Legs are incredible instruments. Our feet, thighs, hips and even our bum region are all part of our legs. It starts with the bones-- the femur, patella, tibia and fibula. These bone are covered with layers and layers of muscles: gluteus maximus, quadratus femoris, sartorius, iliopsoas, and the pectineus; then the quadriceps femoris, gracilis, tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, and the flexor digitorum longus... (this is maybe a dozen out of 4 dozen muscles in the legs). Then add the nerves, veins and arteries. Legs are intricate.
Though what we can make our legs do is even more intricate. I started this blog out with a tale of running around a local track in Dawnville, Georgia, so it will not surprise many of you that I turn back to the comfort of talking about racing and training.
For me, running runs deeper than simply putting one foot in front of another. My parents were runners. My mom won races-- my mom even raced when she was pregnant with my sisters and I. My dad said that he always remembered my mom's strength and determination during races. One time specifically, my dad was ahead of my mom going into the last stretch. They always ran together in training, so my dad could hear my mom's footsteps coming up behind him. She passed him, full speed ahead and won that race (and she collapsed at the finish line from heat exhaustion).
For me, running runs deep-- or more, I was running before I even knew what feet were. I first and foremost run for myself. I run because it is a challenge (and if you don't know me, Megan loves a good challenge). It keeps me on my toes, motivated, fresh and excited. I don't think I would be able to complete a race, let alone spend eight weeks training for one and actually see the whole thing through if I didn't race because I wanted to make myself do more.
Then there are two people in my life that inspire me to run. I still think about John Bruner every time I lace up my sneakers. He was (and still is) a friend of mine who died in August 2007 from a heart defect. He was doing what he loved-- running in a race-- when he collapsed and later passed on. I know that he will be with me while I run, as his death was one of the main reasons I started doing races three years ago.
My other inspiration comes from Joey Jones. A good friend of mine recovering here in the DC area from a roadside bomb explosion overseas. He is a Marine who lost both of his legs protecting me. I know that Joey has always been a runner and I have not a doubt in my mind that he will one day run again. And for that reason, I can't help but let him push me to run stronger.
Legs. I use them because I can't stop thinking about how I am alive and well, and there is no reason why I shouldn't strive to achieve something I honestly never thought I would do. This Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010, I am running in the Heritage Half Marathon @ 7a.m. 13.1 miles. I am nervous and excited, which I'm convinced is the only combo for true success. The weather prediction is a low of 50, high of 62 and nothing but sunshine. They say the perfect jogging weather is 55 degrees. Perhaps too good to be true? :-)
It's been tough, though. I won't lie. The past eight weeks (pretty much since I have moved to DC) I have spent five-six days a week training. Running, cross training with a bicycle and the elliptical, a few weights and more running. I've stopped consuming beverages stronger than water and orange juice. I eat whole grain, fruits and veggies, and more protein and carbs than I ever knew existed.
I haven't stayed up late in weeks (this dedication even amazes me because I'm such a night owl). I'm in bed by 10 or otherwise I've told all of my friends that I will turn into a pumpkin (this is literally what I have told all of my friends, including all of my dates while in DC-- I know, you must be asking yourself if any of these dates have actually called me back-- they have). It has in a sense taken over my life. I joke that next week, I will start a whole new life. And in a way, I will.
Despite it all, I have (oddly) enjoyed training and the goal of completing a half marathon, because for me-- running runs deep and I can't wait to share how fast my feet take me.