Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 used to be practiced with ritualistic precision. Up at dawn, at the speedway by 7, watch practice and shiver until 10, qualifications 11-6, then dinner. Two saturdays and two sundays in May.
It was awesome.
Then life started to interfere. Jobs, then college, then moving away, then kids, then kids' sports. Every qualification day became a couple, then maybe one. Then hardly ever. I honestly can't remember spending an entire qualification day at the speedway since the early 90s.
Today, that was set straight (at the cost of an early season swim meet that I'm sure my daughter will forgive me for missing, at a very reasonable price).
After a morning run with the dog, I packed a cooler and made my way to IMS. I found a seat in turn one, and took root.
I had snacks and beverages and sandwiches and a paper on which to record speeds.
I met up with the girlfriend's parents and a work/run buddy and his son, and even the girlfriend Deb and her kids made it in for a couple hours.
The crowd wasn't as big as it used to be. The speeds aren't as fast. Tom Carnegie wasn't on the PA. Neither was my step-dad. But it felt... comfortable.
I was in my element. I was riveted. Time slid by unnoticed. Just like when I was 13.
Numbers: 3 miles, library loop, with dog.