“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call upon your spirit, which fortunately functions independently from logic.” – Tim Noakes
I heard my name, screamed over the noise of the crowd, and looked up to see my coach, pulling me out of my trance. She’d been prepping the rest of the girls for the races later in the night, but this was my time. My opportunity to prove myself to the scouts lined up on the bleachers, clipboards in hand and ready to decide if I was good enough.
“Are you ready for this?”
I gave her a swift nod wanting to make her proud. She wasn’t just the coach, but my mom. Looking away, I zoned in on the track under my feet. The girls I was racing against were jumping up and down, stretching their legs; anything to get rid of the jitters.
But I didn’t want to think about that or them or anything but the 800 meters ahead. The announcer gave the warning over the loud speakers as we all took our places simultaneously.
All the noise faded into the background until the only things I could hear were the dull roar of the crowd and my own heartbeat. The gun shot rang in my ears as my body shot forward, muscles burning and moving together to push me faster.
I could feel the girls on either side of me start to fall back while the one on the far left was pushing further ahead. My feet were like fire beneath me as we hit the last lap. I knew that if I wanted to win, I had to give everything I had left.
I turned to see the last straight away just as the girl on the far left slowly disappeared behind me. The noises started to come back and I realized the bodies up in the stands were chanting my name. I tried not to smile, but there was nothing quite as exhilarating as what I felt in that moment.
The little white line was only a few yards away, when a sharp jolt of pain went through my chest, knocking the wind of me so violently my legs collapsed beneath me. The sound of my heartbeat was back and pulsing in my ears, loud and much slower. My body hit the ground with such impact, my teeth rattled together and my skin burned into the tan rubber of the track.
But it was like I didn’t feel it.
I only felt my chest heaving as I desperately gasped for air. I felt hands on my arms flipping me onto my back, the flood lights burning my eyes, and the sound of my last name being repeated over and over again.
I clutched at my chest trying to figure how to get air back into my lungs when faces appeared above me, blurring together. Trying to fight whatever was pushing into my ribcage, everything went still.