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Never Tied

I woke up in a cold sweat. I had another awful dream about my race. As soon as I stopped breathing heavily, I slowly rolled out of my bed.

My room was an absolute disaster. My Father was surely not going to be happy that it wasn’t clean before I left for state track. I looked at myself in the mirror and sighed with my awful appearance. My long wavy dark brown hair was a mess that framed my heart shaped face. My light blue eyes looked heavy and I definitely needed to wax my eye brows. I was a normal height at 5’7 and my weight was at a good 140.

As I was going to sit and continue to critique myself, but my phone interrupted me with a buzzing noise and I went to check who it was. It was my dad. My Dad, as cool and nice as he seems to be, is extremely concerned with the way I am going to run today. He was a great athlete as a teen, and I try my hardest to follow in his steps to make him proud.

I decided not to answer his phone call because I knew all that was going to come out of his mouth was stuff I’ve been hearing ever since districts ended right after my race a few weeks ago. That got old extremely fast.

I looked at my clock, and realized there was too much time on my hands for the long day that was ahead of me. My mind started to wonder about the race. It was never a good thing to overthink a race in any scenario. The first thing that slid into my mind was my competitor, Laken Rogers. Her district was pretty close to mine, so I’ve seen her run and I know who she is. She had plenty of acumen but I am fairly confident in my race today. All I had to do at this point was concentrate and stay focused on my race when all of a sudden someone knocked on my bed room door.

It was my Dad. He is the only family I have, my Mom died when I was 5 years old. When I am with my Dad I feel safe and happy. He is around 6’2 and is a pretty lanky guy. We are extremely close. He tries to be a sibling, a Mom and a Dad to me all at once. He does a pretty good job at it, too. His big brown eyes looked anxious and a little nervous.

“How are the nerves?’ He said.

I rolled my eyes in annoyance and replied, “They’re fine, Dad. I didn’t answer your call because I was thinking about the race.”

He thought about what I said and nodded with a reply, “When are you ready to go to the track?’

I had to shower and get my jersey ready, so I figured an hour. The race didn’t start until 6 that night and it only took 4 hours to get up there and it was only 8 in the morning.

“Dad I’m thinking around 9:30. It that alright with you?”

“Yes”, he said.

After that talk I grabbed my usual warm up sweat pants and my other pieces of clothing, showered, and put my hair up. By the time I was all ready for the trip it was 9:15. Perfect timing, I thought to myself. Without a word I went in the car and turned on my iPod and closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Oh no, I thought to myself. The nerves are starting to kick in and I was starting to freak out. My Dad went and sat in the driver seat and didn’t say a word to me, he more than likely knew that I was scared. He tapped me on my shoulder and said, “Katie, you need to relax, it’s going to be fine.”

I nodded, a little surprised that he called me Katie. My real name was Katelynn, but he normally just calls me Kate. He only calls me Katie only when he’s beyond serious. Which isn’t very often. My last name is Ahlers, which annoys my due to the fact that it is a clock company. I once again closed my eyes, this time drifting into a peaceful sleep.

I woke up with sunshine in my face, blinking trying to adjust to the bright light that pierced my eyes. I looked around squinting, trying to see where I was. I was at McDonald’s in a town about an hour and a half away from the track where I’d be running at.

I looked for my Dad inside the greasy establishment. To my utter surprise I saw him talking to Laken’s Dad. My Dad knew that Laken’s Dad thought that Laken was so much more auspicious and better than me. I got annoyed and got up to intervene on their conversation when I saw Laken walking out and we made eye contact.

Laken is a daintly 5’3 and probably 110 pounds or so. She’s not very intimidating at all. Her thin long stringy blonde hair was in a ponytail and her dark brown eyes bored into mine. I decided to give her a little wave, wiggling my fingers at her and put what probably looked like the most ridiculous smile I could on my face. Her eyes rolled and she walked to her car mumbling to herself. I laughed and went inside to McDonald’s.

My Dad got me a salad and some yogurt. We didn’t eat inside, I wanted to get to the track and watch some events before my own. My Dad and I discussed Laken’s recent times in the 200 meters. He had told me that her time was 27 seconds. I scoffed and thought to myself that was a belie time. I remember watching her abjure the second place medal at the track meet a few weeks ago with the time of 29 seconds. I knew there was no way her time could be 27. I her remember abrogating the second place trophy solemnly. This made me grin.

We were now at the track and I’d been watching people run for about five hours straight. I was now warming up by myself. I was so used to doing this with my team and it was sad not warming up with anybody else because no one else on my team made it to state. My race was 20 minutes away and I was ready to go. I went over by the starting line and waited. A few more girls were looking around for where they were supposed to be. They looked at me and I nodded my head and waved, trying not to look to friendly. I want them to know that I meant business. I saw Laken and turned my back to her. I knew if I looked at her face I’d freak myself out. I was looking at people in the field, and I noticed a few college scouts. As a senior, this made me nervous.

The race was now five minutes away and I was putting my feet on the blocks in lane four. I did a few starts to practice and I was ready to run. The man in the neon yellow shirt told all of us that we had a minute until the gun would go off. I was looking down my lane and it seemed to get longer and longer. I took my eyes away and glanced at Laken. I smiled and winked, assured that I could beat her.

The man told us to take our marks. I put my feet on the blocks and looked at the ground. A few moments later I heard the most anticipated words anybody hears, “get set” and about 20 seconds later, I heard the gun pop and I was gone.

I was on the curve and had 100 meters. I looked at the think long paper strip at the finish line and made that my goal. I saw Laken in my peripheral vision and I pushed myself even harder. I hit the paper and ripped it with my fist in the air. I wasn’t even tired really. I shook everyone’s hand and Laken refused to shake mine, and I noticed she was crying.

My coach came over and gave me a Gatorade and a granola bar with words of joy and happiness. He told me he was happy to have the privilege of coaching me. I noticed he had a tear on the corner of his eye and I gave him a hug. My Dad tapped him on the shoulder and looked at me with so much adoration. My coach looked at him and said surely, “Mike, you’ve got a very talented girl on your hands.” I smiled and grabbed my Dad and we all embraced with joy.

As my Dad told me my record breaking time, I saw a few college scouts coming towards me and then I stopped moving. They all asked to talk to my coach, and he was more than eager to talk to them.

I looked at the track. At all of the athletes, and as I was taking in all the craziness that was going on I saw my friends and boyfriend walking towards me. I saw my coach smiling at the college scouts and they were shaking hands. When I saw my entire life in front of my eyes I could feel my eyes get moist and a tear drop down my cheek with a smile on my face.





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