When you get into high school, you are literally entering a jungle. Ever seen the teen comedy “Mean Girls?” It’s pretty accurate. High school, during school hours, is rough; at lunch, you have to make sure you are sitting at the “appropriate” table. But after the last bell rings ¬– high school becomes even more interesting.

At the sound of the gong you can see the stampedes forming, lockers slamming and people tripping to be the first one out the door. I have always been one of those who couldn’t wait to get outside of the building – and home. Unfortunately, I have a very persuasive and insistent older brother who was on the swim team in high school, and who would eventually convinced me into joining an extra-curricular activity.

I joined the track and field team.

After talking to the coach about it, I found myself at practice the very next day. Mind you – I have never pictured myself as an athlete – I’ve always thought of myself more as athletically challenged – but that’s all changed now.

That first day I ran, I realized I’m not as in shape as I thought I was. There is an older man who runs almost every single day in my neighborhood and now I know why he never stops: When you stop, the pain comes – quickly. Out of nowhere you feel like you got beat up with a bat and are aching for weeks.

Lucky for me I have two friends who were gracious enough to suffer through the training with me. We began by running around the track at Staten Island Tech and when we were out of breath – I figured we were done. Not the case. We stretched a bit and then ran to Great Kills Park and back to Tech again. I felt like I was going to die.

My mother assured that I wouldn’t and that the pain would not be as intense the next day. She lied.

So there I sat, the following day, in my last class, wondering how much longer until I would pass out. Finally it ended and slowly, very slowly, I walked to my locker, took out my clothes for practice and felt a strong hatred toward all jocks because I had to do this torture all over again.

So there I was, ready to run with these robots – surely no human could handle this torture. After a few laps, I ran up to the assistant coach and asked him if being dizzy was a sign of sudden death. His reply was that I was not getting enough oxygen – a comforting thought.

I certainly never thought I’d actually remain on the team. I tried every excuse in the book but nothing would convince my parents to allow me to quit. Apparently, I have trouble committing to things like this. I wonder why?

Well it’s been a few weeks since then and I’m sort of glad I’m on the team. It has certainly been an experience – not sure yet whether it’s a good one or a bad one – but it’s an experience all right.

Even if track’s not your thing, you should definitely take part in an after-school activity, whether it be a sport of the chess team – if nothing else, you’ll make friends.

I definitely have a newfound respect for athletes – and all I did was put on some sneakers.

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