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30 Minutes

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The digits flash red on the clock at the end of the ice arena. 6:45. These numbers bring on both groans and cheers from the skaters around me. The simple figures signify that Coach Michael’s weekly power class has begun. We circle around him and await the fateful word that defines the next half hour. Michael casually declares—“Intervals.”
Skate hard. Skate fast. Never let a single girl pass you. In any other moment, the girls surrounding me are my teammates. Not here. Right here, for the next half hour, these girls are my competition in a race with no winner. The only hope is that after 30 minutes of sweat and burn, the pain will finally be over—“Push it!” pierces through the music-filled arena like blades cutting through the ice.
6:47. Only 28 minutes to go.
Before 6:55 has a chance to appear on the clock to congratulate us on the passing of the first ten minutes, I enter my zone. The ice stretches long in front of me, my fellow teammates become a common blur, Michael’s barks to “Bend your knees!” and “Keep your head up!” are like hollow whispers somewhere beyond the walls of the ice rink. All I know is the beat.
1-2-3-4. Push-cross-push. 5-6-7-8. Repeat.
The music breaks and a new, more relaxed piece brings on a much slower tempo than the song before it. As I enjoy my chance for a breath, I hold a long edge and remind myself why I am here and will be for many Tuesdays to come. True, this half-hour class conditions me physically, but so does any one of my six on-ice practices per week. I am confident that when I take the ice for the 2008 Midwestern Synchronized Skating Championships, the results of this class will not exist in my physical capabilities, but rather, in my mental strength.
The music changes back to a heart-pounding rhythm. My mind fast-forwards through the months of hard training to come and I see myself about to take the ice at the crucial competition that will qualify my team for the 2008 National Synchronized Skating Championships. I stand, clenching the hands of my teammates, excited by the skate to come, fearful of a disappointing performance, intimidated by the crowd’s roar for the team before us, and saddened by the truth that this could be the end of our season.
As the preceding team’s music fades and the doors before us open, I take my first step onto the ice. With a heart-warming squeeze from the hand of my closest teammate, I am brought back to tonight’s power class and the tags of inspiration I receive from my teammates as we reach the 25 minute feat. At 7:10 on this particular Tuesday night, the 2008 National Championships do not seem too far off, and now, neither does 7:15.





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