Dead Last – Fully Alive!

All smiles at the beginning of the race. Little did I know what was to come.

I did something new this Labor day weekend.  I competed in the 15th Annual Tenderfoot Mountain Duathlon.”  This was a race longer than any I have ever done in thinner air than I had ever run.  25 miles of cycling followed immediately by a 10k (6.2 miles) run.  At the start I was full of enthusiasm, wondering if would I place 2nd in my age group, maybe 1st?  I did better than that! The cycling portion of the race had two 700 ft climbs and two thrilling descents with several energy sapping hillsscattered throughout the course. After the bike race I was exhausted but exhilarated. I couldn’t wait to jump into my running shoes and start the run.

I leapt off my bike and almost fell to the ground.  I couldn’t run. I couldn’t even walk.  Something was wrong with my hips.  Every step was accompanied by incredible pain. Several runners paused to ask if I was okay. No, I wasn’t okay. I still had 6+ miles to run and I could hardly stand up.  Less than a block from the start of the run I knew I would have to quit.

I thought of my facebook “Fully Alive” support group. The faces of those men and women who had encouraged me swam through my mind as I fought nausea.  Because of them I tried to take a few steps but I couldn’t go on.  I bent over and stretched to touch my toes.  That eased the pain a  little and I was able to walk another block.

I remembered Diane’s words when I was training for my first triathlon.

None of these people are me! The photographer had passed away before I ever reached this point in the race.

“If you can’t ride, run.

If you can’t run walk.

If you can’t walk crawl.

You can do this!”

I realized I could not quit.  I had to go until I dropped or until I finished.  “Practice what you preach Ken!” I shouted and hobbled toward the hills like a walrus throws himself across the beach.   I wish you could have seen the stares.

Each time I was tempted to give up I remembered friends like Roger Mateer, who I wrote about in “Fully Alive.”  In the face of daunting challenges and dismal predictions from the doctors, he refused to give up.  He makes me laugh almost every day.  He lives fully alive.  I took the next step for him.

I thought of Saralee Perel who has faced so many physical obstacles and still encouraged so many people. Sore hips are nothing compared to what she has had to face.  I took the next step for her.

I remembered the suffering of Jesus.  I thanked Him for not quitting on me and I picked up my pace.  Now I knew I would not quit.  I walked until the pain was unbearable and then I would stop and stretch.  Eventually the pain subsided and I was able to run several hundred yards before stopping to stretch.  Finally I was running  most of the time.

SO What is your POINT Ken!

I finished dead last, but I finished.

Many competitors had already gone home by the time I limped into view.   There was only one wonderful woman and her husband who cheered me across the finish line.  The last half mile my calves had started to cramp and my hamstrings screamed that they were sick of the whole process but I hobbled on.

But because of your support and encouragement, because I want to be an encouragement to you…

I finished!

I finished last.  I finished well.  I finished fully alive!

Peggy Espinoza Wells, one of my fully alive supporters posted this encouraging note for me!

DL “Dead last” is better than DF “didn’t finish,” which is better than DS “didn’t start.”

More amazing things happened along the way.  But I will save them for another post.

What is your next challenge as you continue on the journey to living fully alive?

Whatever it is…..

Start. Keep going one step at a time. Finish fully alive!

Look forward to your comments.


In other News

Our speaking conferences are coming up in October and there are only a few spaces left.  Do you want to sharpen your speaking skills?   Here is where you can learn to SCORRE every presentation.

If you are thinking of building a career as a speaker or want to take your career to the next level.  Launch from here.     If you want to do both, register for both SCORRE and LAUNCH at a significant discount.  Pull up to the line and start.  I will look forward to seeing you there.

Diane and I are returning to Tennessee from Colorado this weekend.  Can’t wait to see all our friends.