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In. Out. In. Out. In through my nose… out through my mouth. Huff. Swallow. I could taste the sweat coming off my brow… and each breath was timed to an exact rhythm. My legs and arms moved as one, and I chugged along at my steady pace. I was running. I am a runner. Running to me, is like soccer for all my friends.

Focus! I told myself. In. Out. In. Out. I focused my eyes on the ground in front of me, which was strewn with pine needles. I saw my silver shoes with purple checks and yellow spray paint on them flash by. I saw the girls in front and behind me running along, too. I saw strands of my hair, which had fallen out of my nubby bun sway from side to side, in exact timing with my steps.

I could hear the hard breathing of the other girls all around me. I could feel their presence. I could feel myself moving faster as I neared the entrance, back into the world of real people for a moment. I came out of the woods with flying colors, literally. My lucky orange shorts letting my friends and family know it was me, and that I was still a contestant in this race. My bright green jersey told everyone that our team had a fourth girl coming out of the woods, and that a fifth would be soon to follow, after all, the fifth girl and I had always competed for the fourth spot.

I could hear the cheers around me. I saw my mother, my father, some of my teachers, and my coach. They all clapped and cheered me on. None of them even dared to tell me my place, knowing that if they did that after I finished running I would not be very happy. I was half way across the soccer field when I found what I was looking for. My first season coach, Heather, stood there cheering for me. She couldn’t coach this year, but she did come to support the team. Today her mom, my teacher, said she might not make it. Well, she was here now. I let a small smile appear on my lips. She was the one who actually got me running; she was sort of my own hero.

Her and her dirty blonde hair and loud cheering quickly faded, as I still had half a mile left. I ran and ran, around a small swamp, until I came to an open field. This was where I was going to make my move. I picked up speed, closing in on two girls in front of me. I passed them, and then the faster of the two caught up to me and passed me again. Enough! I thought. Time for me to work and give it my all.

I came out of the field, into a small stretch of woods, and into the open soccer field again in no time. I sprint the length of the field, knowing that at least one of those girls was on my tail. Finally I crossed the finish line!

“Twelfth Place.” A man said as he passed me a popsicle stick with my number on it. I smiled. Good. Hannah got first, Megan second, Katie third, and me twelfth, and I just saw Halli come in sixteenth. We won. A lady with the place sheets took my name… which they always spell wrong, even if I do spell it for them. Our top five gathered together, passing “good jobs” to each other, and cheering as loud as we could for our teammates, while gulping down as much water and food as we could without throwing up… again.





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