Thursday, October 20, 2011
The Urge to Surge
"It's a big field. Know why it's a big field? 'Cause it's a big line." This is the inspirational speech my friend's coach gave to them at the beginning of a Franklin Park cross country race, last year. Now here I am, a year later, on this same field. And it's true...it is a big field. To my left, to my right...jerseys. Boys and girls, whether we want to be here or not, we all have the same thing on our minds...the race. I tunnel myself so I can't even see my teammates beside me. Get out fast...Find my place, then my pace... "On your mark...set..." Only the field ahead...And the horn.
Franklin Park, one of the most famous cross country courses in the country, not for it's particularly fabulous scenery or hills, but for the field. That big, big field. Because you see, that big, big field becomes a marshland when it rains, sucking up cross country spikes like a black hole and sinking the runners like quick sand. You must drive your knees, get on the balls of your feet and explode off that starting line. This course especially, you determine the race within the first 100m.
Bear Cage Hill is another infamous aspect of Franklin Park cross country course. Long abandoned and featured in 2003's crime/mystery/drama "Mystic River," it crumbles like dry sand and weeds grab through the rusty bars like old witch's hands. Pictures do not do the eeriness of the cages justice, as I reach the top of the hill and swear I hear a distant roar. I quicken my steps and roll with the downhill. There is this boy on my cross country team who told me that whenever he's feeling slow in a race, he just imagines a giant bear chasing after him. Well, here you go!
It is just a 1.1mi race today, and already I am more than halfway done. In fact, coming out of the woods I see the finish line, a quarter mile ahead. By this point I am probably about 5th or 6th, so I lengthen my stride a bit but probably not nearly enough to notice. Then, the final 200m. Time for my surge. But again, I may pump my arms a little harder but really I just keep my decent pace and zone in on the finish line. 20m to go...I beat the boys! But...
Out of the corner of my eye I see the first boy on my cross country team, and looking back I should've realized then and there that the others couldn't be too far behind him. But I didn't; just kept my pace and then I saw...the second and shortly after, the third. This race, I focused on going out strong...next race, I should probably work on finishing strong too...