Personal Column: Race to the finish line

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The cross country team rises early as a team to condition for their meets. They then start at the line together and compete for the winners circle. (Abigail Collins photo)

The cross country team rises early as a team to condition for their meets. They then start at the line together and compete for the winners circle. (Abigail Collins photo)

Every morning the alarm goes off at 5:30 A.M., and every morning I roll the other way. I try to ignore the noise. It’s 5:39 A.M., the alarm goes off again. The inspiration of wanting to wake up is beyond me. Not going to practice every morning is what I would like to do, but the more I put off the Cross Country workouts in the morning, the more I know I will regret it.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,”  says Zig Zigler. This is the motivational quote that goes through my head while I’m running. Weakness is not an option for my team and me. Coach Tolbert pushes us to be our best. She pushes us because she knows that we can be better then what we think we are.

The morning practices are always the toughest. It’s not the first thing that a normal teenager would mind doing, but in my case, practices in the morning give me a rush. Sure everyone would rather sleep an extra thirty minutes or so, but hitting the track in the morning with my team is exciting. The sweat, the pain, even the tears are what come with this sport.

We push through the pain; we push through the soreness. Hearing Coach Tolbert’s voice in the morning only pushes us more. The drills. The pace. The hills. Nothing can stop an unbelievable team when they’re at their best.

The three miles we run can either be an endless amount of time or the fastest 22 minutes of your life. It all depends on the runner. The beginning of a meet all begins with waking up at 5:30 A.M. and arriving to school at the appropriate time the agenda tells us to. We get ready, put our uniforms on and get on the bus to prepare for the ride. In the mornings, most of us sleep on the long ride there or calm our nerves with some music. I listen to my playlist on my phone to mentally prepare myself for the race. When we arrive to the meet, we get all of our stuff down and set up camp.

Before a race, Coach Tolbert tells the girls and boys to walk the course to see and know where we run. The circles we walk around. The long straights. The dirt. The mud. The endless hills we have to conquer. Even the rain we must run through, will not stop us from what we have come here to do. We fight through any kind of weather that is thrust upon us.

Standing on the starting line can be a very nerve wrecking experience. We have four girls to stand on the line and begin to do drills to warm up for the big race. The man with the gun begins to talk to us. He explains the rules and the procedures to follow for the first 100 yards. Once the gator gets in front of us, we know that the race is about to begin. We say a prayer and then prepare for the race.

“Runners ready. Runners set,” the man fires the gun.

During the race, many emotions, many things begin to pop up in my head. I sing a fast pace song in my head. I look at the runner in front of me and criticize. But then I realize the time I’m spending to talk about the girl in front of me can be time spent to pass her.

I look for my coaches throughout the race. The first mile. The second mile. In between the third. Coach Tolbert and Coach Lozier are always going to be there to encourage us and tell us when we need to speed up. They tell us when to pass people and when to start the kick before we cross the finish line.

Crossing the finish line is the best feeling in the world. Finishing a three mile race is something to feel great about. All the training and all the pain is worth it in the end. And finally hearing Coach Tolbert say that she is proud of me is what I look forward to in the end. When I know that I have given it my all and ran the race. She pushes me to my limits, no holding back. She knows what she’s talking about. She is a very wise woman. She has trained state champions and has even trained a Silver Medal Olympian. The sweat, pain, and tears is worth it in the very end.

People say and think that we’re crazy to run this sport. People cannot even believe the workouts that we endure, but it is all what comes with the sport. It is something that we love to do. We are a family, and walking on the track in the mornings is always an amazing feeling.