I did it.

No, for real. There were times when I was pretty sure I was going to pass out from this redesign. Seriously.

But, here it is. It’s all done. New forum. New design. Banner ads. New navigation (sorta).

I must now resist the urge to never come near this site again.

I find that when I’m going through periods of stress and indecision, I throw myself even deeper into my work than I probably should. I just figure that the harder and longer I’m working, the less I’m going to think about things that upset me. I end up not sleeping, not eating, and smoking too much.

But I get things done. I finish projects.

I’ve always been afraid of not finishing something I’ve started. I end up getting sick afterwards from the stress that I put myself under just to finish, to get something done on time. I hate being late with things. I love checking things off my list.

I don’t like finding something I can’t do.

When I was eight, I was picked to run in a track meet at my elementary school. I hadn’t ever trained for track before, but the teachers had seen me run at recess, and decided that I was fast enough to try for the meet. I was a sprinter. I loved doing the 50 yard dash.

Unfortunately, I didn’t win the 50 yard dash at my school. There was only one girl interested in running the 440, but she had to actually qualify to go to district, so they asked me to run against her.

I did. I won.

I didn’t even know what I was doing. I don’t even think that it could have been a full 440 yards, knowing now what I didn’t know then.

But the next thing I knew I was heading out to the district competition. The 440. I was a track star.

My parents came out to the meet. I remember feeling very important because I had friends and lots of people from my school sitting in the bleachers with me. While we watched our friends go through other races, we joked and drank Cherry Icees.

I hadn’t run the 440 since that first race in school. And that was the only time I had ever run the 440. I knew nothing about strategy. I didn’t know about breathing or pacing, or “the wall.”

All I knew was suddenly I was standing in front of a huge track, and I was expected to run the entire thing. They lined us all up. I was in first position. I had noticed the girl next to me in line had figured something out. She walked to the back of the line. When we were all placed in position, she was on the farthest lane of the track. To me, who had never been on a real track before (my elementary school’s meet was done in the yard with string), I thought that they were giving this girl an unfair head-start.

I wondered if they all knew that I was the running Wonderkid. I didn’t need training; I was just fast. I won races without trying. Clearly the district meet thought it was only fair to give these other kids a head start.

A coach would have been wonderful. There were no coaches. All I knew was that they were starting me dead last in this race.

So, when the race started, I hauled ass. I ran as fast as I could so that I caught up with the other girls in the lanes.

We were all next to each other until halfway through the race. Right at the third turn, I felt an incredible burning and seizing through my body. I had never heard of “The Wall,” but I had just met it anyway.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. My stomach was collapsing on itself. I was dizzy, and I couldn’t even see very well.

In front of me I could see that the race was over. The girls had finished, flaunting their coaching histories and their ability to master the concept of a long-distance track event. I was confused. I was numb.

I was suddenly aware that there was someone behind me.

I was not about to come in dead last. I could explain away my confusion and lack of training much easier if I didn’t come in last.

I hobble-skipped the last few yards, heaving and gasping for air, just trying to stay ahead of the other sobbing girl behind me.

I crossed the finish line, and promptly threw up. Cherry Icee, all over my shoes. All over my new track shorts.

All over my pride.

I think it was about three years ago when my father brought that story up again. It surprised me that he remembered. “I have never been so proud of you,” he said.

At first I was shocked, that I had peaked at his approval at eight and covered in cherry vomit. But then he explained that he watched the race, and he saw my confusion beforehand, and how I thought I would have to run faster than the others. He saw my body give up. Then he saw my mind decide to continue.

“I watched you and I whispered, ‘Bring it in. Don’t give up.’ And you finished that race. You weren’t even going to win anymore, but you still finished. You didn’t just walk off and go back.”

I like to think that I was down there and when I was lost and confused, part of me heard my father’s whisper. “Don’t give up.” And then he showed me that other girl still struggling behind me. I hadn’t lost yet. I had just fallen behind. The race wasn’t over. There were still people in it. I had to finish what I had started. I had to finish the race for all of the people that had come to see me, to cheer me on. I owed them that moment when I crossed the line. Now, granted, the moment I gave them must have sounded something like, “Yeah! WOO! Oh! Ihh…. ew.” But I still gave them a moment.

Finish the race.

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