Happy 4th of July! I know some of my non-US readers won’t be celebrating tomorrow, but for most of my readers, tomorrow is all about red, white and blue; hot dogs, watermelon and potato salad; time with family or friends; and fireworks.
For many of you who run, tomorrow is also about racing hard to earn the aforementioned picnic fare without a guilty conscience. I did my “firecracker” race this past weekend, but I know that – at least here in the South – there are any number of July 4 races before the running calendar goes quiet through the worst heat and humidity of summer.
You know who else is racing hard right now? Our US elite runners. The 2013 US Track and Field Championship happened two weeks ago, and we’re in the process of figuring out which of those championship winners and runners-up will represent the United States in Moscow at the World Championships August 10-18.
It’s not a simple road, but for those who earn a spot on the team, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to do some patriotic running. My husband and I watched a new show called USATF 36, in which gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross talks about putting on the USATF tee shirt for tough workouts: “It’s my inspiration … this is why I do it.” She works hard to represent our country well, and wearing the USA Track & Field jersey reminds her that the end result of representing our country is worth the pain and effort.
There are two other athletes, though, that I want to focus on in particular this week. The first is Leo Manzano.
Leo Manzano carries a US flag after making the 1500m US team to the 2012 Olympics
I became a Leo Manzano fan when I saw him run at the 2008 US Olympic Track & Field trials in Eugene, Ore. He runs with heart and with guts. He’s often the shortest guy on the track, but he doesn’t let that hold him back. I’ve forgotten where I read this, but one writer described him as running with “schoolyard abandon.” I can’t tell you often I think of this phrase as I’m out slogging through a run. That expression always makes me smile and makes me try a little harder in my own run. Continue reading