Tonight is my last chance to make the hundreds of long, cold, and snowy miles payoff. I stretch my legs on the Astroturf inside the track, preparing my muscles for a heart-pounding race. Athletes of all skill levels strut on to the field, each one an opponent craving victory. The loudspeaker overhead announces it time for the 3200 meter girl runners to meet for role call. We gather on top of the chairs set up in a fraction of the sports ground. The PIAA official barks the names of the runners and goes over the basic rules. Only five minutes until race time.
Silently we walk to the starting line with our game faces on and nervous adrenaline rushing through our veins. The official shows us our marks and we get into stance. The gun goes up. Only six seconds. The energy around me is thick and I can almost hear the hearts beating in anticipation. Bang! My feet push off, this is it. Falling into a quick stride, I listen to the cadence of my steps in sync to my rapid breath. On heal of the runner ahead of me; I mimic her pace until I catch her off guard and speed past her. Coach yells his lungs out, his face a bright red. He wants this just as much as me, to qualify for the District Six Championships.
My feet feel light, almost as if I’m gliding on a field of clouds. All the power I’ve been bottling up in anticipation radiates through each muscle. I come to my fourth lap;
the race is half way over. I increase my pace, lengthening my stride. I can do this. One more lap. Coach yells, his voice perforating through the screams of the spectators,
“You have this, you’re doing it!”
A quarter mile to go, I break into my kick, running as fast as my legs can take me. The finish line is in sight, glowing like the light at the end of a tunnel. My muscles burn and lungs expand, but my tireless mind has conquered my body. With my eyes fixed on the goal, I shift into a dead sprint, catching a runner on the straight-away. My feet cross the line. Running through a crowd of spectators, coach appears ecstatic.
“You did it! Right on the mark. You ran an exact 13 minutes and 30 seconds. You are going to Districts!”
A sigh of relief goes through my body. The stadium looks almost surreal as I scan my eyes from the bleachers to the track. I’ve imagined this moment in my head a thousand times, but experiencing it is incomparable. I believe in myself; in all of my abilities. I look at the track as the road of my life. If I give up, I won’t get anywhere. I just take each day stride by stride, never losing sight of what is important to me.
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