I glanced down at my brightly-colored watch. Only two more minutes, Lily. You can make it, I thought encouraging thoughts to overcome the pain of testing your body's limits.
Six hundred meters to go. I forced my gasping breaths into controlled, deep ones. I could hear the screams for the top varsity runners as they dashed across the line. I could see the long-awaited finish, but the course was so conveniently engineered that runners would be so close they could taste it, only to have to pass it, loop around, and come back.
Two hundred meters. I leaped downhill for the final stretch. It felt like an eternity. My mouth twitched slightly at the red numbers on the clock, unable to form a smile in my delirium. Still within 21 minutes. Okay Lily, let's go. Today's the day to break 22.
Then I sensed something in the corner of my eye. I jerked my head sideways to see two teammates pop out of nowhere. Oh, poop was all I could think. Your varsity position comes down to this. Either both of them will pass you, or neither of them will.
With every last ounce of energy I had, I dashed ahead, heaving a sigh of relief as my lime green race spikes hit the gray timing pad. I had manged to stay in front. I had broken 22.
Last week, I finally broke 22 minutes in the 5k (3.1 mi) for a personal record of 21:52. It's something I've wanted for forever. I did my very best to describe what a cross country race is like near the finish. They're excruciating battles between your mind and body.
It's a sport that I love deeply, but it can be quite stressful at times. Our team has become pretty decent this year with the addition of kick-butt freshmen and move-ins. We've managed to win a couple trophies and we have high hopes to qualify for the regional meet. I've run all varsity races since sophomore year, but with so much competition, it's a fight to stay in the top 7 on the team.
The week after I set a personal record, our meet was miserable. The water was knee-deep at some places on the course and it was pelting rain during the race. I wish I could say that I didn't let the conditions get to me. I wish I could say that I ran my best there. But my mind lost the battle that day. I couldn't focus; I didn't remind myself that I can count the number of meets I have left on my fingers. The worst feeling in the world is finishing a race feeling like you could've run faster.
Disappointment is never welcome, but it always ignites a spark in me. It ignites the burning desire in my soul for improvement. To redeem myself. To conquer the voices inside and outside your head saying that you can't.
I wasn’t born a runner. I still remember the sinking feeling of dread when my 7th grade gym teacher announced the mile run test. I still remember how each short lap around the track seemed like an excruciating eternity. I still remember stuttering across the finish, heaving for breath, sweat-drenched and beat, at eleven minutes.
It definitely was not logical that I decided to run a charity 5k for my friend’s mother later that spring. But this seemingly insignificant act of goodwill was what transformed into my deep passion for running. I began training every morning before school; first I tackled a mile, then, as the summer wore on, I plunged head first into cross country conditioning. I grew to smile at the mention of the sport that once made me cringe. I wasn’t naturally talented, but what I lacked in innate ability, I made up for with intense determination.
Running has taught me that all obstacles are ephemeral. I never would have imagined that I would enjoy running, let alone excel at it. I never would have imagined that I could run thirteen miles this past summer without stopping. I never imagined that it would create such a profound imprint on my life and identity. I am by no means the fastest runner and my mentality is by no means flawless. But with each stumble, I simply brush myself off and continue with enthusiasm and renewed resolve.
Life is perhaps a mental battle. Our mindset is so pivotal in determining many outcomes. I recognize that I am human and that I will slip, but I strive to pick myself off, perhaps not gracefully at times, and move forward with fresh determination.
I've had to dress up frequently, mostly for sports. Before a game, match, or meet, the students at my school either dress up or wear team shirts. I was thrilled to receive this dress from eShakti for that very reason. I've always been a huge fan of their classy selection, but I'm always most excited about their custom sizing options. You just type your very own measurements in, customize the neckline, sleeves, and length, and bam! A dress made just for you.
I seem to always mess up this online ordering thing though. This time, I remembered to select short dress so I wasn't drowning in material, but I put my exact measurements in, so it's rather hard to breathe in this coral beauty. Tip for all you online shoppers: make sure to add an inch or two to your measurements--or take chest mesurements when you're inhaling!
Now on to the application process! I'm trying to take everything one thing at a time--it's much less intimidating and so much more manageable. If you feel like you're drowning too, I promise it works. Since I can't blog as frequently, I'd like to share how I spend my time these days. Next up, details about my multiple orchestras!
Finally, I love this song below because of the line "just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die." It's perfect for running. And life in general.
Have a beautiful week, friends!