Ten Words that Changed my Life

Staring across the muddy plains, where hundreds of Canada’s best cross country runners chewed up the prairie grass in the hours previous, the sun set across Lake Ontario, leaving in its wake a beautiful display of magenta pink and purple cotton candy skies.

It was in that moment, gazing at the range of colours in the sky, that I received ten words that changed my life.

When the crisp Ontario winter air pounced on the heat of my exposed skin, a buzz-buzz went off in my left pocket. I removed my black gloves, quickly brought my fingers up to my mouth, and exhaled a slow breath of hot air into my palms. My already red hands rubbed against each other, caressing that breath of warmth.

Back in the end of November, at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Kingston, Ontario, I received the honour of representing Team British Columbia, and was ecstatic to race against some of the best Under 20 runners in the entire country.

It was refreshing to travel with six other Vikes teammates, people that I trained hard with since September, and it was exciting to see the culmination of our hard work to lead us to the Canadian Championships.

*

However, this story begins much longer than a few months ago. It begins on a football field, and basketball court.

I never dreamed of becoming a runner, I actually came into it by accident. My childhood fantasy was to be a football player, lining up every Sunday with the eye black face paint under my helmet.

In spite of this dream, it only took one year of football to realize this wouldn’t be my sport. A tall, lanky 6 foot 140 pound body isn’t conducive to such a contact sport.

But nonetheless, I picked up another sport (no, not running) — basketball.

It was here I learned hard work and discipline. Those traits were inscribed through the 7 a.m. practices before school and after school 3:15 p.m practices. Talking about it now makes me miss lining up on the baseline with my eleven teammates, as we prepared ourselves to run a set of eleven lengths of the basketball court in 1 minute and 9 seconds.

In these sets, I remember coming across the baseline ahead of the pack before the shot clock buzzer would go off. A few teammates would scatter over the line a few seconds after the buzz, and our coach would then reset the clock to “1:09” and tell us to get back on the line until every one made it on time.

I remember waking up for 7 a.m practice to our coaches telling us to skip 1,000 ‘double-unders’ (where you swing the rope twice before your feet hit the ground). I remember our coaches taking us to the track outside, lining us up along the start line, and telling us to ‘burpee broad jump’ one lap of the track. While, if anyone took even a single step between each jump, we would be sent back to the start.

In those moments where I stood with my hands on my knees, sweat dripping down my nose, the traits of hustle, hard work, and dedication were burnt into my mind.

*

But, in the end, no matter what sport I played. all I ever wanted was to make my parents proud.

So, as I crossed the finish line in 7th place at Canadian Nationals, I thought back to my parents. I thought back to them driving me to every practice I had, every race, every morning for school, and not once hearing them complain. I remember in those moments, when I sat in the backseat, promising to myself that I would make them proud for all the effort they put into me.

*

Standing beneath the magenta skies, taking my red hands out the warmth of my gloves, I glance at a text message from my dad. On the screen reads ten words. The only words I ever wanted to hear from my parents, in my whole life.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of you.”

-Josh

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3 Responses

  1. Sarah Tarnopolsky says:

    I love this post! Well written and structured. And I’m sure many will relate. Thanks for writing!

  2. Hannah says:

    Such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing! As a runner myself, I can so relate to the feelings and experiences you describe.

  3. Kane says:

    Great read 🙂

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