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Future Champions Accept Defeat First

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I have planned for this day for years. All those times I spaced off during class I'd gaze past everything in front of me and just imagine that finish line that always seems so far away. I had finally made it. To my left were seven of the greatest runners I've ever seen. I was the underdog. I listen to the announcer name off each athletes' name and what grade he is in. As he nears my name I notice that everyone in this race is a senior. I am only a sophomore. A sense of pride overcomes me as my name is called out and I can hear people applaud and cheer, even if I know it wasn't meant for me. The air is moist, the smell of the rain that morning was soft, almost relaxing. I try to distract myself from getting nervous and I glance at the other athletes' shoes and decide which are my favorites. My attempt at avoiding nervousness failed. Although my knees are wobbly, I still try to look professional and stretch out as I would any other race. I hear the announcer call, “Runners to your marks! “

A million thoughts are flying through my head. I ask myself, what if I win? What if I fall? What if questions circle around in my head over and over again. I timidly place my feet on the starting blocks and plant my fingers on the almost carpet-like track. I feel my heart pounding against my chest as if it is trying to escape. I'm frozen in that same position for what seems like forever as the other runners do their routines. I feel weak, my whole body is shivering in anxiety, and I feel as if my arms are going to give out The announcer shouts, “Set!”

Everything stops; the crowd is silent. Nobody is moving. My heart even feels as if it has stopped beating all together. My hips raise into the air like they have a thousand times before. My knees are switching with suspense as the tension rises in the stadium. I feel my body shift forward as I see the gun being raised out of the corner of my eye.

The gun goes off and everything explodes. The noise of the crowd hits me like a wave as I launch myself forward. The first 200 meters are quick. The stagger made it seem as if I was already in the lead, I knew this was far from the truth. I tune out the crowd cheering and concentrate on the only thing that seemed to matter in life, the race. I am on the backstretch and I can hear the other runners feet patter closer and closer to me. Their footsteps are so clear I can hear their spikes claw and rip into the track.

I come around the third corner and catch a glimpse of the other runners as they emerge from behind me. I turn the forth corner and realize all seven of them are ahead of me. My sight narrows as I focus on the finish line that always seems miles away. My legs are fatigued and are screaming at me to let up. I force them over the next two hurdles, and as I approach the final two my body almost gives up and I glance both obstacles, knocking them both down and stumbling after the last. I sling my legs out using the very last of my energy to get over the final checkpoint.

I force myself to turn around and look up at the massive leader board behind me. I see my name, with the number eight to the left of it. I collapse to my knees in self-pity. As the other runners regain their composure they eventually make their way to a tunnel to the right of the finish line. I reluctantly stand up and clumsily follow them in. My race was over. It was time to go home and get ready for next year. Then a great realization hit me; they are all gone next year, but I'll be back again.



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