This I Believe

Seth - Altamont, New York
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: sports, work

You never know the true extent of your will power. You have to be the one testing yourself. What felt hard got worse, what got worse became unbearable and what I thought was unbearable soon became endurable.

I recently faced a challenge that I chose to overcome. It was a track workout, a preparation for a race that was to come in the following few days. After multiple repetitions I found myself clinging to a fence, taking rapid and shallow breaths because of the self-inflicted fire in my chest. I clawed off my headband because of a pounding headache; I had slung half my body over the closest fence to support myself since my legs would not. All this and I was just getting to the hard part of the workout. I was frustrated beyond belief because I knew what was to come next, yet I couldn’t understand how I would, I was at a point of breaking down. After 5 minutes of regaining composure I departed from my new best friend and walked over to the starting line. I walked over like a hunchback, a slow shuffle, looking down at the ground with my arms glued to my side. Once I got to the line I had doubled over, I had my hands on my knees and my head was slumped down so my chin was touching my chest, The walk over felt like I used all the energy I needed for the next repetition. I finally straightened up, but only once it was time to start this repetition. My coach yelled for us to go and to my surprise my legs had responded. It was the longest 200 meters I’ve ever run. With 175 meters left I had already felt like I exhausted all the resources in my body, I was paddle boat trying to traverse a desert. I kept telling myself to go faster, urging myself to remember how the mind shuts down before the body, telling myself I was strong and at the same time trying to believe it. I tried pumping my arms harder hoping that my legs would follow the example. With 50 meters left my calf muscles lost all the strength they had which resulted in a heel slapping rather than a fluid toe-off. There was little physical strength left; I was powering through with my mind; just telling myself that I was able to keep going. Once I passed the finish line I collapsed. I crawled over to the fence and then repeated this 2 more times. Willpower is what helped me get through each interval and it’s what helped me shuffle to the line getting ready for another.

As painful of a workout as that was, and as enlightened as I felt after finally knowing what I could achieve, I simply know that there is so much more to come. After all, coming in to this workout I thought it would be impossible, it seemed unbearable and now I’m ready for worse. There is no way a person can know what the limits of their body or mind can do. When someone fights for what they believe is possible, like Martin Luther King Jr. did, then no matter what the adversaries, you can succeed. Yet, you can’t succeed if you don’t believe.