The Pressure Got to Me

I was so nervous before the track meet. I kept thinking,Why can't I just calm down?
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"C'mon, man! You can do it!" my teammate Drew* called out as

I barreled toward my first hurdle.

I huffed and puffed my way down the track, all the while concentrating on Drew's encouragement. He was an awesome hurdler and always made it look so easy. But it wasn't. Synchronizing my steps to get over the hurdle was hard enough, not to mention having to sprint between hurdles.

I counted my steps and leaped …

My knee banged into the first hurdle and whacked against the second.

Come on! I scolded myself as I gritted my teeth in frustration. Just get a little bit more air on this next one!

I cleared the third hurdle but took a hard hit on the fourth and went tumbling to the ground.

And so it went for the next several weeks as I pushed through sore muscles, swollen knees, and a severely bruised ego. But slowly I started to improve—enough that Coach Graham suggested I train for the high hurdles in the season's first track meet.

I wasn't too hot on the idea since I was a 5'4" freshman who would be racing against juniors and seniors half a foot taller than me. Plus, these were high hurdles—all the more difficult to get over. But I thought I'd give it a try.  I not only worked hard. I prayed. A lot.

Every night I prayed for God to make me a better athlete. But it never happened. Despite spending countless hours on the track practicing, I continued to fall over those high hurdles.

The morning of the first meet, I sat stiffly at the breakfast table. I was so anxious I couldn't even lift the spoon from the cereal bowl.

"I know you're nervous about today's meet," Mom said in a soft voice. "I just want you to know I've been praying for you."

"What for? That I won't make a fool out of myself?" I asked.

"Actually, I've been praying that you start trusting God," Mom said gently. "Remember—he loves you no matter how you run."

"I know that," I said with a sigh.

"Then trust him," Mom encouraged. "If you do that, your fears will fall away."

I knew Mom meant well, but she didn't know what she was talking about. It had been forever since she was in high school. And she had never run track. She didn't know the pressure I was under to do well.

That afternoon when I dressed for the meet, my stomach was doing flip-flops. My mind was filled with thoughts like, Why can't I just calm down!   

As I stepped up to the starting line of the 110-meter high hurdles, my heart racing, I suddenly remembered what Mom had said that morning: "God loves you no matter how you run." It's like God pushed those words right back into my thoughts.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Then I prayed a prayer different from the ones I'd been praying: Please God, help me see that everything will be OK because you're with me.

I took a deep breath and felt somehow more relaxed than I'd felt in a long time.

When the gun blasted, I took off. Whoosh.

I flew over the first hurdle … then the second … and third. Before I knew it, I had cleared the tenth and final hurdle.

I didn't win the race, but I'd finished it without knocking over a single hurdle. But something even better happened. For the first time during track season I actually had fun running because I wasn't stressing out about what might happen.

As I headed toward the bleachers to find my family, I couldn't help but laugh to myself.

Hmmm, I thought. It turns out Mom knew what she was talking about after all.

To motivate himself before a race, Treven, a sophomore, likes to jam to groups like Relient K and Falling Up.

* Name has been changed

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