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July 26, 2004
Go, Lance! Anna calls from her platform at Curves. She runs in place punching her arms skyward -- how beautiful she looks, just running in place. I am on my platform, attempting to imitate the way her heels come up behind her as she runs -- I seem unable to do that: my knees don't bend quickly enough to get my heels up behind me like that, so I run with my knees in front of me, more like marching. Oh, well. Go Lance! I respond, a little less powerfully.

Six-time Prix de France winner Lance Armstrong is the "Lance" we invoke. Is he the world's best athlete? One of them, for sure. Certainly he is the most intrepid -- some years ago he almost died of metastatic cancer, and today he's the best mountain climber of any cyclist in the world. We have read that his heart is so enormous that it almost fills his chest cavity, that is it more than twice the size of an ordinary man's heart. That it pumps the same volume of blood at the same speed as a pump at the gas station pumps gas pumps into your car -- next time you're there, put the nozzle in and feel the strong pulse flow: that's how powerful Lance Armstrong's heart is.

Suffice it to say that mine is considerably south of that. But I love pretending to be Lance, anyway, as I trot along on my platform and watch Anna, a better athlete, do something with her heels I can no longer do. I punch the air as I trot, admiring a mental picture of myself that bears no relation to how I must actually look: a lumpy grandmother with glasses, ridiculously punching the air as she stumbles in place. But who cares? There are no mirrors at Curves, except in the powder rooms. My mental picture is all I see. And what I see is strong and beautiful. Go, Lance!

At such time, it's best not to be imprisoned by too much reality. It's best to run with your ideal, not with your actual pedestrian state. At such times, we are challenged to go beyond ourselves, and if we hang coyly back, too aware of our weaknesses, we will never approach our strengths. They may not be not Lance's strengths, but they are what we have, and they are deserving of honor. We can't begin with his, because we don't have them. We can only begin with ours.
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