Coppola: Just Your ‘Ordinary’ Run in the Park

Alas, life is not always about baseball. Something that I found out this weekend. Sunday my daughter-in-law, Amanda Stutevoss Coppola, completed her first Ironman in Tempe Arizona. An amazing accomplishment for a working mom and wife.

As I watched runner after runner finish, I was dumbfounded at how many of these athletes there were. Also at how may times some of them had done this arduous feat. Some doing this race one hundred times or more. It was first run on February 18, 1978 in Honolulu, with 15 participants of which only 11 finished. The event this weekend had 2445 participants.

The Ironman consists of first, swimming 2.4 miles either in the ocean, or in a lake. Then out of the water and onto a bike, for a 112 mile trek up and down hills. Not finished yet. Last is a full 26.2 mile marathon. The winner, Lionel Sanders of Canada, set a new record completing the 140.6 miles of endurance in a total time of 7:44:29 hours about the same amount of time it takes to watch a Yankees – Red Sox game.

Amanda’s times were 1hour 37 min. for the swim, 7 hr. 25 min. for the 112 mile bike portion and a 4 hr. and 52 min. marathon, finishing the race in 14 hours and 12 min. The defining word here is “Finish.”

These ordinary people who do these Ironman races will be riding their bike for many miles early in the morning. Then looking for a safe place for a 5 -mile run, sometimes in the dark of morning or night,or finding a place to swim, then coming home to get themselves and their families off to school and work. It’s day after day, working extremely hard to build the stamina needed for an Ironman.

We cover pro athletes everyday, doing things that we are in awe of. They get payed handsomely, with some getting ridiculous amounts of money, for what they do. So what’s in it for these ordinary people?

When asked, they will tell you a number of things, like “I did it for my Mom, who passed away last year.” Or for the people suffering from cancer, or to show a young daughter, that she too can be special one day, if she works hard like her Mom. That’s a role model.

But each and everyone of them will also tell you, they did it for the sense of accomplishment. We ordinary people stand alone on this earth, with the hope that we are made to feel special, once in awhile, a gift for a birthday, a well done from a boss or a hug from a child. And yes, setting a goal and accomplishing it.

My hat goes off to these real heroes and role models in our society. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and professional scout.

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