Pppchuuu! And the race begins! As the ground slowly trembles with the feet of five-hundred runners, there is utter silence amongst each teammate and each opponent. Only the whistling of the wind between the leaves of the trees can be heard, as if they were the ones who are enthusiastically observing the race.
Right. Left. Right. Breath. Right. Left. Right. Breath… I suddenly find myself suffocating within the crowd with no room to deviate in a dreary valley of sticks and pebbles. Dirt and dust cloud my sight. In an arrogant, but desperate attempt, I emancipate myself from the masses of runners while the consequence results in being struck by sharp, metal spikes into the flesh of my shins. At what cost to my time increase is beyond my concern. Mile One: 6 minutes, 9 seconds. I place myself directly behind an unknown runner and begin to feed on the flow of energy from their movement while sharing no empathy for them. Unexpectedly, I plunge into the sandy depths of a descent while my form temporarily deteriorates. I inhale the moisture from the forest while the endorphins begin to kick into my system. My pace quickens. Right. Left. Breath. Right. Left. Breath… Mile Two: 12 minutes, 25 seconds. As I exit the exotic wilderness, my soothing and tranquil euphoria slowly disappears as rays of sunlight drain my motivation and speed. I battle with the contradictory notion of whether or not I can run 3.1 miles under 20 minutes. The ultimate mystery comes into question of why in the hell did I choose to run cross country again. As I feel the presence of every sweat droplet trickle from my body, a common acquaintance, lactic acid, brings a warm and painful welcome into my motion. I hope I can pull through.
Mile Three: 18 minutes, 50 seconds. The home stretch is in sight. One more final push and I will cherish the ability to walk once again. Right. Breath. Left. Breath. Right. Breath… 100 meters left. The arms pump harder and slice through the air. 50 meters left. My breath turns into no breath at all. Finish: 19 minutes, 25 seconds. Finally, I can go home now with an accomplishment.