This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.
By Kelsey Jacobi
People always ask me why I’m even in track. Why do you want to run? What’s the point? What’s so special about running in circles?
Silly people. If you ask these questions then you’ll never understand the meaning of track.
The intensity right before your heat, the hunger for first place fills the air. My mouth salivates as the prize sits only 110 yards away from me. I take a deep breath and blur out the roar of the crowd. The only place I can see is lane number 3.
I grit my teeth and my back leg starts its ritual twitch, twitch, twitch. As I lean forward, the rubbery red turf smells of desperation. I dig deep into the history of the turf, home of winners, losers, stars, and kids who were good but couldn’t make it. My mind speaks, “Go win. It’s all yours babe, all yours.” I convince myself by whispering under my breath. “Today I am a winner.”
I suck in the wet air, then bang!
The air escapes me and I sprint, sprint, sprint, and fly over the first hurdle. My hands are spread out, I’m a bird. The world plays in slow motion. Fly, fly, fly. Win, win, win. I look left and right and notice I’m in the lead. I’m winning! My calves burn from weeks of training for this moment. I ignore the screaming pain in my lower leg that gets worse with every step and push myself harder. Faster, faster, faster. I jump, but it's not good enough.
It’s a snap back to reality and I eat up the turf. My world shatters with the taste of defeat as I slide across the ground. The crowd feels pity, I feel beat, my heart is torn. I lost. But I still spring to my feet and finish the last two hurdles with the last of my strength while watching the backs of the other girls as they leap over the hurdles and jog carelessly to the finish line. My leg screams stop but my heart scolds me to finish.
I sprint over the white line as my coach places his hand on my shoulder and praises my effort. I sit on the bench and watch the blood from my shin drip onto my sock. Sweat showers my forehead in frustration, agony and hurt.
“ I lost…” I mutter through my tears.
“You got up and finished,” Coach begins. “Most people wouldn’t do that. You're like Iron Man. Better yet, you're Iron Girl.”
I give coach a reassuring smile. As coach walks away, I sit there and listen to the roar of the crowd. That crowd should be cheering for me. That’s when I made up my mind, I head towards another chance for victory. My victory. There’s three heats left for the 200. One of them is all mine.
“There’s room for one more runner right?” I demand.
Coach nods to lane seven, and my teammates offer me words of encouragement and pats on the back. The ref signals for us to scatter out and I strut out to my number seven. My face closes in on my number on the rubber and my leg twitches. It is my time to win.
“Runners to your mark.”
I’m Iron Girl.
Iron Girl wins.
My leg screams no but my heart says go.