This is for you. For you with the heart that beats for something bigger. For you with the legs that wants to race and race and win. For you with the taste of victory on your tongue: sweet like ripened plums.
This is for you, you elementary, middle school, high school girl. For the races you want to win. For whatever sport you pivot, you cut, you turn in. For the yearning to compete with a team of other girls: to slap hands on the field, the court, in the pool. This is for you who wants to sprint against a boy. And win.
This is for you who knows exactly who you are. For the self inside of you that isn’t grown up yet, but knows exactly who she’ll be one day. For the girl who knows she’s got years and years of childhood left. For barefoot summer days. For biking through your neighborhood at dusk in the fall. For snowboarding quick down the hill: heel turn, toe turn, heel turn, rush, rush, rush, and your smooth like Sunday jazz. For looking in the mirror at your muscles. And smiling.
This is for you who has failed. For you who hides in the lime green bathroom stall and lets tear plummet to the floor. For you who sulks to a room full of Mia Hamm posters and thinks how badly it sucked when the other team won because you missed the pass. You lost. You were crushed. You were favored to win and you failed. When you didn’t make it quite in time. When your parents told you, “But you tried really hard” and it felt like glass under your tongue.
This is for you who wears LuLu lemon yoga gear, North Face, Mountain Hardware, Nike, Ibex, the most expensive sneakers. This is for you who doesn’t own a pair.
This is for you who thinks “I can. I will.” This is for you who ran a 5k when she was eleven years old and told her Dad, “Sorry, I’ve got to go faster than this” and beat adults through the finish line. This is for you who smashed the window practicing lacrosse in the backyard. This is for you who was a string bean of a thing, a split between her teeth and a dream. This is for you who wanted ground ball after ground ball. Assist after assist. For you who is squirrelly out there. For you who ran suicides in the gym before the season started. This is for you.
This. This. This. This moment in this room with these four women. Legs moving fast: up and around a circle, pull through, no dead space. Six percent incline and then drop to a descent. Muscles tightening together and sweat breaking and we in the back of a bike shop and there is a screen and I’m in second last place, but to me it feels just about damn victory because it means I’m keeping up for twenty-five miles. We are racing each other and racing ourselves. We are women aged thirty to fifty. We are grown up versions of our childhood selves: of you.
This. This. This. My watts are increasing. My heart is beating. My thighs are burning. I can feel it in my chest. We all want to win. This motion and grit and hard work and hair up in ponytails above sweaty necks. As a team, we are training now so we might stand a chance. We are unity. We are individuality. We are poetry.
This is for you. For you. For you.
This is for me.