Uncharted Track

Posted by Amber Charette

Hello readers! My name is Amber Charette and I am a senior exercise science major here at Skidmore. As a peer health educator on campus, one of my roles this semester is to write for Skidnews on various topics related to health and wellness. And since it is so early in the semester, I decided that my first article would be on the topic of perseverance. Though perseverance is something everyone should possess as a trait, I feel that it is especially beneficial for first-years to know this. Almost four years ago, I submitted my college essay to nearly a dozen schools. Below is what I submitted and though I hope its meaning can be understood without me saying, I will close my article by following up on it.

This is it, I told myself. This is my chance. Last year when I competed in the 100-meter dash, I didn't even make it past semi-finals. But this year, this year was going to be different.

My heart thumped and pulsed and raced in my chest as I approached the starting line. I looked around at the mist-shrouded crowd in the bleachers with their raincoats and umbrellas. They looked antsy, impatient. Focus, I told myself.

I prepared myself as I waited for the official to signal the start of the race, first tightening the elastics in my hair, then repositioning my glasses. I could smell the rubber from the track, a smell I had grown accustomed to over the years. It eases my worries now, since it's always there to catch my feet-Left, right, left, right, left, I hummed to myself. The smell of rubber was tainted only by the sweat already dripping from each of our faces, even though the race hadn't even started yet; that, and the hostility you could almost see, touch, taste, hear, smell, emanating from the staggered starting lines. It's time. The official gave the order: Get on your marks, get set, and for what seemed like a never-ending pause, go!       

The gunshot was part of my past now. I recall feeling as if my legs and mind were not parts of the same body. My legs moved quickly, mechanically even, sure and resolute, but thoughts ambled through my mind at a tortoise's pace.

It came down to me and another girl with longer legs than mine. The other runners were right behind us, but it didn't matter really. My favorite thing about running is how personal it is. The only person I compete against is myself, my legs, my lungs, my thoughts. As the end neared I felt a sudden surge of energy course through my body and I jolted forward across the finish line. I did it. The pain was irrelevant. I was the fastest of the sixty-five sprinters in the race, but more importantly, I had significantly improved my best time (significant being mere seconds in track-but sometimes the most significant things about ourselves are the details, all the small things that we sometimes pay too little attention to).

I never run for the crowd, my coach, the medal. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's great leaving a track meet with medals strewn like glinting pearls around your neck; but it's not so much the medals-the things themselves, those cheap red, white, and blue strands adorned with equally cheap and entirely indistinct medallions-as the sense of accomplishment they represent. I had proved myself to myself. This is an incredible triumph to me because every runner has a point where their times plateau, they don't budge, not even a little, and sometimes they even get worse. It's these moments, moments of static sameness that runners dread most; and it's not because they're not winning, but because they're not improving.

I will continue to push myself to run as fast as I am physically capable of running because then I know I will have dealt with all the details; the space around me won't be an indecipherable blur, but an immaculately detailed picture, not of my surroundings, but of myself. When I run, I'm really stamping out my whole autobiography as it's happening. My footprints are my past and the uncharted track is my future. The time is now and I am somewhere in the middle.

To note, this was where I was at four years ago. Today, I am still running and probably still somewhere in the middle of my journey towards my goals. Over the past few years since coming to Skidmore, I have faced many new challenges, obstacles and set-backs. I have also accomplished new things as well, though. It is four years later and I haven't given up on myself or my abilities. I know that I will always be faced with challenges, but I also know that I will always be strong enough to confront and face them. I found my college essay again after rummaging through my belongings at home this summer. It opened my eyes a bit, and it reminded me how important it is to push yourself to be the best you can be while simultaneously embracing who you are now. My point for sharing this story with you all is to have it serve as a reminder that having perseverance is one of the most important skills for you to possess as a student at Skidmore (or anywhere, really). Practicing this skill will only ensure that you are always trying your best, and you can't really ask much more of yourself if you are doing this. 

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