I thought I was going to die. I had the taste of blood in my throat and every breath was tearing up my lungs. I wanted to quit. I wanted to fake an injury just so I didn’t have to run anymore, but for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Of course this was almost every race I ran, but something was different about this one. I learned something very valuable that cool, windy, November afternoon; something I would carry with me for the rest of my life. Failure can be your best accomplishment.
As the bus approached the stop my heart dropped to my stomach. The amount of fear I had was all- consuming. It’s the last race of the season, and last chance to beat my best time. Every practice that I worked hard at before this would now reflect in this last race. The pressure was building up inside me at a rapid pace. I was a balloon about to burst.
BOOM! As soon as I heard that shot I took off sprinting like gazelle with a lion trailing close behind. It was every girl for herself, and there was no sympathy for anyone who was left behind. They would just fall back as if they were a small child who wandered away from their parents in the grocery store.
I remember being in a crowded body of girls with dirt and grass flying everywhere. It was as if we were a wild pack of wolves, and all we cared about was being the first one to get the deer. As a tremendous amount of adrenaline flowed through my veins, I hadn’t even noticed the ground camouflaged with ankle twisting holes, just waiting for their next victim.
As the steep hill quickly approached, I fell further and further behind. I was no longer with the pack. I made it up the hill, but was now that stray child who lost their parents. The race had defeated me, and by this point I was mentally checked out. This would be my down fall, and would prevent me from ever beating my personal record.
I kept running but was no longer enthusiastic about it. It was as if it became a chore that I had to do or I would get in trouble. That was the last thing I ever wanted.
I was on my second lap of the course, and at this point even the slowest girls were passing me. It was time to run through the sand again and it was like a vast black hole waiting to consume me. Every stride felt like death. I swore I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt trapped.
After what felt like forever, I made it out of the vicious black hole. I was so close to finishing, and as I approached the last 100 meters I remember blurred faces on the side lines yelling at me to finish strong.
There it was, the last 100 meters of the race. As I quickly came upon the shoot I heard my coach yell, “Sydney this is YOUR race!” That’s when I realized it wasn’t about the race anymore. It was about me.
I crossed the finish line and felt like I was going to collapse. I was happy that I completed the race, but a part of me was disappointed that I didn’t beat my best time. It was over, it was the last race and I didn’t show any improvement in time.
Although I didn’t beat my personal time, I felt some sense of accomplishment deep down. I was proud of myself for finishing not only the race, but the cross country season that seemed to endlessly drag on.
It wasn’t until later that night that I realized something; failure can be your best accomplishment. This failure taught me to never give up. It taught me to work even harder for something that I want. And last, it taught me to believe in myself.