Eight Metallic Beasts

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There they stood, all eight of them. As I began to focus on them my heart started to race. Sweat trickled down my back, causing my jersey to plaster itself on to my back. My legs became bowls of Jell-O, ready to collapse at any moment. Air grew limited; my stomach knotted itself into a twisted mass of rubber bands. What was happening? I had encountered and defeated these metallic beasts a year before. Why was my body overreacting this year? It was the pressure.

A year ago I had stood in the same lane, anxiously waiting for the pop of the starting gun. Eight silver beasts known as hurdles had gleamed back at me. They taunted me, daring me to cross them. With ease I had soared over the wretched hurdles as gracefully as a gazelle, bringing home the precious blue ribbon. Yet the victory as a seventh grader seemed so miniscule now. I was an experienced eighth grader now, and everybody, including myself, expected me to defend my city championship. With the expectation bar high, I walked from the bleachers to the check-in table. Images of failure flashed furiously through my mind. The closer I got to the table, the more I wanted to go back and throw up. Other girls talked and laughed as we were led to the track. I, on the other hand, remained silent, letting my mind and body wage war against each other.

When we reached the track my emotions vanished. It was as if I had been replaced by a completely different person. My legs became as light as the air I breathed. Determination lined my face. Every sliver of doubt was erased and replaced by an air of confidence. I slowly rolled my shoulders as if massaging away the pressure. Slowly I set my feet and fiercely glared at the eight silver beasts, telling them that they wouldn’t claim me today. The air grew still, the crowd silent; all listening for the same sound.

Pop! I sprung from the line and thundered towards the first hurdle. Like an eagle I soared over the silver beast. The sounds of colliding legs and hurdles filled the air. My peripheral vision showed me that I only had one competitor still on her feet; the others had fallen victim to the beasts. With two hurdles and a twenty-yard sprint left, I needed an extra spark of motivation. As if by cue a voice rattled through my skull. It was a deep, harsh voice with a dash of inspiration.

“You have to push yourself kid; it’s the only way you’ll become better” the voice of an old coach barked.

New energy filled my legs, my arms pumped with astonishing speed. The last two hurdles stood motionless as I flew over them. Without looking back, I shifted into fourth gear and breezed across the finish line. The race was mine, yet it wasn’t the blue ribbon that made me smile. I smiled knowing that I had won that race only because I had dug deep and pushed myself. I had pushed aside my emotions and stepped on to the track as an athlete. It showed me that with a little bit of concentration and determination, I could rise above emotional hurdles and succeed.





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