Just Did It! A Personal Narrative
The man’s words barely made a sound in my ears. I was thinking about the different pains in the lower-half of my body. My legs felt like cement blocks. My ankle joints felt like two rusty door hinges. My feet felt as flexible as two chunks of rock.
My race strategy was easy to follow. “I’m a beginner. I’m here to complete the course. I’m not here to win the race.” I would say these things to myself whenever I thought I would try and pass all 856 other runners during the 21 kilometer run, on and around the Great Wall of China.
So, when the race started and the bodies in front of me started moving I gradually made my way out of the corral. I set an easy pace: not too fast, not too slow. The 4.5 km climb up a winding, snake-like mountain road was the first major challenge. When I made it to the base of the steps, at the entrance to the wall portion of the race, I felt better than expected.
Later on, with more than a third of the race completed I still felt I had a quite a bit of energy on the paved-road portion. Still, slow and steady running was my strategy. It was me versus the course, not me versus the other runners. Although, I did speed up and pass a few people. I thought, “I can handle it. Some bursts of speed, then back to my regular pace.” As I neared the change from paved road to gravel path I started to notice a drop in energy.
Then, I slowed down on the gravel path and in the village, but when I saw the sign “16 km, 11.91 mi” a surge of excitement went through me. I told myself, “I can complete 5 km. It’s not hard.” It was probably the hardest 5 km I’ve ever run. My legs joined my ankles and feet in pain. I alternated between jogging and walking. Any dreams I had about finishing in time to compete with the best runners were shattered and my focus was on one idea only: finish this race.
Finally, I came upon the tall, red and white striped cones directing me to the finish line. I found some small reserve of energy and broke into a faster stride. I was so tired I could barely hear the music from my iPod and the crowd noise cheering me to the finish. As I pulled up to the end, I looked up and there was the man in the yellow shirt.
To read more stories about Shekou International School visit their website: www.sis.org.cn/why-choose-sis