Earlybird Invitational

I could hear the screeching of my brother’s alarm clock and my mother’s piercing voice as Rahul reluctantly woke up to catch the 6:30 bus. I couldn’t sleep afterwards, so I sat silently on my bed, thinking about nothing.

My mother made me some breakfast, which I also ate silently. Finally, she relented, since she wanted to watch my brother run up the devious hills of Toro Park.

Driving down 101-South, I held the steering wheel, thinking about nothing. My thoughts were miles away as we sped 75 miles an hour into Steinbeck Country. Then finally… we reach CA-68. Traffic entering the park was backed up onto the highway. This invitational was huge. We decided to park off onto the side, a ten minute walk from the park.

The atmosphere surrounding the invitational was electric. The announcer was firing the large audience up, music was being blasted loudly, and the place was filled with eager cross country runners.

The freshman boys exceeded expectations. Shawn Silverman ran under 18, and Ryan was just over. In addition, my brother’s good friend Chris Cheung surprised with an 18:30. Our freshman runners showed promise at this meet, and it made me happy that we had depth and underclassmen power for the season.

The sophomore boys race was highly anticipated. We would get to see how Tom Sanders, Andy Shen, and Revanth Nagurla would fare in their first big invitational for the season. All of our guys had fairly decent starts, but Tom was a little behind. However, mid-race development proved to be key, as Andy dropped back and Tom stole ahead. Tom finished JUST above the 17-minute barrier at 17:08, a very respectable time. As a huge surprise though, Revanth beat out Andy, running a 17:24 as opposed to Andy’s 17:32. I was proud of our team’s results in this race, because, again it proved we had the depth and the underclassmen power necessary to become a force at CCS level.

Now, for my race. I was bent and focused on breaking 17 minutes here, something I was unable to do last year. My coach, however, had higher expectations. “Go for that medal, Rowit,” he said. So I kept that in mind while I ran my strides. Finally, we all lined up on the special white line. I could hear nothing as the starter fired his gun. I felt a little flustered going around the first turn, but I managed to regain my placing around the first 400m. At this point, I became slightly scared because I had never trailed the lead pack in a large race. I stuck behind a Carlmont guy going through the mile. “FIVE TWENTY SIX” someone called out. I was in good shape… maybe a little too fast. I strove to conserve energy for the infamous second mile. Running through the halfway mark gauntlet, I was feeling pretty good tagging Matt Seidel from Bellarmine. We turned the corner… and there it was. The Toro hills. I accelerated a little bit up the hills, remembering to breathe while I did so. After the final hill, it almost seemed as if I was limping. I really wanted that sub-17 though, so I pushed myself on the downhill, passing the two mile mark. “ELEVEN TWENTY THREE” someone yelled behind me. 11:23 meant I would really have to dig deep to shatter that 17 minute barrier. I focused on Seidel and we burst out of the hills loop together. Passing my teammates with 600m to go, they screamed me on. I dug even deeper, fueled with fresher motivation. Seidel and the Carlmont guy were pulling away though. I pushed a little harder. Then, with 200m to go, the kick was on. Everyone was on the sides of course, screaming. I couldn’t hear anything though. All I saw was the clock as I ran closer to the chute. I could read… 16:35. 16:35? I sprinted faster, and ran into the chute. I was happy beyond words. Not only had I shattered the elusive 17 minute barrier, but I had done it convincingly. I shook hands with all my friends, and then coach Jake walked up to me, beaming. He was really proud, and seemed sure that I would get a medal.

I walked over to my teammates on the tarp. They all hugged me and congratulated me, and I felt like I had finally found my place on the team. Even So and Anthony talked to me about my race, which made me feel much better.

I had to wait a while for the official results to come up to get my medal. When I got my medal, though, I felt really proud of myself. I had ran a great race for the team, and my medal was my badge of honor.

As we walked back to the car, I couldn’t stop thinking about my race and how it would help our chances for States this year. We all piled into the car, and my brother and his friend immediately dropped to sleep. When we finally reached 1574 Elka Avenue, we were all pretty tired. I ran up to my dad and showed him my medal. He sat up and asked me more about my race. I think he was the proudest, which made me happy, since I felt like I had done something good for the family.

However, there’s a much longer road remaining ahead of my team and me. A 16:42 is only a step to what I hope and my team hopes to accomplish this season. We will be back, stronger, faster, and better. There will be more to follow at CCS. We are going to put Lynbrook on the map this year.

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