Half Marathon 2008 Testimonials

In late December of 2007, I issued the 2008 Half Marathon Challenge. An amazing 135 of our employees participated in the event and participated. It was my second half marathon, and I enjoyed it even more than last year.


Last week, Lindsey Nobles, my Director of Corporate Communications, invited everyone who finished to write about their experience. Like last year, we were overwhelmed. It seemed that the majority of runners wanted to share their experience. As a result, I have included them below in full. (They are listed alphabetically by last name.) I found them truly inspiring.

In case you are wondering, we are definitely going to do this again next year. I would also like to tie our participation to raising money for a worthy cause. We will recognize all the runners at our All Employee Meeting next week (May 14).

“After completing the 2007 Music City Half Marathon (with no practice or preparation) in 03:16, I resolved I would dedicate the following year to getting my body in better shape. I committed to a 5-day exercise program (at the YMCA) which included cardio training on Tuesdays and Thursdays (running for one hour) as well as core weight training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“During this year-long training time, I have experienced a reduction in weight (41 pounds), a huge reduction in body fat, and significant improvement in flexibility and strength, as well as an improved mental approach to all aspects of my life.

“I completed the 2008 Music City Half Marathon in 02:14—a reduction of 01:12 or 36.7% from my 2007 time! I would like to thank Chris Long, who influenced my tactical approach to finish under 2:15, and Chad Graves, for mocking me enough (in a way only Chad can get away with) in 2007 which motivated me to get off my lazy butt and go for it. By the way, Chad wanted to know if I planned to GPS all the restaurants along the course.

“My goal for 2009 is to finish under the 2:00 mark.”

—Steve Alderman

Key Accounts Manager

Mass Market

“Yesterday was awesome! It was fun to spend the day with my co-workers, encouraging each other and getting to know some of them a little better. And the thrill of crossing the finish line and the feeling of accomplishment—there is nothing like it! Once I get over the aches and pains, I’m ready to go again.”

–Pat Atkins

Customer Care

Thomas Nelson Live Events

“I am so thankful for the challenge to participate in the half marathon. This is something that I never would have done on my own but now that I have completed one, I will definitely continue in my training and participate in other races. While the race was long and tiring, I cannot even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed the finish line. To add to the excitement of finishing, having a group of our team, who had already finished, cheering me on at the finish line was such an encouragement. I love that we stuck together, started together and supported each other throughout the race.

“This was by far one of the best experiences I have had over the course of my life and while my goal was just to finish one, I am now inspired and ready to train for future races.”

–Christy Atwood

Event Marketing Specialist

Thomas Nelson Live Events

“When I started training for the half marathon, it was early January and we were so focused on the last quarter of the fiscal year that I thought of my goals for the race in terms of budget and target. I really didn’t think I could run 13.1 miles, so I focused on walking with maybe a little running. I thought I could finish in 03:15, so that became my budget. But if I really worked hard I might be able to hit 03:00, so I set that as my target, my ‘I can be proud of myself if I do this’ goal. 

“Around mile three on Saturday, I made the exhilarating discovery that I was already on track to hit my target. I had started the race with the expectation that I’d have to kill myself the last few miles to make it, and yet already I could see that if I just didn’t fall apart I could do it. From that point on, the race became fun. The burden of the miles remaining was completely replaced with the excitement of what could be accomplished. And because my outlook on the race changed, I just kept getting farther and farther ahead of my target. I crossed the finish line in 02:41–19, minutes ahead of my stretch goal and having run well over half the race. 

“During those last few miles, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between the race and the goals we set here. So often, we have good targets that we should be able to reach. But we start the race behind and needing to make up ground and so we’re constantly feeling the burden of what more can we do? and how can we overcome this? Starting out on track, though—which of course is a result of the training and preparation done ahead of time—brings exponentially greater results because of the energy and freedom that comes with a goal line that is literally close enough to reach out and touch. 

“Not only am I now in possibly the best shape of my life, but I have a refined vision for the goals I’m setting. Thanks for challenging us to take the first step, Mike!” 

–Amanda Bostic

Acquisitions Editor


“There were many things that surprised me about my participation in the Half Marathon. I wasn’t too surprised that I finished. Being a scoutmaster and having hiked with my scouts 12 miles in one day with a 40-pound pack, I knew I could walk 13.2 miles. In my training, I had gotten up to running 9 miles. So my strategy was to run as far as I could and then walk/run the rest of the way. What did surprise me was that I still felt good after 9 miles and ended up running the whole way.

“The other thing that surprised me was how good I felt after I finished. Not my legs! That was a different story! But how good I felt inside. It was a great sense of accomplishment.

“Six months ago, if you had told me I could run a half-marathon, I would have told you that you were crazy. But the feeling of setting a major goal, working hard to prepare for it and achieving that goal is something everyone should experience.”

–Larry Carpenter

Vice President, Marketing

Non-Fiction Trade Books

“I have never done anything like this before and I did better than I expected in the half marathon. My neighbor, Jan Eppard, started walking with me as I was training. She eventually decided to walk the race with me, which really encouraged me.

“Our only goal was to complete the race, so I thoroughly enjoyed relishing all of the details of the event from people watching to taking in all of the beautiful scenery along the course. We went through some beautiful neighborhoods and the azaleas were in bloom! We surprised ourselves and finished in just under 4 hours (a tad over an 18 minute mile). I was like 1,634 out of I don’t know what. Of course, I was sight-seeing and taking pictures all along the course—which probably cost us time.

“It was fun crossing the finish line to the cheers of the crowd. Everyone was so encouraging all along the course and that made the walk all the better. It is also very satisfying to complete a goal that was a stretch for me. Thanks to Mike Hyatt and Women of Faith, I have done something I would have never dreamed of trying a few months ago!

“I figured that including the race, I have walked over 155 miles in preparation for this half-marathon. It certainly helped my stamina. My legs and feet were tired, but fine overall. Jan and I plan on continuing our walks and may attempt this again next year without my camera! I know I can improve on my time.”

–Gayle Cordell

Conference Administrative Assistant

Thomas Nelson Live Events

“After finishing my first marathon last year, I was so excited. I lost weight and was feeling great. When Mike made his challenge this year, I thought, Oh boy, here is my chance to improve.

“I trained harder and, while I didn’t lose as much weight as I did the first year, I definitely toned up and lost two more clothes sizes. I beat my time of last year by 15 to 20 minutes.

“It was so exciting to see how many Nelson people took the challenge. You get to know so many people from other divisions that you normally do not work with. This year I trained with Lisa Lehr, Bob Jones, and Susie Koch. We met up with Lisa Mattern (who trained with us last year and wasn’t able to this year) at the marathon. It was fun and we each challenged each other. My goal for next year is to finish in under three hours. (My time this year was 03:20:49.) I have already started training!”

–Debbie Dzury

Contact Administrator


“This year started off much harder than last year. I went through three tennis shoes in three months—keeping me from training as hard—and ended up using the ones I used in last year’s half marathon. In the middle of training, I had heavy requirements at work that required I stop exercising for about four weeks. That gave me about a month to get back up to speed before the marathon. On top of all of that, I have bad knees. 

“About mile five my knees started aching and having sharp pains, but I kept going. About mile six, my stomach started stinging. However, the largest hurdle was the people in front of me. I was amazed at the number of them who would cut in front of me, stop to tie a shoe in the middle of the street, slow to a walk, etc. and right at the right point in front of me where I literally had to hurdle them or twist around them or jump to keep from knocking both of us down. It was incredibly thick with people running at all different speeds. We had such little room to maneuver.

“However, through all that adversity, I still was able to cut off almost 20 minutes from my time last year. My goal was to run it in 2 hours 10 minutes (7 minutes less than last year). But I ended it in less than two hours (1:58 or a little over 9 minute miles). That’s the fastest I’ve ran in all my training for the past three months. It was a really unexpected success.

“I’m quite impressed with what God allowed to happen. There was a lot against me and many things that could have taken a turn for the worse. I simply took the race one focused step at a time—and came out a winner on the other side. It was a good experience for me.”

–Dax Edwards

Web Producer

Internet Channel

“I just like to say I thank Thomas Nelson for extending such a wonderful opportunity to me and my fellow co-workers. The experience was great; I have done a lot of things in my life but next to the birth of my daughter and being saved, this was the most exciting feeling I have ever felt. The pain was painful, but the reward I got from crossing the finish line totally outweighed the pain. I will definitely do it again next year.”

–Ronald Ford

Special Manufacturing/ Indexing Lead


“For the last few years I had considered running the CMM, but every year I made up some kind of excuse. (I had never run a race before.) After reading about Mike’s challenge and the testimonials from last year, I decided that if I was ever going to do it, now was the time.

“I starting running three times a week in January and did it consistently leading up to the race. I did have a few setbacks as the weeks rolled on (knee, arch, blister issues), but I persisted. My goal was to finish in 02:30. I finished in 02:15:53.

“I enjoyed my experience Saturday, but my last two miles where rough. I was in so much pain, as I’m sure everyone else was. During the last two miles I told myself several times that I would never do this again, but by the next day I was making plans/goals for next year.

“My immediate goal is to keep running three times a week and periodically enter 5K/10K races. Next winter I’ll start my longer runs to get ready for CMM ’09.

“I’d like to thank Mike for issuing this challenge.”

–Scott Gibbs

Network Administration Manager

Information Technology

“I must say I was very apprehensive about signing up for the half marathon but glad I did. I was already running three times a week for 30 minutes each time due to heart problems and cholesterol in both sides of my family. However, I thought 3 to 3-1/2 miles is quite different than 13.1 miles. 

“I’ve always thought of myself as athletic and pretty physically fit, so I finally gave in and decided to take the challenge that Mike set before us. My plan was to run the first three miles and then walk 2 minutes, jog 8, and continue the 2 and 8 format until I finished and this is how I trained. 

“I was not sure how long it would take me, but I put down 2 hours and 45 minutes. The further my training went I realized I could beat that, so I changed my time to 2 hours and 30 minutes with a goal of 2 hours and 10 minutes. People who ran it last year kept telling me, ‘Oh, you’ll hit this runner’s high and the adrenaline will be running wild,’ but I had my doubts. Usually I rolled my eyes and followed it by a, ‘Yeah, whatever.’

“Anyhow, after finally arriving I started in corral 21 and spent the first 5 or 6 miles zig-zagging in and around people. The runner’s high and adrenaline did in fact kick in, and I only stopped one time to stretch and walk 2 minutes between mile 11 and 12. Once I reached mile 12 I realized I could beat the 2 hour mark and picked up the pace a tad bit and finished in 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 54 seconds.

“I must say I had a great time and if asked right now whether or not I would sign up again for next year’s run, I’d say, ‘Yes.’ During my training I never went more than 8 miles and quite honestly felt I could have kept on going once I crossed the line. Next year, I plan to do the same thing and hopefully shave a few minutes off.”

–Chad Graves

Director, Sales Support

Inventory Management Production

“I too thoroughly enjoyed the half marathon and can hardly wait to do it again next year. It was SO FUN to join together with my co-workers and celebrate all the training and work we had put into making the race possible. I loved it and am grateful for the challenge that awakened me to my passion for running.”

–Lauren Hafernick

Event Planner

Thomas Nelson Live Events

“I knew that I needed to get into better shape than I was in last fall. Mike personally challenged me to join my co-workers in the half marathon. He mentioned that you have to ‘put a stake in the ground’ and commit publically that you are going to run in the event. This was a big step that kept me focused on training once I made this commitment.

“I finished the half in 2 hours and 31 minutes which is about where I predicted my finish time would end up. I have shed a few pounds since last fall and seem to have more energy now that I am in a running routine. Thanks to Mike for the encouragement as well as the reimbursement plan for the runners who finished.”

–Walter Hall

Vice President, Purchasing

Inventory Management Production

“My wife, Karen, and I ran the half marathon with the Thomas Nelson team this year. In January we committed to running together for the entire race, and the goal we set was to finish in 2 hours. Our training went better than we could have hoped. We had some wonderful conversations as we made our way through our neighborhood, and when we completed our 12-miler two weeks out, we felt completely prepared.

“Then, one week before the race, we both came up gimpy. She had a knee injury that at times made it impossible for her to run even a few steps, and I had tendinitis in my foot that was unlike anything I’d experienced in 24 years of running. We were discouraged—big-time.

“The week before the race we took it easy and used lots of ice and ibuprofen. When we hit Centennial Park at 6:30 last Saturday morning, we didn’t know what to expect. At the starting line, we agreed our new goal was to finish—that’s it. Then, as we made our way through the first six miles, we allowed ourselves to think again about our original goal. We ran through some pain in those last few miles, but when we passed the runner holding the 2:00 sign in mile twelve, we were—to say the least—excited.

“When we crossed the finish line, we had achieved our original goal: our official time was 1:58 and change. Especially given the injuries, we were both very proud of what we had accomplished. Together.”

–Brian Hampton

Senior Vice President and Group Publisher

Corporate Brands

“It was AMAZING!!! I started out strong but by the 8th or 9th mile I was about to give up. Thanks to my husband and the cheerful people at the water stations I kept going. Even though I came in last of all the half marathoners [in Dallas], it felt GREAT crossing the finish line. I did it in 4 hours and 43 minutes (give or take) which I think was great for me not to have trained for the last two months and to have just moved the Friday and Saturday before. My stomach started to cramp up from my c-section a couple of times but I got through it. All in all, with a little more training I would do it again!”

–Monica Harris

Customer Service Representative

Thomas Nelson Live Events

“Thank you all for checking on me. I am okay but exhausted and very sore. I can hardly walk, but I will recover okay tomorrow—I think.

“I finished, although I would not say well. I don’t know my official time, but by my watch it took me 04:18. I had to stop 10 times for the bathroom!

“I saw Mike (passed me in the other direction), and he looked strong and well. My knee is swollen and hurt so badly the last couple of miles I would have quit except I didn’t want to disappoint Mike and all of you. I am glad I finished which is a tribute to Mike’s leadership and encouragement. I have already decided I am going to run (walk!) Again next year!

“You gave me courage Mary [Graham] by finishing yourself!”

–Tom Harris

Vice President, Business Analysis

“Run your own race. My dad who is avid runner would advise this as I began my journey 13 weeks ago. Your race is yours and not anyone else’s. You can compare yourself with others along the route, but it is your journey.

“Many times, I would try to keep up with my husband on the long runs, and my body would scream ‘SLOW DOWN’ or you will not finish this properly or at even at all. And this has been echoed many many times in my life. I would want things at my time and not God’s and many times in my life I have heard God telling me to ‘slow down.’

“Looking at my life, indeed I have gotten so much of my hearts desire, but not at my time. He has always prepared me for me what is come. We can’t run 13 miles overnight—it takes a lot of pain and dedication and time. Times of frustration and times joy…feeling of triumph and feeling of defeat… just as mirrored in our personal journey. 

“The other thing it has taught me is that we can’t go it alone. The encouragement we receive from others is vital in our daily lives as well as out on the race path—being held accountable, helping others, and sharing is each others accomplishment was so rewarding.

“As Johnette, Lori, and Leslie, were cheering us all on I though of the great encouragement we should feel everyday from God. ‘Keep pressing on—you can do it!’ I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to cross the final finish line and Jesus is there waiting there saying, ‘You made it! You made it!’

“I thought of this when I saw Lori, Johnette and Leslie: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith’” (Hebrews 12:1). 

–Susanne H. Jones

Revolve Sponsorship Manager

Thomas Nelson Live Events

“The Tennessean ran this article before the race (April 26), in an article called, Today’s Walk Shows Friendship:

‘In 2006, Susie Koch was delivered a devastating diagnosis—lung cancer. After surgery, the 52-year-old Smyrna resident joined a gym. She began her own recovery but soon heard another friend was hit with the same fate. To show him strength, she has decided to walk the Country Music Half-Marathon.

‘I might never have considered entering a marathon if it weren’t for what has happened to me in the last two years. One may not see it this way, but I now consider it a blessing in disguise!

‘I heard my diagnosis—lung cancer—at the age of just 50 years old, on June 26, 2006.

‘Needless to say, I was devastated. Just weeks afterward, on July 10, the lower lobe of my left lung was removed. It took over a year of recovery, and my lung capacity was noticeably less.

‘I joined the YMCA to try to gain some strength, and began to notice a difference. Soon afterward, Mike Hyatt, the CEO where I am employed, Thomas Nelson Publishers, began to encourage staff to do the Country Music Marathon.

‘Paul Terwilliger, a dear friend of my husband, Phil, and I, who lives in Kingston, N.Y., found out this year he has lung cancer. He is now going through treatment. We have been praying for him, but being so far away, haven’t been able to help him and encourage him like we would like to. But I thought, ‘I’ll do it. I’ll enter and walk for Paul. I want to encourage him that there is life again after lung cancer.’

‘This is my first (half) marathon, and doing it for Paul has given me so much motivation and discipline to train for this event.

‘And to my friend I say, “Paulie, I look forward to when you can walk beside me in a future Country Music Marathon.”’”

–Susie Koch
Telesales Manager
Nelson Ministry Services

“This year’s race was my fifth half marathon. In year’s past I’ve done the distance in approximately 2 hours, and each year I’ve come to the start line with hopes of breaking 2-hour barrier but was never able to do so. This year was my year though. I crossed the finish line in 1:54 thanks to training for four months with my roommate and a fantastic team of people from my church, St. Bartholomew’s.

“The best part of the whole training/racing experience? I now have a group of 14 or so great individuals whom I consider close friends. The relationships formed during the process will last far longer than the excitement of breaking the 2-hour barrier and for that I am grateful. You’ll see me again next year!” 

–Brittany Lassiter

International Marketing Specialist

Export Sales

“This year was much different—I was sick and probably should have opted out, but . . .

“I kept going even though I didn’t want to, even though I had a very hard time breathing, even though I didn’t feel motivated, even though I knew I would not get the time I hoped for. I don’t know why, maybe to say I finished my third half Marathon, maybe because I want to finish what I started, or because I knew there were other people I would let down if I quit. Whatever—I finished.

“I guess I learned a few things about myself.

  • Attitude makes or breaks me.
  • I’m 46, not 26, there’s no getting around that.
  • Hit the portapotty earlier.
  • The race isn’t about the finish—its about how you get there—its your race.
  • And I have great friends who stuck with me when they could have left me in the dust.

“I will do it again next year, just because. I also found out today that I have a stress fracture of my right ankle—my first athletic injury—now I’m really in the club!”

–Lisa Lehr

Key Account Manager

Mass Market

“Notes to self for next year:

  1. Get farther up in the starting corrals. I ran an extra half-mile sideways because I had to keep moving around walkers and slower pokes than me. And it made my knees wobble at times. Scary.
  2. Go ahead and kill anyone who says the last two miles are downhill—even if they just mean it metaphorically. They aren’t. They are the worst hills of the race and they hurt.
  3. Don’t race with anything you haven’t trained in—including headphones. Two days before the race, I paid 50 bucks for those fancy-schmancy headphones Mike Hyatt recommended which stay on your ears better than anything on the market. Of course, you can’t actually hear music through them and that seriously messed with my mojo. [Note from Mike Hyatt: Mine work great. Maybe you should exchange them for another pair.]
  4. Be sure to complain about this year’s placement of the company tent. I didn’t need the extra mile tacked on the end of the race.
  5. Run in the company T-shirt, even if it does feel like sandpaper. If I could give some other Nelsonite as much comfort as I received just to see a teammate in front of me, it will be worth it.
  6. Eat the company food the night before. Darfons’ lasagna tasted like cardboard soaked in Ragu. Try to figure out why I lost all feeling below my waist at mile 10 and don’t do that again.
  7. Go to the bathroom as many times as necessary before lift off. It really hurts to run 7 miles when you gotta go. And never get a pre-race massage on your lower back when you gotta go, either.
  8. Best pre-race purchase: nipple guards. Best post-race advice: remove said nipple guards prior to publicly changing shirts.
  9. Petition Hyatt for a one-day moratorium on our chemical-abuse rules. Quality beer and cigars is definitely the way to celebrate. Joel Miller is a saint. Maybe we could pretend Thomas Nelson is Episcopal for a day (after all, 3 out of 4 of our publishers are), then HR could bring the cooler!”
–David Leach

Key Accounts Manager

Specialty Sales

“Last year was the first time I participated in any type of event like this. I finished in a blazing time of 3:22. This was due to me thinking I was still in my 20s and not needing to train for a mere 13.1 miles. During last year’s event severe pain developed in my right knee, and I literally limped across the finish line. It took 8 months to get to the point where I could run more than two miles without pain.

“Having some intelligence, I decided I would train this year. My goal was to beat my time from last year by 1 hour. This was accomplished as this year I finished in 2:20. During the training period this year I became mildly addicted to running. My goal is to continue to run and compete in various races. Maybe next year it will be the full marathon and, hopefully, one day Team Nelson can travel to Boston!” 

–Matt McCurry

Director, Inventory Management

Inventory Management Production

“What an amazing experience—one I’ll always remember! This was my first half marathon and definitely won’t be my last. 

“Training started out great but became monotonous leading up to race day. My excitement, however, far outweighed any of the shadows of training. The race challenged me physically, mentally, & spiritually, but it was one of the most gratifying events I’ve ever participated in.

“Through this event, I see the friendships and camaraderie fostered over the past few months lasting a long time within our company. Congrats to everyone else who finished!”

–Seth Matlock

Inventory Analyst

Inventory Management Production

“This is my second year of running/walking the half marathon. Words cannot describe the joy I have had of completing it each time. Not only is it wonderful to have the feeling of elation and accomplishment when I cross over that finish line, but it is even more so for me because for both times I have had my beautiful daughter to cross over it with me. I have three children and anybody that knows me, knows that they are my life.

“I can truly say that my daughter is my best friend. She is seventeen, and she never ceases to amaze me in everything she sets out to do. She has already done so much more at her age than I was able to and I don’t see her slowing down any in her future.

“She strained her meniscus last year in training and now has a small tear. She has a very large brace that she wears that covers practically her whole leg. We were only able to train one day this year and we still were able to finish 15 minutes earlier than what we did last year. Without her it would have been very hard for me to finish where I did.

“If you have not ever done a marathon or anything like it, you should. It is truly an experience you will never forget spiritually and physically.”

–Lisa Mattern

Administrative Assistant

Mass Market

“The half marathon makes me pause a moment to thank God for how very blessed we are to have health, friends, a good work environment, and challenges that make us grow.”

–Rachel Miltner

Administrative Assistant

Specialty/Global Publishing

“I count my decision to participate in the half marathon one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, not just because I feel great and am in better shape, but because it changed one of the ways in which I see myself.

“When I was young, I wore a Milwaukee back-brace that went from my neck to my hips. I also had a prosthetic arm that weighed 13 lbs. Let’s just say I gave new meaning to the term ‘Heavy Metal.’

“Because of all this apparatus, I hated gym class. The weight of all of that made it hard to run and jump, plus I would get really hot under there. On team sports days, I always prayed there’d be an odd number of kids, so I could just keep score or gather equipment. The only sport I ever liked and won at was dodge ball, and that was just because I think everyone was scared to throw the ball too hard and break my prosthetic arm.

“I tell you all this in order to explain how I came to view myself as a ‘non-sporty’ person. Yes, I had a lot of positive adjectives for myself overall, but zero when it came to participating in sports and athletics. Don’t get me wrong, I love sport—just from the sidelines. 

“However, my friend Patty Curtis really encouraged me to try the half marathon. She even met up with me one weekend to train. I received a lot of advice and encouragement from so many people here at work, and over time, I’ve started to view myself as a ‘mildly sporty’ person. ;-)”

–Mandy Mullinix

Administrative Assistant

Christian Retail Sales

“After last year’s race, I wasn’t sure whether I’d run it again. But after this year, I’m ready to do it again for sure. I didn’t train as much as I should have, but since I was more relaxed and strategic this year (as opposed to nervous and ignorant last April), the race flew by and I didn’t hit the proverbial wall I hit last year.

“I finished in 02:26:53 (about six and a half minutes better than my 2007 time), and now my goal for next year is 2:14:59. It was great competing with so many colleagues, and I hope all of you do it again. And for those who didn’t run or walk, commit your entrance fee early and start training!”

–Kyle Olund

Associate Acquisitions/Development Editor

Backlist Development

“In the Lord of the Rings, it becomes obvious that Frodo wouldn’t have made it had it not been for Sam. The journey is the story, and that’s how it is for me with the half marathon.

“If you’ve seen the times, you know that I barely finished under the four-hour time limit Mike laid down at the onset. I finished in fact 03.59.21 (couldn’t get much closer). While the energy, the excitement, the rising above the sun, the bands, the cheerleaders (especially Jack & Marsha) all make the experience unique and stimulate the desire to repeat the experience and share it with others, I have to say that I would never had made it without the pushing, the encouragement, the sharing, the pulling of Mandy Mullinix (the way Sam did with Frodo).

“About mile three those I started with left me. But just ahead of me, around mile five, I happened to see one of those blue Nelson t-shirts, so I pushed to catch up. It happened to be Mandy (who, by the way, I really didn’t know, but five miles later I knew much better). She remained with me from mile five through mile eleven. Even though my lower body felt like I had been in a car wreck, and I had blisters on my feet, she would not allow me to give up. She refused to run off and leave me until I finally made her leave me at mile eleven.

“I know that I would have long been over four hours had it not been for Mandy and possibly not even finished had it not been for her. I’m grateful to know we have an employee who has a heart that continues to see the worth of encouraging others even when sacrificial to her.

“Mike, I would like you to give my reimbursement to Mandy for she’s the one that truly deserves mine. The thrill of crossing the finish is the close that inspires me to sign up for next year with 2 changes: train better and recruit more to share the experience!”

–Beth Ryan

Vice President, Nelson Direct

Nelson Ministry Services

“I walked the half marathon on my 23rd birthday and finished in 03:12:01. (Happy Birthday to me! My present to myself was soreness.)

“I never once thought I would even consider participating in a half marathon, let alone actually do one. I can still remember elementary school gym class when we had to run ‘the mile.’ While most of the kids ran it well under the maximum time limit with no problems, I had to train with my dad for weeks just to barely squeak by, purple-faced and nearly losing my breakfast. Needless to say, long distances are not my cup of tea.

“But when Mike issued the challenge, I made a hasty decision to participate and then couldn’t back down because I’m cheap and wanted to get my money back for finishing. But now that it’s all over, I can honestly say that all of the training and the frustration and the weekly outbursts of ‘What was I thinking?!’ were worth it.

“I’m so proud of myself and proud of everyone that I saw out there on Saturday. I never would have been able to do it without Team Nelson! Thanks for a great birthday!”

–Lexi Winslow

Human Resources Coordinator

Human Resources

“My wife Melinda and I never seem to find, or make, the time to exercise on a regular basis. When Mike threw out the half marathon challenge, I took it as the perfect opportunity to work toward a more definitive goal than the nebulous ‘Let’s get into shape.’

“It took some convincing to get Melinda on board, but the entry fee reimbursement and the gift card were great motivators! We both started actively reading as much training information as we could, and in early January made the commitment to walk, not run. We began to tell family and friends what we planned (making it that much harder to back out) and started training.

“I wish training had gone better, but we worked steadily and did fairly well. Our goal was to just finish in four hours. As we trained we felt like we could finish in three and a half hours. We got more and more excited (and nervous) as the big day drew near, but our resolve to finish was strong.

“Our final time came in at 03:23 (seven minutes under our training pace) and, with the exception of some soreness and few blisters, had a blast! The best part of the race was walking down Belmont with the runners coming back up and looking for blue Team Nelson shirts and shouting encouragements to each other! That was truly motivating. As we were in the car riding home the most shocking part of the day happened—with big smiles on our face we heartily agreed with each other to do it again next year, this time with the goal of finishing in under three hours.

“Bring it on!”

–Scott Winter

Regional Manager

Nelson Ministry Services

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