IN THE ZONE by Gabrielle Sitkowski

As the day of stressful classes come to an end, I reach into my strawberry-colored bag to retrieve my sturdy and intimidating flats. Like prison bars, the metal spikes stand tall and firm on the bottom of my sneaker. They are anxious to grip the ground beneath them. These spikes are ready for action to crush, tear and smother. Do not underestimate their power. Even though they are little in size they possess great strength.

Gabrielle and Teammate Pose at KPXC Field Where She Runs Races

I walk across the park, slowly approaching the starting line. I look ahead and notice how the cherry and apple trees are lined up like soldiers ready for battle. I notice the sun is at an angle, creating areas of darkness in the forest. In these areas, the squirrels scurry across the fallen leaves. To my side, the shore of the ocean peeks out through a small opening between the trees. I hear the roaring of the waves. The air is crisp. I take a deep breath to relax before my race. I smell fresh air with a hint of burning wood. This moment in time is where I become one with nature. I rely on nature to guide me through its path, to make it out to the finish line. This moment is one of relaxation, peace and tranquility. I treasure this moment; it is precious. It is the last time I will be calm for the next twenty five minutes.

The whistle has been blown, commanding every racer to take their position on the starting line. Becoming prepared for this race is a mind game. The nerves throughout my body are fluttering; I can feel my heart beating throughout my body. The tension is so high I want to break down and cry. I try to resist the intimidation of the other racers. This task is difficult, for their faces are aggressive and fierce. I repeat to myself “I can do this” over and over, instilling this fact into my brain.  I take one last deep breath, “This is it” I mumble to myself, “On your mark, ready set……”

I am in the zone. My surroundings are blurry-I cannot focus on anything around me. The screams of people cheering on the sidelines all mush into one monotone sound. Nothing matters. The only thing that is important is crossing the finish line with that feeling of accomplishment. As I run down the hill, my brain jars with the unsteadiness of ground beneath me. I feel my head bop up and down. I feel all of the stress from my life leave my mind, it evaporates into the fresh autumn air. As I pound harder into the ground, more and more sweat drips from my entire body. I am being cleansed. Cleansed of all of the tension that life brings. Cleansed of the corruption I have witnessed in the world. The only thing that is left is my true being; myself and all of the world. I have an entire world to explore and an entire lifetime filled with discoveries.

Running teaches you so much about life. It teaches you how to overcome obstacles. It reminds you that there is light at the end of every dark tunnel. It gives you the opportunity to go beyond your potential, to exceed your limit, to reach a place you never thought was possible. You learn how to deal with pain. You learn that if one suffers on this earth that it will not be forever. I experience pain for those twenty-five minutes, knowing when I cross the finish line, I will feel great joy and pride. Running teaches you how to react to failure. Not everything in life will go your way, and a person needs to be prepared to be put down. The most important thing is to learn how to react to these setbacks in life. If one reacts properly, they will be set on the right path back to success. Unlike any other sport, running involves no contact with opponents. There is no pushing or shoving. Our diverse world needs to recognize this peaceful way of competition. Taking part in a race is the one place where you are isolated from all of the violence in the world. You forget about the murders, rapes, wars and bombing. In running, war ends with a shake of the hand and pat on the back.

Although many people refer to these twenty-five minutes of running “hell”; it is heaven to me. All of my recognitions about life and important decisions have taken place while running. Running sets your priorities straight; it brings tranquility to your mind. It makes you one with nature. It teaches you lessons about life. Most importantly, it makes you stay true to yourself.

Only a runner could relate to this experience. Once a person starts the hobby of running, it easily becomes a passion. I express deep sympathy for a person who has never been in the zone.  They have missed out on a beautiful part of life.


My name is Gabrielle Sitkowski and I am twenty years old. I grew up in Kings Park, New York. I am currently a junior at Marist College pursuing a degree in accounting. My favorite pastime is writing. I have published works in my college’s literary magazine The Mosaic. Last summer I finished writing my first book, which I am trying to get published. Another popular pastime of mine is running. All four years of high school I was on the track and cross country teams. In the future, I plan to attend graduate school at Marist College to receive my MBA for accountants as well as becoming a CPA.

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About loiswstern

I was in education for just over 20 years when I unexpectedly pursued another passion and entered the world of authors and journalists. I have since published two non-fiction, full length books on different aspects of beauty, but also avidly endorse the confluence of Inner and Outer beauty. I have written feature articles for Long Island Beauty Guide and LI Woman, and have served as Editor-at-large for, the largest Internet site for plastic surgery and beauty needs. I enjoy researching what's new in the world of aesthetics & anti-aging and devote one of my blogs: to sharing cutting edge, hype-free information. I devote my second blog to my other passion: writing, collecting and sharing stories to warm the spirit and inspire the soul. To this end, I have created an 'Authors Helping Authors' project/contest, to create books for inspiration, the first of which is titled: Tales 2 Inspire ~ Beyond Coincidence. It is a jewel of a book, filled with inspiring stories and full color original photos and/or drawings. If you're a talented writer with one inspiring story to share, visit to learn how to participate. FREE to enter. All you need is the talent and perseverance to do so. Lots of positive platform building opportunities for the winners. Learn more at:

Posted on February 2, 2012, in Off the Beaten Path, Peaceful Reflections, Tales2Inspire, TALES2INSPIRE WRTERS CONTEST, The Power of Your Words, Words to Inspire, Writers contest and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Gabrielle,
    I took up running in college and can relate to your experience of being in the “zone.” My husband and I ran the New York Marathon several years ago and it was a thrill to run through the streets of New York with so many other runners. Thank you for sharing your story.

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