April Fools Day -- A Miracle!
As well as it being April Fools Day, it was also our annual Cross-Country House Competition day. Oh how I dreaded Cross-Country in the past. I say ‘in the past’ because changing my mentality towards it had also brought me a small miracle.
When I first ran in Cross-Country in Year 7, I came in 98th in the KS3 girls category. I don’t know the exact numbers, but considering that there was just over 120 in total tells you that I wasn’t the fastest runner. I lacked the endurance and ability to control my speed so that I wouldn’t tire myself out. Being a little too competitive also didn’t help when you felt like passing out and just helplessly look at the people run past you.
Then came Year 8, and I was in 83rd. It was definitely an improvement, considering that there were more than 120 girls in KS3. Still, the race and the whole practice leading up to that felt torturous and a waste of time and effort. I didn’t know why Cross-Country had to be a compulsory event.
When I was in Year 9, I had sprained my ankle a week or so before the actual race so I didn’t get to participate. I was… a little happy, to be honest. But I didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to see if I’d gotten better at running or not.
Then came this year (more like the end of last year), when our Headmaster announced that we were going to be practicing running. Everyone groaned. Everyone. But in a corner of the room, I was secretly happy. The long practice time meant that I could improve. I had bought running gears — sports jackets, airy t-shirts, bluetooth earbuds, you name it — and I was going to commit.
There were still problems getting people to run. Some kids would cut corners and find shortcuts. Some people wouldn’t even run at all, hiding in the bathrooms with their phones. Some of them just walked and chatted with their friends, as if they were sent out to stroll around school instead of train for Cross-country.
And I have to admit: I wasn’t always eager to run, especially on really cold days where it felt like your fingers and ears were going to fall off because of the freezing wind. But when I was out there, with the timer on my watch ticking, I fixated my mind to one thing. If we were being told to go outside and run, I might as well do it.
We weren’t allowed to come into the boarding house until we’ve done at least 2 laps and I always thought that the faster I run, the faster I can get inside to warm up and take time to recover before going to CCA.
And after all the hard work, it was the day of Cross-Country.
Standing at the starting line, I got nervous. What if I couldn’t run as fast as I thought I could? What if everyone was faster than me? But then I remembered — the effort I put in for the past 4 months was for me. It was for me to see where I was at, and for me to keep on pursuing something better. And then, off I went.
Since I was in KS4 as a Year 10, the course was longer than what I had experienced before. There were more uphills and steeper downhills and long paths where I just couldn’t see the end. But I stuck through — I barely came to a walking speed and I didn’t stop. Not even once. I just kept on going. I passed people, people passed me, but at that moment I didn’t really care where I was in the race. I could just feel the improvement for my endurance, which helped me go even further.
When I went past the finish line, I couldn’t believe the number on the card I was holding. 46. I was 46th. It was almost half the number I got two years ago. No, I wasn’t the top 10 racer, but that was completely fine with me. I put in the effort and got the result. That was enough for me.
Right now, I’m actually looking forward to next year’s Cross-Country. Maybe I could get even faster!