Finishing My First Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Country Music Half Marathon. This was the longest race I have ever done. I finished in 2:39:27. This was 11 minutes faster than my goal of 2:50.

Crossing the Finish Line

When I first began training, I just hoped to finish. Then, as my training progressed, I got a little more ambitious. I set a goal of 2:20. However, about three weeks ago, I came down with a really bad cold that turned into bronchitis. It took me two weeks to heal up, and I was not able to run for this entire time.

This proved to be a real dilemma. If I tried to run too early, I risked a relapse. If I didn’t run, I wouldn’t finish my training and risked not being able to go the distance. I took a deep breath and choose to wait until I was well. As it turned out this was a good decision.

I did it!

I ran last Monday for the first time in two weeks. I ran five miles. I then ran four miles last Thursday. I felt great, but was still concerned about finishing. The most I ever ran during my training was eight miles.

Yesterday (Friday), I finalized my race plan. Following Jeff Galloway’s method of running and walking, I decided that I would run three miles, walk a half mile, run three miles, walk a half mile, run three miles, walk a half mile, and then run the final 2.6 miles.

I was shooting for a 12-minute pace during my running segments. This was difficult. I had a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch on. So, I kept close track of my pace and heart rate. It was hard not to run faster, especially early on. With the live music, encouragement from spectators, and sheer energy of the event, I felt like sprinting. But I knew better. Several friends had warned me about going out too fast.

The Country Music Half Marathon has a number of hills. But, honestly, they didn’t bother me. It never crossed my mind that I might not finish. I was so caught up in the event; it was unbelievable. I felt great all the way through the race. I wasn’t even winded at the finish. It’s hard to believe that I only started running five months ago!

Gail and my daughter, Mary, were waiting at the finish. (Mary snapped the pictures above.) I was so happy to see them and proud of what I had accomplished. I felt higher than a kite. But I was thirsty and famished. I had burned nearly 2,000 calories. That’s about a full day’s worth of fuel for me. I promptly drank two bottles of water. On the way home, we stopped at Backyard Burger. I scarfed down a cheeseburger, a hot dog, and some french fries. I’m still thirsty!

I think Thomas Nelson had 40–45 people running. There were more than 25,000 total runners, so I didn’t see my team members often. I did a quick search on the Race Results Web site. It looks like Mark Schoenwald, our EVP and Chief Sales Officer, had the best time at 1:41:38, but that’s not official. I didn’t check everyone. I hope to post on this later. (If you know of someone who had a faster time, please e-mail me.)

I am definitely going to do this next event year. It was a great experience. I am hooked on running.

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  • Megan Strange

    Hey Michael

    I haven’t had the privilege of meeting you in person. I am a Christian School Administrator in Atlanta and stumbled across your blog a few months ago. I enjoy your posts about leadership and management. I have been praying for you this week as you approached the race. I’ve enjoyed reading about the training process. Congratulations on a great race!

  • Michael Hyatt


    Thanks so much for your prayers. Maybe that’s what gave me the edge!



  • Rachel Hauck

    Dear Mike,

    Congratulations! What a huge accomplishment. Enjoy your success.


  • TesTeq

    Congratulations. I’m using Garmin Forerunner 205. Do you think that the Garmin Forerunner 305’s rate monitor makes a difference?

  • Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I think it did make a difference. It kept me on my pace. Without it, I think I might have gone out too fast and had difficulty finishing. Thanks.

  • Mark Whitlock


    Congratulations. What an accomplishment. It was great to see so many “dragonslayers” on the course. I got the privilege of screaming for Wayne Z. and a few others along the way.


    P.S. I finished my goal–the full marathon.

  • Philip Rothschild


    Congratulations my friend. What an accomplished given your recent bout with Bronchitis. So happy for you and thanks again for inspiring others by your life, and leadership.

    Philip Rothschild

  • Chad Austin


    Like a previous poster, I stumbled across your blog a month or so ago and also enjoy your postings on leadership and personal development. As an avid reader of books from the Christian living genre and a fellow runner, I have found your posts encouraging.

    Congratulations on finishing the Country Music Half Marathon. The race holds special meaning for me as well, because in 2002, the Country Music Half Marathon was the first road race I completed. Since then, I’ve gotten hooked on running these events.

  • Tamara Paton

    Congratulations! Your finish line photos are delightfully inspiring!

    Since you’ve started running, I’ve been following your progress. I work in publishing too (Harlequin) and have completed 10 marathons, many of them at something close to your 12-minute mile. Although we’ve never met, our common interests and your wonderfully thoughtful posts about management make me feel like I know you.

    Thanks for sharing your ups and downs so openly. I look forward to hearing about your continued success on the roads and elsewhere.

    Happy running,

  • Tracy Hooten

    Congratulations on your first half marathon!

    I really look up to you as a role model for the type of business person I want to be once I leave college and enter the business world. You give wonderful advice and I think any student should hear before leaving school.

    Last year I took the time to train for a marathon and I almost felt like I was wasting my time on a frivolous thing like running even though I enjoyed it and I knew I was improving my health. To know a CEO will even take the time to train for a distance race really helps enforce that health is important enough to make the time for.

    I wasn’t sure if I would do the training again this year to try to improve my time (I did my first half marathon in Nov. 2006 and my first marathon in Feb. 2007 so I’m new at this, also!), but I’m 90% sure I’ll go for it again, especially after seeing your success.

    As a note, after any run over 20 miles, you look at the half’s and think “Oh, cool, a short run!” ^_^

  • Chris


    Congratulations on finishing the half. A while back you issued a challenge to your readers to sign up for the half. I took you up on that challenge even though I’m in Minnesota.

    Happy to report that I finished the St. Cloud Half on April 21. It’s always a great feeling to set those goals and rise to the challenge.

    Again, congratulations.

    Big Lake, MN

  • Michael Hyatt


    Congratulations to you! I just got back to running yesterday. I only ran three miles, but it felt GREAT!

    Kind regards,


  • Bryan Catherman


    Congratulations to you and all of your team for running! My wife and I’ve been thinking about taking on a half marathon, but haven’t yet. After reading your story, we’re motivated more (or again). How do you like that Garmin Forerunner?


  • Shell

    Hi Michael,

    I know it is well past the time you wrote the OP but I wanted you to know that reading your blog helped me to finish my first HM. I also had been sick a few weeks before the race and the weekend before the “big one” I flew to Louisville to run in a Susan Komen 5k with some friends. I came home exhausted and doubting I could complete my race. Well, I went out there and did it and it was great!!! Thanks for your post.

  • shawn

    I am waaay late on reading this post, but i found it inspirational. I just completed my first half-marathon and found your blog through a google search of half-marathon runners. I look forward to reading other posts you have written now as I noticed you are the CEO of Thomas Nelson. Do you happen to know Wayne Zeitner? He's the Director of Brand Development, Family Entertainment. He's a good guy. Have known him since the early 80s.
    My recent post Week 10: last training run before the race

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I indeed know Wayne. I am grateful to have him on our team.