November 19, 2010
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For two consecutive years in a row I have qualified for the New York State Track and Field State Championships. Both years I have finished in second place. Sounds like a big accomplishment right? Something I should be proud of. Something I should be happy about. Not entirely. I hate losing, and this past season when I crossed the finish line behind another girl, I felt more disappointment than I have ever felt in my life.

My sophomore year was the first time I competed in the State meet. I was just eager and excited to be there. When I finished second then I can honestly say I was pretty proud of myself. I never would have imagined being named second in the 400 meter hurdles in all of New York State, but I remember what I said to the reporter who spoke with me. “I’ll be back next year and I want to win the whole thing.” That is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to win. I wanted it so badly that it was frequently all I thought about. I became consumed by the idea of being number one in New York State, and when track season rolled around again, I was ready with a fire burning in my heart. I was a junior. This was my big chance. I wanted more than anything to be called number one. It was my title, and I was not about to let anyone snatch it from me.
The 400 meter hurdles is often called one of the most challenging races in all of track and field. Not only does it push one to their limit physically, but mentally as well. I frequently get asked “Why that race Lyndsay?” or “You’re crazy!” The truth is I love how challenging this race is. I love the intensity, and I love the fact that I get called crazy insane for doing it. I trained extremely hard this past season, and was so excited when I qualified for a second time to compete in the State Championships. I was focused on one thing, and one thing only, and that was crossing the finish line before anyone else.

Race day came. I went through my normal routine. Got my spikes? Check. Got my uniform? Check. Pumped up? You bet. As soon as I pulled my jersey on, and made sure my track spikes were tied and strapped precisely the way they always were, I was ready to run. At this point as I was standing next to all the other runners in my race, I block out everything. I do not hear what others say, and I just stay silent. All the 400 meter hurdlers were kept in a waiting area beneath the bleachers until it was race time. When the time came we were lead onto the track. My stomach felt as if it were full of butterflies. I looked up to a stadium full of people. “This is mine,” I thought. More butterflies. I put my head down and stared at my spikes as I walked to my lane assignment. I put my hands on my hips like I always do and began to sway back and forth to keep myself calm. I put my head up only to look at the first hurdle. Immediately I put it back down. I only have ears for the track official. “Take your marks ladies!” I pop into my blacks and put my fingers perfectly on the starting line. “Set!” I raise myself up and wait for the final shot of the starting gun. “Bang!” I take my first step. At this point I am not really thinking, just doing. It is eerily quiet, as if I am underwater, but none of that matters. I was in it to win it now, and I was not going to let myself be beat.

Failure is something that everyone experiences. We are all human. It happens. Without it we do not learn and grow as people. The thing is, it never gets any easier. When I came in second that day, I felt not only did I fail myself, but I failed my coaches, my parents, and all of my friends who came to watch me. It was an awful feeling and I’m more determined than ever to not let it happen again. I refuse to be called second in the state for a third year in a row. I am ready to take what belongs to me. If anything, I have grown from this experience. I have learned that I can take this, turn it around, and use it to fuel my fire. Failure is hard to accept, but I have realized you do not have to accept it. You can use it to your advantage, which is exactly what I am going to do.

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