I peaked in the 6th grade.
It was at this very time during the spring of … well the year’s not important, really. What’s important is that it happened. It was at the annual all city “6th Grade Track Meet.” If you didn’t catch that, that meant that 6th graders from ALL over the metropolis of Norfolk, Nebraska were going to compete in one very big track meet to see who could run the fastest and jump the furthest.
Naturally, I assumed it would be me.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’d been preparing for this monumental event since the 2nd grade when I first learned of the track meet after my sister “competed.” At the end of year school assembly when our P.E. teacher handed out ribbons for the meet winners I was determined to get the blue and felt sad for my sister and the way she had represented our family by only getting the purple “participant” ribbon.
I remember thinking to myself, “she should have trained harder,” as I sat criss-cross on the Northern Hills gymnasium floor that morning. Why did she not care? It was evident my sister cared more about scouting boys to date for the next year in middle school than actually running a race at the “ALL CITY TRACK MEET.”
It made zero sense to me. Winning was everything. If I had been able to get the tattoo I wanted at that age it would have literally said, “WINNING IS EVERYTHING” followed by a Nike swoosh.
The only time I considered rocking a short buzz cut was in 3rd grade and it was because I was incredibly jealous of the boys and their NIKE swooshes they all got shaved in the back of their heads. I get envious just thinking about those blonde little buzzzed swooshes of hair. They were SO COOL.
Back to my training. (See #4 on list.) Please ignore all others.
For the next four years I made my parents take me to every track meet in the Northeast Nebraska region. When I felt comfortable enough with my talent we even went to bigger state events such as “The Cornhusker State Games,” (the Olympics of Nebraska) my heart skips a beat just typing that. And also the Hershey State Track Meet. Oh, and one time I ran a mile holding a fire torch for the “Nebraska Torch Run” on a random stretch of highway, next to a cornfield, outside of Norfolk followed by a man in a white Pontiac driving at the rate I was running. I’m hoping that man in the Pontiac was an affiliate of the race or something and not just some creep on the highway following a little girl who thought she was the Marion Jones of Northeast Nebraska. I guess we shall never know.
In my off time I set up small bean bags in our very long driveway and practiced the “shuttle run” to keep my agility up. I did pull-ups on my dad’s pull-up bar and occasionally snuck a few lines of his protein powder into my Fun Dips.
I’m not ashamed of any of this. It was all in preparation for the biggest day of my life, the 6th Grade Track Meet.
My race day outfit is also worth noting as it was the best race day outfit to ever exist. Red running shorts with a silver stripe down the side, with a matching grey tank top with red stripes, that read “LTD too athletics.” It was a Limited too outfit, OBVIOUSLY. *I wore a thick t-shirt under the tank because I was not about to show off my shoulders!!!
I had done some light scouting at the practice meets and knew my biggest competitors would be girls by the names of Jeni, Amber, and Jessica.
I won my first event, the long jump, and was feeling very good about the 100 meter dash.
My favorite thing to do before lining up for a race was casually ask the runners next to me, “so are you fast?” Most would shrug or say no, probably wondering who this weird kid was asking them a question like, “are you fast?” And I’d always respond, “yeah, I’m not really fast either.”
I don’t know where I picked up this odd “I like to hustle other kids” attitude. But it was a move I was known for. I knew I was fast, what I did not know, was what the word “humble” meant.
As we lined up for the 100 it was obvious to me the “volunteers” had us at the 110 meter mark, rather than the 100. Having been an experienced track competitor, I politely told the adult who was instructing us, “um, you’re not doing this right.”
I’ll never forget how she shrugged me off and acted like I knew nothing.
Use the fury for the race, Taylor. Do not let her get to you.
I won my heat for the 110 by a landslide. And the racers after our group were moved up to the 100 mark.
Boys from other schools came up to me afterward and noted how fast I was. They also noted how I looked like a “blowfish” when I ran because I puffed my cheeks in and out so hard. But it didn’t bother me, I’d seen those boys run. More like jog! Pppfff.
This post has gotten longer than I intended. I guess I enjoy writing about the best day of my life/when I peaked at the age of 11.
Long story short, I won every event that day.
*except the 200, but I didn’t try that hard because I was tired and the 200 is stupid.
At the end of the day I was exhausted, a little sun burnt, and very very happy. Every other sixth grader at the meet knew my name. What next? Collegiate running? The Olympics? WNBA? Who knew? My future was so bright I could barely handle it.
In fact, those were my PE teacher’s exact words as she gave me all 10000 of my blue ribbons at the end of year assembly, “her future is so bright!”
Anyway, I’ve got to package up a bunch of “Let’s Day Drink” shirts and then take a few photos of Harlow in a bathrobe for a blog post, but never forget, follow your dreams! Anything is possible!
Here’s a very grainy photo of my sister and I. Although I’m not actually in 6th grade here as it appears, I’m probably 17. I was a “late bloomer.”
When did you peak?