Foggy Finish

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a memoir of my childhood and adolescent years. I like to think this is the first chapter of the novel in my pursuit to excellence :)

Submitted: March 04, 2009

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Submitted: March 04, 2009

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I wasn’t your average little girl. I didn’t dress up as princesses or play with Barbie dolls. I was different. I was the classmate who challenged the older boys to race ‘to the fence and back’ in the school yard. I was the student who stayed behind on a field trip to the Science Auditorium in grade two because it was on the same day as track and field at school. I was the daughter who got in trouble by her parents  for getting up at 2:00 am to watch the Olympics on television. I had the will to win, and I didn’t just possess it, it flowed through my veins like blood. It’s what kept my heart pumping, and it still is.
Growing up, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was a lot faster than the other kids on the basketball court or on the soccer field. I was always striving to be better. Not just better than everyone else, but better than myself. When I ran, I felt superior. I felt as though no one in the entire world could touch me, and I am forever greatful that I discovered my passion early into my life. The very first time I felt the feeling that I now crave daily, is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. I was in grade four and my school was at a cross-country running race. I was excited to race, naturally, because I loved the competition, however this day I was rather nervous because I knew one of the girls I had to race against was faster than me. My mom had taken the foggy October morning off of work so that she could come see me race. I spent the whole race in second place, a fair distance back from the girl in first. With about 200 meters to go in the race, I looked down the road, which at the time seemed very long, towards the finish line. I remember wishing with everything that the girl in first place and I would switch spots, and that I would be the victor of the race. I didn't like losing. Through the dense fog, it was hard to see anything other than the girl in front of me, but I heard my mom calling out to me. “Find it. I know you can!” Even though I was young, I knew she didn’t mean find the finish line. Instantly, I knew what she meant, and I found it. I started pumping my legs and arms quicker, and before I knew it, it felt like I was gliding past the girl in first. It’s like my mind shut off completely and my body just did what it needed to do in order to win. On that particular day, I reached inside of me and found something that I never knew was there to begin with.
At that time, I knew my mom was sick, but I didn’t see it as a disease. She was unhealthy, she lost all her hair, and she took a lot of medicine. That was all I could comprehend at the time. I was only 10. At that time, I would have never imagined that I only had one more year with her before the horrible disease inside of her would become too much. At that time, I would have never imagined that in 6 years, I would be standing on the podium at the Olympic Track and Field Trials. And mainly, at that time, I would have never imagined that what my mom told me to find that day would be something that I continue to search for daily throughout my life; inner strength.
I realized early on that track and field is about enduring more pain than your competitors. You have to push yourself to new limits, and not just in competition. You have to push yourself past what you believe you are capable of, every day, and every practise. It’s almost as though that race sparked an obsession; an obsession of testing the limits of my body and the perseverance of my heart. Every competition I win and every defeat I endure come back down to that day; the day that I learned that no matter how much pain I am in, my will is strong enough to overcome it.
The obsession developed rather quickly. My mom would drive me to the track when she got off work and watch me punish myself lap after lap. She would stand in our backyard and watch me sprint up the driveway and long jump across our lawn, and then she would put a rock down where I landed so that I could try to improve; I liked that. To be honest, I’m not sure if I had dreams of competing in the Olympics back then. I wasn’t exactly sure how far I would go in this sport. I didn’t really think about it to tell the truth, all I knew was that I liked making her proud, and that was a good enough motive for me - it still is.  
Winning the race that foggy morning took inner strength, but battling cancer for nine years took pure tenacity. I remember on the drive home from the race, she kept turning to me and telling me how proud she was of me for finding the strength to accept a little pain and come out on top. In that moment, driving down the colourful fall road, I should have told her. I should have told her that I was proud of her, and that she was the strongest person I had ever met in my entire life. But I didn’t.
Fast forward 6 years to the 2008 Olympic Trials. Simply put, this was the best day of my life, and sometimes I fear that I will never feel the same happiness that I did on that day. Making it onto that podium took a ridiculous amount of inner strength. I had fought injuries, suffered defeat and overcome doubts, but finally, I qualified to compete at the Olympic Trials. However, the struggle didn’t end there. I couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t belong. I was a 16 year old competing against women who have already graduated from university. I had to find it in me to look past my disadvantages and just do it. It being whatever it took to make a name for myself in that sea of women, and that I did. Just like that race in grade four, I shut off my mind and let my heart take over, and it worked, because I surprised myself in ways I can not even begin to explain. I wish I could’ve stood on that podium forever. I was so overwhelmed that it took everything in me not to burst into tears, in fact I still remember leaving my sunglasses on as I stood on the podium out of fear that I would start crying and everyone would see. I remember looking into the grand-stand and seeing my dad, both my track coaches, and my team mates, all beaming from ear to ear with pride. Even though I was happy, I knew someone was missing. Although she wasn’t there that day in the grand-stand, I couldn’t help but feel my mom watching; looking down and smiling the same way she did on the drive home from the race 6 years earlier.
In the same way I can look back at my race in grade 4 and say ‘I would have never imagined that I would end up on the podium at the Olympic Trials!’, I hope that in four or eight years I can look back on my Olympic Trials moment of glory and say, ‘I would have never imagined that I would end up representing my country at the Olympics!’ I’m still not completely sure where I will end up or how I will get there, but one thing I can be assured of is that just like that foggy morning in grade 4, even if I cant see her, she will always be waiting for me at the finish line.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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