Common App Essay, Topic: Evaluate a significant event and its impact on you.
Bang! The starting gun went off. Hundreds of feet trampled over a grass field. Every face was set with determination. Everyone had a reason to leave it all on the course. In those first few seconds of the race, my memory flashed back on the beginning of my running career, and the setbacks I have faced in it.
I began running in middle school. I was only interested in running because my friends were doing it. I was an average runner during this time. I did desire to improve and ultimately wanted to win, but this was not the reason I fell in love with running. I fell in love with running when I felt the troubles of life fall behind and the sweet breath of Mother Nature overwhelm me. I felt so free, as if I could go anywhere in the world I wanted. With each run, I felt more at home, more alive.
This passion I developed led me to cross country once I began high school. Unfortunately, I did not get off to a good start. Freshman year I suffered from tendonitis in my hips and knees. This did not completely debilitate me, but I knew in my heart I had a much higher potential than what my performance showed. Sophomore year I was steadily improving, until two weeks before the Regional, when I pulled a muscle in my leg. Another season was ended, but I knew I had two more and my time would come. I began my junior year with my mind set on running with my team at state. We had five varsity seniors that would graduate, so I knew we would have a hard time getting to state my senior year. In my mind, this season was do-or-die.
The adrenaline pumping through my veins was blocking any discomfort. I moved with the pack around the first flag, and then up a hill. I was feeling invincible, but knew I had to be careful not to go too fast, as this high would not last forever. I still had one team member within sight, but in the shifting of the dozens of runners around me, I lost track of him. I was on my own now, but I was ready for anything. Five-minute, fifteen-second mile split, I was a little fast. The adrenaline was starting to wear off, and so the pain set in. In the most painful moments, when my mind wanted to give in, I reminded myself of why I run, and how it makes me a better person.
I do not believe running is just another sport or pastime. Running, specifically cross country, instills many valuable attributes in a person, myself included. Discipline, as well as commitment, comes from following a schedule, and set guidelines. Our coach advises us to cut soda and junk food out of our diets. While this can be very challenging, I believe it is completely worth it. The willpower one develops in cross country stays with them for the rest of their lives. Anther positive character trait I have found to be inflicted by running is determination. Personally, the way I set goals for cross meets has translated well into other aspects of my life. I know if I fail to get the grade I want, or if I am unable to attain some other goal, I can focus and work hard to accomplish anything.
This November day was a bit warm, over seventy degrees. A normal state cross country meet would be a gray, hot-chocolate kind of day. I was feeling the effect of the heat as ran my second mile. I had to shrug it off, however, as there were no second chances today. I kept this in mind as I tried to stay on pace. The two-mile mark finally arrived; I crossed at ten minutes, 32 seconds. I was very content, I was still on pace. As I continued into my third and final mile, my mind once again wandered. I thought about how I had matured over my high school career. I was realizing how running had done more for me than I could have imagined.
Leadership, a trait valuable in and out of sports, is something I have gained from running. I had the opportunity to be a captain of my cross country team this year. I have learned a great deal about myself in performing my duties. Every day I am responsible for attending and leading practices. I motivate my teammates, and make sure we are all working towards our potential. Over the season, I have learned how I lead in times of disappointment and frustration, as well as in times of joy and contentment. Whenever we, as a team, do not perform as well as we would have liked, I find myself being optimistic. I console my teammates and assure them we will bounce back. As a freshman, I remember that I was the one needing the consoling. I would let the grief overtake me and it would affect my performance even more. But, as a senior and captain, I have matured and learned the power of perseverance.
Ok, now I had to focus. I had three quarters of a mile left in the race. This was where I had to just gut it out to the finish, as my coach would say. The strength in my legs was rapidly declining at this point, but I had been expecting it to. I tried to keep my pace. My legs started burning as I rounded the last flag and headed up the final hill. I overtook several competitors, and then I was passed by a few others. I saved up just enough energy to sprint the last two hundred meters. No one passed me from then on. And at last, I crossed the finish line, nearly collapsing from exhaustion. But, I did not fall. I managed to stumble over to our coach, and waited there for my teammates. I was not concerned with my time, or my place. I knew I had accomplished my goal. I had left everything I had out on the course.