It was the day of October 29, 2017, and I had a cross-country meet. I was quite familiar with the meets, but the nervous energy was still coursing through my veins. We, my family, drove to Monmouth for the meet. In the car, each minute passed like an hour, slow and painful. I gazed out the car, the weather was misty, with rain floating like frothy clouds, which did not make me feel any better. Soon the nothingness of the land we were driving by slowly formed into Monmouth, a small city in the middle of nowhere.
Then Monmouth suddenly turned more clean cut and we reached our destination: Western Oregon University, where the meet was to take its place. Though we were now here a problem arose: parking. There were a million spots surrounding us, but we had no idea where the course was, and therefore no idea where to park.
A family argument began, “Where are we parking?”
“I have no idea we’ll park here for now.”
“Park a little closer.”
“No, let’s just park here for now.”
“How about you run out and try to find the course first.”
My dad parked the car, then took off to find the course. A minute later, he arrived and jumped back in the car. Apparently, we weren’t too far and only needed to park a tiny bit closer. After these complications, I was nearly ready for the meet, I only needed to warm-up with my team. Not too long after arriving, our warm-up started and I began to survey the course. The course rolled with a few green hills and it twisted and turned. For the most part, it was flat, but that didn’t make it any harder than it was. As my team confusedly navigated the course, our shoes crunched and squished against the diverse terrain. Afterwards, we stretched our bodies to limp noodles and aspired to feel that way before our race.
When the warm-up was done, we were given 10 minutes at our tent to put on our spikes and to meet on the starting line. Unfortunately, I had to use the restroom and the bathrooms available had lines thousands of miles long. It was a nightmare. After what appeared to be forever, I finally returned to the tent, but most of the group left, leaving me with only a few other people. Luckily, it only took a few minutes to get going to the starting line. At the starting line, it was a horde of boys, thick and uncomfortable, regardless of the fact that we were on a broad grassy field. During this, my team took time to stretch out, so we weren’t crammed with all the boys.
Finally, the race was starting to form with a man going in front of us carrying two flags. He briefly explained what his motions would mean.
Then, as we anticipated, he began to say, “On your mark! Get set!”
However, right before the gun went off a short thought went through my mind:
“Why do I do this sport?”
The gun’s blow echoed throughout the field. Soon I was nearly drowning in the army of the boys’ elbows. I sprinted to get out, wasting a chunk of my energy. My sprint managed to get me out of the imposition of being trapped; however, I already felt very fatigued. I passed boys here and there, and covered distance madly, but felt slow and each moment was painfully long. Through the pain, I told myself to push forward and to use all the energy I can. But my firm mentality was starting to degrade, telling me to give up. I pushed the negativity out of my head and continued running, with my legs feeling like lead and my lungs burning with each breath.
Not too long later, the race was coming to a halt. It was the final stretch, coming off a slight hill, which felt like heaven for me. It was at this moment that everyone used every drop of energy left in their bodies. I pushed my body beyond its limit, passing most of the boys near the end.
When I crossed the finish line, I would like to say that I felt amazing and strong, but I truly felt like I was going to throw up. There was a firm reason of my tiredness, as by pushing myself, I had destroyed my previous time. Previously, I had obtained a time of 12:19 minutes, but now I had a time of 11:04 minutes. It was an amazing feeling, besides the pain residing in my gut and my legs wanting to fall off. Most importantly, my dad had promised if I had gotten under twelve minutes, I would receive a milkshake. Yes, the epitome of unhealthiness, but cross-country had me on a healthier diet and I needed to reward myself, even in the most non-nutritious way.
At the end of this, I learned that my success in this race originated from pushing myself beyond my limit, and persevering throughout the relentless pain. If I didn’t push myself, my new record would merely be a fantasy to my thinking, impossible to achieve. Though I was consumed by great pain, it paid off, giving me an upper hand in the race. In simplicity, the race approved the common cliche: No pain, no gain.