Barreling Toward the Finish

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






My heart beats out of my chest. Fifteen minutes until race time. Sweat trickles down my neck, and I can only hope that the weeks I have dedicated to ruthless mile repeats and track workouts will soon make an appearance in my performance on the course. The course is completely unfamiliar; I have yet to race it for the first time: 3.1 miles. A longer distance than junior high races, but still doable. The whistle blows. I take three deep breaths and step up to the line; mentally preparing for the course that awaits me. I look around. Surrounded by opposing teams equipped with their game faces, I come to a realization. We’re all in this together. The gun sounds. We’re off. 

My heart beats out of my chest. Five minutes until my first day of freshman year begins. Sweat trickles down my neck, and I can only hope that the years that I have spent perfecting basic algebra and English skills in elementary and junior high will be made apparent in my high school courses. I am in a completely new school in a completely new building at a completely different location. Four years. Longer than junior high, but accompanied with many new freedoms. The two minute bell rings. I take three deep breaths and set off to find World History part A with Mr. Corbin, room 201. I mentally prepare for the day, for the week, and for the year that awaits me. I look around. Surrounded by equally as flustered classmates, each in a panicked frenzy to locate their new classrooms, I come to a realization. We’re all in this together. The late bell rings. We’re off. 

The race is off to a good start. The first mile is always strong, and my motivation is still fully present. I’m taking it in stride as I remind myself to pump my arms, lift my legs, focus on technique. Just breathe. So far, the course is by no means terrible aside from a bump or two in the road. There are spectators at every corner, cheering and hollering words of encouragement. At no point am I alone on the course. 

My high school career is off to a good start. My freshman year was strong, and I am still considerably motivated for the start of my sophomore year. I’m taking it in stride as I remind myself to pay attention, do the work, focus. Just breathe. So far, the course work is by no means terrible, and neither is high school itself aside from a few abandoned friendships and a constant need to abide by social statuses. There are teachers, parents, and useful resources within my reach, always willing to offer help and words of encouragement. At no point am I alone on this journey. 

The first mile flew by. Where did the time go? I look onto the second mile of the course. It’s all uphill from here. I am growing tiresome and weary, and my motivation has plummeted. Still, I push on. This particular mile of the course is more sheltered by foliage and hills, making it difficult for spectators to reach. Runners that I was once extremely close to, some even matching my stride and moving at my exact pace, have begun to fall off, and I, too, begin to wonder if I will ever make it to the finish. The obstacles of the second mile are testing my stamina. It’s becoming a challenge to even make it through. 

The first two years flew by. Where did the time go? Junior year is an uphill battle. I am growing tiresome and weary, and my motivation has plummeted. The constant support has decreased, and we are expected to do most things on our own. Friends who I was once extremely close with have begun to grow distant, and classmates of mine have begun to drop out of high school; I begin to wonder if I will ever make it to graduation. Junior coursework has proved to be overwhelming. It’s becoming a challenge to even make it through. 

The third mile is significantly less trying, but it’s no cakewalk. I still have a large portion of the race left. My legs are aching, I’m short on breath, and I’m ready to be done. I have returned to the section of the course in which spectators are easily permitted. I am surrounded by runners who have paced alongside me for the majority of the race, and it is very probable that they will finish alongside me too. We are all barreling toward one primary goal: to cross the finish line. 

Senior year is less stress-intensive than junior year, but it’s stressful nonetheless. I still have a full year of high school left. I’m utterly consumed in academic scholarship essays, college applications, and graduation paperwork, and I’m ready to be done. Teachers, parents, and friends are all an aid to my success, enthusiastically anticipating my descent into life past high school. I am surrounded by peers who have endured high school with me from the start, and it is very probable that they will graduate alongside me too. We are all barreling toward one primary goal: to receive our diplomas. 

The finish line is completely within reach. I pick up the pace, increase my stride, breathe. The crowd cheers as I cross the line, and their applause grows louder and more apparent as I stumble down the chute. My lungs burn and my legs are fatigued, but I did it. I’m finally done. I look around. Runners surround me, gulping crisp water and sprawling out on the freshly cut grass in an attempt to silence their aching bodies. We all did it. We all did it together. Coaches and spectators continue to congratulate me on a great race, and I begin to truly appreciate their constant help and support. I reflect on the race. It flew by. Did I leave all that I had out on that course? Was I able to accomplish what I aspired to? Did I make the most of it?

Graduation is completely within reach. Life begins to accelerate in a blur of last homecomings and sports events and proms, but I remind myself to breathe. The crowd cheers as I walk across the stage, and their applause grows louder and more apparent as I retrieve my diploma. I am exhausted and weary, but I did it. I’m finally done. I look around. Classmates surround me, smiles adorning their faces, spreading from ear to ear. We all did it. We all did it together. Parents and teachers continue to congratulate me on an excellent academic career, and I begin to truly appreciate their constant help and support. I reflect on my time in high school. It flew by. Did I leave all that I had within these walls? Was I able to accomplish what I aspired to in the last four years? Did I make the most of it?