My heart pounded and sweat poured down my face as I approached the halfway point. The sound of step after monotonous step was drown out by the cheers. The crowd was yelling and screaming with encouragement, but glad that they were not in my shoes. Although running is a one person sport, I felt as though I was not alone; picking out the familiar voices of family and friends. I knew that I was only getting started on my 25 kilometer (15.5 miles) journey, and it would take more than the enthusiasm of the crowd for me to finish. Little did I know that soon I would come face to face with my toughest opponent, the only one that would truly know if I gave it my all and pushed my body to the limit. That opponent was myself.
As I continued through the seemingly interminable miles, I fought my mental battle, and found myself on mile 14. Only a mile and a half left in the race. Everything that I had worked so hard for; all of the sweat and training would come down to these pivotal final minutes.
I was exhausted and gasping for air. I could not feel my arms or legs. This was my breaking point, I had worked my body to total fatigue. But something in my mind told me to persevere, told me I would not quit, told me what a true champion I was. At only 14 years old, I was determined to overcome my pain and accomplish my greatest goal: to be one of the youngest runners to complete the 25 kilometer Riverbank Run. Then I saw it, my eyes lit up as I gazed at the finish line. I heard my name over the loudspeaker, and completed the race.
I believe that determination leads to hard work, and hard work leads to success. Without determination, goals would just be dreams. There is a vast difference between those who set goals and the ones who are determined enough to accomplish them. That very moment of achievement and pride showed me what I was capable of. I did not back down to the challenge that was presented to me. I was determined, and overcame my biggest obstacle in my young running career.
My determination did not stop after I was finished running. I have chosen to carry that same mentality into everything that I am a part of. I will do whatever it takes, no matter what the circumstances, to do my absolute best.