United States

I like to think of myself as an old leather journal, with thick pages that have dark ink scribbled all over them. There are lines through entire pages, and ink blots where great ideas have flowed. Yet all the same I am someone to cherish, to remember

Message from Writer

"But here is the truth of nostalgia: we don't feel it for who we were, but who we weren't. We feel it for all the possibilities that were open for us, but that we didn't take."
-Welcome to Night Vale

The Race

March 21, 2017

   I remember the day I sealed my fate with a simple schedule change. I walked into the head of the athletics department and look around. My hands shaking as I closed the door behind me. I didn’t really consider myself to be all that fast, and I had never really done any running before, but the general PE course just wasn’t cutting it for me. High School was the time to challenge yourself and to see past your limits. To prepare you for college. Even though I didn’t want to run as a career, I didn’t want colleges to think I was taking my sweet time either.
    The head of the athletic department didn’t try to talk me out of it, though he did warn me time and time again about what I was getting into. How rigorous the training would be, both in and out of school. I’d need to train constantly if I wanted to be able to race with the rest of them at the end of the year marathon; and of course I did. What’s the point of taking a rigorous course if you’re not going to compete with the 2,483,452 other students at the end, right (1)?
    When the course began it was evident I was the runt of the bunch. Around me stood athletes of fame at my school, some who could easily run a marathon today and barely break a sweat. I found myself shaking again, would I really be able to do this? To squeeze myself into the top 57.9% that actually make it through the course (2)? Slow, unprepared, and unsure of what was in store, I spent the first two weeks on edge. However, as those first two weeks progressed, I realized that I could do this. With enough training, and dedication, I could easily run with the pack. I may not place or receive a heavy medal of honor, but I could succeed. So I opted to stay in the course, ready to take on whatever it hit with me.
    However, as time progressed, I watched as my fellow classmates, who once stood so tall and proud. Ready with laced shoes and a new PR to beat, slowly succumb to the pressure of the race. While we could run a mile, or two, or ten, some of us couldn’t beat the 26 mile monster.
    There came a point when everyone cracked. It was right before the race. When the trails were all uphill and we had to run 27, no 28, 30 miles even so that when the marathon came it would be simple. But we didn’t want it to be simple. We just wanted to be ready. We didn’t ask that the mountain we practice on be harder than the race we run. Sure, we should build endurance. Yes, we need to practice all we can. But, at the end of the day, our legs only move as fast as they can. Sometimes, we can’t finish the race. Sometimes we need to rest otherwise we won't be able to move forward at all.
    We had our first injury. One of the kids who so flippantly believed he could run the marathon on day one pulled a muscle in his leg; and then when he kept pushing through it to train it tore. We were told that this was the competition ethic we needed to have. But that was ok, right? Because this is the way its supposed to be. If you can’t run through a pulled muscle how are you going to survive with the big dogs? How could you race against those who were ready to crush you in a mere 2 hours, while you took quadruple the time, or more, to walk (3)?
    In reality, there are no big dogs. Everyone is terrified and shaking and wishing that they had more time. There are no students primped and preened from birth for this race. Because you only race it once. You race once and then it's over. You never run a marathon again. When you step up to the starting line and look around you see nothing but sweat and tears and runners afraid that even after all that pain it will amount to nothing.
    There’s no option to train for fun. No ability to run with those who wish to race solely because you like the thud of the cement or the rush of getting a new PR. There's no space between joking in a PE class and watching as you fall apart in a more advanced class.
    This is the Advanced Placement College Board curriculum, and it’s tearing us apart.
(1) https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/research/2015/2015-Annual-Participation.pdf
(2) https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/research/2015/2015-Score-Distribution-All-Subjects.pdf
(3) https://www.verywell.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-run-a-marathon-2911423


See History

Login or Signup to provide a comment.