As perseverance continues to be the dominating theme of my racing season while the challenges keep streaming in, I’ve begun to think about what it is that keeps me going. Where does it come from, this deep desire, unfazed by any failure, to keep driving and pushing on — this pure, profound love of sport?
I think it comes from many places, and has undoubtedly been building up throughout my life. But ultimately, I know this deeply rooted passion is very much a result of the people in my life who’ve influenced and encouraged my love of sports from the time I was young.
For starters, it can definitely be traced back to mom and pop, who since day one have supported and advocated my love for athleticism and adventure to the fullest degree.
It can be traced back to my childhood summer days of leaving my Glenshire home by bike in the morning and not returning until dusk, having rode around the neighborhood and played games with friends all day, only stopping for drinks and lollipops at the general store. It can be traced back to the fact that, for me, a day of independent entertainment as a kid meant packing a backpack full of snacks and heading out into the meadow of endless trails behind my house for an all-day adventure. All of my time spent at “Magic Island,” a special spot in that meadow, was certainly the start of my appreciation for the great outdoors.
Then, as I grew up and participated in sports in a more organized, serious manner, I was incredibly fortunate to have numerous networks of friends, teams and coaches by my side day in and day out, pushing me to be a better athlete, and strengthening my love for sports.
As a member of both the Far West Nordic ski programs and Truckee Tahoe Swim Team from middle school through high school graduation, I was surrounded by incredibly positive people who not only impacted my athletics, but shaped who I am as a person. I was unbelievably lucky because, among those networks, staying active, healthy and having fun outside were “normal” culture.
When I got together with friends, these are the things we did. If someone stayed out too late and missed the next day’s adventures, it was their loss, and everyone else made sure they knew it. As I progressed into college sports and had the benefit of a team and close friends by my side who shared my same goals, values and dreams as we started to take on the “real world,” I understood even more just how lucky I was.
Today as a coach for the Far West Nordic junior ski programs, I see first-hand that the current juniors are getting this same experience, and I can see just how much it is benefiting them, not just for now, but in laying a strong foundation of healthy values for many years to come. How fortunate these kids are to be around peers who think endurance sports are the coolest thing out there, and that staying active is pretty much the “only way to be.”
Now that I’ve decided to really try to take my athletics to the next level, I’m more aware than ever of the crucial importance of maintaining a positive network of people in my life. And I think this is true for anyone. Whether your goal is to succeed in athletics, simply to stay active and healthy, or something entirely different, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who will support you in that goal, and help you move in a positive direction to get there.
I am so blessed in that I have some incredibly talented, motivated and unbelievably positive friends to share my many athletic endeavors and adventures. The same is true of my family. And when I finish a race where I’ve been derailed from my goals due to a flat tire, broken chain, or whatever else, my family, friends and training partners are there to provide support… to encourage me to keep going... to tell me I’m not crazy to be pursuing this dream of becoming a pro triathlete (even if they really do think I am!).
So thank you, to all of those who are a part of this network, for making me so much stronger than I would be alone. For pushing me to keep going. And for being so much of the reason I love what I’m doing. And to all of you working toward a goal of your own, I encourage you to find your network of support; your “team.” Because even though we race on our own in endurance sports, as with many things in life, there’s a team of amazing people behind every outstanding individual result.
— Truckee’s Kara LaPoint is an elite amateur triathlete competing for LUNA bar, and working up to the pro ranks. She has earned numerous overall amateur podium finishes and age-group wins across distances from Olympic to Ironman, and finished the 2011 season ranked as an All-American nationally among her age group (25-29). Read more about her racing and training at www.karalapoint. wordpress.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.