Meeting a Hero

I was in Boston with one purpose. To run the race. I had heard that the expo was fairly big. So first thing, on Friday morning Pervin and I collected our precious bibs, goodie bags and wandered around for a couple of hours. The merchandise was jaw dropping. The scale was huge. It was like Lotus Casino; so much free stuff but more paid stuff. Even though we had enough endurance to run a marathon in a couple of days, we were exhausted after 4 hours and we called it a day at 2.30 pm, deciding to come back the next day.

Having nothing better to do on that Saturday morning, Sonal (my cousin) and I reached the Prudential Centre bright and early at 11 am. We hung around. The vibe was fantastic. Runners everywhere, with shopping bags and their celebration jackets. Majority were in blue (of 2017) but there was a smattering of other colours too. Peach, green, purple. All runners proudly showing off their participation in the iconic race. As we wandered around we saw a large crowd outside the Runnersworld pop up store.

I checked the schedule of events saw that Dean Karnezes was there for a book signing event. I was thrilled to bits! I was a fan over the last 7-8 years, having read all his books and followed his races, I had never imagined I would ever get an opportunity to meet him.
So, like a star struck teenager I stood in line. I bought his new book, “Road to Sparta” and awaited my turn with my heart thumping like I was in the middle of a speed workout. My cousin Sonal and I chatted, giggling away, when suddenly the writer in me emerged, “Oh no! I should have brought my book to give it to him!” To be fair, I did not know that I was going to attend this, but I had learnt over time, with enough missed opportunities, that I should always carry my book with me. With my bubble burst, I cursed myself. When would I ever get another chance to present my story to my hero!
Dean Karnazes, that man standing there, smiling amiably as he signed the books, chatting with all the runners who had gathered at the Mecca of running, had inspired us with his story. A man, whom we all looked up to, as the Man who can run forever. I remember reading his first book, “Ultramarathonman: Confessions of an all night runner”. I was fascinated by the concept of ultra running and eating pizza in the middle of a long run. That he worked during the day and ran at night. Did he ever sleep, I wondered! To see him standing 10 feet ahead of me, was unbelievable.
And soon enough it was my turn.  I grinned from ear to ear as I stood there tongue-tied. It was a total fangirl moment! Somehow I managed to mumble, “You are such an inspiration. ” (I felt like a fool the moment I heard myself utter them. What a generic thing to say!)
When I saw the message that he had written for me: “Keep smiling, Keep running!”I snapped into reality, laughed and said, “That’s exactly what I write as a message for the readers when I sign my books!” Now that’s something I don’t think he must have heard before. 🙂

We took some awesome photographs. Then, gathering my wits, I asked him for his address to that I could mail my book to him.He was happy to share it. I clutched that paper like it was a treasure map. And skipped out of the store like I had won a lottery.

Over the next couple of days, I ran the race, mailed the book, went on a month-long vacation and forgot about the book.

In the meanwhile I had found him on Twitter and Instagram. Back home, settling in my life I started reading “Road to Sparta”. I was blown away with the opening lines. These days, we are sharing every minute detail of our life on social media and this moment of my life just had to be documented and broadcasted. So I did that.

What happens 12 hours later… in the daylight hours of America, I get a response from the Ultramarathonman himself.

He remembers me! Ohmigod.

And he knew that I was an author. Ohmigod.

A few tweets later, he tweets “Thank you Parul, never imagined my first book would be read by anyone other than my own family”. My reply to this was that I thought the same. (Seriously, that is what I had told my publisher!)
To which I get this absolutely epic reply!

Words cannot express how thrilled I am.

I was a real person to him. He was honest with me. We had connected as people. As runners. As writers.

The greatness of people lies in how great they make others feel.




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