The pacer is a test in gym class/PE that brings a shiver of despair down the spine of any unfortunate soul who has gone through it before. And it’s usually done at least once a year.
Students line up on one side of the gym, eyeing nervously the painted line before the opposite wall that will decide their fate. The teacher hits play on the stereo and a cheery woman’s voice echoes through the gymnasium. fuck that woman’s happy demeanor. She explains the rules as the kids wait anxiously. Get to the other line before the beep plays. Simple enough, right?
"Ready? Begin!" she calls, and the gut wrenching ‘beep!’ plays after.
The kids awkwardly half jog to the other line, with about 3 or 4 seconds before the next beep. Each time the horrendous noise plays they run back and forth to the lines. “Level one, complete” she says, as to pat you on the back for what little victory you’ve achieved.
Not bad, the kids think. But then comes level 2. level 3. With each interval the time between the beeps shorten, and you’re running as fast as you can to the other line. Your foot hits it, you pivot, the beep plays, youre running again. Your lungs burn, your throat is sore, your heart is on the verge of an attack. No rest. No mercy.
A girl is the first to crawl over to the instructor, defeated. Seeing one has fallen, other students begin to follow since “at least theyre not the first ones out”. Clutching their chests they bail out of the test. One girls crying. You can’t tell if the boy on the gym floor is alive or not. Three kids left for the water fountain and still havent made it back.
And then, the fallen sit there, watching the myths, the legends, the kids who have made it past 100 laps. 120. 150. When they finally collapse a cheer erupts from the students. Theyre heroes.
But the excitement only lasts for so long as the next round of nervous kids line up, who opted to go in the second wave and prolong their torture. The womans voice kicks back up. The beep plays. The cycle continues.