Sports can bring fun and painful memories both at same time
Apr 23, 2023

By Kenny Varner

Spring sports season always has a special place in my heart.

Having competed in track and field in high school, it was great to get out there and watch the extreme competition as Bellefonte and East Juniata took their rivalry to the track.

During some down time, my mind had a flashback into my past.

It was one of those typical moments in my life when things didn’t quite go the way I had expected. For those of you that have read my prévious articles, God has proven to me time and time again that he has a sense of humor. I just have to be one of those people with whom he really has fun.

But that’s okay, after a while you build a strong sense of humor also.

In 1988, I was a senior in high school and I decided that I was going to try running long distance. After competing in field events in my junior year, I thought I would challenge myself and go out for the 800-meter run and the 800-meter relay.

The preseason practices went well for me. I worked hard but I was always keeping up with the typical skinny prototype runners that, when they turned sideways, would disap-pear. I was a husky 5-foot-10, 175 pounder that had problems pulling himself away from the dinner table. But I was keeping up.

As our opening meet got closer and closer, I got extremely confident – almost too much for my own good.

However, that would all change at our first meet of the year, at Mount Union.

Having never run the 800 before, I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen to me or my body. Nobody warned me of the fate that awaited me at the Mount Union track.

Nervously standing at the starting line, I watched as three Mount Union runners who all looked about 6-2 or larger with legs the size of tree trunks – stood beside me dwarfing me like I was a mere child. My teammates looked sure of themselves. I, on the

other hand, was shaking like a leaf

As the pistol was raised, the gun sounded and we were off. To my surprise, I was in the lead. I started out sprinting the first lap.

My teammates in the infield were cheering my name as I made the first leg of the race in the top spot.

“This isn’t so bad ..

..” was my first thought as I led going into the third turn of the first lap.

But rounding the last leg of the first lap a funny thing happened – pain shot through my body in places that I never knew existed. I didn’t just have a monkey on my back it felt like a bunch of gorillas decided to jump on me

My lead quickly dissolved as I saw everybody pass me one by one. Now I was just hoping that I had enough gas in the tank to finish the race.

That last lap seemed like forever. But my teammates were still pulling for me, which was the only thing that kept me going.

With each passing step, my brain kept calling me every name in the book. I was cramping up in my calves, back and even my jaw. I never knew that you could cramp up in your jaw.

As I reached the finish line, I crossed with all cheers and pats on the back, despite my 2:42 time. The clincher was that as I walked over to the

infield, a friend of mine came up to me and told me I should have paced myself.

My only reply was, “You think?

It was nice that someone told me AFTER the race. But I knew from then on what to expect and you know what? I never led another lap in a race again, but I was still able to compete in districts.

It was a painful lesson.

But most of life’s lessons are.



Editors note : Here is a story that I recently found that I did for the Lewistown Sentinel…years ago!! Still stands true today! Hope you enjoyed it!!

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