My Brother's Watching

June 1, 2008
By Samantha Salisbury, Central Square, NY

I never really did well in track. However, I loved it and didn’t usually care

what everyone thought. The events were really difficult for me and the

competition was fierce. Pressure from my teammates and competition was

definitely there, and I felt like I was never seen as someone who could win. I

was always in the back of the pack and was usually lapped a few times during

practice. That year was my freshman year and I tried so hard to be accepted as

part of the team. Since 7th grade, I have been in track and it helped me in so

many ways develop determination and confidence. Unfortunately, I missed my

8th grade year. The third day of track in 8th grade, I broke my ankle by jumping

over a hurdle and ever since then, my running times have really slowed down. I

was running the 400-meter race in about 93 seconds, which for a runner, is

really horrible.

My race was coming up and I knew it. All I had to wait for was the boys

3200 meter, which I knew, would last a whole 7 minutes. It was not my first

time running the 400-meter race, but it was the most important to me. My

brother in which I haven’t seen in at least 3 years flew in from Ireland a couple

of days before to watch me compete. I couldn’t come in last place like I usually

did. There was no way I would have my brother being disappointed in me the

first time he saw me run.

My friend Becky and I always ran in the same race. She was a lot better

than me, but I was used to it and we always encouraged each other to do our

best. We went to the center of our football field to get ready for the race. We

jogged slowly for a few moments and you could hear our feet hitting the turf in

sync every time we would take a step.

It was a cold, breezy day, but somehow everyone seemed to be

sweating. I was dreading taking off my warm, fuzzy sweat pants and sweatshirt

to be left only in my tight, and very uncomfortable, spandex uniform. The boys

were on their last lap of their race, and that is when I realized it was my time to

show everyone what I could do. The boys rounded their last curve and sprinted

to the finish line. My ex-boyfriend came in first place like he usually did. I was

always jealous of people like him. He had so much motivation, energy and

running came easy to him. In a way, I really wished to be accepted like he was.

It was time for my race. I had to take off my cozy sweat suite and

stand by the starting line. I got into my favorite lane, the closest one to the

stands. I liked the advantage of being the farthest up to begin with. My heart

was beating wildly and I began shaking because I was so nervous. My best

friend, my good luck charm, was two lanes over like always. We looked only at

each other as we were taking our marks so we would not see the people

staring, waiting in anticipation. A slight breeze came and immediately sent

goose bumps all over my body. Just as I started to shiver, a man who stood

next to me started yelling. “On your mark…Get set…” Then there was the gun

shot, which meant go.

There was a slight hesitation before I had begun to sprint as fast as I

could around that long track. I was rounding the first corner and was still in

first place. All of a sudden, everyone started passing me. This was a usual

event and I knew eventually someone would get tired and have to slow down.

At least that is what I hoped would happen. I sped up. I was determined not to

lose, not this time. “My brother flew here just for me.” I thought to myself. “I am

not going to be an embarrassment to him by losing.” I was over half way

through the race and it was getting really hard for me to breathe. My legs were

freezing and by this time, they felt like rubber. They didn’t want to move at all.

I was so tired, almost like I was ready to give up. I rounded the final

curve and saw the finish line only 150 meters away. Five of the seven of us

had already finished and it was then, I realized I only had one chance to not

come in last place. There was a girl who was in the lane closest to the turf. She

was not that far away from me. I knew I could beat that blue uninformed girl.

She was my only opponent and my only hope for not coming in last place,

again. I knew somehow, someway, I had to pass her. I was running at the

fastest speed I thought my legs would go. That little bit of hope however,

changed my entire attitude. I ran harder than I ever thought possible and I was

not tired at all.

The distance between her and I was shortening every time I took a step.

Finally I passed her! I finally did it, and I knew there was no way I could give up

now. There was always a chance she could pass me when I was not realizing it.

I sprinted my absolute fastest for the 100 meters left of the race. I beat that

blue colored uniform by 15 seconds. My coach, and best friend were there as

soon as I got done but I ran right into the awaiting arms of my brother. Nothing

else seemed to matter to me at that moment. My brother was proud of me and

that was the best feeling I’ve ever had. Better than that, I was proud of myself.

I even learned later, I beat my fastest time by almost 18 seconds.

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