Bang! The gun goes off! I thrust out of the starting blocks with full force and accelerate forward. As I run, my breaths become shallow, my chest tightens and I hear myself breathing loudly. I deeply inhale to capture air into my lungs. The air smells fresh and pure. My vision blurs. Only one thing is clear: the finish line straight ahead.
Track prepared me with the skills and discipline to be successful.
A voice in my head tells me to stop because it’s too hard and I begin to question whether I should continue. However, my mind is set on completing the race and it pushes me forward to the end. I cross the finish line. That was the longest 1 minute, 20 seconds of my life! The pain that I felt was no longer there, just the feeling of my happiness and joy, despite coming in last.
Past the finish line, the blurriness went away and I began to see more clearly. My teammates and coaches surrounded me and cheered me on. Looking back on my first organized track and field race brings me so much joy. Even though I finished last, I am amazed by where I started and how much I improved. And I can’t believe I swore off running races years ago.
As a middle schooler, I decided to join track and field because I thought I enjoyed running, but I did not expect to be so out of shape. When I wasn’t able to run one full lap around the school, I decided to quit because it was too hard. I couldn’t keep up with my peers. I couldn’t accomplish what my coaches asked. I didn’t want to let down my team.
One day in my sophomore year of high school, an announcement came on our morning news about track tryouts. “Why not?” I asked myself, and made it to the first practice. It was like the first practice in middle school all over again. I was tempted to stop. I wasn’t ready. I wondered why I tried again, but I didn’t quit. After week one, my body was adapting to the quick sprints and endurance exercises and I surprised myself with how good I was.
Through track, I learned that if I work hard enough, I can get better. Having a positive outlook on difficult situations will help me be more successful. I am capable of doing more than I thought I could. I never thought that I would have made varsity during my first year of running track, but I have.
Now, in my junior year of track, there are new runners who are where I was when I first started. I am able to share the experience that I had with them and encourage them to try their best and not give up. Running has given me the ability to test my limits, see how far I can go and share what I learned.
Revisiting track was one of the best things I have ever done because it never gets easy or too comfortable. It challenges me, and because of that, it has become my absolute favorite activity. Track prepared me with the skills and discipline to be successful and I am looking for my next challenge. I hope to run for a college team that performs at an even more competitive level.