Brandon, Age 13, Furlong, PA

I feel all the pressure of the race lift off my shoulders as I sprint down the home stretch and across the finish line. I hope I place well, I think. The kids' triathlon at the local pool/park is a part of me now. Every year, in the spring, the triathletes line up for the race.

I stand by the bleachers. Im in the first heat. I begin to feel worried: Will I make it? Can I finish? We hop into the freezing water and wait for the whistle. I notice that I am not the only tense one there. The piercing screech of the whistle throws us into a mad rush to swim three laps. Everyone else is ahead of me. Ive gotta pick up the pace, I think. My arms pump freight trains in the water. The pool gleams, clear blue water, the water rippling and frothing, as the athletes power through it like bulldozers. I finally catch up on the last lap. We all jump out of the water beginning the sprint to the bikes.

I reach my bike and quickly dry off while putting on my shoes. I grab my helmet off the handle bars and strap it on. The buckles click all around me as I hop on my bike. I place my feet on the pedals and push. The race is on. I keep it slow, until I reach the main path. I speed past bikers all around me. Click, click, whiz, the gears spin faster and faster. The woods fly by, blurry trees speed past. I dread the hill, towering above, steep and dangerous. I shift down as I reach the hill, preparing for the climb. After what seems like hours, I reach the top. I look out at the clear blue sky, but only for a moment as I continue my ride. I bike the loop through the streets until it empties out onto the top of the hill. I swoop down the hill like a diving falcon. I sweep past bikers from the heats after me, as they bike up the hill. I take no time to bike through the wooded paths and back to the bike stop. I hop off my bike and run it to my spot. I unstrap my helmet and hook it onto my bike. Now I run.

I jog down the path to the field. My legs feel like jelly, not used to running after the long bike ride. Gradually they adjust. The run is short, just a mile, one lap through the woods. I circle around the field for the final stretch. The sun smiles down at me from its throne in the clear blue sky. I finish my loop and near the gravel path, the home stretch. The gravel crunches under my feet as I pound down the path. The faint trees cast shadows over the path. The blare of the crowd can be heard through the woods. My sweaty hands swing back and forth as I prepare to cross the finish line. The sweet taste of accomplishment flicks onto my tongue amidst the aroma of sweat.

The crowd cheers, Go, go, go, go. I cross the finish line as the announcer calls out my name and number. I feel a sense of completeness after the race. I am handed a participation medal as I wander around. There are food stands set up. Oranges and bananas draw me in like a fish to a worm. I grab one of each as I look around for my parents. They find me first. They call my name and I navigate over to them. We find our car, and drive home. Even though the pressure can be incredibly stressful, hard work will prevail in the end.

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