When I think about how I got my start in endurance sports, there was no one single person who was responsible for inspiring me. Instead it was a gradual progression of interests that over time lead me to drive for personal challenges along these lines.
I was always the type of kid who played outside all day long, long after his father called him in for dinner. Growing up across the street from a park enabled me into athletics, as I always had a soccer ball at my foot. Even when I was bored, I would pass time by dribbling the ball around trees, as if defenders, or shooting the ball farther and harder into a backstop.
In my college days, as organized sports became harder to play due to life getting in the way, I started running, mainly to stay in shape for soccer leagues that by then were occupying my time fewer and fewer times per week.
As studies ramped up, so too did my running, and before I knew it I was morphing into a real runner. It didn’t take long until I got inspired to run a marathon. It was a natural progression from my youth.
Growing up, when the day would turn wet and the TV on, the only thing I would watch – aside from cartoons – was sports. I didn’t discriminate with sports either. I liked them all. Football, baseball, soccer: You name it… I watched it. But the sporting events that made the most impact on me were few.
Back then the New York City Marathon was aired on TV as an annual event. Even though this was years before I would consider running, I was drawn into the self competition each runner exhibited. This sport was far different than the rest. There was no money in it. Runners, even at the high level, did it because they wanted it. They were self-driven and motivated, encouraged by no one other than themselves. For whatever reason, this stuck with me.
RAAM, The Race Across America, was another event that I’d watch in my youth. I was enthralled by the notion that cyclists would ride their bikes straight across the country.
Ironman was another event that caught my eye. This, above the others, lured me in. It was intriguing, inspiring, and everything to me what sport should be. It even made me shed tears of happiness. Only I discounted this event – I even wrote it off – because, well, I didn’t swim, nor did I ever want to, for my fear of the water was far too deep.
As I matured into a young adult, now with fewer outlets to play soccer, endurance sports filled the void. Running was a staple, and cycling wasn’t far behind.
The progression into competition was natural. Road races turned longer and longer, and rides on my bike were longer and more fun. The marathon, inspired by the airing of the New York City Marathon, came shortly thereafter, and epic bike rides, although longer to take hold, became reality.
These were sports I could do on my own. Little organization was required. Fueled with encouragement from my youth, I set personal goals and drove myself hard to accomplish them. Encouragement was always there.