Ray Deck III didn't just hate running not too many years ago. He "really, really, really hated running," as he readily acknowledges.
So who's that 27-year-old Bellingham newbie competing on the Logos Bible Software team's running leg this year at Ski to Sea?
Miracle of miracles, it's Ray Deck. But it didn't really take a miracle of biblical proportions - it just took Ray's mother, longtime runner Beverly Deck, to convince him to see the light.
"I always loved baseball and I played ball through high school in North Carolina," said Deck, who moved to Bellingham from upstate New York for his job a year ago, just in time to watch last year's Ski to Sea. "But I sure hated running. I ran very begrudgingly in training."
Deck always had resisted running, despite his mother's encouragement.
"Three years ago I was living in Schroon Lake, a small town in upstate New York," he said in a phone interview. "I had never liked how my mom would be running by herself (in North Carolina). Her response (eventually) was, 'Well, why don't you come out and run with me?' So I ran with her a couple of times, but I still hated it."
Eventually, however, he agreed to train for the Schroon Lake half-marathon (part of an annual marathon program), providing his mother would run with him.
"I didn't have good running shoes and I started out running in cargo pants," he said with a laugh. "But eventually I began to enjoy it. I found it became a stress reliever. I didn't really realize I had started to like running until I was struck by a hit-and-run driver. I wasn't seriously injured, but I was down for a month."
When he was able to resume running, he trained for a month until the half-marathon.
"I knew I would finish (with his mom). It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Our time was two hours and three minutes. I actually felt good!"
By the time he moved to Bellingham - he works in marketing for Logos as experimental projects team lead - he was ready for more. His first marathon was the Bellingham Bay Marathon last September.
"I ran just under 41/2 hours and found I loved it. Now I'm hooked!" he said with a laugh.
He's pleased to fill a need on the Logos team, which also includes cross country skier Breanna Bart, downhill skier Jonathan Heemstra, road biker Josh Burdick, canoe racers Nick Kelly and Sean Bolsen, mountain biker Kent Sanner and kayaker Aaron Dutton.
"It's neat to see (from the standpoint of a newcomer) how involved the community is in Ski to Sea," he said. "It's fun just be outside, working together as a team, and to get to meet other people who love Ski to Sea."
And how serious has he become about running?
"My goal now would be to qualify for the Boston Marathon," he said. "I'd love to run in Boston."