Look What We Can Do
If you’ve been hanging around here for any time, you’ve probably seen a quote or two from Sports Night, the greatest show ever. I have a Sports Night reference library in my head, and can call up a quote for almost any occasion.
On Sunday, as I watched women – strong, powerful women representing a spectacularly diverse population – compete in the 2011 Danskin Triathlon in Austin, I kept thinking, Look what we can do.
Those words come from an episode of Sports Night that centered on summiting Mount Everest. In the same episode, a character says, “…I don’t think anyone should tell us how high we can climb.”
I had a good race. Not a spectacular one, nothing for the record books. Some might even be embarrassed by numbers like mine. But after wondering if I would even get to compete, much less finish, I was just happy to be there. In fact, as one of the Team Leaders from my training group (the fabulous Tri Zones) says, There’s no place else I’d rather be.
One day last week I almost grabbed my bad day pants again and called it quits. After two months of spending every spare minute – and every spare dollar – at the doctor and physical therapy, I had a setback. My original ailment has come a long way, and I am even running a little. But all of a sudden, I developed a trick hip.
I left our final team workout in tears on Wednesday. Angry, frustrated, sad tears. I wanted to quit.
But I didn’t.
When I was five I started swim team, and I was terrible. Abysmal. In constant danger of drowning. But at the end of the season I won the Most Determined Swimmer trophy. The trophy is long gone (or, possibly, it’s in a box in the closet), but the spirit in which it was won is still there.
There’s no place else I’d rather be, I thought, as I limped into the doctor’s office once again. Muscle spasms? Entrapped nerve? The doctor and physical therapist weren’t 100% sure, but we worked through the muscles and came up with a plan: stretch, ice, rest, repeat, repeat, repeat, go do the Danskin.
And so I did.
Not even a kick in the face at the start of the swim could put a damper on my day. Our day. The day that belonged to all 1038 athletes and the countless volunteers, coaches and team leaders who made the race happen.
I can’t pick a best moment. But if you held me down and tickled me until I came up with one, it would be this: seeing my family at the finish and crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with my five year old. He says that was also his favorite part of the day, followed closely by eating a snow cone and seeing a dead fish in the lake.* I am so thankful I rate above a dead fish.
Our team hung around until the brutally hot end, so we could cheer on the final finisher. Can you think of anything worse than swimming, biking and running your way to the finish, only to be alone when you cross the finish line? Me either. So we stayed. And we danced, cheered, rang our cowbells and celebrated.
I stood outside the fray for a few minutes and felt tears spill down, thinking, don’t tell us how high we can climb. Or how far we can swim, how quickly we can pedal, how fast we can run.
I was thinking, look what we can do.
*The same in lake in which I swam. We will not dwell on this part, okay?
** Thank you, thank you to our team photographers, Tom Marek and Ed Sparks.