Riley Walz

Passing by

September 20, 2020

I'm at a track meet. It's dark and cold. We're onto the last event, the exciting, chaotic, and usually dreaded 4 by 400 meter relay. Coaches all over the country find joy in putting their distance runners in the 4x4. Everyone's already run the mile, 2 mile, steeplechase, 800 meters, or usually some combination. It's one last punch in the face before we go home. We're not trying to win because we don't train specifically for this event, but it's good practice and pushes us to our limits after a long day.

Coaches, parents, and other athletes are always huddled by the start/finish line, cheering on the baton handoffs. I'm starting the team off, so I step to the line in my lane. The gun goes off and so do my legs. Everyone's screaming and cheering for their team. It's loud.

15 seconds later, dead silence. I feel isolated. It's just me and the other people running. All I hear are my footsteps and heavy breathing. About a minute since it started, I'm back where I began handing the baton off. More loud cheering.

Life is a lot life this race. People only really care about your achievements and challenges when you start and finish them. When you're working hard on the other side of the track, you're alone and have to push yourself.