Left: Bill Reilly crosses the finish line at the 2009 Long Island Marathon. Right: Bill with his marathon medal after a brisk 4+ hour run.

Last month I wrote about being inspired by PGA Golfer Bubba Watson’s remarks during a media event at the Travelers Championship. It got me thinking that it would be pretty neat to do a series on people or things that have inspired me along this marathon challenge. This is the first of hopefully many editions in this series…

Bill Reilly is someone I have a great deal of respect and admiration for. I first met him in grad school, where we started our masters program together.  I was two years removed from undergrad. He was 20+ years removed. If that’s not inspiration to complete your degree, I don’t know what is.

A few years later, we met up for lunch. The retired assistant police chief informed me he was training for a marathon; I continued eating my greasy burger and tater tots from Plan B. How times have changed.

Now that I’m training to accomplish this feat someday, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for what it takes. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot involved, including:

  • The time commitment:Running is fun, but there are some days when sitting in an air conditioned room while eating four slices of pizza and watching a Mets game is far more appealing than running 5, 10, 15 miles.
  • Fighting through the aches and pains: Pushing your body to new levels comes at a price. It used to be going to bed at 9 p.m. on a school night was punishment…now it’s a reward.
  • Perseverance: It’s one thing to say I have a goal. It’s another thing to overcome the challenges and roadblocks that may prevent you from achieving it.

I recently came across these photos of Bill completing the 2009 Long Island Marathon. I was quickly reminded that age, ability or race pace doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s about the size of one’s heart and how badly you really want it. I think the expression of jubilation on Bill’s face after the marathon tells the story.

So Mr. Reilly thanks for inspiring me once again. While it’s not a degree like last time, a marathon medal is a close second. And that’s just fine with me.