6-4-2-4-6 is our workout for today. Run 600 meters with a short break. Run 400 meters with a short break. Run 200 meters with a short break. And then right back up the ladder.
My buddies and I head outside in -20 degrees, while snow falls sideways. We hear our coach’s voice saying “this is what it takes to become a champion.”
Fast forward now to the post season and our journey to state. It’s our regional meet and the teams aren’t as fast as we’re used to. With an easy win and some puke in the grass, we look to the coach –disappointment. We aren’t fast enough yet. We aren’t going to win with these times we’ve been running.
The next meet-sectionals. “The Fast Sectional,” as it is referred to across the state. People talk about who is going to make it to state in the 4x4. Only the top three go. Is it Arrowhead? Is it Riverside? Is it Grafton?
Finally, it’s the last race of the meet and the storm clouds are rolling in. Race time decision, “Radz, I’m going to run the other guys.” I watch the race unfold disappointedly. Fourth place. We didn’t make it. My junior year is over. On the bus ride home I think to myself, could I have won it for us? Should he have run me instead? Maybe we’ll do it next year?
I’m home now and I attempt to do my homework when I hear my phone vibrate. It’s my coach. “Radz, we extra-qualified and I’m running you at state.”
A few weeks later and it’s state trials. There’s some more puke on the ground and we’re the fourth seed. Now after a few ice baths and 24 hours to rest, it’s finals. Eighteen thousand fans pack the stands of the University of Lacrosse. My teammates run, we’re in first, now third, and then first again. My leg of the race is up next. Thoughts of the 6-4-2-4-6 and the year-round training we all put in for the past few years come to mind.
I get the baton and sprint the first 75 meters. Still in first. Stride out the next 175 meters. I fall into second. And then I give every ounce of energy into the last 150 meters. I pull into first by a longshot. It’s all up to my teammate now. It looks like it is going to be a tie and it’s becoming too close to tell. The last 50 meters are up, and we start pulling ahead! We went from extra-qualified to first place. Just like that the season is over and to top it off I’ll have a state medal around my neck in a couple minutes! How did we do that? Who would have thought that I would have been a state champion?
But wait, the officials are talking. My team comes up and congratulates us. Our teammates are just as excited.
“That was the most epic race I’ve ever seen! I can’t believe we won, that win put us into second place as a team!”
They are still talking. A half hour later we hear a voice.
“Due to a disqualification, the 4x4 will be rerun. The team in seventh place tripped the team in eight place.”
Tears begin to run down my face. How can you just rerun the race? Is that even possible? I just had a state medal ripped out of my hands.
Two of us get pulled because we’re obviously tired and our alternates run instead. Another half hour later and the second race begins. Tears begin to run down my face. Third place. Fourth place. Fifth place. Sixth place. Seventh place. The race is over. From first to seventh, a gold medal ripped out of my hands, and our team silver goes to a different team. I can’t believe it. All of those 6-4-2-4-6’s for nothing now.