I just finished my first triathalon. I am absolutely shattered now. Good shattered (I think), and was actually contemplating doing another, but that was directly after this one finished, so I think I'll blame it on the adrenaline. I was not first, in fact I was absolutely nowhere near even the middle. I wasn't last but was DEFINITELY near the end. But I finished and I am pleased with that.
As I was cycling (which might get a blog post on its own because of the mental struggle I had with it), there was one point where I was on a downhill, finally able to rest my legs for a second. I started to think about the fact that today is the 4th of July, a great celebration back home. I remembered all the times I was with my family on the 4th, at the local YMCA watching the fireworks from the Salem Fair, or the couple of times we watched the fireworks in DC (once on the top of a building, overlooking the mall. Unbeatable.), and the shows we saw in Minnesota... it was a really nice, brief respite from thinking about how I could no longer feel my legs, and at what point should that become a reason for concern. In my mind, I started doing a little baseball announcer-esque pep talk: "aaaanddd here's Parker! she's coming around the bend! she looks exhausted!! but! look at that!! she Just. Keeps. Pedaling!!! wow! she's not stopping, folks! she's going to finish!!!" Had I not been certain that I would've fallen off my bike, I would've given my adoring fans a little wave.
I realised that little glimmer of hope was something akin to what I feel when we watch the World Cup. Not the same exactly, becuase I don't play in the World Cup (yet.), but that feeling of... wait a sec... this could happen! this could actually happen!
We've watched most of the games, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. It's been a great cup to watch, lots of unexpected results (France and Italy out in the first round!??) with the big stars not really making an impact (Rooney, Ronaldo, Messi, etc). When we watched the USA games, I absolutely chewed my fingernails till there was nothing left. I turned into a crazed screaming fan, yelling at the refs, unreasonably criticizing professional players, seeking out my own vuvuzela...
What has struck me, and what I LOVE about the world cup, is how much it brings people together. Sure teams win and teams lose, which is heartbreaking... but this beautiful game is so inspirational to people across the world. I saw this youtube video of Landon Donovan's 92nd minute goal, and it made me so happy, I got teary. It's like in the 91st minute, all these people are just normal people watching the same game at the same time. BUT at 91:45, they are all instant best friends. Hugging, kissing, jumping around like maniacs, comparing USA jerseys and singing the same songs. And it was happening all across the world. Mike and I screamed so loud that our neighbors came to check on us. Of course, it's not just USA fans. The Spain fans were having a coronary last night when David Villa scored his late goal. People screaming and hugging, proudly waving their flags as high as their arms can reach. All of a sudden with just a touch of a little ball into a net, people have a reason to hope and believe that something that they really want, something that the entire world recognizes as a symbol of the highest standard of sporting excellence, is in their grasp. And they cheer, because they believe that THEY can do it.
Hope is such a strong emotion. Just that little bit of hope is... it's addictive... it's like crack. Hope crack. Once you have a little bit of it, you just want, nay NEED, more. You go looking for it, if you can't get your fix.
So, on this 4th of July, I am thankful for hope, finite distances, the World Cup, and the USA. Now, off to bed.