Running Cross-Country

November 17, 2010
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Two breaths in, one out. Two breaths in, one out. I concentrated on the rhythmic pattern of my breathing and the soft sounds of my feet hitting the forest floor. As I pushed myself forward my mind started to drift ever so gently towards my goal. My goal was to win districts in cross-country the very next day. This isolated run was to clear my mind of everything and relax. All my coach ever preached about was hard work and a positive attitude. That is why this run was nothing new to me, just another way to help us do better.

As I made the loop through the descending woods and up the asphalted hill, I could hear my feet slap the ground and feel my shins shake as the hard surface continued on. Finally, I rounded the last corner to see my coach and my teammates standing in a semi-circle, waiting for my arrival. I completed the circle by settling into a walk.

It was the end of practice and as I wiped the sweat off my face I felt the perspiration trickle ever so slowly down my spine as my lungs filled with air. My mind could not help but drift as my coach told us what time to be at the high school, what to eat, and how to dress. I knew what to do already, all of this had become a ritual to me, go home, eat plenty of carbohydrates, drink plenty of water, and get to bed as early as possible.

That night was one of many sleepless nights before a race. I tossed and my stomach churned and I yearned for this race to be over so I could feel normal again. The butterflies in the pit of my stomach were endless; it was if I kept seeing my crush over and over again. My heart beat raced at the thought of it all, 3 miles did not seem so easy anymore.

Waking up to the monotonous rings of my phone, I looked casually to see that I had an hour to get to the high school. So with that in mind I jumped into the shower, dressed in my crusty sweats and uniform, and packed the necessary items. By the time I had finished, only ten minutes remained for me to get to the high school, and I had to walk! So, I chucked my over-sized bag on my shoulder and started my stroll to the high school.

It was a brisk morning and as my ankles, muscles, and tendons stretched out and relaxed, I could not help but feel like today would be my shining moment.

As I entered the small, white, and cramped bus I could feel the warm air brush across my face and warm my nose. While looking for an empty seat all I saw were sleeping lumps, so I plopped into an empty seat, adjusted myself comfortably, and tried my best to be a sleeping lump.

I shuddered awake and found that we had made it flawlessly to the Grants Pass Sports Park, and discovered that I had slept on the window causing my neck to crick. My neck screamed in pain as I tried to stand up and make my way out of the bus. As we jogged to the warm-up area, our over sized bags slung over our shoulders, I could heard the leaves crunch and crackle underneath my feet and the smell of the air as it warmed up to meet the afternoon. When we arrived at the warm-up area I could tell everyone was nervous, except one face.

She was not from our team, she was from our rival team! She looked so calm and ready with her determined dark brown eyes and pulled back hair. I could not help but
feel jealous, this was, after all, Taylor Willis. I could not even count how many races and how many countless ribbons, medals, and fans she had. Every year like clock-work she had won districts and state in cross-country and track.

Instantly, I felt the butterflies again but more intense. I was so intimated by her tall and lean figure, but I remembered that I had worked just as hard as her to be here. Nothing could stop me not even the infamous Taylor Willis.

The sun beat down on my head and shoulders as I listened to the national anthem and stretched out for the last time before the big race. The sun was so hot and intense that perspiration had already begun to soak my uniform. As the starter told us to take our places behind the white line, all I could think about was keeping Taylor Willis in my sight.

The gun went off and I realized late that everyone had already moved while I stayed stationary. In a panic I focused my sights on her tall frame and her swishing brown hair and ran to catch up. As I wove through all the people the only thing that was powering me was pure adrenaline. My lungs could barely keep up as I sprinted to keep up with her, my arms strained as I kept pushing. I could hear my feet pound from surface to surface, hard to soft, in a continuous rhythm. As I passed mile one, I felt as I was running for my life, much like an antelope running from a pack of ferocious lionesses!

Mile two came in a blur, my vision was becoming impaired I was running at such a break-neck pace. I could feel my legs trying their best to stretch out to reach the ground, my head had now started to ache and my side muscles cramped with pain. At this point I was not able to hear my coach tell me to speed up, but I did not need to be told. I knew that I had less than five hundred meters to go.

My feet, lungs, and legs knew this pain all to well and so did I, but we were in this together. I could only guess that the other girls around me were feeling the same pain but I had to pretend now that I was not tired and sprint! I did this and soon I was completely alone, my legs seemed to enjoy stretching out around the corners. As my nose burned and the sweat dripped into the corners of my mouth I was not sure if it was sweat or tears or both.

I felt as if those last three hundred meters took the longest as I pushed and pushed, my lungs and calf muscles tensed up as I heard a Hidden Valley girl behind me. She would not pass me even if my body failed me now, I would crawl to beat her if necessary, I had worked too hard for this. As the last corner came into my view I stretched my legs towards the ground for the last time and I sprinted down the home stretch with my head held high as I heard my family and friends cheer for me, I passed the finish line with ease.

As I squatted over my stomach to let my lungs fill with air again, I could not help but feel accomplished, even though I did not win, it was just as good in my book. Getting second to Taylor Wallace was as easy as breathing, but I still felt proud as I received runner of the year and was told I would be going to state. All of this was possible because I kept a positive attitude and worked hard.

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swim4ever said...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm
Loved it you described it so perfect.
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