It's fascinating how the environment you put somebody in influences so much of what that person becomes. You take a mediocre cyclist and have him train with stronger riders, and that mediocre cyclist will improve faster than he would have by himself. When a motivated rider upgrades to a faster category, that rider almost always has a big jump in fitness.
It's similar with skating. You get areas of the country that produce stronger skaters than the rest of the country. Sure, there are outliers, but one outlier usually ends up building a new group of fast skaters. Look at areas like North Carolina. They've had fast skaters since I remember. Sure, part of it might be good coaching, but I think that in a lot of cases areas have great skaters just because that area already has great skaters.
The same works out in other areas of life. The whole reason I started thinking about this the other day was because I realized what a positive influence Sarah has been on me. My wife is the most giving person I know. When we met I was as stingy as anyone could be, and even though I'm still very cheap when it comes to myself, she has really shown me the joy from giving to others. Her motivation is contagious. She sets a goal and has laser-beam focus on it until she meets it. It's how we got out of debt, how she won Redman, and how she qualified for Kona. Sure, there is a lot of natural talent there, but focus, motivation, desire, and a lot of hard work are the real secret. It is impossible to be around a person like her and not always strive to be the best you could be. I'm really a lucky guy to have somebody as caring, supportive, giving, and driven as Sarah in my life.
Plus, she made us some chocolate chip cookies today for Valentine's Day. I hope these cookies work some of the soreness out of my legs from skating on Sunday, because nothing else I've tried today seemed to work.