I tried to write a post about everything that’s happened to me in the last two quarters of college. There are so many posts that I’ve started but I just don’t know how to finish. So I tried to write a post that pulls it all together, but this story kept interrupting. I need this to be written and out of my head.
Due warning: this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Is there a silver lining? Maybe I can find one for the next post.
Little known fact about me: I ran the 100m and 300m hurdles in high school. Tripping on one of those things scares a lot of people away from the hurdles. Choosing that sport was less about the running or the competition. wholly inspired by flight. Nothing felt cooler than being in my track cleats sprinting at a metal bar that rose above my should and leaping clean over.
But the reality remains that I’m very, very short. A good height for hurdlers is around 6′; I am a whopping 5’3. Have you ever stood next to one of those short-distance hurdles? They are tall! Even when we warmed-up using the low hurdles, I was the only one clambering over while everyone else merely stepped over the blasted things.
It’s greatly disheartening to know you must work twice as hard as everyone else in order to only be half as good. As such, my track and field career was fun, but short-lived. The athletes out there are sneering at me, but I wasn’t helping anyone by being last in practice everyday.
I never stumbled on a hurdle, and in all my practice videos I have great discipline and form. But I don’t think anyone on that team ever looked at me twice. Maybe three people knew my name. Even so, I kept going to practice. I kept running that warm up lap and coming in last. And I never finished a winner, yet I also didn’t lose.
*sigh* As the title says, this is a story about when I lost.
In the end it wasn’t my height or my physical inability that mattered. In the penultimate race of the season, I was against three other girls in the 300m. 100m in and I fell behind, as usual, when the girl just in front of me tripped on a bar and crashed to a halt. I was hopping over the bar next to hers when she got back up. For the last leg of the race, she and I were neck-to-neck and it was the first time my teammates had ever said my name – let alone hollered it from the stands.
That should’ve been my moment. I should’ve gone for the finish with all my strength. But I didn’t. I thought, there was no way I could ever beat this girl. I thought no matter how hard I try – it won’t make a difference.
I may never have stumbled on a hurdle before, but that race I stumbled inside. And the worst part is that I could feel it spreading from my heart to my legs. And I lost.