Femoral anteversion. Tibial torsion.
Four words that meant absolutely nothing when the doctor first uttered them to me. Until, of course, he explained what they meant.
* * *
It’s 7 a.m.
I slowly get out of bed, put one foot on the floor, then the other. Lethargically, I make my way to my desk where a pair of shorts is folded with a T-shirt and a pair of running shoes on top. I lace my shoes, not too tight and not too loose, but just right.
The blood starts flowing in my body a little more as I walk downstairs and shake my legs out at the bottom. I open the front door, take a few steps outside, put my ear buds in to hear Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” and begin an 8.5-mile morning run. The weather is a bit chilly and I’d rather have had a few more hours of sleep, but it’s race season and time to train.
People train for different types of races for an array of reasons: losing weight, getting in shape or just to finish.
My motivation, however, comes from the half-clothed Victoria’s Secret model on the background of my phone and being able to update my Facebook status every time I run an obscene amount. But even more than that, it comes from my past.
I’m training for my third half marathon, 13.1 miles, but hopefully running my first in the Flying Pig half marathon on May 1 in Cincinnati.
Hip and knee problems plagued my first two attempts at running a half. All thanks to those dreaded words: femoral anteversion and tibial torsion.
It was the summer before my senior year of high school when I met the doctor who would tell me what these obscure words meant. In layman’s terms, my femur bones, the bones in my thighs, twist inward at 40 degrees. The normal degree of twisting is 13. My tibias, the bones in my shins, twist out at 37 degrees. The average degree of twisting is 25.
I was immediately given orthotics and told that walking far distances and standing for longer than 30 minutes will cause me pain and that I should avoid it.
Naturally, I decided running 13.1 miles would be the perfect way to rebel against my inadequate running body and defy the physical odds.
So why have I continued training despite these clear restrictions?
For some reason, finally crossing not only the physical, but also the mental finish line makes me think that all of my physical limitations will magically disappear.
With each run I finish, I can begin to imagine myself crossing the 13.1-mile marker. I can almost feel the sweat dripping down my face after the race and the feeling of triumph begins to swell up inside me.
I can do this. I will do this.
With less than two days until the race, the nerves start to build up.
“Can I do this, really?” I question.
I push the thought out of my mind almost as fast as it arrived.
It’s crunch time.
It’s time to take back all the experiences that those awful four words took away from me. Like when walking through the mall to shop with my mom for a couple hours resulted in aching and soreness for days or the times where I had to sit down in the middle of Ohio State football games with the crowd on their feet around me because my hips couldn’t take it or even the time I considered running a full marathon only to realize it would be nearly impossible.
These are the experiences I think about as I run. It’s almost as if I’m running away from these events and onto new ones, better ones.
It’s not only an “I want to prove to myself I can do it” thing or even the bull-headed side of me that keeps me pushing through the 9- and 10-mile runs. It’s about being able to test the physical limitations of my body. It’s about being able to cross the finish line dog-tired, sweating profusely, legs numb and head spinning, but still being able to smile and feel empowered.
But until I cross the finish line, it is simply an aspiration.