Midnight Mile This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 13, 2008
Summer vacation means lazy months, time for kids to relax and soak up the sun, rejuvenating for the upcoming school year. Everyone anticipates it, as freedom gets closer with every waking hour. Even the teachers mark their calendars, counting down the days. Yet, as the final bell rings on the final day of final exams, my nerves make my stomach clench. Now I need to start training for the night I most dread: the midnight mile.

The midnight mile has been a tradition in volleyball for years at my school. On the first day of tryouts, everyone meets on the track at midnight to run a mile. The feeling when you are lined up at the starting line waiting for the whistle to blow is a mix of adrenaline and fear, with not just butterflies inside your stomach but also fire-breathing dragons. The hardest part of the whole thing is getting the required time. Seven minutes and fifteen seconds sounds like a long time until you’re sprinting as fast as you can, each second counting against you. Making the mile in time is necessary if you want to be considered for the team, so I made it my goal to work out all summer to defeat the clock.

When the day of the midnight mile finally arrived, it seemed to last forever. I kept glancing at the clock, counting down the hours. I made sure to eat well all day. I had trained hard over the summer to reach my time, but even though I knew I could make 7:15, my nerves overrode my confidence. At 11 p.m. I left for the track. The stadium lights were on and cars were filling the lot. Since the beginning of this tradition, fans would come out to offer support. Friends, family, and ex-volleyball players filled the stands.

The other players and I started out with a quick warm-up lap and stretches. Finally, our coach called us over to the track, and we lined up, trying to squeeze into a good spot. I pushed to the front. I would rather start the race in front than have people slow me down.

Coach yelled, “On your mark.” I leaned into my running position, heart pounding. I could hear the breathing of the girls around me, but I tried to focus on the red track in front of me, the white lines seeming to stretch out endlessly. “Get set.” My feet were heavy. My knees started shaking. “Go!” I was off.

I pushed my way to the front, and once there, I set my pace. All I could think about was putting one foot in front of the other, and breathing. Before I knew it, the first lap was over. Three to go. I couldn’t slow down; I pushed myself with every stride. In the second lap I started to feel a strain in my stomach. Third lap done, I was almost finished.

The sweat was dripping into my eyes. I sensed the others behind me. I started to speed up. I had to finish hard. I could see the finish line off in the distance, so I began to sprint. My legs felt like jelly, but I kept running. The crowd was cheering, but all I could hear were the times called out in the cool night air. I passed through the line at six minutes and 35 seconds. Pain and joy coursed through me. My legs felt as if they were going to collapse, but none of that mattered. I had finished my best mile ever.

I had never felt so accomplished and it was all because of the hard work I put in over the summer. The midnight mile may have been a dreaded day, but when it was over, it became one of my happiest memories.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

gaby23 said...
Nov. 12, 2010 at 7:32 pm

This was a really entertaining peice that kept me wanting more!

niiiice job :) I'm about to go to basketball practice and want to work as hard as you did.

corbin said...
Jul. 5, 2009 at 4:15 am
i play volleyball also, and our training is very difficult also. but i love how you put it all into words, ive never looked at sports as something to write about.. im glad you made your goal reality, haha the first day of tryouts of my freshmen year i threw up cause i wasnt in shape :/ oh well i know better for this year! haha great piece!
Emily M. said...
May 10, 2009 at 1:52 pm
I like this article! I run too, and I can definitely relate!
Sheebs said...
Mar. 25, 2009 at 9:12 pm
I play volleyball too and I know how tough it is training for it. I'm glad you made the time. Good article!
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