Run Faster Fun Friends

Run Every Race As If It's Your Last!

By Kevin Smith

 running rivalsThe biggest race of my fledgling running life: a chance to square off against the best 16-17 year-old distance runners in the province at the OFSSA Junior 3000m championship finals. 

Uncharacteristically, I had resigned myself to certain failure--strained calf muscles from qualifying heats, and vicious stomach cramps since breakfast, were pre-occupying and inauspicious omens.  While my whippet-like opponents physically fidgeted and mentally sharpened into supreme states of readiness, I stood lead-footed, sulkily envisioning myself soon staggering off the track.

            The “crack!” of the starting gun awoke me from my reverie.  The leader, a star of national junior distance running, tore through the opening laps, stringing the field into a procession of sorry souls wracked with premature oxygen debt.  I moseyed along near the back of the pack, amazed that I was even able to run at all.  But, by halfway, I started passing runners, and slowly began to get excited.  For just the first time that day, I dared to dream.  How might I place? Could I medal?  With 800m left, I crept into 4th place.  Then at the bell, I breezed into 2nd place so intently focused on opening the gap behind me, I accidentally clipped the heel of a runner in front of me...the leader!

            With a brief, panicked glance over his shoulder, he bolted like a startled rabbit.  The crowd’s roar thickened, yet a trance-like peace washed over me.  I floated down the backstretch in the rocket’s slipstream, my eyes riveted on the bright, multi-colored hindquarters of his flashy racing shorts.  As we rounded the final bend together, I executed a perfect “slingshot” turn, and edged into the lead, straining toward a gold medal I had not yet dared to dream of.  Mercilessly, the pre-race favorite found yet another gear, and streaked toward the line to win by 1 second.

            The race was over, but the success I was to experience in running was only just beginning... or so I thought.  As it turned out, due to a chronic leg injury, that would be my last track race for over 5 years.  In fact, not until my final year of university was I able to run at all, even a step. 

Now, years later, I am running again: consistently, moderately, happily, healthily, and above all else, appreciatively.  Ironically, it took that prolonged period of non-running to teach me the place of competition on the “reasons to run” ladder--at least one rung below appreciation and sheer joy!

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