Episode 48: Pacer Test
“What’s, wrong? ……Yuriha. You are completely, losing to me……..aren’t you? If you carry on like this, it’ll be a hundred years……..before you beat me! Too soon…….”
“I wasn’t really planning on beating you…….”
I was wondering how serious Ranko was before. After setting an impressive record for our class in the way of 60 continuous side jumps, she was practically gasping for breath between every other word. I stopped at forty-eight and got a respectable 8 points, but it should still be clear that I couldn’t compare to her…….
“Or, is it possible……are you purposely letting me win after all? Haven’t you only been scoring 7 to 8 points since a bit ago? A step below me as I continue to rack up perfect scores……..so you really are no ordinary person…….”
I am being misunderstood.
Saki and Honoka came over at that point and grabbed our arms. Probably because we’ve been sitting on the side resting for too long.
“Now now you two~ Next up is the shuttle run~ Hurry now~”
“Let’s finish this quickly! Yo— Yo—!”
“Already…….shaking…….Stomach growling…….Losing power…….Need lunch……..”
“Yuzu, maybe you should take a break?”
“……No, I’ll fight on……that’s what it means to be human……..”
Is there some kind of shinigami or fiend in charge of her training?
“Remarkable. Do your best then.”
I patted the top of Yuzuriha’s head like I usually do. Her expression slackens, letting me know she enjoys it. Just like a faithful dog, perfect for a mascot character……it does good to purify my soul……
However at this point, we’re the only ones not ready to go. I pushed past the fatigue and yanked on Ranko’s arm, leading her over to the starting position.
“Yuriha……there is no need for this kind of concern. I merely wish to rest for as long as possible to set a good record.”
But everyone else is waiting on us. How about we finish this quickly and head for lunch?”
“Well, I suppose…….sorry”
Her fine eyebrows lowered ever so slightly. Although her expression didn’t change much, it did just enough for me to tell that she’s reflecting on her actions a bit. It’s really cute.
Our last measurement for today was a twenty minute pacer test, a horrifying endurance run where we had a certain amount of time to run twenty meters again and again with the amount of time for each lap going down bit by bit each time.
Those without any motivation fall out of the running early on and are made to watch those people who continue to put in effort. But even worse is when you promise to run alongside a friend, only for one of you to get tired or drop out early, and then you are left running by yourself. That kind of hell……
“Let’s leave those muscle-brains aside—, and let’s all run together!”
“No way~ I sweat easily~”
“All together……we have peace…..of mind…..?”
Hold it, are you openly trying to steal a march on me right now…….? Honoka?
Rather, it’s really difficult to run side by side in a pacer test. Yuzuriha looks like she will end up tapping out halfway through the first lap.
“This will be the final contest. It is when I must be at my most serious……”
All the girls in our class lined up at their favorite starting positions. Ranko pulled me over to the very edge of the line, saying she didn’t want others getting in our way. As for everyone else, whether it was a school for high class ladies or not, nobody else seemed eager to work up a sweat, so the motivation in class was a lot more laid-back.
On the teacher’s signal, an alarm came out of a portable radio she had with her, marking the start of the pacer test, and everyone began to run. It is the first lap, so the pace is slow and there is no reason to get impatient. But maybe Ranko’s energy rubbed off on me some because I made it to the other side with plenty of time to spare.
“Hmph. Not bad”
“No, that was just the first lap right?”
Is this girl able to pace herself? I’m a little worried I’ve gotten myself wrapped up in something above my paygrade.
I would like to run a bunch with her and nab a good score. I would hate to see this girl who is always brimming with self-confidence depressed…….no, that’s a lie. I would love to see that, but more than that, I want to keep working on my image of being the coolest girl in class with the best grades. You can crack it up to a kind of idolatry on my part. Those beautiful, cool beauties are the goddesses of the classroom, and I will do what I can to become one of them!
The next alarm came from the radio, and this time I held back and kept pace with the other girls in class who had Saki, Honoka, and Yuzuriha mixed in with them. There’s no need to be impatient in these early laps.
Ranko sped ahead at first like we did during the first lap, but when she noticed I wasn’t following, she slowed down to keep pace with me.
“Hoh……you’re saying I should conserve my energy for later on? I hope you don’t regret this……”
“Now now. Let’s take things easy this early on”
I’m not normally a fan of competitions, but there can only be one number one in the class. Ranko’s hot-blooded streak is an unexpected development, although something similar has happened with all the unique beauties I’ve been getting close to. It makes me feel a little guilty considering I am only doing my best here so I can stand out more.
The next alarm sounded, but this time, we had a small incident happen.
“Woohoo! I am number one!”
“Wha-…….Honoka! You dare!?”
“Hehen~ This is why you shouldn’t drop your guard~!”
Ranko was indignant over Honoka recklessly and suddenly increasing her pace to finish the third lap first. Why is she taking it so serious out of nowhere though…….
“Uuu…..betrayed by Honoka…….I’ve lost my reason to run…….I’m finished…..running has lost all meaning.”
“Are you okay Yuzu!?”
Saki squatted over Yuzuriha’s body and worriedly cried out her name. I was concerned there was something actually wrong, but a second later Yuzuriha raised a thumb up into the air with a weirdly energetic look on her face.
“So hungry……I cannot do this anymore…….go on without me. The alarm has already sounded…….”
“Y-Yeah~ I understand!”
“We’ll run extra hard for you!”
Saki and I chased after the rest of our classmates, leaving Yuzuriha behind. With as early as it is in the pacer test, she is obviously the first of our classmates to drop out.
It wasn’t too much longer though before more of our classmates dropped out of the test. At this point, I haven’t dropped out yet, but I can barely catch my breath between runs.
“Fu…….I’ve been giving it my best for Yuzuriha’s sake…….but I’m getting tired.”
“Talking uses up more energy…….preserve your strength……”
“……is that so?”
After making it to the other side of our run, Ranko and I are only able to share a word or two like this before the next alarm comes rolling in like a whirlwind. Most of our other classmates had already tapped out and only the top of the class are left. Saki had dropped out earlier despite not looking that tired. Then again, she lasted over fifty laps, so in a sense, she might be adhering to her own high sense of beauty. She really is suitable to be seen as a princess.
“Ahh—~! Enough already! 64 is good enough!”
The alarm for the next lap went off, and Honoka shouted because she couldn’t reach the goal line in time. Everyone else still in the run didn’t have the leeway to respond to her, instead having to immediately run the next lap. The time between alarms had grown short enough that everyone had to rush or else risk timing out. Our muscles and physical strength have been stretched to their limits. Neither I nor anyone else can spare a thought for those who have been forced to drop out.
“I couldn’t outlast Rantan—! Damn it all~!”
Honoka squatted down at one end of the gym and wrapped her arms around her eyes as if she were crying. Saki threw a towel over her head like a coach helping a boxer wipe off their sweat after a round……the perfect after-care from a beautiful girl……Saki really would make the perfect mother…….huh?
“Come on…..the final battle is upon us”
Disregard what I just said――although it still plagues my heart. Lap 64 where Honoka dropped out on was the last lap needed to score eight points for the test. Although she probably didn’t intend it so, Honoka had given the signal a lot of other girls needed to quietly tap out of the race. There weren’t any girls in our class who were members of the track team or soccer club. So I guess the only ones left were girls like Ranko who wanted to push their limits? Yet one by one, the number of girls still running continued to shrink until finally only Ranko and I were left competing against each other.
“Eighty…….eight! Finally, we’ve reached ten points! Now…..from here on out……we’ll be pushing our limits……let’s do it! Come Yuriha!”
Ranko’s sweat only made her expression shine brighter. She managed to keep her cool demeanor, and despite her obviously struggling to breath, she looked happy. What a wonderful hard working child!
“I’m sorry, this is the end for me…….”
88. That was good enough for me. I reek of sweat, I’m tired, my muscles ache with each new step, and…….I’ve already met my goals. Honor students should aim for that sweet spot, balancing physical strength with their other studies. Efficiency is the word of the day. But I didn’t think I would push myself to this level of exhaustion. I enjoyed running with Ranko that much. She was that beautiful.
I saw my life flash before my eyes as I stopped and leant my back against the wall, desperately trying to catch my breath. As I slowly collapsed onto my butt, I looked over at Ranko, and for a brief second, I thought she was going to start crying.
“…….if you call yourself a friend, you shouldn’t let someone run on their own…… Do you want me to feel lonely?”
I heard her words all too clearly as she continued on by herself.
“Stay away, the stink of sweat is all over……”
“Huh!? I could have sworn I sprayed properly……”
I tried placing a towel over Ranko’s shoulders after she continued running until surpassing a hundred laps. She looked like she would pass out she was breathing so hard, but she still managed to push me away. That hurt me a little bit, not going to lie……
“……No, I’m the one who stinks. You’ll definitely notice if you get too close. I’m a mess, not beautiful at all.”
“I don’t hate the smell of Ranko’s sweat though.”
We’re both taking a rest……after Ranko finished running and sat against one of the gym’s walls, I moved next to her and brought my face close to hers. The scent of roses and sweat mixed together, making a strangely pleasant combo.
“Besides, it’s proof that you pushed your limits and gave it your all. It shows how cool you are.”
Saying that much, I lightly punched her shoulder. I guess she wasn’t expecting me to go that far though, because Ranko’s face turned a slight shade of red before shyly turning away from me.
“…….is that so? I suppose it’s only natural you would say that though. I am beautiful after all.”
Ranko’s bangs hang low over her face because of her sweat, so I couldn’t quite tell what kind of face she was making. That being said, I figured this would be a suitable comeback and lightly punched her shoulder again.
Her sweat-soaked jersey did well to show off her balanced proportions and well-toned muscles. Even through my fist, I could tell how damp her clothes were.
From that brief touch, I could also tell how hot her body was.