Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our Local Hero & Rockstar

For my 100th post I wanted to do something a little different to make this post particularly special.

I took my first step to becoming a runner on October 1, 2010, but little did I know that I would look back to June 2010 to a day when I met Kenneth "Koach" Williams for the first time.  I didn't know much about him but I did know that he could play the blues harmonica and was a runner.  I told him I wanted to ask him a question.  I asked, "Can a fat boy like me run?"  He told me that it could happen but the most important thing is to avoid injury.  While he was answering my question, I was about to chow down on a couple of cheeseburgers.  After that day, I didn't think much about it until I had "the accident" (you can read about it here) and I felt I had to do something.  I walked out the door at little after 11:30am on Oct 1 and started my journey.

I had the chance to ask Koach a few questions.  I also found a great site about something that I had heard about shortly after I met him but didn't know anything about.  My first question to Koach was, "When and why did your start running?"

I found out that he had starting running in 1977 after a trip with a guy that had "done an unusal thing: he had run a marathon!"  Here is what Koach said happened after that trip:

“I wasn’t very familiar with that and didn’t run at all at that time.  When I got home from the trip I went to the football field the next morning and ran one half mile.  The rest, as they say, is history!!!

"I moved forward fast.  I ran a marathon 10 months after starting running.  I ran the Chicago Marathon on Sept 24th, 1978, along with 9,000 people.  It was to be my only marathon, I thought, but that was not to be.

"After that marathon, I continued running, but just a few days a week and not many miles.  But about 9 months later, the urge hit again, and I decided to try it again.  I was running really well at that time and thought I might just qualify for Boston.  What a mistake!  I went out at a fast pace.  At 10 miles, I was just over 70 minutes; my buddy, who was able to drive the course in the car, pulled alongside and said: “You better slow down, you are going out too fast”.  I responded back… “Naw, Man, I’m in the groove”.  By 18, I was toast and beginning to walk.  I did the marathon shuffle in for a 3:32, which was pretty good, considering.  He never let me forget me saying I was “in the groove”.   I did one marathon per year for years, and finally qualified for my first Boston Marathon in ’90.  It took me 13 more years to qualify for a second one, but since then, I’ve run 11 consecutive Bostons.”

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of the Coke 10K that we have in Corinth every May and I couldn’t pass up the chance to ask Koach why he wanted to found and direct a race.

“In 1981, Corinth didn’t have a really nice race.  We had some that came and went, but not one of our own.  My company, Corinth Coke, was celebrating its 75th anniversary and I talked our folks into adding a 10k race in conjunction with all the other things we were planning.  We teamed up with a local guy, Jimmy Whitehurst, who was very active with one of the kidney nonprofits.  We put together the Coke Kidney Classic 10k.  We had 148 runners the first year.   The first race our employees ever saw, they hosted.  I was very proud of them for that.   The kidney folks weren’t interested the next year and we weren’t interested in having those two words in the title of a race, so we went out alone. Again it was successful and we have continued since then.  But it has not always been easy and has not always been popular with our own people who wondered if we were diverting too much energy on something that had only an indirect effect.  Don’t think anyone has a problem seeing its positive benefits 32 years later.”

“I love running and it’s my passion.  I coach runners that wish to run a marathon and I enjoy doing that so much.  My running friends mean so much to me and I love them all.”  Although Koach tells me much of his spare time is spent with running and running-related things, he does have other interest too.  One of them, and the most important, is his large family.  They include his wife, who was his college sweetheart, their four kids and spouses and all of their 14 grandkids!!!  He says, “We all live within 50 miles of each other and are very close and supportive.”

Koach also looks forward to going into work everyday because he loves the business he is in and the people he works with.

Some of the things he enjoys doing is fishing and duck hunting.  He says, “I also love playing the blues harmonica and played in a blues band for nearly 15 years.  I love kayaking and other water sports and I enjoy checking off bucket list items with my buddy.  I am very, very thankful for the life that God has allowed me to live.”

My last last question was simply, “What advice would you give someone that is just starting out to becoming a runner?”  Not surprisingly, he replied, “Be patient!  You will continue to improve for years.  Never give up!”

With Koach’s help, guidance, and encouragement, I have definitely become the runner I am today.

After poking around online just a little I found that Koach has ran from the Mississippi state line just north of Corinth all the way to the gulf coast.  How Awesome is that?  Here is the link where you can read his daily log of his journey.  Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and read to the top.  Here is another link to the Run it Fast website where you can learn more about Koach and his passion for running.

Thanks, Koach, for all that you have done for me in my pursuit to becoming a runner and all that you do for our great running community in Corinth, Alcorn County, and around the globe.

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