Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Winning the Real Race

When I was fourteen, I rode my bicycle from Seattle to San Francisco in five weeks. I used to dream about riding across the country. Can you imagine Iowa on a bicycle, all that flat land? Or the Rocky Mountains? Or crossing the Mississippi River? Dipping your bicycle tire in the Pacific Ocean and then triumphantly dipping it in the Atlantic? Well, I used to imagine that.

Then I went off to college and sold my bicycle and never pedaled more than twenty miles on a bicycle again. And then I got married. And then I had kids.

But Lance Armstrong! What an inspiration! Overcoming cancer, training his wrecked body, pushing himself up hills and winning, winning, winning. Getting married didn't stop Lance Armstrong. He got married, too, you know, in 1998--after he survived testicular cancer. He had the forethought to bank s p e r m, so he and his wife were able to conceive their children (a son, born in 1999 and twin daughters born in 2001). None of this stopped him from his professional bicycle racing career. His wife was by his side when he won his first Tour de France in 1999.

She wasn't by his side this time, though, for his triumphant seventh win in a row. No. Now, he appeared with his children and his girlfriend, singer S h e r y l Crow. He divorced his wife in 2003 and hooked up with Ms. Crow soon thereafter.

So here's the thing. When I see Lance Armstrong on television, crowing about his win, grinning about his achievements, basking in the glow of admiration--all I can think is that he couldn't even keep his marriage together for five years. Five years. His children are now shuttled from home to home, place to place. His children are the ones who pay the price for his inability to keep his marriage together.

And sure. I know. It takes two people to make a marriage work and there is no possible way we can assign fault. Marriages, even celebrity marriages, are private. Who knows what happened behind closed doors? But I can't help myself. When the world showers confetti on someone for grit and sheer determination, I can't get past wondering what the ex-wife thinks about all this. And how the children feel seeing daddy holding hands with someone who is clearly not their mother.

That's the legacy, I suppose, of my own parents' divorce. I'm much more impressed by, say, Cuppa and Anvilcloud's thirty-five years of marriage than I am by one guy winning seven bicycle races in a row. I imagine that the Armstrong children, the almost 6 year old boy and the almost 4 year old twin girls, know what I mean.


Blogger Lisa said...

I find myself more concerned with his marriage...umm, fail marriage than anything else. I'd like to think I am curious, but DH says I am just "nosey".

4:03 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I agree. I keep thinking, "Gain the whole world but lose your own soul." Not that his soul is lost (although it could be, I don't know) just that a successful marriage and family is so much more important than a bicycle race.

4:32 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

I agree.

Marriage is hard hard work. Sometimes I feel like I am peddling up hill with the wind in my face, and when I get to the top, there's another hill and stronger winds.

Sometimes, I enjoy the ride. Mostly, I enjoy the person peddling in tandem along side me. Always, I love him.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Cuppa and I ride bicycles too. Now that's something to Crow about.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Yeah, personally I think Cuppa and Anvilcloud deserve a medal - 35 years of marriage, AND 50k bike rides. And they're still biking TOGETHER! And, after all these years, AC is still hoping Cuppa will "turn him on". :-)

Perhaps there should be a "Tour de Marriage".

5:58 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Again, I agree with you completely. He was a hero to me at one time but he has fallen. I have a hard time respecting him.

6:35 AM  
Blogger blueyedtracy said...

For a long time, I have thought the SAME THING about Lance! I admire your guts, Mel, for writing about it. In a really sad way I sometimes wish I knew more of the details of the marriage/divorce for Mr. Armstrong so I'd know, or, I guess so I could be more happy for his athletic accomplishments. I like the "Tour de Marriage" idea, Heather. If mine is one, we just crashed our bike and now we're trying to get back on and agree which way we need to go to finish the race. There are good days - and really scary ones.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Feeble Knees said...

oh, you hit the nail on the head.

I can't be completely all happy for him on the occasion of his 7th win, which truly is a remarkable feat of strength and grit, because I keep thinking about his divorce.

For someone who shows so much guts and perserverance in physical adversity, you've got to wonder why and how he couldn't have displayed the same fortitude emotionally and mentally to keep a marriage together.

I've got only this to say to Ms. Crow:
"Girl, if you think it won't possibly happen to you too, you are C-R-A-Z-Y. Good luck with that!"

My thoughts are with his ex, and her children. Very sad for them...

7:55 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

i was thinking the same thing!

8:07 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Hi Mel... I thought I was the only one! :) I, too, saw the show and thought all those same thoughts. You were brave to post this and I do thank you for providing a forum for all of us-- at least now I know I'm not the only person who feels all these same thoughts...there seems to be quite a few of us. It's a great reminder to give our best energy and devotion and love to God and our spouse and our family... God bless... Debra

8:49 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I had a response but it was a little long so it's here:


Anywho...judge not, y'all

1:01 PM  
Blogger Angi said...

I have to say I agree with Elizabeth. We can't know what happened behind the scenes. From looking on the outside, the kids seem to be very loved by both parents, grandmom, and Sheryl.

I don't advocate divorce, but sometimes, it is inevitable.

Bravo for speaking your mind!

8:25 PM  
Blogger red fish said...

Your post reminds me of Joe McKeever's recent post

BTW, he has another post titled "A Friend is God's Apology For Your Relatives" I liked the title.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Darling said...

Wow! You go girl! So true! Thanks for telling it like it is and putting it all in perspective. I so agree with you!

9:59 PM  
Blogger Julana said...

Good post. Maybe you're not a secret liberal after all. (just kidding. :-)

5:33 AM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

Wow, Mel! It was suggested that I visit your blog as it was shockingly judgmental and narcissistic! I am happy to see that this is indeed so!

Do you really think you are in any position to judge a man you do not even know? That would be like me saying, "well of course she is opposed to divorce, she is after all a pastor's wife". I am curious, does your personal experience cloud your perspective on the subject? Do you really feel that you are qualified to make such statements about a man you've never met? One would think losing a father to melanoma would enhance your "sensitivity chip".

Forgive me if I sound harsh. But who died and made you God? If you were as Christian as you purport yourself to be you would seemingly stand a little less in judgement! I don't see that. In the immortal words of Atticus Finch, "You just don't know until you have walked around in someone elses shoes." Why not spend a little more time figuring out why your kids get harassed on a regular basis and back off Lance!


P.S. George Bush is despicable, but of course you support him. You are after all, a pastor's wife!!!

8:07 PM  
Blogger Diddy-Win said...

Whoa up just a rootin' tootin' minute, Eleanor...ummm...re-read your comments about judgement and then apply them to your comments above....AND...most likely, you WHOLE life...

11:35 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

Oh lordy. I missed all the drama here!!

I personally could careless about Lance Armstrong. I am sick of all the pro sports. They aren't competiting man to man anymore. They are competing $ to $. He who has the most money for research and development and who can streamline himself chemically and mechanically (best bike) is he who wins! What trash!

Give me a break.

Okay, now I can have fun since I could careless about the race or the marriage -- do you hold the same values for Peter Jennings?

Jennings was married four times and is also highly revered.

Who is this Eleanor by the way? Do we know yet?

8:52 AM  

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