A blur of colours, a thunder of cheers and a cloud of dust emerges from a herd of sneakers.
Past the supporters, cheering hard, screaming. Knowing you are laying it all on the line and you must do this. No backing out now - it's time to rise up and attack this challenge.
Ear buds in, music pumping. Want to sing, but know that you need your energy for the cardio.
Up the hill. Legs are good. You're feeling pretty stable.
Eye one runner. Actually two. One in blue - she's ahead of you. One in yellow - she's on your tail.
Pump hard to keep up with blue and keep yellow in the rear view.
Second loop. Jake screams "Come on Jess, you can do it! Go!!!!"
Pick it up - for Jake. For Lukas and Andrew. And Brad. All watching, cheering. Wondering if you can do it. Only knowing the crusty lungs. Not sure what the chunkers are capable of.
Heading down the road now. Blue is trucking away in front. Yellow has passed.
Yellow can not be your leader. Yellow has never been your favorite colour.
You dig down and push. You find what you need to in order to sprint ahead.
It works. You pass. You want to cry.
But you don't.
You're a beast. Beasts don't cry. They are beasts and do beastly things.
You maintain a walk/jog. Step it up a bit where needed. Ensure yellow is not too close.
You've got her now. She's back a bit. She likes to sneak her way up.
Objects in mirror are as close as they appear.
You grab a water from the water station. You throw it to your lips in hopes that some will trickle down your throat.
Perhaps a drop.
Then you chuck it.
Blue is still right there. Doing what blue does.
Yellow is behind. Always right behind.
You are in shade now. Trees bring some relief from the 30 degree heat.
Around the lake. Down a hill. Throwing yourself. Allowing gravity to escort your body down the hill.
Just don't fall.
Trees are backing off. Another loop has announced itself.
There's the finish. You see some onlookers.
You edge closer; always ensuring that yellow is minding yellow's business.
Jake, Luke, Andrew, Brad, Carman, Marie-Eve, ect. All are waiting.
As you approach the last turn the boys and Brad are there.
"You Can Do It! Go hard!"
The timer is inching it's way up. It has not yet hit 24 minutes.
You can't let it hit 24 minutes.
You push. You find every ounce of strength, guts and determination and you plow through.
You beat 24 minutes.
You beat yellow.
You beat 24 minutes.
The world is yours.
Before you take the world, you collapse. You can't breathe.
Brad pours water over your neck to cool you down. And then you remember that you have new chunkers.
You CAN breathe.
You breathe like a beast.
The boys are certain that you placed, but you assure them that you didn't and that they shouldn't expect it.
You are absolutely certain that you didn't medal.
Your name rings through. Loud and clear.
You placed. You medaled. You won bronze.
You did it.
You feel tears. You are so shocked.
You are no longer breathing with crusties. You are no longer struggling for air. You are no longer relying on oxygen.
You can breathe AND you just won bronze in a 3km road race.
Chunkers. You've done well.