The track has a fog rising over it due to the recent rain, and runners seem to appear out of nothing. It is May 29th, and today is also the Sectional track meet to qualify for state. I, along with three other guys am in a relay in which each of us runs two laps, the 3200 meter relay. Our personal best time this year was 8 minutes and 23 seconds, the estimated time to qualify for state was 8 minutes. Our chances were slim at best, but regardless we were ready to go.
Coach huddles us together, “Boys, what can I say? Go out and run the best you can, we can only hope for a personal best.” His tone is solemn and timid. “We know the plan: VT gets us off to a good start, Sprung maintains as best he can, Joey does the same, and Z runs like hell for whatever place he can.
” That was it; from then on it was us four, the track, and the other ten teams all fighting for the top three spots that make it to state. I have grown accustomed to having a lot of pressure being the anchor of this relay, no matter how well or poorly the first three guys run, the final result always comes down to my performance. We finish our final strides and head to the staging area, a race official slowly walks us from one end of the track to the starting line, all runners except the first are taken off to the side.
VT starts us off well as usual; we sit comfortably in fourth place through one lap. Where he usually starts passing a few guys, VT is blown away by half the field and sits in sixth when he hands off to Sprung. Sprung does his job like always, only better, he phenomenally ends up handing off to Joey in second place. The crowd is starting to get restless for the anchor legs, and the noise is growing. I look around at my competition, most of these guys are two years older than me, but that’s never stopped me from beating them before. Joe has recently come off of mono, and is weak, but he maintains well for the first lap. From that point on, it seemed as if nothing could go right. Joey quickly fell to the back of the pack and it seemed he could only get slower. “JOEY! Pick your butt up, these guys are counting on you!” Coach’s voice pierces through the whole crowd. Joey came in as best he could, and almost killed himself in the process, but gave me the baton in sixth place. “I’m sorry.” He faintly mutters before walking off the track and collapsing.
I dart into position not knowing what is going to happen. I have to determine the outcome, and regardless of what place I started in it was my job to get us to state. Coming through the first lap, I had not moved position wise, which was perfect. One lap left, 400 meters, and I could not have been more satisfied with my plan. With 300 left I swing all the way out to lane three, I see my coach jumping at the end of the track for me to move, I respond without any haste. I fly by guys as if they are standing still, and I soon find myself in third place. This is it, this is all I needed, but there are 200 meters left. First place is out of sight, but I’m swiftly coming up on second, and then swiftly go past. The last 100 meters of this race are a blur; I do not remember how I ran it. I do know, however, that I finished in second place and brought our team to state. From the moment I finished that race, I was on a cloud of joy and pleasure. My team was dancing around me; our coaches were befuddled, not understanding how a relay team that had run a pitiful 8:23 the week before could run an 8:02 today. Frequently I am put in this position where I must stand above the rest, it cannot always end up perfectly, but for today it did.
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