this ceremony didn’t feel ceremonial. The energy of the crowd seemed low, maybe because of the extraordinary heat we’re experiencing and that’s expected on race day. They are anticipating temperatures up to 106, which wouldn’t be a shock if we were in Texas, but we’re at a race that usually peaks in the mid-80s, if it even gets that warm. No wonder the crowd felt heavy.
I felt heavy too. It was hard to hear about the effort it takes to get to an Ironman starting line and to know that I failed at that this year. I felt like, if I’d wanted it badly enough, I would have found a way to make it happen. I have would have gone to Dr. Sellers or someone like him as soon as I noticed something with my hip. Or I would have gone to him after my x-ray and MRI came back clear, instead of listening to the doctors who told me that I just needed time. I accepted news I could have rejected, and looking back, that resignation feels like a failure on my part. I wish I had dug deeper into the steely resolve that my friend Matt described me as having this time last year.
Last night at the opening ceremony, someone said something like, “If you quit, no one else will care, but you won’t be able to forget it.” That’s so true. No one else cares that I’m not racing. Dave cares because he wants for me what I want for me, but he doesn’t care in the sense that my not racing doesn’t change who I am in his eyes. But I am having a hard time. I care very much about how I’ve handled this situation. I didn’t do everything possible to get myself to that starting line. And because I didn’t do all I could have, I don’t have the opportunity to experience the elation of the finish line. It’s a lesson learned. I won’t let it happen again.