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Mar 2014
“Oh, you're a sprinter” they say
“you aren't really a runner”

Long distance people don't understand you see
They don't know what a pulling hamstring feels like
They don't know what running with pure adrenaline feels like
They don't know what not being able to breath while running feels like

You see, we sprinters have it down to a science
Practicing starts before the race is key
Pre race rituals are the law
If we don't warm up enough or warm up too much or forget to stretch one muscle
We could be out for the season

Sign in. Warm up some more

They call my race
I pull off my pants and shake out my legs
Double knot my spikes
Finally, my jacket comes off
I step up to the start and set my blocks

My brain becomes so numb with nervousness, the motions become mechanical
Two foot lengths away from the line, first block
Three foot lengths away from the line, second block
Bring my first block up two clicks
My second up three

“Runners, take your marks.”
Tuck jump
Shake out my legs
I tell myself “Remember: low, and drive”
Because there is too much to think about all at once
I lower myself on my knees
Wipe my hands on my spandex
Double check that my shirt is tucked in, my spikes are tied
Shake out my right leg and place it in the block
Shake out my left leg and place it in the block, toes barely touching the ground
Place my hands as close to the line as possible-about two inches to each side of my shoulders
I look down, check my blocks
Look up, at the finish-I will be there in less than a minute
If all goes as planned
I swing my hair so it's on my left side
Head down, look at my hands
Shoulders parallel with my arms and perpendicular to the ground
Just like practice

“Get set”
My heart is pounding
I can’t hear anything
I slowly raise my hips
It takes less than one second to become perfect
Just like practice

BANG

I shoot out of the blocks
Left arm jerks forward and my right thrashes back
I pull my stride in, getting into perfect form
Just like practice

I tune out all of the screams around me
The voices inside my head telling me to slow down
You're running too fast
You're about to pull a muscle
Give up already

But I keep running because I don't care about the voices in my head or the sprinters beside me
I race against time
An irrevocable substance that will always win

I finish the race, maybe not my best, but I did alright for my first meet in a year.
Finally eyeing my time I let go of the breath I have subconsciously been holding
I ran my best and now my lungs are reminded what it's like to taste air

Long distance runners don’t have to worry about any of this
They just have to make sure their toes aren't touching the line
Theres no science involved
If they warm up too long or not enough, it may cost them a few seconds
Seconds are all we have

Ever wonder why long distance runners are so nice to each other and sprinters aren't?
Because before every race we sprinters are too nervous to talk to one another
Everyone is silently praying that the  person next to them won’t toss their cookies
Then again, maybe its better if they did because I might have a better shot at getting first
After the race, I am too stunned-too out of breath to realize what just happened
Or to talk to the person next to me

Sprinters only have a mere couple of seconds to prove themselves
Long distance runners can take their time
They have at least two laps to prove themselves
Sometimes even sixteen

I don’t realize that I love racing
That I love not being able to breathe
Until I cross that finish line
And then I want to do it all over again
Written by
Grace
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   --- and betterdays
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