When I was in high schooll I went out for the track team. I had dreams of being the next great miler of the world and running the first sub 4 minute mile by a female.
I went to practice every evening and ran around the track until my little heart was bursting from the effort. Keep in mind that I was one of the greatest backyard athletes ever and I had been a starter on my softball team for years.
The day came for our first track meet and I was so happy. I was gonna show the world what a great racer I was. I was suprised to learn that the coach had put me in a 440 relay, but he was the coach so I didn't question it. I wanted to do what was best for my team. It didnt matter that I had never seen him at a practice not one time in the month or so before the meet. The only time I had seen him was in class and at the initial meeting where he told us he wasn't going to coach if they didn't pay him.
The gun went off and I took off like a rabbit. I had to. The girl I was racing against was flying and I didn't want her to leave me behind! I flew around the first turn on her hills and I was right on her for the second turn as well! In the back stretch she started to leave me but I pressed on and she was only about 5 yards ahead by the third turn. I could hear the cheers of my fellow teammates and I was determined to stay with her so I could hand off my baton with my team still in the running.
Then I rounded the last turn and I had 100 yards to go. GAWD, I was tired. There was no way I was going to let that girl beat me though. No sirrreeeeee! Then I hit a wall. I didn't see a wall but that's must be what happened! I legs felt like concrete blocks and I could barely raise them. My chest was on fire! The overwhelming pain and fatigue was pressing on my shoulders like a giant boulder! But still I pressed on.
I gritted my teeth. I focused on the finish line that was still about 75 yards away as the next girl on the other team rounded the second turn in her leg of the race. I couldn't hear the cheers of my team anymore either. I was in a complete fog but I knew I had to get that baton to my teammate. I kept moving.....barely....one inexorable step ..... after another bone grinding baby step....
Then the girl from the other team lapped me! How could this be? Was this race never going to end? I still had about 10 yards to go to hand off my baton. I could see the looks of pity on everyone's face as I finally handed my baton to the next girl. She had not even started to run yet. She had backed up in the lane as far as they would legally allow her to without disqualifying our whole team. She didn't have a prayer of catching the other team.
I made my way to the fence and stood there clutching at it while I was gasping for air and tried to maintain conciousness. Even in my exhausted state I could feel the humiliation as others were pointing at me.
No one offered words of comfort. No one even offerred me so much as a sip of water. After the race was over they did give me the starting blocks to take back to the equipment room. I was so tired that I walked over to one of the school's star athletes. I didn't choose him, he was just the nearest person between me and the equipment room. I handed HIM the starting blocks and asked him to put them up for me. (no, he didn't know me) He raised an eyebrow and started to say something and then he clamped his mouth shut as I saw the look of pity rise in his eyes. He turned without a word and took the blocks to the equipment room for me. I dare say that was probably a first for him. He was used to being catered to as are all high school, star athetes.
I was cut from the team the next day.
Never did see that coach.