Haley ran her first race! The Turkey Trot Kid’s One Mile was the perfect distance for Haley to run. After she was done, she asked me if she could run another race the next day. Addicted already? At least it’s a healthy addiction! During the race, one child stopped at a port-a-potty for a quick break. It reminded me of my first race–The Sixth Grade Mile….allow me to tell the story:
You weren’t allowed to join the track team at Logan Middle School until you were in 7th grade, but once a year the 6th graders were invited to have a fun run on the track. I remember showing up with my white Keds and my stone-washed jeans, ready to take on the world. The gun went off, and for the first 200 meters, I was in first place–sprinting ahead of all the boys. Reality set in after 300 meters, and I soon drifted back in the pack.
Now, as you well know, one mile is 4 laps around the track. If you can imagine with me, at one end of the track there was the starting line (which is–of course–also the finish line) and at the clear other end of the track there was a bathroom. Halfway through my 3rd lap, I started to feel thirsty. I had sprinted so hard in the beginning and was pushing a good pace, but now was starting to feel it. Not knowing any better, I exited the track and got myself a nice, long drink and even took a bathroom break. After taking a couple of minutes to catch my breath and recover, I joined the mass of others–who were now VERY spread out and even lapping each other–in finishing my 3rd lap.
Now, what happened next changed the rest of my life. I turned the corner and started running down the “home stretch” to finish lap #3. The coaches must have lost track of who was on which lap because–next thing I know–I hear the coaches shouting and yelling my name. “ANNIE HALEY!!!!! BRING IT HOME STRONG!!!!” I started to pick up the pace, not completely sure what was happening. Others started to line the track and cheer for me, “ANNIE! You’re almost done!!” (Huh? I am?! ) FINISH STRONG!!!” I started to sprint towards the finish line, trying to convince myself that I had run 4 laps.
I crossed the finish line and immediately my 6th grade P.E. teacher came up to me with his stopwatch and eyebrows raised in excitement. I had won. I had made an AMAZING time….possibly even broke the 6th Grade Mile Record (can’t remember for sure). The high school cross country coach came over, introduced himself and started recruiting me for the team. The other coaches surrounded me, talking of my talent and my potential. I stood in the spotlight beaming, completely ignoring the voice that was telling me I was a deceitful, conniving cheat.
It wasn’t until after placing in the Division 1 Wisconsin High School State Cross-Country Championships that I confessed to my coach what I had done years earlier. I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if I hadn’t stopped for that drink on lap #3. Here is a picture of Haley finishing her mile on the track…Oh, and Yes….she ran the entire thing.