I take my place in the assigned lane and force the metal starting blocks to grip the track precisely where I need it, as my heart begins demanding more and more of itself.
Just keep it together. Do not blow this.
Shaking my anxiety-filled arms and legs fails to produce the relaxed, rag-doll limbs I desperately desire. Coach paces ferociously on the far side of the track. He wants it, too.
His words cut through the crowd in my head: Steady, itís your raceÖyou got this thing.
400 meters. One time around the track. The formula is simple: breath, relax, pump my legs, lift my knees, stay in my lane and donít look back.
Iíve trained like a beast. I want it more. Iíll stick to the plan and endure the pain. Do it right or lose. Let the others go out hard. Iíll wait for the second turn in the track. Iíll pass them on the back stretch; a signature move refined over many years of practice. ďSo smooth,Ē theyíll say, as every fiber of my legs burn with fire.
But then comes the final turn, the home stretch and the dreaded wall. Iíve hit it hard before. Muscles succumb to fatigue and speed drops faster than a Mustang with a flat tire. The others close in. The prize is slipping away. Temptation is right there; right over my shoulder. Unable to resist, I look back and step out of my lane.
But NOT this time.
The scream of the whistle pierces the air, yanking tight the knot in my stomach that had been twisting into formation all day. The others crouch down with knuckles aligned as close to the thin, yellow line as humanly possible. I give my body one final wake-up call and twist hard at the waist in both directions.
My knees touch down on the rough track. The others, set and ready to go, wait as I find my find perfect balance, pressing firmly against the metal blocks. I lower my head and bear the race officialís final review.
A deep breath relieves the immense pressure building up inside my head, threatening to erase my plan. But, I am on automatic pilot from here. Itís time to trust the program developed and debugged and, I pray, perfected for this moment in time.
A second whistle and I rise at the waist. I wait for shot of the gun. Soon, Iíll propel forward, towards the goal, one long and measured stride at a time. Determined, this time, Iíll stay in my lane and never look back.
Steady, itís my raceÖIíve got this thing.
2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
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