Sofiya's Senior Column

Waiting impatiently at the [high school] starting line, it’s hard to imagine all that awaits on that long and rigorous road. At the shot of the gun, some sprint out ahead and show off all their might at the beginning, only to dwindle and weaken as the true runners stride out and soon catch up. A good pace means everything; learning to find the perfect, balanced medium leads to a victorious race. The outside environment is one, for example, and it can either discourage or inspire to compete. Opponents along the way are vicious, so it is important not to become vulnerable to surroundings or succumb to negative attitudes. Not everyone is who they say they are. Opponents keep at your back, using you to block their wind or to diminish confidence. It is tempting to spike them or throw an elbow for the sake of intimidation, but the best solution is to speed up ahead, gain distance on them, and hope they do not come into sight again. A step outside the boundaries or an injury can cost a runner the race. One incorrect step could result in a sprained muscle in a fraction of a second, so pay attention to every detail and make leaps flawless. If you strive to reach your goal, do it right. If a mistake causes enough pain, you will not step in the same hole twice, no matter how many loops the course holds. Setbacks should not be intimidating, but used to their full advantage. Bodily functions are unpredictable and can interrupt any ongoing challenge. The toll a human body pays for hard effort and strenuous work is sometimes high, so it can falter. Mentality works by side one day, against it the next. Stay strong, maybe it will pass. But no day is perfect – the excuse to quit is always there. It’s all in your head. Seize opportunities as the come up, because in a fast paced race they disappear from sight very soon. Friends and family watch at the sidelines, cheering and yelling. “They have no idea what this is like” is the accompanying thought. True, spectators are usually the ones not good enough to go out for the sport, but they are still good motivation. Train hard, and race harder, because when game day comes, it is your only chance to show what you have been doing in the off-season. It’s all about surprising those that thought you were incapable and sticking out to those who had not noticed you before. Fame via achievement is the best kind. If glory is not rightfully shared, do not respond out of spite, but sweep the crowd off their feet. Everyone loves the underdog. And at the end, just when it’s almost done, when you wonder why you stepped out on the course in the first place, think back to what you are doing and why. A lot can be learned from a seemingly short race, and the memories are endless. Discomfort lasts for minutes, but pride stays. So go ahead, give it your all, and be the underdog.