It's one of the nicest days of the year, with temperatures in the low 70s with little humidity and a weak breeze.
The field is abuzz. For some of the elite, this meet isn't important. Some don't even have to run for time, only place. But for runners like you, it's a chance to prove yourself. It's a chance to show your coaches that there really is some hope for you.
Your season has been full of disappointments. Month after month without a PR. You missed some time because of sickness, but you still become increasingly frustrated with each passing race. This was supposed to be the year you broke out.
Anticipation builds throughout the day. The two mile is one of the last events. The only thing you can do is watch in awe as some of the area's best runners put up times in the 800 and 1600 that you can only dream of at this point. You see runners that you expected to be neck-and-neck with beating your PRs by 20 seconds. Doubt starts to build.
Finally, it's time to start warming up. You're by yourself, just thinking. You think: how am I going to run this? Your PR on the season is an embarrassing 11:35, but you're still not sure you can even beat that. Your seed time is 11:30.
Soon, you get seeded. Eighth. Beat two people and you medal. Simple as that.
The gun goes off and you get out to a solid pace, but the rest of the field goes out even quicker. They are off to a ridiculous pace. Here, however, is not the place to stay with the pack. You've made mistakes like this before and it has cost you dearly. This is your race to run. Gradually, the pack slips in front of you. Even still, you're running better than you expected. Each lap goes by. 1:20. 2:40. 4:00. 5:20. Halfway to a 10:40. That's a little fast, so you slow down by necessity. The lactic acid is building in your legs and with each lap, your range of movement is worsening. But you are so close. If there is one thing you have learned it's never let up.
With one lap to go, it hurts like crazy, but after seven laps, there is certainly no giving up now. No one is around you. A pack is well in front and another is well behind. Nobody will catch you, and you won't catch anyone.
Pushing it through the last turn , you want to die, but you are also relieved. You are coming up on a huge PR. You cross the line and a teammate is right there to congratulate you. 11:01.
No medal. No recognition. But that's not what matters. It isn't about the win. It's about the journey, and what you learn along the way.