My cross country and track journey is best described through my application essay for UW-Madison. I hope this inspires you!
My hands were shaking and my palms were sweating as I looked up and saw thousands of spectators cheering loudly. For a brief moment afterwards, the crowd was completely silent. Then, a loud bang startled me and the race began to unfold. Unfortunately, that once in a lifetime experience happened in my dreams. I knew I had to achieve glory, even though it would be a long and arduous journey. However, I didn’t anticipate any of the setbacks I would soon face and the lessons about success that would be critical for my future.
As I walked by the track and field records each day, one record stood out to me. I instantly knew that I had to beat my school’s mile record to create history because I had a vision in my head that I could cross the finish line and the clock would display “4:15”. I started my freshman track and field season with good momentum, but my time in the mile still had a long way to go. However, I was still proud of myself because I achieved the opportunity to run another race after the junior varsity season was over.
The next year, I felt optimistic about improving my time to meet my standards. Soon after, I developed an unexpected pain in both of my legs. I couldn’t even run without limping a little. Unsurprisingly, my workouts were slower and I competed less than I did the year before. Despite all the pain in my knees and shins, I continued to race the mile. At the end of the season, I only improved by one second! As a result, I started to panic and ask myself if I did everything I could to improve since my mindset was marred. Consequently, this really stressed me out in addition to my schoolwork that I had to keep up with my sophomore year.
While my goal in the mile seemed unattainable, I wasn’t going to give up completely because I was still open to trying out new events. As I completed my first outdoor 800 meter relay leg in first place, I saw the potential in me once again. Rejuvenated, I began to adjust my goal and my everyday lifestyle so that I would ultimately be part of the 3200 meter relay record at my high school by the end of junior year. By running a relay, I began to develop a sense of leadership and confidence because I always congratulated and challenged my fellow teammates to push themselves harder. Also, I always asked the runners about what they admired about their performance and what they could improve on so that they would stay focused on our goal. With our newfound mindset and attitude, the intense pressure was on and the bang erupted into the air. With all the suspense and cheering from the crowd, our last runner appeared to be running in slow-motion as he strode toward the finish line. Much to my relief, my team burst with joy due to the fact that we advanced to the state championship and broke our school record simultaneously! I could not have been more thankful to everyone that supported us. The sense of accomplishment was well-worth dedicating myself to running for years and going through all the discomfort.
The most important lesson that I’ve learned from this journey is that passion and hard work will always pay off, even if I have to adapt to unexpected situations. In addition, I’ve learned that every single member of a team is crucial to their success. Furthermore, I’ve realized that I should explore my options first so that I won’t commit to something that I know I won’t have passion for down the road. Finally, I learned that I don’t always have to accomplish a goal that I initially set because there’s more than one way to achieve success.