You'd think with 11 attempted and 10 completed 100 Milers that I would have had many moments of truth, "Karno" moments. And if I'd thought about it, or been a little smarter, there would have been many more.
Here are a couple that should have been "Karno" moments, but weren't because I was too naive, or stupid to realize I was in serious trouble:
KM-1: Vermont 2001, my first 100. At mile 65 I took my third and hardest fall of the race. I limped into the aid station at Camp 10 Bears (then mile 68.) When I got to the aid station my ankle was swollen and I thought it was broken. I never thought about stopping I wrapped it in Duct Tape and went right back out. I finished the race in 23:08 even though I got lost 3 times and my ankle had swollen to the size of a football. Of course I was in my 30's then (39 for another month.) Turned out the ankle was sprained and it was back down to almost normal size in a week.
KM-2: At Western States Training Camp 2005: I almost pulled out of the training run because I was tired and the 6000 feet of altitude was getting to me. I walked up to the aid station to request a ride out, but there was a dude that got there right before me and got the last space in the van. Getting a ride meant waiting 45 minutes for the next van to fill up. I kept running, it got better and I finished. I always thought that if I'd have quit on that training run then I would not have known how bad it can feel and still get better. Also, on race day when I didn't feel as bad as I did in that training run, I knew I'd be ok.
KM-3: Bighorn 2006: This should have been a Karno moment but it wasn't. Below is a picture of then girlfriend and excellent crew person, Barb, giving me a pep talk as a lie battered, but not broken.
This should have been a "Karno" moment, but I was too dumb to realize that with the soles of both feet covered in blisters and 25 miles to go in the rugged mountains at altitude, that I was in serious trouble. In all honesty, I never thought about stopping. I couldn't stop. I had Ali with me, and she kept telling me I wasn't allowed to quit because I had my "Don't Quit" bracelet on. Sometimes being stupid and stubborn pays off.
KM-4: Kettle Morainne 2007: Again, I was in greater trouble than I realized, and I never considered stopping (I considered cheating, there were two great opportunities to cut the course, but somehow my excellent tea kettle I got for finishing wouldn't have shined as bright if I'd have cheated.) At about mile 60 I started throwing up and I never stopped for the rest of the race. After mile 62 I didn't run again. I walked the last 38 miles, with only a few running steps mixed in. I was fine when I walked by when I ran I threw up. Fortunately I had run a fast 100K so even walking I finished in 25:10. Turns out the GU I had packed was about 9 months expired.
Now, my only real Karno Moment occurred in my second 100 mile race:
Vermont 2002, the Real Karno Moment: At mile 26 or so, I left an aid station feeling ok, and the course went straight up a hill in the woods. The sun was at it's hottest and was beating down on me. Only a few of 100 yards into this steep 1-mile climb I sat down on trail. I just sat there for a minute before I even thought. When I did think I thought, "You can go up that hill and try to finish, or you can go back down that hill and go to the aid station and call it a day, but you cannot just stay here." I really felt badly, I wanted to quit, but I hadn't been injured and I wasn't sick. I just felt like crap and I was hot and I was tired. I made a decision that I now use in every race. I said, "Well, I might as well go up the hill, maybe I'll feel better at the top." That's what I did and I was right, I felt much better at the top. I went on set my personal best 22:59, which lasted until Vermont 2005.
I use that Karno moment every time I feel like crap. "I might feel better later." And I always have. So make sure to fight through those moments if it's safe to do so. Don't go injuring yourself, but if a matter of desire, keep going. If you only think you can't, you still can. Go, don't stop! It's what Karno would do, It's what I'll plan to do many times in 4 races this summer!