Finishing My Second Half Marathon

One week ago today, I was running the Country Music Half Marathon. It was an incredible experience. I enjoyed this year’s race even more than last year’s—which is saying a lot.


Amazingly, some 32,000 people participated in either the race. According to various media reports, another 32,000 or so spectators attended. Regardless, it was a sea of people. Unless you run these types of races, you can’t imagine the energy.

My goal this year was to have 158 of our employees participate in either the Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon in Nashville or the the Big-D Texas Marathon & Half Marathon in Dallas. Between our two offices, we signed up 159 people. Of these, 135 (or 85%) finished. Another 37 non-employees (e.g., spouses, authors, and agents) ran with us for a total of 172.

Some people who signed up didn’t run because they were sick or injured. I’m not sure about the rest. Regardless, next year, I want to focus on helping people finish. We probably need to explore why some people didn’t finish and then see what we can do to help them.

The top ten Thomas Nelson finishers were:

Mark Schoenwald
Adam Stein
Bryan Norman
Seth Matlock
Tim Caylor
Brittany Lassiter
Adam Hill
Chad Graves
Brian Hampton
Dax Edwards

In addition, honorable mention goes to Andy Hooper of Gap International. His finish time was 01:36:17, just four seconds behind Mark Schoenwald. He and his wife, Susanna, along with Kevin and Ilene Muething of Gap, ran with us, proving that they are true partners in every sense of the word.

I didn’t make the top ten list, but I finished in 02:32:04, which is about seven minutes better than I did last year. The amazing thing is that, I didn’t train as well this year and really wasn’t in as good of shape as I needed to be due to a bout of plantar fasciitis.

One of the things I noticed this year—my second time to run—is that I had to fear or anxiety. Last year, I was really wondering if I would finish. This year, I knew I would finish, so I was much less tense. As in all sports, you do better when you are relaxed.

Yesterday, on the plane ride home, I wrote down seven things I learned from my marathon experience this year.

  1. A half marathon is a wonderful metaphor for life. There are dozens of parallels. I’m sure this is part of what makes running so appealing.
  2. When I set a goal, obstacles instantly begin showing up. These are part of what makes the whole exercise so valuable. I must learn to persist and overcome them.
  3. I perform best, when I am fully present to this moment. When I think too much about the past or the future, I lose my edge, and become anxious. Worse, my performance goes down.
  4. I didn’t run alone. I was part of a family (two of my daughters, Megan and Mindy, ran with me), a company, a city, and 32,000 people who had the same goal. I can’t begin to describe how encouraging and uplifting this was.
  5. A big goal is easier to accomplish if it’s fun. Elite Racing, the sponsor of the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon, understands this. With 50 bands along the way, thousands of spectators, 4,000 volunteers, and a concert after the race, they pull out the stops to make this a fabulous experience for every participant.
  6. I experienced tremendous joy in seeing people I care about accomplish such a significant goal. Every person had a story. They had to fight their own demons and overcome their own obstacles. But they did it. I was truly inspired.
  7. I can’t wait to run another half marathon. In fact, I am planning to run the Philadelphia Distance Run on September 21 with my friends from Gap. I am already getting excited thinking about it!

We have been collecting photographs and testimonies from our employees who ran this year. I am hoping to post those in a day or two.

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  • Rachel Hauck

    Congratulations, Mike, and all of the Thomas Nelson runners!


  • anne jackson

    nice shades!

  • Harold Bronstein

    White people love to run!

  • Michael Hyatt

    @Anne: I forgot—those are my super hero glasses. I am certain they make me run faster!

    @Harold: white people may love to run, but they don’t seem to win much, at least in the men’s competition. For nine years in a row now, an African has won the Country Music Marathon. The Kenyans dominate the sport.

  • Cuongnh

    Congratulation Mike!
    Not only in sports but also in everyday works,You wil lose more energy when you’re too anxious.And sports teach me how to overcome this anxiety. I like the ideal “I perform best, when I am fully present to this moment”

  • Pete Thomas

    Good job Hyatt and The Thomas Nelson Family!

    I am doing my best to get more of my race ‘running’.


  • Colleen Coble

    Oh I was so proud to see Mark finished first of the Nelson family! Whoohoo, you go, Mark!

    I’m impressed with all of you for actually DOING his.

  • Tiffany Stuart


  • Cara Putman

    Last year my husband and I ran the Indy mini-marathon. It is such a great feeling to see all the discipline and hard work pay off. Saturday my husband ran it again — and beat his time significantly. For some crazy reason he wouldn’t let me run since I’m due to have our third any day, but I’m already looking forward to next year. It’s a great way to jump start fitness goals and tackle something that feels impossible, yet becomes realistic when broken into bite size pieces. It was also a great project we could work on together. Those are hard to find in today’s crazy paced life.

  • Rob Sargeant


    I remember completing my first 1/2 marathon at age 14, in the winter, first week of January (no joke). Through snow drifts and other obstacles, around 2000 of us persevered. It was the greatest feeling coming into the final stretch of the race, like finishing the final draft of a manuscript. Some of the older racers told me I was too young to do it, that I’d burn out by the time I was 30 if I kept running like that, but I still am running regularly at aged 40.

  • Lara

    I just wanted to make sure we included Adam Stein, our Dallas office winner in your Top 10. I’m not sure how he got missed but his time was 1:39:58.75 AND he placed 67th overall in our race. I just don’t want him to be left out of the Top 10 list.



  • kyle watson


    I must take the time here to brag on my 66 year old dad. He has ran in 29 consecutive Peachtree Road races and finished with good running times. He has done some half and full marathons. The Boston marathon at least once. He has recorded in his running journal every mile that he jogged since I was a teenager now I’m 43. A few years ago he was at least over 63,000 miles put on his feet. He has run more miles than my wife’s car ODM. I don’t know if his body got many tune ups or oil changes. He has been in so many road races that he’s got enough t-shirts to sink the Titantic. I think he knows every little town in Georgia. I’m very proud of him.

  • Michael Hyatt

    @Lara: Oops! I am not sure how we missed Adam. But I will make the correction now. (Jackie, I apologize in advance for bumping you off the list.)

  • Scott

    As a result of all of your focus here on half marathons, I had decided to run one myself. I ran, and completed, the Wurzburg (Germany) half marathon at the end of April. Thanks for the nudge. It was more fun than I thought it would be. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere surrounding the race. I’ll always remember how I felt as the waves of starters took off — and the song they played just before my wave took off (the unplugged version of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”).

    I’m looking forward to next year’s race. As you said, now that I know I can complete it with no problems, I’ll have a time goal next year (this year’s goal was to finish…and run the whole way). I even had enough left at the end to sprint the last 200 meters or so to the finish. Good thing, because the leader of the men’s FULL marathon (with his police escort) was about 30 seconds behind me at the finish (granted, he did start 6 minutes before I did). He was Ethiopian, btw.