Stranded in Bakersfield

It’s 9:00am Monday. 

My swim is 9:00pm Wednesday. 

I’m 2.5 hours from home and 3.5 hours from Monterey. 

My car broke down.

The mechanic won’t get the part until tomorrow and my knee is so incredibly painful I can hardly walk. I can barely stand – where is the nearest chair?  

My knee won’t extend or bend, so it’s stuck in this half bend position and it’s stabbing with pain. This chair is uncomfortable; at least there is air conditioning in here.

I’m toggling on the phone between the mechanic in Chicago and my Dad. We’re trying to figure out if the water pump I just replaced on my car in November is still under warranty. I’m looking up how to rent a car in this armpit town, what it will cost to stay in a hotel tonight and trying to estimate what time I’ll get to Monterey if all goes as planned.

I just found out. It’s not going to go as planned. The part isn’t coming until tomorrow. I’m stuck here. I’m asking myself, “Can I still do this?”, “Should I do this?”, “If I do this, what will the long term and short term effects be?”. I’m trying to talk myself into getting to Monterey.

I’m crying, I call my Dad. He advises I call it off.

Through puddles of tears, I call Doug. He advises I call it off. 

Through rivers of tears, I call Bryan. He advises I call it off. 

Through a hurricane of tears, I call Jax. She advises I call it off. 

I heard enough: I called off my swim.

Immediately, I feel defeated. 

The past four weeks have been difficult, to say the least. I tried to suppress my injury and just get to Monterey. I thought that if I could just get to the start beach, that everything would be okay and I’d finish the swim.

The truth is, I took a hard wave to the knee, cracked it two ways and landed on it – classic linebacker injury, except my linebacker was a wave that caught me off guard. I knew it was bad when it happened, but I wanted this swim more. I worked so hard for this. I trained so hard for this. The universe just doubled down on me.

I feel relieved. But I feel guilty. 

What will they say? Will I be judged? What does this decision say about me? Am I weak? Am I making excuses? Am I just scared? Does it really hurt THAT bad? Will they believe me?

All the unhealthy thoughts are flooding my mind tonight as I sit here. But then I remember this: 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

I failed while daring greatly this time.

I will be back.

Watch me.

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