My AWAKENING with Karnazes

click here to send an art card from

Look backwards for a second.

Have you ever had one INCREDIBLE moment in your past that took you for a loop? Perhaps sent you on a double flip, only to be knocked out? The best bit — you awakened with a huge sigh of relief and a smile brimming from ear to ear? Knowing you just experienced something you felt deep in your gut you knew would change your life forever?

I did.

You know, I have heard about people claiming these experiences, and several times in my life HOPED that I too could get kicked in the butt good. But at the age of 43, and not having any kind of experience that affected me THAT way, I began to question if THAT FEELING was real.

Never say never — my HALLOW day:

Halloween Day, 2010

I’m in the heart of SILICON VALLEY, San Jose California. It’s October 31st, 2010. It’s mile 6.

It’s going to be different this time. I can feel it. I’m feeling light, I’m feeling good, I’m one quarter of the way through another marathon.

Some guy wearing an ancient Greek leather skirt and a sword in sheath hanging off his waist, just passes me. A group of runners surround him.

Hey! That’s the guy from package pickup at the Hyatt, the day before — Dean Karnazes. All I know is he’s THE NAME associated to this marathon.

The groupies, the clothes, I just roll my eyes thinking — this IS California, and I keep on running.


18 miles completed. 8.2 miles to go, about another hour and a half. I turn the corner and bam IT hits me in the face. What every marathoner dreads — THE WALL.

A gentle slope creeps into view. Oh gawd. If I run up that thing, I’ll have no energy left. A participant alongside me, gingerly takes steps forward. I can hear her counting sets of 100. I’m numb from the pain setting in. I don’t know it, but I am hunched over, no longer able to move forward, while keeping a straight back.

With tunnel vision, I stare straight ahead. I can hear my husband screaming – YOU CAN DO IT! ALMOST THERE! YOU’RE LOOKING GOOD! But I can see his face and it says it all. He thinks I’m going to drop right there.

26.2 miles in 4 hours — gotta DO IT. Can’t stop. Can’t walk. Gotta run. The heat beats down, gotta run. Gotta run. 1, 2, 3… 55, 56, 57…

They’re yelling, turn the corner, you’re THERE.
The corner! I’m fixated on THAT corner.
I turn the corner. I see a big park, where’s THE (****) FINISH? ( **** my mind keeps throwing expletives)

They’re yelling, you’re almost there.
I can’t think anymore. THEN I see it.

Most people are gone, but I am only steps from the chute to the finish line.

My legs begin to move like spokes on a wheel, faster and faster with every inch forward. I feel like I’m floating. I don’t know where the energy is coming from. I hear screaming. I am the only one going down the chute. I hear my name over the loud speaker.


4rth marathon — 5:20, again!?

I am bombarded with my own thoughts. The same pattern, yet again. You should have started training 6 months ago, not 2. TRAIN. T-R-A-I-N. You think running once a week is marathon training? You’ve got Jeff Galloway’s training schedule (from 1991!?) why can’t you just follow it?!

My husband runs towards me and wraps me in his arms. All I can think of is the NEXT ONE. The next one is in the bag, I can feel it.


The very next day, I find myself in a little old running store in Napa Valley.

Bam — it hits me in the face, yet again. This time I get the lowdown.

THAT was THE DEAN KARNAZES, a running store clerk extols. He’s got 2 books out. Go find his first book and BUY IT.

Mr Dean is not just a marathon runner, he is an ultra marathon runner.

Mr Dean is not just an ultra-marathon runner,

Mr Dean is into running 300 miles non-stop (that’s 11 marathons, through multiple nights, no sleep).

Mr Dean is into running 100 miles in Death Valley — that’s when soles of running shoes bubble over as temperatures soar to over 120 Fahrenheit.

Mr Dean is not just AMAZING, MR DEAN started from absolutely nothing! Look at HIM — at 48!

…and look at ME?!


Enroute home I hit the first bookstore I come across. It’s the Elliot Bay bookstore in Seattle. Both Dean’s books are in stock. I buy his first book and I gotta buy his second book too — he’s a New York Times bestselling author.

My husband drives. I sit in the passenger seat — first book in hand and begin reading aloud. Page after page I flip, totally oblivious to the fact that reading in the car makes me car sick.

Page 224 and bam, it hits me in the face. No, I’m not car sick.

Once again, it’s mile 18 (this time in Dean’s book). This time it’s the Marine Corps Marathon in Virginia and it’s October 2006. This time, it’s Mr. Karnazes that is turning the corner and he gets it: THE AWAKENING.

Dean finds the awakening, at a point in the marathon when most people hit the wall:

A statue consisting of five separate pieces buried in the ground emerges into view. The left hand and right foot barely protrude, the bent left leg and knee jut into the air, a colossal right arm and hand reach skyward while the bearded face, mouth wide open and howling in apparent agony, thrashes violently to exhume the creature from the entombing soil.

This giant seems at war with his greatest adversary, himself.

He appears to be struggling with the decision to follow what is in his heart, to buck convention and pursue an alternative course, a road less traveled.

The grimace on his face comes from knowing that his past may have been a numb existence, and that he will require great courage and conviction in the future if he is to avoid sinking back into the tomb of conformity.

There will be untold battles waged within himself, wars that will test his every thread … of persistence and commitment.

As Dean puts it:
Yet there is a slight hint of pride in his contorted face, perhaps because he also knows that if he follows his passion with heartfelt intensity, if he dedicates himself unreservedly to his calling, he will persevere and ultimately find fulfillment, no matter where his life may lead him.

I Sat & Thought

I sat and thought about what I had just read. Dean eloquently put things into perspective for me:

We all have dreams and ambitions, though few of us ever become all that we could be. We fight a silent war over purpose, over reaching our farthest destination.

Comfort, complacency, routine, the path of least resistance, the easy road. Have the trappings of conventionality created a life for you that is entirely different from the one you wish to live?

A Gift Had Just Hit Me In The Face

Three BAMS you’re out!

You want real entertainment?

As George Lucas once said,
“We are all living in cages, with the door wide open”

I ask myself, perhaps dare to ask yourself:
Is THIS what you want?

Let me tell you — NOT THIS BABY.

By the way. Where is Mr. Dean Karnazes now?

Check this out: running an ultramarathon a day across America. He has almost got it the bag!

I would LOVE to hear YOUR MARATHON/ULTRA MARATHON stories! Please post your blogs in the comments below.

Interested in sharing this post? Click share below and share this post with friends, family and colleagues. Inspire all those around!

click subscribe a the top right of this page, to never miss a post



  1. Really enjoyed reading, thanks! Great visual descriptions. Don’t have a marathon story yet, nevermind an ultra. However, I did run my first half, which doubled my previous longest race distance of 10K, this past weekend at Vancouver Marathon. Went into the run with the knowledge I may have to drop out as I’d missed many weeks of training to heal up my ankle/achilles. Even if my ankle holds up, I thought the last half of the race would be a world of suffering. It turned out to be a beautiful day, and I ran feeling great. So much so that at around 17K when the Burrard Bridge came into view, I had something like a BAM! moment when in the room of my mind, I saw the open door, walked out, looked around and said to myself, “Hey, I think I can run a marathon.” It was a sweet moment.

    • Hi Jon!
      Thank you so much for your comment! LOVED YOUR BAM MOMENT! I don’t know about you – but the moment just resonates my every moment for weeks after!
      Sounds like your marathon story is just around the corner!!! I was in the Vancouver Marathon – and I have to tell you … you half marathoners ATE ALL THE GU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I didn’t get my share until mile 18, just after the Burrard street bridge!!!!!!!! 🙂 GAWD – I have to admit to my badness .. but I ‘stole’ and handful of them from the box after that!

      YOU CAN RUN A MARTHON – WHICH ONE is it going to be Jon? 😉

      Have a great weekend. And thank you for sharing!!
      ~ Doris.

      • I have to pass on blame for the GU famine squarely on the elite and advanced half runners ahead of me, as I encountered barren tables at even the first aid station. They must have descended like locusts and stripped the course of fuel 🙂 Probably some supply adjustment is need for next year to account for the half/marathon overlap at certain stations. I saw them later but by then, I was getting along just fine with water and GU brew. Not sure when my marathon story will be. My training for skating is given highest priority so other sports are somewhat at a conflict for speed/power vs. endurance balance. I really enjoyed the 21.1K distance and think I’d like to do a few more and get more tuned and faster, and then work what I learn from them and apply it to running a full 42.2K. Perhaps next year.

      • I didn’t know u where the BMO Marathon when I threw in a little complaint 🙂 That is TOO FUNNY!! So what does a social media manager do Jon? How many people work with your direction? That is very COOL!
        You are a SUGOI BRAND CHAMPION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So please tell – what did you do to earn that?!
        That is AWESOME Jon!

        ~ Doris.

  2. My company is contracted with the Marathon. The social networking team for the event is me and Kevin Jagger (@KevinJagger) and we do our thing with online platforms along with integrating social media with other areas of the event. So the interactions that take place on FB, Twitter, blog that’s us.

    I was accepted into Sugoi Brand Champions program last year by application. What I like about their philosophy is that it doesn’t matter if you’re elite or recreational. It’s going for your best, and inspiring others by example that embody what the brand is about. So you’ll find different types of athletes, and it’s not all about the podium.

    • VERY INTERESTING JON! VERY COOL on both fronts! There is much I want to say .. but I’m going to leave it at that for now. I am glad we connected Jon!

      ~ Doris.

  3. Love your story, and your writing skills are great, very readable and enjoyable.
    I have done a number of marathons and a couple of ultra’s and recently qualified and ran Boston this year. I’ve always been active, grew up in Florida so very easy to be active year around. But I’d have to say my BAM! moment was after watching the 1st Rocky movie. HA! So funny. My wife and I were newlyweds and after watching Rocky I just KNEW I had to go run. So as soon as we got back from the theater I changed into shorts and tennis shoes and ran down Capital blvd in Boise Idaho. Right on up the steps to the top, turned around and pumped my arms like Rocky, and I knew I was hooked! That was back in 1978. I love running. The simplicity of it, the peacefulness of a quite run. The craziness of an all out sprint. The amazing feeling after crossing the finish line and accomplishing a lifelong goal.
    I’m currently injured, and have to find other outlets until I get my knees back (torn meniscus) so I swim and swim and swim. I’m not fast, but it’s very peaceful.
    Dean has been an inspiration and one of these days I hope to be able to run along with him in one of his crazy adventures.
    Thank you again for your great blog. Keep running.

    • Hi Paul – Thank you for your comment and your compliments! I LOVE your BAM moment! 🙂 Rocky!!! 🙂
      I have only started running seriously since this past November – and I look forward to looking back – like you – since 1978 – to a history of running. I too find it incredibly peaceful. For me running helps me find my pulse – moving forward, feeling the soft breeze brush past my skin, and the connection with the earth below my feet. I used to count sets of a 100 years back – to pass the time – now I simply put myself in the moment and ‘feel’…. and it feels so incredibly fantastic. I admire that you qualified and ran the Boston this year Paul. WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is a HUGE goal of mine – and I am so looking forward to reaching that moment of both qualifying and crossing the finish line.

      There is a GREAT, inspirational movie I saw recently – you may enjoy it – Saint Ralph.

      Thank you again for your comment – you made my day!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: