Dave Griffin on Running – Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dave Griffin on Running – Sunday, August 19, 2012

We have witnessed greatness at the London Olympics, running feats that are unimaginable to most of us.

Brittan’s Mo Farah won both the 10K and 5K races on the track, running the final lap faster than many local stars could run a single lap.  And there were others, too numerous to name, who helped us imagine what it must feel like to do something glorious.

It inspires us to see these great accomplishments because we instinctively understand the dedication it took to achieve them.  We see discipline and courage in other human beings and wonder if we might find the same in ourselves.

If you were lucky, between races, you saw a Nike commercial that redefines greatness.  A runner plodding along in the distance appears over a rise.  As he gets closer, we watch an overweight boy struggling with every step.

A narrator explains that we’ve been mistaken about greatness; it isn’t something that’s reserved for a chosen few.  As the boy approaches the camera, the narrator tells us that greatness is in all of us. 

Kathi Kovel is a modest woman.  She’ll tell you what she’s doing isn’t great, but I think differently. 

Three years ago, she was like the boy in the Nike commercial.  Just starting to run, she struggled, falling far behind the other runners I was coaching at the time. 

She wondered what she was doing in a running program.  She felt out of place and she wanted to give up. 

Since then, she has finished three half marathons.  And, more importantly, she adopted a runner’s life.  She feels stronger and more at peace with life’s challenges.

Sometime after Kathi started running, her husband, Dave, began running too.  Their daughters are now young adults, and running has given them something new to share.  They’ve used destination races as a reason to travel more.  At home, they have fun socializing with the friends they’ve met through running.

What seemed almost impossible three years ago now seems routine.  Kathi is almost always at the group runs.  And though she is challenged at times, she always perseveres. 

I’ve loved watching her make progress, but she’s not yet satisfied.  This fall, she plans to run the Marine Corps Marathon.

Her training runs have already reached fifteen miles, farther than she’s ever run before.  And as the fall weekends come and go her longest runs will take her into uncharted territory time and time again.

I know Kathi is going to finish the marathon because I’ve watched her persevere so many times before.  She’s shown me the gutsy stuff she’s made of. 

There will be times when Kathi will again feel like the boy in the Nike commercial, uncertain and afraid.   She’ll wonder why she ever decided to try a marathon, but when she does, I’ll remind her - she’s finding her greatness. And I, for one, couldn’t be more inspired if she had just won gold.