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To the Finish Line

Short story By: JChan

Overcoming the inner demons

Submitted:Apr 21, 2010    Reads: 624    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   

"I'm running
To the finish line, finish line, finish line
I'm running
To the finish line, finish line..."

Lynn Olsen squinted into the distance, as if she was looking for her finish line, mouthing the words to Brooke Hogan's "Finish Line" in between her quick steps. She pictured the colossal red inflated structure she knew would be waiting for her at the end of her 21.3k journey - an expedition her body would never forget. With every stride made, her arms had contracted and relaxed as they propelled her forward and granted her momentum, likewise, her leg muscles did the same as she placed each foot before the other. Each nanometre made toward the bronze metal disks hung on red ribbons was an effort, with each kilometre she passed, her body became more fatigued with her leg muscles protesting from the effort.

The first 15k of the race had been a breeze, she had enjoyed every step of it - her legs had carried her swiftly past 5 water stations and 3 aid stations, landing lightly on slightly on her forefoot with each step. She smiled as she recalled the time that had been displayed on her watch as she had gracefully bounded beyond the 15k marker. The digits that had surfaced on her watch 5k ago were etched boldly in her mind, digits that male runners would scorn, digits that elite female athletes would scorn, but digits that made her smile.

She needed to recall the memory of those digits now, she glanced down at her knee before quickly looking away. The skin on her knee was still pretty raw and just starting to scab - she had opted not to use a bandage today as it limited her ability to manoeuvre her knee not to mention it changed her strides. The unaided eye would only be able to take in the rawness of her knee but that was only the start of her knee problems. Her right knee, the dominant knee, was quite swollen partially due to her fall two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago while on her daily run she had tripped over a rather large piece of cardboard which had once been a cardboard box, a metre long and a foot high which someone had littered. Going at a 4 minute per kilometre pace she had tripped over the damn piece of recyclable before flying a few metres and landing with full impact on her knee. The fall had scrapped away all the skin on her right knee as well as left this very important joint very swollen for a week and rendering her to take a complete week off of training.

Two weeks later it was no longer the size of a grapefruit but it was still quite swollen, at the 18k mark she almost fell when she slipped on someone's wet paper cup - she hated it when runners threw their cups into the middle of the road - as she had braced herself to avoid falling she was forced to stride in such a way most of her body weight was impacted on her right leg. That split second with the strange twisted stride had placed unwanted and unnecessary pressure on her right knee, making it start to swell up again.

She tried not to cry as she felt a twinge of pain as her right foot hit the ground, this race had started off as a miracle but the ending was just as bad as she had feared. Not only did she have to take a full week off training before of the swollen knee from the fall but the week before she had gotten a horrendous cold. The cold had forced her to take a full five days off and refused her the last long run before a race. Her training for this half marathon had just not gone well, between the slump in March because of her workload at school, the fall, and her cold, she had not done a single 80k week. She shook her head, during the summer she had done 80k weeks with ease, easily topping 300k a month. But that was the past and she couldn't help it now - though she did make a mental reminder in her head to pick a different race next year; a race further into the spring road racing season.

"Let's go girl! Only 500m left! You can do it"

"Final stretch! Pick! It! Up! Come on girl!"

"Only 500m left! Let's go!"

Lynn blinked fast, was she dreaming? Did the woman in the gray jacket holding a baby just say there was only 500m left? She glanced at the sign before her, never mind 500m left, there was only 400m left. She took a deep breath and picked up her pace. She imagined she was running a 400m repeat for track practice. She imagined her slump in March was Kara Goucher, the fall was Teyba Erkesso, and her cold was Megan Brown - she imagined she was racing the Boston Marathon with them as her opponents. Picking up her legs more and pumping her arms even more she saw the colossal red inflated structure was only a few metres in front of her. Drawing in a sharp breath she imagined elbowing the other three who were matching her stride by stride, out of the way. She made one final surge and left them the dust, not just any dust, her dust.

Lynn Olsen grasped for air as she looked up at the digits staring down at her, 1:29:26. Never had she thought she would be able to run such a time at the age of 16. When she first started running a year ago she never even thought she could run a half marathon much less in such a short time. She had envisioned such a time in her dreams but to see the digits looking down at her in reality was shocking. She had almost given up when she had her slump, and when she fell, and when she caught that horrendous cold but she hadn't. She smiled as she realized she had a new personal record but anyone who knew Lynn Madison Olson knew that smile was also because she overcame the inner demons and pushed - she was unstoppable no matter how difficult the obstacles were.

"I'm running
To the finish line, finish line, finish line
I'm running
To the finish line, finish line..."

Smiling as a volunteer placed a finisher's medal around her neck, Lynn Olsen mouthed the words to "Finish Line" before she looked at the sun and whispered to herself, "I made it to the finish line."

****I started this for a short story contest but I never got around to finishing it b/c of my workload but mid bio studying I got inspired to finish it - came out differently than planned but I kind of like it. Not the best story but meh. I hope I can do what Lynn did on Sunday!


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