My palms sweat. I whisper a prayer rapidly to God. A prayer that I don’t die and will get through, mainly. A prayer that says, “Please God, in some way, shape, form or fashion, please get me out of this in one piece,” because I know the pain that I’m about to endure. My heart races, and yet I still have a head full of expectations. “Runners on your mark,” the gun man shouts. I get in my stance and Bang! It goes off, and I fly.
As a seventh grader, I decided to join the off season track team. Little by little, I gained more mileage until it was an addiction to see exactly how far I could push myself. I strived to be better than the people around me and took pride in showing my potential. I also thought it was cool that I could out run most of the boys in my grade. Later that year, after hearing about cross country sign ups, I immediately went to the office to sign up. I found myself the next year racing for miles upon end most of the time thinking my whole body was going to explode. However, at the end of most races I wished I could have done something different to cut my time.
Each new race was hosted at a different place and involved something new which is kind of like life. With each new day there is something new to face just like in a race. In addition, before a race, I must prepare myself mentally just as I have to do with each new situation in life. Also, throughout a race, I have to go through a copious amount of pain. This sharp, stinging pain makes me feel like I’m literally going to die. My pain sends signals to my body screaming “Stop!” However, my heart speaks over my brain and refuses to quit. It uses the words of Thomas the train and says, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” It yells for me to keep going and says that there’s only a short amount of time left. It’s during this time that something rises in me, and I begin to soar on the ground, giving everything I have, yet saving a little bit of energy for the last 100 meters. Somehow, it’s at the last 100 meters where I sprint to the finish gasping for breath, but still passing some competitive competitors as my team cheers me on. It’s here where I feel so alive yet disappointed with myself all at once and where I realize I can reflect this experience to life.
Just like in life, there is a beginning, middle, and an end. Each race is unique and will have its potholes, mud, and pain to face, but in order to be successful, I must preserver through all the agony and keep my sight on the finish. Also, at the finish, I can be happy or disappointed with myself. It is the same with life. At the end of a trial, I can overcome it and learn something from the experience, or I can learn nothing and look back at it with regret and disappointment.
Running has taught me a lot about myself as well as what I can accomplish. I believe that if I set my mind on something, I can accomplish it, despite the pain I may have to press through. I believe that I can overcome anything that comes my way. Also, I believe that it’s okay to be scared of the gun; however, that doesn’t mean I should back out or not try something.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.