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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