Sliced Bread

INDEX to Bites from the book "Sliced Bread"

All the way around the track

From "Sliced Bread" by Rosemary Phillips

"Sliced Bread" a book by Rosemary Phillips
The Gananoque Secondary School track team was wanting new members. The team already had the regulars who were excellent at what they did, the ones who usually won all the school sports activities. I wasn't much of a runner, or a jumper, but I had school spirit and signed up just in time for the Eastern Ontario Secondary School Championships.

The coach entered me in the 440 yard dash. I went out every night to do some form of training and ran as far as I could, about half the way around the track. "But you're meant to run all the way round," the couch suggested. "The 440 is the equivalent of one lap of the track."

That was about all the attention I got from the coach. So, I continued to go out after school, run a little bit and then go back in and change. I figured that I'd just save all my energy for the big event.

On the day of the championship I was handed a pair of spike shoes that were at least one size too big. I'd never worn spikes before and had no idea how they felt while running. When I put them on I seemed to stick to the ground.

Just before the heats for the race my teammates offered me words of wisdom.
"Use the blocks and push off really hard when you hear the pistol go off."
"Start the race slowly and as you work your way around the track pick up speed then really charge down the last straight stretch to the finish line."

As I walked over to the starting blocks, lifting up my spiked feet with each step, I noticed that all my competitors were tall and lanky with long slender and muscular legs. I was a short four-foot-five inches and had legs that looked like they belonged to a chicken not a sixteen-year-old girl. There were five of us in the heat. We bent down and took our positions with our feet in the blocks, hands out in front on the ground, backs arched with bums up in the air, and heads raised.

The pistol went off and so did the other runners. What was that I was told about starting out slow and then picking up speed? My opponents were already far ahead of me, like a flash, as I trailed in fifth place. I gave it my all as I successfully went past the half way mark, about the furthest I had ever run. One of the other runners fell to the side of the track which meant I was now in fourth place. That was encouraging. I pleaded with my body for lots of energy, and as I rounded the last curve before hitting the straight stretch I heard my fellow students from GSS yelling, "Go Rosemary! Go! You can make it! Go Rosemary! Go! Go! Go!"

I was surprised that I had such support. Me? Little me? I was elated. I was in pain. I was dying. My chest was caving in and my legs didn't seem to be a part of my body anymore. I saw the finish line ahead and just charged at it. I had made it, all the way round the track! And I wasn't last.

I collapsed into the arms of two supporters who carried me to the grass on the side of the track and helped me as I groaned, my chest heaving with pain. I really thought I was ready to die. I didn't. I lived. The encouraging advice I then received was that had I practiced running all the way round the track before the race I wouldn't have felt quite so bad, in fact, I might have enjoyed reaching the finish line.

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