The Race Essay

The Race Essay

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One of my numerous running T-shirts reads “You’ve got to want it.” That seems to be everything out here and frankly, I just don’t seem to want it badly enough today. My legs are finally healthy; there’s no major joint, bone or tendon problem anymore. But mentally I am weak. I am breaking down. I am running too slowly. And it’s all happening too fast.

The first half mile I am solidly boxed in. Elbows flying everywhere, I swivel my flailing body searching for my rhythm, trying to find my place in the pack. Damn the starter and his refusal to give us a better starting slot. The first 400 meters is a solid mass of sprinting girls and I am stuck squarely behind the ones who are slowly beginning to realize just how long 3.1 miles is. A spike claws at my foot and I shove to move forward. The mulch path narrows even further and as we turn away from the crowd of spectators, we move out into the heart of the race. We surge uphill, downhill, around the pond, over the boardwalk, up the hill again, and around the pole. Our muscles churn, our breathing intensifies, and our temperatures are rising. Spit is beginning to fly, and I’m sure there are a few urine-coated legs in the field as well. But I take no notice. None of us do. We can’t afford to focus on anything but the race.

The first mile marker passes, and a husky voice calls out 7:29. I’m incredibly slow, and still too far behind. I pick it up for maybe a quarter mile. This is the point where I tell myself to run faster and get where I should be; that this is where I start my race and I should make the most of the middle mile, the toughest section. I can do anything for twenty minutes. Focus on the numbers of that jersey. Focus! But it doesn’t work, and I begin to succumb. It’s ter...


... middle of paper ...


...re than a bit out of it. I talk to my mom and dad for awhile, generally
wondering what I am saying. Mostly I’m just seeking water. The atmosphere is fabulous; it’s the reason I’m here, the reason I do it. All of the runners are congratulatory; we’ve all suffered the same things. The spectators are in complete awe. Dani is shocked by it all, wondering why we torture ourselves the way we do. I guess we’re just a different breed. I guess it’s just part of us. I love it, even when it’s awful. Kim says she loves watching it, that she wishes we were delirious and crazy all the time. I think Steve is simply amazed. They all say they wish there were a culture where urine and phlegm and spit were so abundant and common and people were nuts like this. I tell them there is.

We are. They say there’s just too much running. I think to myself, next week I will want it more.

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