I can feel the sweat dripping down my neck and I haven’t moved an inch since I positioned myself perfectly on the track. Below my fingertips I can feel the rubber grindings pressing back against my skin.To keep my nerves from overwhelming everything that I am right now, I focused in on simply that—the rubber beneath my fingertips. There was tension in the air as the starter walked across the track , clearing his throat as he went. I took a deep breath and thought about all that I have worked for up to this point. The race was about to begin.
My mind drifted somewhere else before the starter could begin the race. I remembered walking out of the doctors office with a tear in my eye. “I just cant let you race at this point, its to dangerous for you,” the doctor told me.Just wait I thought. Just wait until I get back out there and prove the doctor wrong. I wiped the tear from my face and pulled out my cell phone, swiped the screen open and dialed my coaches number. I continued to tell him I wouldn’t be able to race the next day [at the time] because I redeveloped a heart condition. The doctors weren’t entirely sure I could run again. They just said my blood pressure was too out of control. My coach wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t upset either. He was more concerned with my health than anything , which is what any real coach would be. Before i could let him off the phone though I added one more piece of thought to the conversation—”Coach, Ill be out there again soon. They think my heart is weak , but that was only a physical measurement. My true hearts stronger.”
I pulled myself back out of my thoughts and into the race again. The starter climbed up onto his ladder and began cleaning his gun.It still wasn’t really time to get into starting position , so I stood up and stretched a bit further.I practiced enough starts at this point and I know I’m ready.Once the starter was ready it was all walk and no more talk, or should I say all run.
Again I let my mind drift somewhere deep in my memory. The place I arrived comfortable and safe. I arrived at my last indoor track meet before the trip to the doctor. I relived the tension I felt—the heavy numbness I felt when my whole body gave up. I remembered slamming into the ground yet feeling nothing. “There goes Rupert,” the referee chanted as I fell to the ground only a few feet after the finish. At the time I hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on when I stood up. My head was spinning and the lights were brighter than before. I did know I gave it everything I had out there.”Rupert!Rupert, how do you feel,”my coach asked me from behind. Laughing with that excited sort of chuckle he always has.”I feel great coach , do you want me to tell you the truth know,” I asked him sarcastically. He replied back, “Don’t worry that’s what first place feels like kid,” and walked away—still chuckling. I looked up at the large standings screen which wasn’t too far from where I was. I waited, partially because I still couldn’t see the words on the screen. Eventually I made out the results, after a bit of scrolling the first place spot rolled up. It read, “FIRST …D.RUPERT…NO. 487.”
Aggression and Focus filled my veins as the starter called us to our lanes. I was no longer in my thoughts. I remembered enough about doctors telling me I couldn’t race, and the work i put in up to that point. It had been three months since then and I was here today to prove someone wrong.
“SET,” the starter yelled, preceding a dead silence in a once obnoxiously loud building. It always feels like forever passes by when I find myself in the set position , yet no thought leaves my mind other than getting out of blocks. Its the moment I save all my killer instincts for. The moment of truth.
“B-A-N-G,” The gun sounded. As if by natures design my legs became guns themselves, firing off an immense amount of power. The power forced itself through my legs, into my feet and back against the blocks they pressed up against.My body spring loaded forward, and I accelerated into my first step.
One step turned into a stride. One stride led to another. Before I knew it I was floating down the track and approaching the turn. I heard nothing except the sound of my heart beating into my chest.I didn’t care the least for all I knew this would be my last race. This could be my very last chance ever again. I grabbed my chest for the pain in my chest, trying my hardest to get it to stop. “RUPERT, RELAX,” my coach screamed in the distance. I couldn’t let my heart problem stop me from achieving greatness. I silenced my mind and pressed on. I told myself I was strong, I was fast and I was in no pain.
The truth is , I was dying. I never felt a pain more terrible. The worst fear is , it was where my heart was. My chest cramped and felt heavy. I told myself that was a fake feeling. As long as i pretended it wasn’t there nothing was going to stop me.
“FINISH IT,” my coach screamed as i approached the last few meters of the race.My chest went numb—My vision went blank—my head just span.
I finished my race in first place. I ran my lifetime fastest.I proved the world around me wrong. I proved myself. I am a runner with a heart problem—I wont give up.