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Finding your best self | Dean Karnazis | TEDxAcademy

yasss Kalamata as you heard my name is
costantino carne Asus and I’m a
greek-american from San Francisco and
I’d like to share with you today my
story of finding my best self and what I
did with my life once I I did find my
best self I’ll try to speak slowly out
of respect for the interpreter and also
apologize in advance I seem to have
contracted a bit of a cold on the
travels to Greece so I’ll do my best but
I I apologize my story began at six
years old when I started running home
from kindergarten as it was a young boy
I loved to run as a young child and I
ran competitively all through my youth
until I was in my first year of high
school I ran cross-country but at the
conclusion of the cross-country season I
gave up running I thought running was a
waste of time I was 15 years old I had
better things to do with my life than to
spend it running so I finished high
school and I went on to university I
finished University and I went on to
graduate school I eventually went on the
business school and got a business
degree in MBA and I landed a very
comfortable corporate job in San
Francisco with a global fortune 500
company GlaxoSmithKline I by all
accounts I was successful I was 29 years
old I had a very nice paycheck
I had stock options I had a company car
free health care benefits 401k matching
I was the picture of success I should be
happy I wasn’t happy I was miserable I
didn’t like being a business man it just
wasn’t me and then I found myself in a
nightclub in a bar on the night of my
30th birthday I’m doing what many people
do on their 30th birthday I was drinking
with my friend to celebrate but around
midnight something happened something in
me changed
and I told my friends I was gonna leave
and they said why are you leaving it’s
your 30th birthday the night is young
let’s have another round of tequila and
I said no no he instead of celebrating
by drinking
I’m gonna run 30 miles tonight to
celebrate and that’s about 50 kilometers
and my friends looked at me and they
they laughed they said you’re not a
runner you’re drunk and I said yes I am
drunk but I’m still gonna do it and so I
walked out of the bar and I didn’t even
own running gear at that point
thankfully I had some very comfortable
silk underwear on so I took off my pants
and I started running south and I knew
there was a town 50 kilometers away from
San Francisco called Half Moon Bay and I
said make that your destination so I
started running and I got to about 20
kilometers and the alcohol started to
wear off and I thought what on earth am
i doing this is absurd it was about 3:00
in the morning at that point but
something just seemed right something
clicked I was on a country road by
it was dark the stars were out the mean
was was shining it just felt like at
that moment in time that was precisely
where I was meant to be eventually I
made it to Half Moon Bay the next
morning it took me eight hours I ran
straight through the night it wasn’t
pretty the next day there was some
blistering and there was some chafing in
places the Sun doesn’t shine
but I decided that night that I was
going to become a runner I was gonna
resign quit my job and become a runner
and also I thought perhaps what I just
did was the furthest any human has ever
run it was beyond a marathon perhaps I
was I’ve already set records and then
someone told me about a hundred and
sixty kilometre foot race called the
western states and I said hold it a
hundred and sixty kilometers how many
how many days is over where the hotels
that you sleep in along the way and he
said oh he oh hey there there are no
he said the starting gun goes off and
you run and you either collapse or you
reach the finish line
and I couldn’t wrap my head around this
idea it was such an expansive thing to
think that a human could run a hundred
and sixty kilometers non-stop he also
said this race is staged in the
mountains of California you must climb
towering mountain peaks descend into
impossibly deep valleys forged rivers
along the way and I said no human can do
this it’s impossible I must try and this
is a picture of me crossing the river at
about the hundred and twenty-five
who’s called the rocky Chucky river and
what happens at night is you put a
headlamp on and you just keep going
after twenty-one hours of continuous
running I reached the finish line and at
that point I was hooked I thought I can
do anything and then I heard about a
race called the Badwater ultramarathon
considered the world’s toughest footrace
badwater is the lowest point in the
Western Hemisphere it’s 85 meters below
sea level
216 kilometers from the lowest point is
the highest point in the contiguous US
Mount Whitney it’s about 5,000 meters
high the idea is to run from the lowest
point to the highest point 216
kilometres non-stop now right in the
middle of those toes those two points is
something called death
Valley and the race is held in the
summer and temperatures get pretty warm
in Death Valley in the middle of summer
in fact in this photo right here the
temperatures are 53 degrees
now you’ll notice a couple interesting
things about this photo one I’m wearing
a 100% UV protective suit and why is
that I’ve learned that when temperatures
get up above about 45 degrees even if
you have complete sunblock on your skin
you can get blisters so I put on this
protective suit and that’s how I avoid
getting blisters on my skin you might
also notice that I’m running on the
white line why am i running down the
white line
well the tarmac the asphalt can exceed
90 degrees and it can melt the soles of
your shoes so I’ll tell you about the
first time I tried this race has anyone
here ever roasted a marshmallow with a
stick over a live flat fire and what
happens if you get the marshmallow too
close to the flame yep it just slides
right off the end and leaves this white
goo mark on your on your stick right
well I was running the Badwater
ultramarathon and my foot slid right out
from my shoe and I thought what just
happened and there’s a big goo mark
right there the sole of my shoe had
melted off so I replaced my shoes and
kept running I’ve since gone I’ve now
completed the Badwater ultramarathon the
world’s toughest foot race on ten
I’ve also won this race but I never say
I won the race I say I’ve survived the
fastest because running across Death
Valley in the middle of summer is more
about survival than about running after
finishing a race across the hottest
place on earth I received an invitation
to run a marathon to the South Pole the
coldest place on earth and I thought why
not combine the two and besides I was
told there’d be 40 to 50 intrepid
runners from around the globe all coming
to the South Pole to run the inaugural
the first-ever South Pole marathon well
when I got to Antarctica there were six
runners and three of them decided to
leave it was so dangerous and why is
running to the South Pole dangerous
well it’s minus 40 degrees and you’ve
got to take precautions when it’s that
cold as you can see from this photo I
have a neoprene muffler in front of my
face why is that you can’t breathe in
the super chilled air directly because
it’ll freeze your lungs so you’ve got to
have protection in front of your face I
also have a balaclava over my head and
goggles on why is this you can’t allow
your skin to be exposed because you’ll
get frostbite so for the entire duration
of running it was as though I was
running in scuba gear all I heard while
I was running is and this is the finish
of the the South Pole marathon
I typically finish a marathon and around
three hours this took me over nine hours
to complete the South Pole marathon it
was that difficult but something really
interesting happened when I got to the
South Pole at the South Pole there’s
actually a pole it’s one of those
candy-striped barber poles with a
stainless-steel orb on top that’s the
South Pole and I was standing there
looking at this and a gentleman
approached me and he said wow that was
amazing you just ran a South Pole a
marathon to the South Pole do you want
to run around the world naked and I said
boy Bob you’ve been spending too much
time at the South Pole and he said no no
no think about it if you run around that
pole you’re circumnavigating the globe
just at his smallest circumference and I
said yeah you’re right but it’s minus 40
degrees out and he said just don’t let
him your appendages touch that stainless
steel orb and you’ll be fine
so I now have the dubious distinction of
running it around the world naked okay
now I want to see a show hands how many
of you in here have run a marathon
how many marathoners do we have quite a
few how’d it go nuts not so good
how did you feel the next day I mean did
you feel like getting out of bed and
running another marathon the next day
you couldn’t you couldn’t get out of bed
right well too many people running a
marathon is the pinnacle of endurance
excellence and running one marathon I
think is an accomplishment that should
be achieved by everyone we’re Greek it’s
in our blood we should all run a
marathon not all of us do but once you
do it changes who you are I’ve run many
many marathons but I thought how many
marathons could I run in a row I thought
could I run 50 marathons in a row but
not just 50 marathons in a row 50
marathons in all of the 50 United States
in 50 consecutive days that means
getting up running a marathon every day
for 50 days straight and thankfully I
and this is actually the concluding
marathon this is the New York City
Marathon and I ran this marathon in 3
hours and 30 seconds which is a pretty
decent marathon time let alone with 49
marathons previous on my legs but I’ll
never forget I got to the finish line
and the race director came over to me
and he said I can’t believe it I can’t
believe you ran that 50th marathon in 3
hours flat were you trying to beat Lance
and this is the year the Lance Armstrong
tried to run a marathon and I was about
20 seconds behind Lance and I said to
the race director no no I was not trying
to be Lance I mean I wasn’t trying to
beat anyone I was just trying to make it
but there was one person I was trying to
beat the rap star P Diddy I don’t know
if you know this man but he was the year
he ran a marathon and P Diddy is a rap
star and I saw him at the start he had
all these gold chains around his neck
and his big posse of his fans around him
and I thought if he beats me I’m gonna
be so humiliated so it took him four
hours so I finished ahead of P Diddy
and I think to conclude my talk I want
to discuss not one of the world’s
greatest foot races but the world’s
greatest foot race and that is a race
called the spartathlon
I hope that everybody in this room knows
the spartathlon knows this race in fact
it’s just concluding a couple hours ago
so the previous two days this Bart
Athlon has been taking place the
spartathlon is a 246 kilometer foot race
from the base of the Acropolis to Sparty
and you have 36 hours total to complete
this race I participated in this race a
couple years ago and the experience was
like nothing else I’ve ever done and
I’ve done hundreds if not thousands of
races on all seven continents of Earth
the spartathlon changed Who I am as a
person the book was just released and in
Greek the Greek version came out
yesterday and is my hope that every
Greek reads this book it will make you
laugh it will make you cry but mostly
it’ll make you proud to be Greek I
it’s funny I asked a taxi driver in
Greece for some places to run and and
the man cautioned me he said oh you must
be very careful of traffic very cautious
running his new here in Greece and I
felt like shaking his neck saying that
Greeks invented running twenty five
hundred years ago but the spartathlon is
a fantastic race it is us there will
never be another race like that it
belongs to the Greeks so long live feed
appease that heroic Athenian hema of the
Romi and long live Greece party
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