Steve Prefontaine

International Track Star - Running Legend

2010 Jana Sadler  
Marshfield High School

An Essay by Jana Sadler

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

As I get into position on the starting line, I feel as though I am a monster being unleashed to expose its furry to the world. But as the race begins and the first mile is too far away to ever remember, my fire begins to dwindle. It first starts in my lungs. My breathing becomes raspy as my lungs beg for the necessity that they are denied. I begin to imagine that this must be what a fish feels like.    Not only are they flopping around a hard, wooden dock with a hook in their mouth, but they are surrounded by an inaccessible plethora of oxygen. But I try to abolish this image from my mind and begin feeding off of the abundance of dying runners around me

As I get deeper into the second mile, my body begins to fight with my mind. Fatigue is beginning to take over my stiff body. My legs feel like Jell-O, a red swaying mess that could collapse at any moment. Then I begin to think more about Jell-O. It is so cold and delicious..., but then my stomach rips right through those thoughts, for I am now becoming nauseous. I have to start talking my way through the last mile, which I am sure was supposed to be over an hour ago. I fight the oxygen deprivation, fatigue, and nausea telling myself that it is almost over.

As I begin to approach the finish, I need it to be over. My lungs need to breathe for the first time in nineteen minutes, my legs need to collapse on the soft grass hill, and my stomach needs to rid itself of its contents. But something takes over. The world becomes silent, and I suddenly cannot feel anything. I cannot feel the pain, my aching body or the nausea. My mind kicks back into gear, and it tells my legs to start working. My arms begin pumping, my head begins to sway from side to side, and my shoulders rise up towards my head from exhaustion. I feel as though I am just running in place, for the finish line never seems to get closer. But suddenly it is coming right at me faster than ever, and right when I think that I cannot move another step, it is over.

No matter how badly I want to stop, no matter how badly something hurts, I know that I cannot do it. I would be letting my teammates down, and I would be letting myself down. Whenever I feel that my whole world is going to crash down at any moment, I remind myself that quitting now would sacrifice something even greater.