“One more lap, Em!”
“Gotta speed up on this one if you want that time!”
“100 meters left!”
“Kick it in!”
…I can still hear them in my head. Yelling at me. Screaming. Coaches losing their voices and freaking me out in the process.
Legs and arms numb. Clock ticking. Each second costing me a new record, title, or trip to states.
The only person who ever put pressure on me was Trevor (“You can go faster than that, Emmie,” he’d say). But I put pressure on myself. I wanted to make Dad proud. I wanted him to say “You go, girl!” I wanted more records to post on the non-existent record board. I craved the endorphins, the runner’s high. I wanted that oh-so-hyper-and-excited feeling I experienced after every race when I could breathe again.
I associated running with the painful knots in my back and the ever-present butterflies in my stomach. I popped pain reliever before each race and numbed my back with Icy Hot. I snapped at loud, immature teammates and tried to think about anything but the girls whom I knew were my competition. I dreaded every single meet on the schedule, some more than others.
But I did well. And I made Dad proud. And I set several records and went to states several times.
But I regret not having a better attitude toward running.
I am so jealous of the team my high school coach has now. I had to run with the boys; it looks like all of these high school girls run together. And they do races together in the summer. And they’re always smiling.
…I wish I could have had the opportunity for their enthusiasm to rub off on me.
Maybe I could have developed a better relationship with running. Maybe I could have had fun. Maybe I would have – gasp! – loved it. Instead of sitting here, missing that high but not wanting to go through the pain of recreating it.
They always told me to go faster. I wanted to slow my life down.
Now I want to go fast again. I just lack the wherewithal.