My Best Race

March 11, 2011
I’ve ran many miles in my life. In fact, it’s possible that I have ran almost 10,000. These miles aren’t just to become better, or to look better. These miles have been for enjoyment and satisfaction as well. Although running is difficult and can cause physical pain, it also makes me happy and gives me peace at mind. When I finish a race and know I ran as fast and as hard as my body can handle, I have great satisfaction. The feeling after a race is undescribable. You feel like collapsing and not moving for a whole week. If I was able to induce a seven day coma whenever I wanted to, I would do after every competitive race I run. The best part after the race is the way you think and feel on the inside. You feel happy, and accomplished. Although most people think you would feel the same after every race, you really don’t, and the feeling after my best race beats any other feeling I have ever felt.

It was late September and the weather was beautiful. The leaves had started to change color and the weather was still warm. Perfect running weather. I was with Max Suttles warming up for our race at the West Delaware invitational and I had a bunch of things running through my head. How do I feel? How are my competitors feeling? Will it start raining? Will I fall in a hole and trip? These, among other questions, were constantly running through my head and yet I kept a straight face while conversing with Max jogging the first mile of the course. I was used to this because it happened every meet day. I got nervous and then once the gun fired, it was game time. Warming up is a way for me to strategize before a race. I would search for spots to surge, when to draft (according to the direction of the wind,) and who to look out for to keep a good pace. Max and I had the same ritual every meet day. We sat in the same spots on the bus, I always ate the same lunch, and we would do all the same stretches. All just for a short seventeen minutes of my life.

We would run through all our rituals and before we knew it, the time to race had come. Hundreds of competitors would start doing runouts along the start line. We were all nervous. Max and I had a box to ourselves because we were the only two running varsity. The guys next to us had all seven teammates and were very jealous of our space.

“You guys wanna share?” joked the guy from Maquoketa Valley.

“I don’t know dude, it’s pretty crowded in here…” I replied sarcastically.

Then Max added, “Yeah Drake, you should give me some space!”

The mood before a race is rarely serious; in fact it’s almost always a time to joke and hide your nervous feelings. Everyone is nervous before a race, but some can hide it more than others.

“Alright boys take on step back from the line!” yelled to starter over a poor placed speaker connected to his wireless headset. The starter then continued to mumble a few rules over the speaker, but nobody listened.

It was time to go and no one was ready. No one is every ready, you just have to roll with the punches… literally. At the start of the race every one fights for the front and is very aggressive with their actions. I truly hate getting knocked over at the beginning of a race so I shoot straight for the front of the pack. If you had a video of every one of my races, you would see me in front until the first turn, no matter what. This gives me a chance to get ahead and see who I want to challenge. On this race day I felt very competitive so I stuck with the front of the pack for a while.

I had been waiting for this particular race all season because the Manchester Golf course is my favorite places to run. My best times have always been at West Delaware. I was told by my dad earlier that day to challenge Noah. Noah Williams has been one of my greatest challenges ever since we started competing in seventh grade. He has always been taller than me and he has always been faster than me, but that day I was ready to take the challenge and try my hardest to beat him. His teammate Kyle Blake had a good year and was leading their team for the first half of the season so I thought I should shoot for him instead. It was a bigger goal but I was up for it. Around the first mile mark I spotted Blake and Williams about two-hundred meters ahead of me picking off runners like crazy. So I set out to catch them and stick with them. I took off like a mad man and used most of my energy to catch up with them in the second mile of the race. My second mile ended up being the same as my first, which is quite the accomplishment when you’re running miles at just over five minutes. I caught up to them and we all took off passing people like we were a team, but they knew I was there to fight them and not to help them. I didn’t have a team that I had to race for because max and I didn’t count as a full five runners. It was just me trying to reach a goal.

We started to pick up our pace with around eight-hundred meters left, and it was some of the greatest pain I have ever felt, but my mind took over and my body went numb. It was time to show them that I had guts.

I started my kick with a full quarter mile left in the race and I did not slow down. My legs felt like spaghetti, just wobbling in the right direction. I lost capability of breathing with fifty meters left, because I was hyperventilating. I focused in on the white of the finish line and attacked.

The race was over. I was heaving like someone with terminal lung cancer. I knew I had done my best and I wasn’t worried about anything in the world. I was satisfied. I was already proud of myself, without knowing if my time was good, or if I got a medal. I knew I had done much better than my best.

My mom was waiting at the finish line to help me walk, and to give me some Gatorade. We searched for my dad and couldn’t see him anywhere. Then we see him running at us with his big bright yellow cross-country sweatshirt.

“You still alive?” he asked me.

“Barely” I heaved with a struggle.

“Do you realize what time you got?” he questioned.

“No” again I was struggling to breathe.

“You just beat your best time by half a minute!” He said with great excitement.

That was all I needed to hear. I ran my hardest and it was worth it. I was feeling the happiest I ever had. The race was over.

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