Paige squinted her eyes against the bright sun glaring off of the asphalt. She sat on the cool grass stretching her muscles for the big run. Breathing in deeply and letting her lungs deflate slowly, she realized nothing was going to ease the tension in her stomach. It had been a long time since her last race.
Noting the fellow runners prepping for the Martin City 5K, Paige picked out those who were likely contenders.
“Every one of them,” she thought bitterly.
Over a year had passed since she last donned her sneakers. Paige shook her head, willing herself not to think like that. She was ready. The minutes, hours, and days over the past eighteen months had prepared her for this moment.
The signal for the runners to take their positions sounded louder in Paige’s ears than she remembered it being. Throngs of people stood along the sidelines cheering on their loved ones. Paige could just make out her mom and dad in the teeming crowd. Her mom’s favorite, bright orange cap was easy to spot.
Paige joined the hundred or so runners. They were focused, ready to run.
“Get your head in the game, “ Paige begged herself.
“Stay loose.” Her dad always told her the morning before a run.
“Don’t forget to hydrate.” Her mom always added.
Glancing left, Paige found another runner looking at her. The girl smiled quickly, mumbled a ‘good luck’ and turned away.
“Why am I here?” Paige asked herself frantically.
Her eyes stung as tears threatened to fall. The knot in her stomach felt heavy. As she searched for an escape to the side of the course Paige caught sight of her dad in the crowd.
“Paige,” his eyes repeated his words from the drive over, “you can do this. Only you can hold yourself back.”
As the signal to start blasted over the intercom, Paige’s muscle memory took over and she found herself moving as one with the runners. No backing out now.
Right … left … right … left …
The important thing was to keep moving …
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