Alright. I’m halfway through the race. Just 2.5 kilometers to go. But man, I’m kinda tired. Maybe if I just slow down for a little bit-
“No! You can’t let this kid from Northbrook High beat you! These could be crucial points for the team!”
“What is this voice I hear? Who is this speaking to me?
“This is your willpower. I am the force that drives you to keep going when your body tells you to quit. I am the one who pushes you when your thoughts tell you that you can’t handle the challenge. Right now it is my duty to get you through this race with maximum effort.”
“My willpower? Why haven’t I heard you before during my other races?”
“At those moments, I was not strong enough to reach your conscious mind. My strength increases based on the time and effort that you put into training, rehearsal, and performance. You have worked your butt off in practice for this moment. Now, beat this Northbrook guy and catch the others that are in front of you.”
“Okay. You got it . . . Will.”
I’m side by side with the Northbrook runner. It’s me vs him. Who’s gonna give up? Not me. Will’s counting on me. The team is counting on me. I see some runners in front of me too. I have to catch them.
But they seem to be pretty far ahead and there are only 1.5 kilometers left to run. Can I really catch them before the finish? I don’t know if I can maintain this pace for much longer. My heart feels like it’s beating faster than it ever has before. My breathing is rapid and each breath is a struggle. Almost every muscle in my body feels like it is burning and crying for help. I think I might be at my limit.
“Bradley, snap out of it! There’s not much race left for you to make a move!”
“I know, but it hurts. I don’t know if I can take much more of this.”
“Tell you what, if you pass the guy right next to you and catch one person up ahead by the time there are 0.5 kilometers left, I will have a special surprise for you.”
“Alright. Deal. But it better be good.”
Here we go. Time to execute.
Huh. The Northbrook guy is actually slowing down. I’m starting to pull away from him. Now I’m gaining on a guy from Pleasant Oaks Academy. This is it. Just a little closer. Damn, he heard me approaching. Now he’s speeding up.
“Please forgive me heart, lungs, bones, and muscles. You feel like I am pushing it too far, but I made a deal with Will and I’m just itching to see what this surprise is.”
I almost have him. Now I’m right behind him. Hey, there’s Coach Vaughn about 30 meters ahead. That must be the half-a-kilo left mark. What’s he saying?
“BALLS OUT BRADLEY! BALLS OUT!”
Yes! “Balls out”, our team motto. It means to give it everything you’ve got. Hearing this instantly awoke the beast inside of me. I just blew past the POA kid and now I’m passing by Coach V. Suddenly all the pain that I felt earlier just faded away. My focus was locked in on a pack of runners that were about 20 meters in front of me. All thoughts of failure and anxiety vanished. I have only one goal now. Catch those guys.
I feel amazing. It’s like my body is moving on its own. I don’t even have to think about each step. My speed is incredible. I feel like a cheetah hunting down gazelles. This must be the surprise that Will was talking about.
I’ve just caught the pack of five runners and now I’m leaving them in the dust. I can see one more runner up ahead. He’s the guy in first place. I can see him slowing down. It’s obvious that he doesn’t feel the rush that I feel right now. I’m at maximum speed now. I’m going for the win and he doesn’t have the juice to stop me. I’m just a few feet behind him now.
“It’s over for you. BALLS OUT! BALLS OUT! BALLS Ou-”
He just stopped completely. What happened? Crap. I’m crossing the finish line now and he already got across. I didn’t catch him in time and he just barely won. If only the race was just a few feet longer. All of that effort just for it to end like this. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to beat this guy at the state meet.
Oh boy! All of that pain that went missing earlier is back and worse than before. I feel like I was hit by a bus, submerged in a pool of Icy-Hot, and smothered with a pillow. I can’t even stand anymore. I think I’ll lay over here on the ground.
“Nice work Bradley. You ran your heart out. Continue to work hard and you will achieve great things.”
“Thanks for your help Will. Without you, I would have run terribly. I really enjoyed that surprise too.”
“Oh, I’m not willpower. That’s my cousin. I am The Zone. And also . . . you’re welcome.”