Tales of the Runner

“It is okay, Emily, you can do this!” I tell myself as I approach the 1500 meter starting line on Randolph’s pretty red track with over a dozen other girls. Questions of why do I do this to myself? and when does the torture end? enter my head, but I push them away and focus on the win I am aiming for.
I look down as I tug on my royal blue spandex shorts and see a white sticker with a big black “1” on it smiling back at me. Not a friendly smile, but a smile that reads: you had better prove that you deserve my presence on your hip!
I jump up and down a few times just to warn my heart about the five minutes of cardiac workout that lies ahead. The official tells us to take one step back and I call out a “good luck, ladies!” to my opponents who wish me well in return. He blows the whistle and disturbs the slumber of the earplugs that are around his neck as he puts them into his ears. Together we step up to the line and I swear that I can hear the steady staccato heart beats of the other girls around me.
BAM! The gun goes off, sending an urgent message to my brain. Run, Emily, run! I listen to what my brain tells me, and my legs move as I take off. “Get out there, Em!” My coach yells from the other side of the fence, and I listen to every word that he says. I tune out everything else that is happening around me and move into my own little subconscious world.
As I round the first curve, my favorite work out song replaces the little voice in my head. Let the bodies hit the floor. Let the bodies hit the floor. Let the bodies hit the floor. Oh yeah, some Drowning Pool! The music surges through my body, and I match my footfalls to the beat of the music in my head. I notice my parents and teammates standing up against the fence, but I cannot hear a single word that they are yelling out for me. My brain has taken over; my body is on autopilot.
I “turn the music down” and listen for the heavy breathing of one of my enemies right behind me. Surprisingly, I cannot hear a single thing – all I hear is my own breathing and my own footsteps. Comfortable with my lead, I “turn the music up.” ONE – nothing wrong with me. TWO – Nothing wrong with me. THREENothing wrong with me. FOUR – Nothing wrong with me. ONE! Something’s got to give. TWO! Something’s got to give. THREE! Something’s got to give – NOW!
BAM! The gun is shot again, interrupting the music in my head. This gunshot signals that the first place runner has only one lap left to go, the leader being myself. I pass where my coach is standing for the third time and realize that I only have 300 meters left until the race is finished. With “Bodies” in my head, I lengthen my stride and pick up my pace. 200 meters left to go. Nothing wrong with me! 100 meters left to go. I “lower the volume” in my head and focus on the red track that has been laid out before me. Okay, Emily, all you have to do now is go into a full sprint and finish this race once and for all!
Almost there! ALMOST THERE! The familiar feeling of having no control of my legs washes over me, and I just let them run. They are connected to my body, but I have no feeling in them at all. I cross the finish line in first place. Just like that, the race that I have been dreaming about all week is over. The 1500 meter record for my school is now mine, and I “turn off” the music inside my head. “Bodies” will not be necessary until my next race.
Breathing heavily, I bend over and attempt to catch my breath. My fingers brush up against something on my hip. I glance down and see that the “1” on my hip looks like it was made to be there.

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One thought on “Tales of the Runner

  1. From one writer to another: this was phenomenal. Just, lovely all around.

    It made me feel like I was running, and at the end I got goosebumps.
    Then again, I’m on my third cup of coffee today and I might be a bit more hyperaware than normal, but hey. It was magnifico. 😀

    Oh, yeah;
    And I have a new blog: http://www.kggeorge.wordpress.com
    And I might actually write in this one.

    <3! you-know-who. And if you don’t know who, you should. I’ve only commented on this thing fifty billion times XD

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