The Race This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   At the starting blocks, fear grips him as he looks over the pool. He has not one chance but a hundred chances, yet this is the only chance that matters. The starter blows the whistle, and he gets on the block. His stance doesn't suggest his growing nervousness. The training, the pain, the mental and physical journey, this is what it all boils down to. A chance out of a hundred chances. His adrenaline is pumping through his body as he bends down to grip the block. Then a flash of light and he is off, soaring through the air. It seems like forever until he hits the water; and then as he enters it, he feels whole again. His arms start to move like they have done a thousand times, yet this time is the most important.

His mind, like a kaleidoscope, sees floating images that change and move in a second. No feeling, just an overwhelming sense of power. It pulses through him, urging him on, daring him to want it all. Then the pain, like twilight, comes creeping over him until he is totally engulfed. But, out of this pain emerges a new person. Mind over body, desire over pain. He reaches a wall and does the turn, almost mechanically not thinking as his powerful strokes slice the water. Then the finish is in sight. He is racing against the unforgiving clock, every extra action slows him down.

Suddenly he feels an overwhelming sense of fear. Failure looms above him and in an instant he feels his dreams become unattainable. The drive, the need to end, to finish no matter what, pushes him on. He touches the wall, and hesitantly brings his head up. His goals, his achievement, his dreams and his hard work are all placed on the line, to be judged and weighed by a cold instrument. He looks up at the clock and for a second sees himself reflected in it, and he suddenly realizes that he is not racing the clock but against himself. This race is the hardest race anyone will have to go through, yet it is also the most rewarding. To beat someone else is not important, the real challenge is to go beyond one's limitations and beat oneself. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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