I am nine years old , grade 3 – I am being encouraged to take on a athletic event, it is a running event and it requires me to run 2 kilometers, to me within my understanding 2 kilometers are quite a long distance, I am told that it isn’t, I insist that I do not want to do it, I am once again told that I can do it since I have done it before when I was eight years old.
The elders do not give up on the “wanting” for me to run in this athletic event, they belief it is part of my potential, because my father used to be a good runner in his days, this is implying that I should be a good runner just like my father.
I stick to not running, I am at school and I hear the other kids talk about who is going to run and who isn’t, I hear a specific kid saying that he is going to run, I can’t believe he is going to run, he is quite over weight and seems like he will get tired pretty quick and quite in the long distance race, I feel challenged and that I should also be able to do this if he can.
I am at home, I tell the elders that I will do the long distance race, they are happy, they tell me many things, of which one is that my father was a great runner and that this means it is in my genes and I will find it to be easy.
My best friend is also going to do the race, he keeps telling me that running 2 kilometers is nothing, it will be a quick race, I feel inferior to him and that he can claim such a thing when I cannot, I am in fear and anxious of the race, I hate it when the gun shot goes off and all the kids start to run, some are in the front and some are in the back, I am always in between in such events, if it is long distance or short, I always feel like I can fall behind anytime or just give up, while the rest can continue, they must be stronger than me and better naturally, I must be missing something.
It is required of me to practice on a weekly base, for two weeks I train, the training isn’t that hard, it is basically running a few laps everyday and doing a lot of stretching, the training actually makes the race seem like it will not be that hard.
The teacher that trains us says that the race is the same distance as running five times around the “rugby” field, this startled me and at the same time my mind interpreted it as not much, but in training sessions we only go around twice.
The day has come of the event, I am dressed up and I am at the point and time of the race, there are thousands of people, parents/families with the runner being the center of attention, everyone is competing with everyone, even the families with each other, who’s kid is better then who’s, I feel it is my responsibility to make my elders proud and to make this race happen.
As I am standing around I feel that I do not want to do it, I go to my parents and say I do not want to do the race, both my parents sitting in chairs they brought to watch me run stare at me – they say: we are already here and you trained, why not give it a try, I did not want to do it, the anxiety in my stomach was to big and over whelming, the pressure of competing was getting to me, I do not like competing.
My parents made a deal with me, they told me that if I run and finish the race that they will buy me a frozen drink, they were selling it all around, this drink is literally two rands, I did not have that money back then and anything seemed as a good idea, I said okay I will do it for that.
I walked away and stood around, then came a girl from school, she was smiling and saying hi to me, I secretly liked her but she never knew, she then asked me If I am running today – I felt this energy rush, I could proudly say YES I am running today, like it gave me meaning and like I am a capable guy, I am doing something many others aren’t doing today, and I could tell this girl I am doing it.
She then said okay good luck and we both just stood there, I then heard the announcement for my age group to gather on the field and give our names in for the race.
As I stood on the field waiting in line my friend also joined in, he seemed so calm and like he actually wanted to do this, he then asked me if I am ready, I said yes with a fake confidence to seem like I am equal to his standing.
We got our names in and we were all standing in line, at least a hundred kids my age, the person started talking and I heard a gunshot – Off we all go, the race has started.
I am running to stay with my friend, but he is simply faster, I even saw a kid younger than me running with us and taking me over, a lot of kids are bumping into each other and trying to get ahead of each other, we hardly started and I am already tired, I just want to stop, I can’t see anyone I know around me anymore, they are all gone, I am left running on my own and I know I am not in front, I basically already lost.
I do not know the road, there are people standing around with red flags showing me the way to where I must go, it leads into a field, there is no one, I have no idea how far I am from the finish line or if I am the only one left, I continue running, I see up ahead there is a kid, it is the other kid from my class that I could not belief were also going to run, he is walking and out of breathe, I take him over, I feel proud that I could beat him at least, he starts to run again as I pass him, I pace myself to not lose my small win for the day.
I get a cramp in my stomach ad I am tired, I want to stop, it is now a uphill run, I never trained for this at all, I see I am getting back to the area we started off at, I run in-between the bushes and meet up with other tired kids there still running, I feel good that I could catch up, but no matter what could not over take them, they were just in front of me the whole time.
We reach the rugby field where we started off, I feel so fucking happy, I see the finish line, as I get closer I start to walk, I am to tired, as I get to the finish line the person tells me that I still have to run around the field twice and then I am done.
My parents are screaming for me on the side and the girl I spoke to, I do not hear them, I see them but do not hear them, I am completely emotion – I have to do this for two more rounds before I am done.
I start running, I don’t want to, that all that is going through my head, I am feeding the emotions, like I am being forced, I am being abused, it is unfair, I don’t want to, why does no one understand that I do not want to, the last thought that comes through my mind is, If i do not finish this I will not get that iced drink my parents said I can have if I finish.
I am half way through the first round, I decided to stop, I will not continue, I started walking towards my parents, they are screaming at me and saying, you must finish, I start running again, I feel broken, my body isn’t supporting this, I am almost done, I have to run a hundred meters more.
I start to cry, I scream out I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I don’t want to do it, I am emotionally wrecked, my body wants to collapse, I fall on my knees, EVERYONE is watching me and hearing me and I don’t give a shit, my parents scream, just a little bit more GIAN, just a little bit more, the game does not matter to me anymore, I run off the field crying straight towards my parents, I had to literally run 50 more meters and I would have finished, But I did not.
My parents did not comfort me as I entered their presence, they left me to cry and to remain in the emotional state, they were to embarrassed to support me at that moment and I did not know what to do with myself.
We packed our things and we left, I did not get that iced drink. I left the field knowing that I never want to experience that again, it was horrible, it was disastrous, I hated that whole day and the whole experience, I am wondering who will remember me for how I acted out on the field, I felt ashamed and like a loser to the rest, everyone could finish it except me.
Next up self forgiveness.