The Passion of a Runner

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My lungs were burning, my legs were aching but my heart was on fire. I made a final push as I approached the highest degree incline of the hill. My arms pumped and my legs went numb. The watch read one minute and one second for time. That was the first. My gaze fell over the roughly 300 meters of hill I had just climbed with my team. Our breath came rough and ragged yet we all shared the same thought, faster next time.

Last year was nothing short of failure. With the all around worst Fremd record of oh-and-nine the cross country team fell to nothing more than a joke and a bad memory. An utterly repulsive sight to see in the yearbook, all that would change this year.

The rest was over and the second ascent began. Aaron and I lead the pack with a ripping pace. Much sooner than before, my legs screamed for rest. I denied the request instead relying on hard pumps from my arms for speed. The team tightly packed in behind me and we all looked at only one thing, the crest. We were an unstoppable force. Pushing our bodies to the limit, we accelerated together as the hill became steeper. Arms flew, legs pumped and muscles stretched themselves passed what is thought to be possible. The clock read only sixty seconds. Faster next time.

Running is an amazing thing. I never cease to be amazed by what I can do to myself and still survive to run tomorrow. For some, the aching muscles and racing heartbeat is an unthinkable state of being. However, a chosen few can only feel alive when they are pushing past what others say is impossible. This is the mindset of a runner. There is a kind of thrill that is associated with blowing away what you previously thought you couldn’t do. Sometimes it’s turning ten miles into fifteen, your breath coming quick yet steady and looking back afterward to realize that it was time well spent. Other times the only thing in the world to do is to sprint for as long as you can, as fast as you can, barely finishing, and do it again. It’s a difficult feeling to put into words, often mistaken for madness, yet one felt by all who truly push their limits to the edge and then jump.

We stood at the line about to start again. I jumped up in order to jump start my legs. There was no way to go faster than last time other than to give it everything we had. The watch started and the world exploded. Matt started to slide off the pack and Austin got up on his side to keep him strong. We ran as one, challenging ourselves and each other. Flying now, there would be no holding back. We pulled out everything we had in the tank. Any reserves were blown away as ran on sheer power. I would only let one thought enter my mind as I raced against myself, “State”. I would accept nothing less than the state meet for myself and my team. I knew this was just one challenge we would have to not only survive, but conquer. I threw my head up to focus on only the crest of the hill to block out the screaming of my legs for just a little rest. “C’mon Boys!!” our coach was yelling at the top, “Push it out Push it out.” There was no stopping us. We rocketed over the hill’s summit. Fifty-nine seconds. I would accept nothing less than state. Could we go even faster? Those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible.

Running on an empty tank is a miraculous thing. There really is no overestimating the human body. No matter how much you hurt or how tired you are or how unfair the conditions, if you want something enough you can push yourself even more. Last year I suffered much worse than the failure of the team, I failed to meet my father’s expectations. He was sure that I would run for varsity and be a great addition to the team. He believed it so much that soon I learned to believe it. However, as the season went on, it became painfully clear that there would be no top tier competition for me. After much self meditation I found the reason for my failure of both my standards and the standards of the one I wanted to impress most. I didn’t want it enough. When given the option for ten miles or six I would ultimately choose six. Sometimes I would convince myself that I had picked ten but run them at a pace that wouldn’t help me to improve at all. Hardly the varsity athlete, I couldn’t muster up enough drive to extend a workout let alone race to nearly my potential. It’s a painful thing to admit to yourself that you suck. It’s a lot more painful thing to admit that it’s your fault for choosing to be that way. But the hardest step is choosing to become more.

As I stood at the starting line I remembered that it was time to be something more. I decided that I wanted this more than anything in the world. Victory would only be a result of my need to improve myself. We started the watch and the world flew by me. I could feel myself leaving my limits completely behind. I was barely even tied to my body anymore. There was no listening to the pleading of my oxygen deficient legs. I was determined to defeat myself, and I dug deep to reach farther than I had ever reached before. It was all in and there were no such things as reserves or holding back anymore. I pushed with everything I had, everything I had ever had. State, state, state, state. The one word that defined my failure or success flew through my head again pushing me faster and faster. And as the peak came into view I looked down, clenched my fists and ran on passion alone. Those who attempt the absurd achieve the impossible. Fifty-seven seconds.

The workout didn’t win the team any awards. There was no trophy at the top of the hill. But I believe that when it does come down to me and that other guy who thinks he wants the win, I will never lose. Not unless the other guys bleeds to beat me.





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