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.


  1. Appreciate your humility and inspiration Ken!! Your post reminds me of 2 Tim 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

  2. You continue to inspire me in every way, Ken!! One step at a time, and just start. Why are these concepts so difficult for us? You help make them seem possible. Thank you for being you.

  3. I love it! Go Ken!!! I finished your book last week, and I hear the words in my mind all the time. Every time I’m facing a struggle I don’t think of it as a struggle, I think of it as a reminder of life and being fully alive. (It helps a ton at the gym when I’m trying to push thru the wall and go a little more 😉 )
    I have my second ever 5k this weekend. 11 obstacles mixed in on the 5k course. As I push thru and do my best I’ll be FULLY ALIVE!

  4. way to go Ken! you inspired me at women of faith and now even more. 🙂 thank you so much 🙂

    1. Chris, You are such an encouraging friend. I look forward to the next time I can see you.

  5. That is so awesome, Ken! I’m so glad you kept going, you are such an inspiration to us all! And hooray for the 2 who stayed to cheer you on. I wasn’t there, but I applaud you now for your DL FINISH!!

  6. Ken, When I was reading this I felt so bad for you but realized you are living out the verses in Romans 5: “we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope do es not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    You certainly have endured and your character gives so many of us hope! Hope that will not disappoint as we strive to be Fully Alive with the gospel of Christ reflected in everything we do! Blessings to you

  7. What an inspirations to the rest of us. And I am sure God was smiling down on you saying, “you can do it, son”. May God continue to bless you as you bless others.

    1. Michael, I am so honored that you read this blog on occasion. Thank you for your kind words and for your friendship.

  8. Thank you for finishing. But honestly, I’ve been in excruciating pain that prevented another movement, and I wouldn’t have thought you were a failure if you hadn’t finished.

  9. Ken, thanks so much for sending this coverage of your latest adventure! You’ve inspired me to get on my treadmill, eliptical bike and airdyne bike, and it’s only my third day! At least it’s a start! But today is the first day in the rest of my life and it’s gonna be better than the day before!

    1. Jeanne, Isn’t it great that we always have today and that His mercies are new every morning. Thank you for commenting

  10. Unlike some of the others who commented, I did not feel bad for you, old man. lol. But thanks because I needed the encouragement today.

  11. Ken, so proud that you practice what you preach and pushed though! That says VOLUMES!!! It’s an encouragement to me and all of those who keep pushing.

    Maybe the next time we play racquetball you’ll be hurting just a little bit – so I’ll stand a 1% chance of keeping up with you! 😉

    Blessings my friend. Keep running the race and fighting the good fight – for all of us.

  12. Ken, when I crossed the *start* line of the SF marathon, I had my moment. I literally feel like *starting* was the most significant moment because I could have let all the fear of failure own me in a decision to bail and not do the race at all. I did finish (I think I was last, too!), but I still feel the joy of crossing the start line on Golden Gate Bridge and how my spirit soared that I had not allowed my fear of failure keep me from trying! Thanks so much for the encouragement you provide by continuing to be an “evangelist” for living life to the fullest!

  13. Awesome Ken! I am 20 years younger than you and you have way more motivation, committment, and faith than me. Trying to live fully alive and I am in some ways, but I dwell on this; past mistakes, wasted time, missed opourtunities, and unsure of God’s will for the rest of my life serving Him, and so afraid to take a step. So afraid of being out of his will. I will continue to seek God and his strength and guidance. Thanks for your encouragement! Marty from MinneSNOWta

    1. Let me know what you think of it Donna. Thank you for joining the conversation.

  14. New circumstances force me to “start” every single day, and fear of re-injuring my spinal cord COULD keep me just sitting in my chair. But, like you, I MUST “Start”. If I get through the day without hurting myself further, using the hated walker, but fixing lunch and dinner, doing dishes, etc., then I’ve Finished Well. Maybe last, but I did it. So far so good! Thanks Ken, for your continued inspiration, told in a deep, yet hysterically funny way, to somebody who very much needs your wisdom and the belly laughs you provide. God Bless.

  15. I am so inspired. This has been a difficult week for me but finishing dead last isn’t finishing last at all…it’s inspiring all of us that sit on the sidelines waiting for that moment when we join the race and when we see you hobbling past us, it reminds us that the point is to be….fully alive…and that’s winning first place everytime.

  16. I can really relate to this, Ken. I had a similar problem on my first duathlon. Mine was run-bike-run. The first two legs were fine, but the run after the bike was incredibly painful. My legs felt like concrete.
    After going to the San Diego Tri Club, I found that this is a very common problem. The fix is to practice what they call Bricks. You bike intensely for a few miles, drop the bike and run for a good distance. You do this drill over and over until you build stamina. Your body has to change the blood flow from your riding muscles to the running muscles. One of the hardest exercises ever but it does eventually fix the problem!

    1. Get that blood from the backside to the feet! I will start doing some bricks. Thanks for the advice.

  17. Ken, great blog! I have been blessed to have gotten to do 3 marathons and one full Ironman Triathlon after not being able to run 2 blocks a few years ago. While there were parts that were dog tiring and definitely some of my lower physical times in life, I have to say it was definitely the most empowering feeling when all was said and done. Ironman would go on to show me that the impossible IS possible when we take action towards a goal. Because of that realty, it has literally helped to shape my life into how I am living today. Our worst moments in life are usually the ones that transform us the most.
    Live Beyond Awesome.

  18. Pingback: You’re are NOT too old. You’re just Ripe!

Leave a Reply to compmedia Cancel reply