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

The official gave us the basic rules. My heart felt like it was going 100 miles an hour, my hands were clammy, and my mind was racing with too many thoughts. Jumping and shaking out my limbs to stay loose, I glanced at my opponents and said, “Good luck, guys!” Nervously, I smiled at the girl next to me, who seemed to mirror my pre-race nerves. I’d never met her before, but she said, “Good luck, Nicole. You’ll do just fine. I read about you in the paper. You’re amazing.”

“Oh, thanks,” I laughed anxiously. “Let’s just get this race started already! Waiting this long is making me so nervous.”

She agreed and then we all focused on the official, who appeared ready to begin now. He held up the gun and shouted, “On your mark,” and bang! We were off.

I was trying to keep my cool, but all I could hear was the blur of sounds from the crowd. One of my coaches was yelling something at me, and I looked him dead in the face but all I could make out was my own name as I watched his mouth moving. I just nodded to make him happy.

The sun was beating on my shoulders and face. I was trying hard to keep my mind off each step, let alone each lap. I was leading a tight pack of seven or eight girls. It was hard to judge because, not wanting to turn around, I could only hear the many footsteps behind me. It sounded like a stampede – some people run like they have cinder blocks for feet. The pack was so tight that I got stepped on and elbowed a few times. I got angry and attempted to elbow a girl back but clearly missed. I didn’t dwell on it because my mind was racing with different ways to win.

Who would have guessed there are strategies to winning a mile run? I was the pacesetter, so I led the pack. My heart was beating so fast that I thought it was going to come out of my chest. My legs were starting to tire and were burning with lactic acid, but I strategically saved some energy for the last 250 meters. The laps were coming around faster than any meet I remembered. Not once did I think about slowing down, but I was really hot and the sweat glistened on my body.

I began to flash back to last year’s race where I was the leader at first and got blown out in the end. This year would be different; I had more determination, dedication, and drive.

The official rang the bell signaling that one lap ­remained. They called out my time, but I couldn’t hear because of the crowd. I started to speed up. I ­repeated in my head, One more, Nicole, just one more lap. I could feel the adrenaline surge through my body, and my fingers and feet became numb as I pushed my body to new limits. This was it, the final fight. It was my last chance to be the best. It was survival of the fittest and I wasn’t backing down.

The pack of runners began to spread out as the best of the best fought for the top spots. Now it was just two other girls and me. We broke away from the rest and raced to the finish. They were still trailing me, but they had no idea what I was about to do.

We were approaching the bend with just 200 meters left, and I opened my stride and pushed with everything I had left. All that saved-up energy was dying to come out and finally did with a formidable force. I sprinted as fast as my body could all the way to the finish. I crossed the line, put my hands on my hips, and walked directly to the fence, barely able to hold myself up.

I was bombarded with hugs, screams, and kisses, but I could hardly crack a smile. I was lying limp on the fence next to the finish line when one of my coaches came up and said, “Do you know what you just did?”

“No,” I panted.

“You just dropped half a minute off your time!” She shoved her watch in my face.

It was hard to focus because I was dizzy, but it soon became clear. The watch read 5:17.2. My jaw dropped; it felt unreal. She patted my shoulder and said, “Way to go, champ! I knew you could do it! Look how far you have come.” I thought I would cry with happiness. My cheeks burned from smiling so hard.

“Rest up, kiddo,” she said. “You have the half mile in about five minutes. Go sit in the shade and relax.”

I sat in awe – I had just won the mile and was the best in the county. I hadn’t expected ever to have this title, but all the hard work and long practices had paid off.

Suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was my head coach telling me to go up to the press box because a newspaper reporter wanted to interview me. I was on top of the world – it was the happiest day of my life!

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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This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

runnergirl1 said...
Dec. 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

5:17 is so good!

I am also a runner and I understand everything you are talking about. Running is an amazing sport only runners can understand.

Annieboo said...
Sept. 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm
Wow! I loved how you described the strategic point of view of the race. My jaw also dropped when I read the time. That is fast!! I kinda want to get into running now because that was so exciting.
Pumpkinscout said...
Sept. 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm
I loved it! So realistic! Maybe it needs a little more detail on the body of the race, but great writing! And by the way, 5:17 is really good!
Homie G Thug! said...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm
I know how she feels when she gets really nervous!!:P
Emma said...
Oct. 24, 2008 at 3:31 pm
I really enjoyed reading this article. I was able to relate it to my life in many ways. Thank you for writing this article.
Bballer00 said...
Oct. 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm
This is a awesome article with lots of action and fun. Great Job Nicole.
EmilyBrooke said...
Sept. 16, 2008 at 4:05 am
Wow. All I can say is wow. I loved reading this because of the fact that I'm a runner. I mainly stick to sprinting but a mile, I can handle. Not at 5:17, though. That's an amazing mile. Anyways, wonderful job with your detail and capturing the emotion, too!
Born_To_Race_#69 said...
Sept. 10, 2008 at 7:39 pm
I love reading about racing cause i was raised at Beech Bend Raceway cause myu mom,uncle,and alot of my cousions race their
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