Even as a child, I recall wanting to do something great. As I grew older, the word I used was extraordinary.
And the definition of extraordinary depends on the person. For me, it can be hard to describe, but it comes down to doing something at a high level and exceeding expectations.
That’s one reason a couple TV commercials during the Olympics struck a nerve with me. One is Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign. It inspires us to find our definition of greatness by pushing beyond our comfort zones and doing what we love. As a kid, I didn’t always have the opportunities to do what I love and – for factors I won’t go into – often felt uncomfortable pursuing those interests and hobbies when I had the chance.
At some point, I broke out of that shell. Yesterday, I zipped over to the Bemidji State University pool for a few laps and practice my swimming. There’s a time when I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it, especially since I am not a good swimmer. While there, a couple people started talking and giving me some tips on how to be a better swimmer. One older guy, now retired, started swimming last year.
Greatness is really up to us. Do we let others define it for us, or are we willing to define it ourselves?
Another commercial that really is inspirational to me is one with Ryan Lochte, the U.S. swimmer. In it, he talks about how luck didn’t get him to the Olympic games. Wishing doesn’t get anyone on the podium. He made it to London by swimming there.
Well, for anyone who has finished a race, triathlon or any other event based on endurance, it’s not luck that gets you to the finish line. Wishing doesn’t, either. It takes hard work, sweat and commitment. It’s the type of message I need as I train for the Twin Cities Marathon this October.
It will mark my 15th marathon since June 2008. The finishing time for my last two marathons have been a disappointment, but those race times are based on a lot of factors. Now the focus is finishing this race – as a charity runner for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for Minnesota and the Dakotas chapter.
Quite honestly, I know I can do better – both in training and racing. It’s been a long road the past 9 months, trying to balance life, workouts and a move. But the routine, and the normalcy that running brings to my life, won’t happen unless I commit to making the changes needed every day. And at the end of this journey, I hope to be a better runner.
It’s not enough to dream about it. We all deserve everything we earn.