Friday, August 23, 2013

The Best Decision of My Life

Photo Credit, Paul Huddle

It was Spring 1985 when my college (Southern Illinois University) roommates talked me into doing a triathlon. I was a runner, worked as a lifeguard at the pool and road my bike everywhere. They said it would be perfect for me. The water was 52 degrees, my hands and feet were frozen trying to tie my shoes out of the swim, I warmed up on the bike and then ran hard passing 25 people or so to finish 13th overall. I was hooked.

That summer I came to California to spend time with my Dad. It was that summer when I met Paul Huddle (Back Left).  I had triathlon on my mind and San Diego was the place for Triathlon. The day I graduated college a year later I moved to California to chase a dream. I wanted to train with the best triathletes in the world. If I hadn't done that, I wouldn't have met Mary. If I hadn't done that I wouldn't be the shoe guy that I am. If I hadn't done that my life would have turned out differently.

A few of the characters as I see them.

Paul Huddle ( - Stud athlete and Stud Runner. Always a factor in Kona in those days. Most popular triathlete in Japan probably ever. We were riding home on a Tuesday in 1989 from Swim workout. Tuesday looked like this, Tuesday Run (pictured above), Stuff Food, Hop on bike for 12 miles to the pool, masters swim session, ride home, sleep. Anyway we are on our way home when Paul asked me why I wasn't at work. I told him that I had quit my job the day before. He turned to me and said "do you want to sell shoes, we need someone at Cal Stores" I went in that afternoon, interviewed and have been working in the shoe business ever since. It was also through Cal Stores that I met Mary.

Tim Sheeper - Blue Shirt (Team Sheeper) Tim was one of my roommates at the time of this picture. He was a pro triathlete, worked at the first ever triathlon store called Tri-Action Sports in Leucadia, CA. We had a good time living in Leucadia, training all day, working all night and then doing it again. Tim married one of our other roommates Lisa and now lives in the Bay area.

Mark Montgomery (Monte) - Far right in the picture flexing his arm. Monte was the first pro I really wanted to meet. He was legendary in triathlon. A fairly big dude who could swim and ride really fast. He had and has a huge personality to match his performance. Monte was an innovator with his friend Dan Emphield ( Monte opened the first tri store in the country, Tri-Action Sports and always had the first triathlon inventions for us to test out. Monte had a big problem though. He couldn't finish in Kona. Each year he qualified and in each year he failed to finish. His stories of collapse are awesome party stories. In 1988 he, Tim and I trained together for Kona and in that year we all finished the race for the first time. Monte always one to give advice said this to me as I passed him going up famous Pay n Save hill in the marathon, "Dave slow down, this isn't a 10K" Although he was right because I paid for the hard pace later, I still laugh that he was giving me Ironman advice in the race. I looked over at him and said "Just finish this one Monte".

Dr. Joel Thompson - Right Back Row - Badass runner. Gave Kenny Souza all he could handle in the Duathlon. Showed up from time to time to just make all of us look silly. One of the nicest people you'll ever meet. He's a Hand Surgeon in the Phoenix, Area.

The Bukinghams - Wally and Wayne (the two up front leaning in) - freaking talented athletes and always good for a laugh. It was not unheard of to have your shorts dropped to your ankles by one of these guys while you were waiting for running to start. Today you'll see them at Cardiff Reef every Tuesday and Thursday paddling out on their paddle boards. They've gone from running to triathlon to paddle board racing and they've been stand out athletes at every sport.

Scott Tinley - (holding the Surf picture) - Part of the Big 4 of triathlon. Scott Tinley, Dave Scott, Scott Molina and Mark Allen. These four defined the sport on the men's side for years.  What Scott and the other three taught me is that they were real people. They were on the cover of magazines, on TV regularly and were normal guys. It was ok to be in awe of their talent and they made it ok for us to have a good time running on Tuesdays, riding on Wednesdays and racing on the weekends.

Those were great times and shaped who I am today. Runner, Triathlete, Shoe guy and most of all husband/father. A decision to move west to chase a dream.

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