The lineup was supposed to be according to PR, but most of the kids from the track team had never run a 10K before so they jockeyed to be near the front. We’d let them have their fun for a minute until they thinned out and we blew past them. Brandon’s smirk from up front was a challenge, but not one I could handle. I wasn’t unrealistic enough to think I could beat him.
And he thought I could beat the twins? Yeah right. I wasn’t a chicken. I just knew my limitations. We’d run shoulder to shoulder for the first nine-and-a-half kilometers and then they’d sprint ahead of me. I’d try, but it was pretty much a losing battle.
“Runners on your marks,” the announcer called. “Get set… go!”
We waited patiently while all the little kids, okay not really kids, more like Freshmen and Sophomores, to thin out, and then we crossed the starting line in unison, so our chip timers were synced as closely as possible. It was just a fun habit we’d gotten into over the years. In my mind’s eye I could picture us running marathons together someday. I had two of the best friends ever. I smiled, and we picked up speed simultaneously.
I glanced down at my Garmin and set my pace. No need to overexert myself too early. Let the less-experienced runners sprint ahead and we’d pass them in a mile or two when their stamina wore out. We were in this for the long haul.
I could no longer see Brandon in front of us. He was right. He was much faster than us on his worst day. I wondered if he’d ever won any competitions before. I’d have to ask him later. I had a lot of time to think about him while running that morning. About fifty-five and a half minutes to be exact. Fifty-five minutes to fantasize about running with him every single day for the rest of my life. Yeah right. I was dreaming, just like I was dreaming I’d ever beat the twins. Dreaming about Brandon was more fun. Before I realized how far we’d gone, I could see the lighthouse up ahead. The finish line was in sight.
The finish line came faster than I thought it would. The lighthouse loomed up ahead and I pushed just a little harder. Only two guys were ahead of me. Two extremely fit, extremely relaxed, and extremely fast runners. I didn’t stand a chance. I didn’t let that stop me from pushing a little faster. I might as well have the best time I could. Maybe I could even PR.
Missed it by two seconds. Dang it! Third place wasn’t a bad finish. I could pat myself on the back. I jogged along for a moment more as a cool-down then doubled back to grab a little cup of water. I slammed it down and took a second cup to dump over my head. Then I watched in anticipation for my girls to arrive.
My girls? Where’d that come from. Eh, what the heck? They were my little trio of followers. My mini fan club. Now I was being cocky. I could see them in the distance. They were still shoulder to shoulder.
Come on, Sammy. Pull ahead. I know you can do it. I willed her to gain the confidence she needed to push past the twins. Mind over matter.
I couldn’t see the color of the headbands from here, but I think it was Krystal who took the point position, with Kat behind and Sammy bringing up the rear. Darn. Someday. I’d have to work on that.
Finally, I could see the pink headband in her hair and I called out, “Come on Krystal!”
Her brow furrowed in concentration and she pushed harder. That raised Kat’s competitive streak as well and she was right at her sister’s heels again. Sammy looked angry at me cheering on the twins.
Come on, babe, prove me right, I willed into her mind. You can beat them.
She pushed harder, but it was no use. Their times were within seconds of each other just like always, Krystal, Kat, then Sammy. It was almost as if they planned it that way.
I ignored the twins. They’d have enough accolades from everyone else. I went straight for Sammy and grabbed her in a hug and spun her around.
“Nice job!” I cheered. “You rocked it.”
“Thanks,” she said, out of breath. She pushed me away. “I need water.”
We walked over to the water table and she guzzled one of the little cups, then reached for another and sipped it.
“What’d you place?” she asked.
“Seriously? We both took third. That’s pretty cool.”
The twins finally made it around to the water table and we waited for them to get a drink before we all took off into a slow jog for our cool-down. I had to admit, this summer was shaping up to be better than I thought it was going to be.
Running To You
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