Sixth grade track season was a hard year. I had prolotherapy (doctors inject your knees with sugar water) on my knees and I was not able to train as much as I wanted to. During track season, I did 100m and 200m workouts. I should have been doing 400m workouts, since that is the race I run. The MOC (Meet of Champions) semi-final began. I was in lane 4 (the fastest lane) against Olivia in lane 5 (second fastest lane). I lined up in the bullpen. My heart started racing, my hands started sweating.
The guy over the intercom started announcing the runners in their lanes. He said, “Natalie in lane 4.” I ran onto the track, the track was wet and slippery. I waved and smiled and I jogged to the starting lane. I got down in my down position. My heart started racing even more.
“Runners on your mark, set, go!” I started running, my first six seconds was fast, I was around the first corner. My mind was blank, no thought was in my head except my 400m strategy. I could feel the rain pounding on my head, the wind against my back. I could see Olivia out of the corner of my eyes trying to make a move on me.
I said to myself, “Stay up with her, wear her out, and pass her.” I caught up to her. We were side by side. I was breathing hard and so was she.
I got to the second corner, my dad was yelling my time, “32 seconds, go, go, go!” 150m was left, I could hear the whole stadium yelling at us. Olivia and I were neck and neck. We were on the final turn, I pushed myself and I passed her. She fell slowly behind as I got farther and farther away. I could see the finish line with the timers and the people yelling at us. I leaned over the finish line. I looked up at the clock, 1:07.54! A new personal record! My mom yelled, “Good job Natalie!”
The next day, I was really nervous! My heart felt like it was going to jump outside of my chest. I was ranked second in the 400m. I knew I could get second or third. My legs unfortunately really hurt that day. The guy on the speaker said, “In lane 5 we have Natalie.” I jogged up to the line remembering my strategy.
“Runners on your mark,” my heart began to race, “set”, I was in my down position with my hips up, “go!” I zoomed like a rocket forward, my first six seconds fast and continued to easily run down the backstretch. I could see Chloe running ahead doing her own strategy. I just remembered that she would go for a new CYO record.
We were on the final turn. I could hear my dad yelling my time saying, “Go, go, go!” At that moment I could feel my legs starting to crumble. They hurt so much I almost started to cry. I could see out of the corner of my eyes, the girls passing me. I could hear people screaming for me but my knees hurt so much and I was not really in 400m shape. I crossed the finish line with disappointment. I was disappointed in myself for not doing my best. I remember getting up onto the 7th place podium and I almost started to cry. I ran a 1:09.55 400m and my best was a 1:07.54. I told myself, “Next season you will do better! Just train more and harder and keep going to my Sports Medicine for my knees.
The next year, I trained before track season by doing physical therapy. I also started working out and doing track workouts. I thankfully was not growing as much as before and with physical therapy I was doing really good.
My doctor told me, “Keep doing this well, and you’ll do really well in track.”
I said, “Thank you, and I’ll keep coming to you to get better.”
My dad and I would go to a track every weekend and do track workouts. I had to do five 400m at 80%. I was tired but I kept going. My goal was to get on the podium and break the 7th grade school record. Track season came, I was already in shape and I was mentally ready. Our first track practice, my dad made the 400m people do 400m workouts. I already knew how to do it.
It was our first track meet at Hare Field. I did my usual strategy and I got first in my heat with a 1:07. A new record! I got second overall, since another girl in the next heat ran a little faster than me.
The next meet, was at Valley Catholic. The meet was really cold, windy, and raining. I got second in the 100m and I got first in the 400m with a 1:05.01. I beat the school record for 7th grade! I was so proud of myself!
The meet after that, was at Liberty. It was really sunny and hot. In the 200m I got third and in the 400m I got second with a 1:05.63. I was a little bit slower since no one was pushing me in my heat.
The meet after that, was at Hare Field. I ran the 100m which I got third in. In the 400m, I got second with a 1:04.81. A new personal record and a new school record! If I kept up the good work I could do really good in the MOC. The next week we had Saturday off. So I trained really hard that day with five 400m workouts and I also did three 200m workouts. I also got mentally prepared by praying and reading the bible.
The CYO Meet of Champions semi-final was today. I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke. I asked my dad, “What heat am I in and who’s the girl in lane five?”
“You are in the second heat and you are against Alana. She ran a 1:09.” said my dad.
I warmed up for the 400m. Laurel helped me by warming up. She helped stretch me and she made a sign that said, “Do it for the cat.” I could get a cat if I got a 1:03.50 and below. I went to the bullpen. I studied my competition. I talked with Alana asking her, “What’s your time? What’s your strategy?” It was time to go to the line for the semi-final. I had to get first place in my heat to qualify. I got up to the line. I could see my mom by the finish line. I waved to her and she said, “Good luck!” The starter said, “Runners on your mark”, my heart began to race, “set”, I put my hips up, “go!” I ran my usual strategy, six seconds fast, then relax on the backstretch. My dad yelled my 200m time. He yelled, “Go, go, go!” I went faster, 150m left, 100m left I could see the finish line. I heard people cheering and yelling for me, that made me go faster. I leaned across the finish line, I fell to the ground exhausted. I saw my time, 1:03.33 a new PR and a new record for the school. I was ranked third overall, going into the finals the next day.
It was the CYO Meet of Champions finals. My first event was the 4x100m relay, we got 4th. My next event, was the 400m. I was in lane 3 which is the third fastest lane. I knew my competition was between Naomi and myself since we both ran a 1:03 the day before. Today, was way hotter than yesterday, meaning I had to drink a lot of water, and I had to sit in my mom’s car in the air conditioning. I was really happy that I had a lot of support. I was waiting in the bullpen for my race. I was waiting with Laurel and my dad. I was super nervous since I was putting pressure on myself to do well because of what happened the year before.
My dad and Laurel told me, “Everything is going to be ok.” They kept reassuring me the whole time while I was waiting. My dad and Laurel prayed for me before I went onto the track. It really calmed me down before the race. I kept thinking to myself Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ you strengthens me.” The guy on the speaker began to call names onto the track. “Natalie in lane 3.” I was already sweating just from the sun beating down on me. I went up to the line. I saw my mom, and other people from our school. “Runners on your mark,” my mind was blank, “set” I began to think about Philippians 4:13, “go!” My start was really good, the six seconds was fast, and my breathing was good. I was smooth, gliding through the air on the backstretch. I could see Molly and Lilly ahead of me. I knew they would be fighting for first place. Molly made her move, Lilly was falling behind her. I was at the 200m mark, my dad was yelling my split.
He was yelling, “Go, go, go!” I began to pick up my pace, I could see Naomi out of the corner of my eye. 150m left, 100m left, all of us were so tired from the sun and the heat. I began pumping my arms even more. Molly was in first, Lilly in second, Naomi in third, and I was in fourth. We were ahead of all the other girls. I crossed the finish line, with a 1:04. I was so proud of myself for not giving up and for making it onto the podium. I congratulated my competitors and gave many hugs to them. Laurel, my teammates, and my dad ran up to me giving me a big hug congratulating me for how well I did. I remember getting up onto the 4th place podium. I was so proud of myself, and I was really happy that I got a third metal that day. My moral is to never give up and always believe in yourself.