You could say I hated sports. In those days I was one of those who lagged behind in jogging, I was lousy at doing push-ups or sit-ups. My hobby was watching TV and reading fantasy books, I didn't go out on weekends, not even to the park.
My name is Ignacio Suavet, whose nickname in high school was Soft, because of my slow walking and being the most relaxed in the classroom.
Nowadays I have changed, I'm not what I was. That starving, anemic boy with big self-esteem problems and little speech does not exist. If that boy saw me now he would be amazed at what I am.
The moment when I stepped foot in the university my habits took a turn. That had nothing to do with studying computer engineering, but the university was the medium that allowed me to get to know her. Until then, girls for me had been a rarity from a distant galaxy. However, the girl I am telling you about was even rarer, a complicated equation to clear and find her unknown, a live Amazon, like the one in Greek mythologies, a flower that grows in the desert. That's how it could be described.
I was sitting reading on the bleachers of the athletics track, my favorite place to read. There the air if I remember correctly was cool, also if there was a lot of activity the bustle was silenced by the huge gusts of wind that circulated. Usually the track is full of athletes, but the bleachers were lonely for me and my loneliness.
“Hey you!" she introduced herself, and I had to stop reading to look at her. “You should jog a bit and put down that book.”
Her voice was husky, like that of an army commander. Her short, precise introduction brought me out of focus. Before I could reply she was gone.
It was easy to come up with a student's name if you are a computer scientist. Her name was Juana Arenisca. And as you will notice I was spellbound by her voice, figure and all that her presence represented. That the next day I signed up for the athletic club is also obvious. The goal was clear, to see her again. However, talking to her was the difficult part of my plan.
The first days training were hellish, but I endured them as long as I could see her. I would add that she was not just an ordinary runner, Juana was from the elite category, the generation that would go to the Olympics. Catching up with her was far from my standards, I was training with another group that was nicknamed the "Neophytes", even so, I was the slowest. The coaches said that I started too late, that I would quit in two weeks, in short, they didn't have high expectations of my abilities. I assure you that at no time did I complain no matter how far behind I was.
I did something else that helped me a lot, even distinguished me from the others. I became my own coach by reading about athletics and running. And as the months went by I became aware that I would not be a sprinter. I didn't get discouraged, so I focused on the long-distance, 1500-meter races that most people hated. Juana was a sprinter, I didn't have to hear coaches say she specialized in 100 meters or 200 meters to know that. I admit I hated the idea of not being able to train with her, but I didn't want to be her, I longed for her to pay attention to me, to look at me the way I looked at her when I ran.
I ran in training, in the mornings and on weekends. Sundays, which were sacred and I used to take them to sleep, became long distance days. At the beginning it was 5 km and believe me, in six months I reached 25 km. In addition, I started to do physical, functional and muscle toning exercises. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats became my routine every day when I got up.
You may think that it would have been enough to talk to her and ask her out. In my mind it was different, I was looking for a more transcendent act. I never used an excuse like asking her advice or bringing her drinks as I saw several of her suitors doing, or yes, Juana had several daring suitors like me. The difference between them and me is that my fruits did the work.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dying to talk to her, to give her that glass of water every time she came in exhausted, but my instinct told me she needed something more. And as time went on, I did.
That day the sun was intense, not even a breeze hit the track. Even so, the regional competition was still on. I enrolled in the 1500 meters against the indications of my coaches, who, although they admitted my improvement in a year, advised me to run 400 meters to see my progress. I refused, I wanted to go to the nationals and watch Juana run, I knew that my only chance was the 1500 meters.
Juana radiated electricity when she competed, the Amazon drew her weapons and riddled her opponents around the track. She was the lioness.
At no time could I congratulate her for breaking the record in her category and winning the gold medal. It was still my turn, so I nervously walked to my starting position.
Those were my first competitions. And if I didn't qualify, I wouldn't see Juana for weeks. At that time I thought it would be definitive, if I lost the opportunity I would never be able to get close to her again. So in my place I mentally prepared myself and I would show what I was made of.
The whistle blew and the battle began. We were six subjects against ourselves, we were six individuals against time. I could tell it took forever every lap, it seemed like I had everything against me, the sun, the ground, my shoes and my head. The legs at one point moved alone and in one direction, forward. My chest was tight and I felt pure fire as I breathed. I never slowed down until I heard the screams of the audience. At that moment was when I thought the most about Juana, if she was watching me, if her heart was jumping to the beat of mine, if she felt that burning when she ran.
Yes, I finished the 1500 meters, but I didn't win the gold medal, but I did win the bronze medal. Although, I was not the first, I caught Juana's eyes. Before going into details, I can say that I also qualified for the nationals because of my times. And in this sport, times say more than finishing positions, and that's how Juana also thought.
In the middle of the podium and the photo session she came up to me, it was exactly after I got off the podium. I remember her short and direct phrase she said:
“Hey you! You should train with me.”
What can I tell you, she is a woman of few words and I love it. Nowadays, after finishing nationals and college we are both still racing on the road.
Separators made with Photoshop