Saturday, October 4, 2014

Running Past a Gold Medalist - Dave's House

The process of regaining flexibility so my inner knee will not feel pain has not been what I qualify as fun, but the past three weeks I've still enjoyed a short two to four mile run once a week.  Just enough to get my legs nice and warm so I can stretch them out really well.  In the meantime I've been trying to commute to work on a new road bike as it does not seem to be causing any discomfort.

The short two to four mile run is what I want to discuss though, for a very simple reason.  My current residence resides only a mere quarter mile from one Dave Wottle, who many might know is the 1972 Munich Olympics Gold Medalist in the 800 meters.  Not only does his race stick out in many American's minds because he was the "guy who forgot to take his hat off during the National Anthem," but it was just one of those races that is amazing to watch!  

Wottle ran his race at a fairly consistent pace which put his first lap's pace quite slower than those who were leading the chase for gold.  But as one watches the second lap they begin to see Dave Wottle eating up one runner at a time as he appears to be accelerating to un-human speeds.  One runner and then another, he works his way slowly up until the last 100 meters where he lets everything loose.  Even then it is hard to hope he will have enough speed to overcome the last three runners standing in the way of a gold medal.  Somehow he blasts past them and at the line overcomes his final contender and wins the race!

In 1999 I met Dave Wottle while washing cars at my younger brother's fundraiser for their cross-country team.  His daughter Jenny was a freshman that year on the team and we spent a few hours washing cars together.  As things were winding down I heard a voice behind me say, "Hey Brett," and as I turned to face him, "I'm Jenny's dad, Dave Wottle."  Would you believe me if I told you I recognized his voice, even before seeing him, from all of the running movies and documentaries? We chatted for a few minutes and I remember being amazed (really I still am) that a gold medalist had asked me how my running was going!? 

As I run past his house on the short route I now hope will help rehabilitate my knee, I find an immense well of emotions fueling my labored pace.  Dave is Jenny's dad and Jenny is my wife's best friend from high school.  Jenny went on to run on my collegiate team and became my friend too.  And the Wottles are just great people we are blessed to call friends.  But Dave is and will always be the 72 800 meter Olympic gold medalist!  It is nice to sense this as I run past his house, knowing I am passing by one of The Greats.  I imagine him sipping his coffee and looking out the window, naturally he knows when a runner is near, nodding in approval of the offering even if it is meager.  

It inspires me and reminds me of my deep love for running.  Maybe watch the video and let Dave Wottle inspire you too.  If you've already seen it watch it again as I just did.  Amazing!