The Challenge

March 28, 2008
There is no pain like this. No pain like legs throbbing, muscles screaming, mental anguish, down-to-the-core burn. This type of sting only surfaces during the ultimate of physical tests. And this, I know, is that test.

“Breathe in…breathe out…breathe in…”

This is the time. The moment to prove that yes, I do contain that power. The very power that pushes every other runner to sprint beyond what is expected, and enter the realm of the impossible.

“Stay strong. You know you can do this…”

As I charge the peak of Blackwell Mountain, my conscious enters a state of foggy endurance. To push malevolent thoughts out of my mind is weak; I must believe that any negative way of thinking is simply nonexistent. With each dominant stride, my goal draws nearer, yet the metal will I must possess stretches further into the distance. Each inch I leave in the dust is another ounce of strength I gain.

“You have the guts. Use them.”

The blazing sun emerges from beneath the cover of clouds. Rays of light pounce upon the mountain, seeming to taunt every athlete attempting my similar feat to surrender to the challenge. Every girl stands her ground. Heat tries to falter us as well, yet fails. No amount of scorching temperature will withstand the mental attack of a determined runner. Yes, my physical strength falters, but my willpower only grows.

“Keep running! You can make it!”

Muffled cheers arise from the crowd. Calls of encouragement and reassurance encircle my mind, only adding to the numerous thoughts of support I have developed within my own conscious. These words, however, are only declarations of hope. The knowing I must entail is indescribable to any other; it is a faith solely reserved for the fiercest of competitors, the fieriest of opponents.

“Step, step, surge. Step, step, surge.”

I hammer on. As my breathing quickens, I can almost feel my muscles feeding on the oxygen, using every drop as a source of stamina and resilience. I must use these thoughts of energy and vigor to my best advantage, for at this point every last shred of perseverance is necessary to accomplish what I have come to achieve. Failure, it seems, is not an option.

“The most important thing is to just believe you can.”
The goal, as last, has arrived. In one swift motion, I tear across the top of the mountain, leaving my thoughts and fears among my dust. It seems as if my legs no longer belong to my body; they simply sprint on with no regard to my feelings or objections. This is success. The pounding on my bones, the beating on my joints, the sweat dripping from my pores; it all ceases. What is this feeling? Fatigue, accomplishment, peace.
“Never forget these moments. You must use them further down the road.”
I gaze across the landscape, taking in its overwhelming beauty and tranquility. Such a triumph is worth only a reward this sweet. A sense of comfort washes over me at the realization of what I have achieved is greater than just today, but symbolizes an immense power I now harbor within me: the power to conquer my fears. This is greater than any mountain, greater than any run; this is who I am.

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