“This is it boys, every diet, every workout, and every practice we have put forth this season comes down to this one race. This determines whether or not we are PAC champions. ” My heart was beating so fast that I had a rhythmic pound in my neck. My sweaty hands had a death grip on the baton. I vigorously shook every fiber of muscle in my body, trying to release some of the tension. The only thing that kept us from being PAC champions was Gibson Southern, who maintained the lead for the majority of that meet.
Our team fought the whole night to chip away at their lead, which was a measly 1. points. The four by four, one of the most grueling races of track, is the final race of the whole meet, and would be our last shot at gaining the title. With the outcome of our whole team’s season on our shoulders, we marched down the last one hundred meters of asphalt. The stretch to the starting line was miles away (hyperbole), but it would feel even longer while running. The crowd rose to their feet and engulfed either side of the track. Whoops came from all directions. We were given a debriefing from the officials, but no one listened.
Our bodies ached from the amount of force brought on by multiple races, but no one cared. All senses were put on a temporary hold, the only thing properly working was the continued pump of adrenaline. Our four man team held the baton in unison one last time. My final memory was coach’s ending words of encouragement, “Nobody on this track works as hard as you four guys. Repeated hard work has never let anybody down. ” He was right. We sweat in the snow and in the heat, we refused all fast and junk food, and we had taken our bodies to the edge every single day only to push it a little bit further the next.
Our team was not the most athletic bunch, but over the past seven months we evolved into the best team in the area. A moment like this only happens once and we were far prepared. All beginning runners began to descend to their staggered start. High tension rang in at all directions. Every runner would have a practice start and loosened up by jumping. I stood there motionless only focused on the last 50 seconds of control I had left on the meet. “Runners take your mark. ” My body took a running position. The whole field was silent.
You could feel the tension beaming off every individual. Set” I inhaled one last time. “BANG” The gun screamed through the whole field (personification), followed by an uproar from the crowd. My left leg digged into the ground to gain any type of traction to propel me forward. My arms swung like pendulums to gain rhythm and momentum(simile). I was in the third lane which meant I would be starting significantly further back from other runners. In the first one hundred, it is crucial to get off to a quick start. It is always easier to maintain a fast speed than to speed up later. If we were to win I needed to start off swift and end in a sprint.
By the end of the first one hundred I had already surpassed one runner. My lungs burned and my body ached for a stop, but I was only 1 quarter of the way done. My legs kept their motor and pumped out yardage. With two hundred meters down the second turn was approaching. The beginning of the halfway point is where your body begs you to stop and your muscles begin to pulsate. My mind looked for an escape from my screeching legs (personifications). My favorite part of the race was approaching, the end. At the last one hundred meters I was right where I needed to be.
At this part of the race, all others are tired, but I have been working all year for this moment. I used the raw passion from the crowd and mustered up what little energy I had left to put together a full out sprint. The four hundred is known to be the most excruciating pain a run can bring, but in that moment, for the last one hundred meters, I no longer felt pain. My whole body felt like I held in a sneeze (simile). Every square inch was tingling. A couple of seconds ago I was fighting just to catch a breath, you would think at that moment more than ever would be a breaking point.
Maybe it was a breaking point, a point to wear “normal” feelings were put on hold and instead, everything that was felt came in shivers. I used this temporary lapse of feeling to my advantage. With only a hundred meters left, I leapt into a full out sprint, and it was as if I had been resting for ages. I felt rejuvenated. Inch by inch and step by step, I worked toward minimizing the gap. I was exerting any energy I had left into this final push. I flew to quickly minimize the gap between my teammate and I (metaphor). My sense of any feeling was completely gone, as I engulfed all runners in my path.
I extended my arm to pass the baton to my teammate. With enough time to look around I noticed that only one starting runner beat me, and he was in lane seven. To finish near the front in the four by four is a huge accomplishment for any inside lane runner. I gave the only control I had left in that meet my all, and it was now up to my teammates. The starting runners waited for the official to wave us off the track. When he did, half the of us collapsed onto the field. Still high on the adrenaline, I ran to the other side of the field to cheer on my teammates.
The only team ahead was Heritage Hills. Winning did not matter, what mattered was maintaining our lead on Gibson Southern, which held third. It was the single most loudest moment I have heard the field be. Everyone of our runners was hitting their groove. Stride after stride, handoff after handoff, every runner fed of the energy and ran with their mind. Fifty three seconds. That was the amount of time it took to lose feeling, and for my mind to take total control over all mechanics of in body. It was a small sliver of time that called back on a span of seven month’s worth of work.
Our four by four team performed in unison to come in second place. Gibson Southern came in a very close third. My teammates and I were all given an opportunity to sacrifice a brief moment of pain in order to reap the benefits of being champions. We grew up together watching the older runners take home conference, while wondering what it felt like to have a title of our own. To win by this slim of margin, on the last race, and just being able to contribute, was the greatest amount of elation I have ever felt in my life.