Wishes Don’t Win Races

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Tamar Perkins races to the finish line during indoor season. Photo by Ed Bailey

Tamar Perkins writes about overcoming obstacles to get where she is now

by Tamar Perkins

Life consists of experiences, challenges and lessons along the way. Sometimes these challenges can become unbearable, especially when all odds are against you. Consequently, going against all odds is something everyone must experience in life. Track and Field has been something special and quite frustrating as I get older.

Many incidents and failures have stared me in the face. Disappointments and dreams deferred. A series of ups and downs, but a moment when I was injured for track I was told by the doctor that I had turf toe: a sprain to the ligaments around the big toe joint, which works primarily as a hinge to permit up and down motion. Just behind the big toe joint in the ball of your foot are two pea-shaped bones embedded in the tendon that moves your big toe. Shocking … not being able to run correctly and practice full speed bothered me the most. It was like I had to start all over again: trying to keep my form, keeping my knees up, etc. I thought to myself, “How can any person go through this; moreover, an athlete in their senior year?” My toes were stinging like a bite from a bee. I couldn’t seem to comprehend why I was going through this drastic situation.

I was an athlete at Cypress Falls High School in Houston, Texas, and if you know this city as well as I do, you would know that there is a lot of competition when it comes to track. In Texas our schools are classified based on enrollment into six groups, 1A through 6A. For example, schools having an enrollment of 475 or less are in the smallest (1A) classification. The remainder of the league’s member schools are divided equally into fifths, with the largest schools in group 6A. Each group is made up of two regions. Basically, the higher your division, the tougher it is to make it to the state championships, and my school was classified as 6A. All I could think about was how was I going to compete in districts, area, regionals and then state in the condition I was in.

Every day at school I sat with a plastic smile, surrounded by all the joy that I wished I could have. I wanted that mutual feeling, but my dark thoughts were taking over my mind. It was almost as if it was yesterday I was practicing on the track, the week of our first track meet. The pain was so bad, I couldn’t walk. I was crying in pain. I rushed to the trainer, and he told me I was going to have to sit out my first track meet of the season. Disappointment was shown all over my face, I was told to go to the trainers for the whole week. Having to go to the trainers constantly, therapy, icing my toes every second, I wasn’t able to practice hard, lift like I wanted to in the gym, and move around as much. I felt like a piece of me was torn off. I was not accustomed to this lifestyle, but I knew it was for the better.

After the first track meet, I was able to practice again. Of course, it would have been smarter for me to sit out longer. But I went against it, and competed throughout the whole season, running every track meet in pain taped up in compression tape called KT Tape for injuries. I was stubborn, and it only made the situation worse. Rather than allowing this new circumstance to spiral my life out of control, I decided to accept it. I knelt on my knees every night, praying for this misery to end, asking God to make it all disperse. I had to keep a positive attitude at all times, to keep my faith up and not get discouraged.

All I could do was cry every night realizing that this situation was occurring. I witnessed my own pain and frustration. I told myself, “God knows best and everything happens for a reason.” Keeping this attitude helped me survive this whole situation. The day of my district track meet, I was nervous, as I had no clue what was going to happen on that very day. Flashing back to my previous track meets, and the pain in my toes … I had three events, 100 meter dash, 4×100 meter relay, and 4x200m relay. I was nervous about my individual event (100 meter dash). As they called for my event on the loudspeaker, I warmed up and mentally prepared myself for the race. As I stepped on the track in my assigned lane, I took a deep breath, and repeated what mother told me to say, “Jesus is Lord,” before each race.

“Runners to your mark,” said the starter. “Set.” Pow. The gun went off. I drove out the blocks as hard as I could the first 40 meters, pumped my arms and picked up my knees, maintaining the same speed  throughout the race. The last 20 meters I noticed I was sitting in third place neck to neck with two other girls. Right at the finish line I leaned in and got fourth place. My coach quickly rushed to me to tell me that I qualified for area. Words could not explain how I felt.

Right after that event, my team and I qualified for area in the relays. I was shocked and excited at the same time, believing the simple fact that I did it on an injury. I ran to my parents to deliver the great news. I saw the light and felt happiness coming back into my life. The next week was the area meet. I ran my events again and qualified for Regionals in the 100 meter dash. It was almost as if it was yesterday, I could just remember my mother having tears of joy in the stands, and I was ranked #3 in the area. I ran the Regional meet two weeks later. Unfortunately, I did not qualify for state, but I was proud of myself. I was proud of how far I made it, and the crazy thing about it is that I was severely injured. It was as if there was something put upon me on those very days.

However, now running as an older athlete, going through that obstacle taught me to appreciate what you have. Don’t take things for granted. We tend to take advantage of important things (goals) and we treat time as a cheap commodity that we blindly waste. But in the end, because I relied on my faith, and I was blessed with an opportunity to compete in a position others were not, I became a more humble and stronger person. I even became a Butler athlete. I take care of my body more, before and after practice. I have also changed my mission from making sure that, that one experience in my life teaches me and makes my goals much more important.

My indoor season here even started off pretty rough, and I wasn’t performing like I thought I would. But I always flashback and realize the horror I went through, and how I can overcome any obstacle that comes my way. Qualifying for regionals earlier this semester was amazing, running my season best time in the 60 meter dash was very much needed. I’m looking forward to the rest of my season.

My mom told me, “Your confidence has gotten stronger, and I’m proud of all your accomplishments you’ve made from senior year to now. I can’t wait to see you do bigger and better things.”

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