Chronic Pain Interferes with Life AGAIN

I'm sitting in the media's "deadline" room (for the writers/reporters - there's a separate photographers' room) for the Talladega Superspeedway in central Alabama. Most would think that's amazing to be able to do - and I agree. But I'm still disappointed.

You see, I'm supposed to be out beside the track taking photos of this NASCAR Cup race. 

I'm both a writer/reporter and photographer. My plan for this weekend was to be a writer/reporter (being involved in the press conferences and the "bullpen" - where a person can ask a specific driver questions in small groups) on Friday and Saturday and being a photographer today.

I've tried to take it easy as much as possible for the weekend, especially this morning. I got out and did one thing that I needed to do as a reporter but, other than that, I've mostly sat and worked on my laptop.

Though I knew my back was hurting, when it came time for the cars to line up for the race, I thought I could push through the pain to take at least some photos. I walked out there - each and every step full of pain - only to have to turn around and come back.

I've shot here twice before. I fully understand that to get the kinds of photos I want, I have to move around. 

Photography isn't easy at a place like this, a sport like this. There are a lot of people and a lot of activity going on. There is absolutely nowhere to sit down and rest. The best angles may mean bending, twisting and/or holding one of my heavy cameras up, ready to press the shutter release, until there's something worthy of shooting. 

During those two events last year, I got some photos I consider high quality. I remember how difficult they were to get and I know if I go out in my present condition it would be hard, if not impossible, to get anything better - or even as good.

On the other hand, it's absolutely gorgeous weather. A week ago the forecast was for it to be about a 95% chance of rain all day. Even up until yesterday, the forecast called for a big chance of rain during the race. However, late morning/early afternoon it started clearing up.

By the time those famous words, "Drivers, start... your... engines!" were amplified to the humongous crowd, there were gorgeous blue skies.

But even better, it's cool outside. At the moment, almost exactly halfway through the race, it's 62 degrees. As I'm extremely heat intolerant, this is absolutely the perfect weather for me. I hate, hate, hate that I'm sitting inside for an event I love to shoot during this wonderful weather.

Oh - and the fact that it's sunny means that it's much easier to take great photos. The sun glistening off the cars and being able to use higher shutter speeds are just what you want when you are shooting this kind of sport.

I'm trying to be thankful. It's been a great weekend. This time last year, I finally became brave enough to ask a question during a regular press conference. I had no idea what a bullpen was - and even though I did ask questions of a few drivers, it was probably easy to tell it was my first time.

This year I participated in several press conferences, even asking questions of those who had nothing to do with my article's subject matter. I was much more confident during the bullpen - and wasn't frantic to try to get a lot of comments. I knew what I needed, got that, and didn't worry about more.

Yesterday my back wasn't hurting like it is today and I was able to follow the subject of my article around the garage to get a POV of what he does. I never made it to the garage either time I was here before.

Probably the coolest thing about the weekend was how the superspeedway's President recognized Travis and me and talked to us several times throughout the weekend - even sharing a running joke between us. 

This isn't something I ever thought I would do - or something I never even imagined that I would WANT to do. Now I love it. 

So... I recognize and am thankful that I'm in the press room. I know it's both great fun and great experience - for what I'm not sure, but one thing I've learned the past few years is that God rarely provides opportunities that He doesn't use later.

And... ironically... it's hurting pretty badly to sit right now. Maybe walking (and trying to shoot something) would be worth a try!

(Update 30ish minutes later: I did it! I went out for about 10 laps, about 200 photos. It hurt the whole time and my legs were shaking most of it. But I did it. I was thankful before, but now I'm really, really thankful.)

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