Half Marathon Testimonials

In January, I issued a challenge to our employees to run a Half Marathon with me. The Dallas-based employees who accepted the challenge ran the Big-D Half Marathon on April 1. The Nashville-based employees ran the Country Music Half Marathon on April 28.

Dragon Slayers

Interestingly, I received some criticism for issuing this challenge. I received an anonymous e-mail from someone outside the company who said, “What in the world has running got to do with work?” Well, the short answer is, “more than you think.”


I hoped that those of us who participated would learn five things:

  1. That we can achieve more than we think we can.
  2. That we can feel better than we ever thought we could.
  3. That regular exercise makes us more energetic and productive at work.
  4. That teamwork makes it possible to keep going when the going gets tough.
  5. That what we’ve learned from running is applicable to other areas of life—including work.

Last week, I invited everyone who finished to tell me how they felt about participating in the training and the event itself. We had over 65 people finish, so I thought I would get a dozen responses. I was overwhelmed. The vast 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.)

In case you are wondering, we are definitely going to do this again next year. I want to see if we can double the number of participants. I would also like to tie our participation to raising money for a worthy cause.

Also, in case you are wondering, we will recognize all the runners at our All Employee Meeting on May 22. At that time, all those who finished will receive a $100 VISA gift card. (I had originally promised a $100 gift card to the mirror, but the VISA gift card will provide a little more flexibility if you want to do something different.)

If you want to run another race or two between now and then—as I do—the Runner’s World Web site has a great tool called RaceFinder. It basically has every race in the country. You can search by city, state, distance, race type, etc. I am hoping to run another half marathon this fall and then, God willing, the full marathon next spring.

“I just had a total blast. In the weeks leading up to the race, I got to know several employees from other departments, people I’ve passed in the halls but never really interacted with. They were all so encouraging and enthusiastic about conquering a new challenge (for those of us who’ve never done such a long race) or happy to share their wisdom from previous racing experience. On the day of the race, I walked the half marathon with a friend who doesn’t work at Thomas Nelson. Around mile 9, we caught up with Lisa Rollins who brought a new energy to our groove. The three of us stuck together, talking and laughing our way through the end. I was thrilled for my friend to get to experience this part of Thomas Nelson’s culture. I felt so supported by our leadership and my coworkers, so thrilled to enjoy a beautiful day outside, so proud that Nashville is such a fun city, and so grateful for the health to be able to finish strong. Finishing time: about 3 hours and 30 minutes.”

—Gretchen Abernathy
Editorial Assistant
Grupo Nelson

“I had a wonderful time and I plan to participate again in ’08. I finished in 3:16.”

—Steven Alderman
Key Accounts Manager
Christian Retail Sales

“I didn’t think I could have so much fun getting up at 4:30 in the AM just to go run/walk 13.1 miles, but I had a blast. This was my first marathon, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I crossed the finish line. My time was 3:12 which was better than I had expected to do. I could have finished under 3 hrs but I stood in line at a port-a-potty for about 15 minutes … but that’s for a different blog. :-)

”My fiancée, Bruce, runs marathons all the time, and this was the first one I did with him even though he took off and left me it was still great to share this with him. His time was 1:49.

“Thank you, Mike, for the challenge you put out there for us it was just the extra motivation I needed!”

—Lisa Ast
Budget Coordinator

“How did I feel? Empowered. Never the athletic one, I usually get my pace down about mile 10. By then, my blisters aren’t happy with me; I’m thirsty, nauseous, quite frankly I just want to find a patch of green grass and lie down. At that point it’s all mental—commit to the last 3.1 miles and put one foot in front of the other. No doubting. No over-thinking. Only forward motion one step at a time.

”That’s a lot like life. There are times when I think I’ve given all there is of me to give. I’m hurt, disillusioned, exhausted, or feeling hopeless. I like to think giving more is an impossibility, an irrational expectation. But at mile 10 it’s just one more step and that is possible. Upon reflection, I feel empowered now to take that one more pivotal step in other areas of my life where I’ve determined I can go no further. One more step, one more conversation where I’m fully present, one more opportunity to forgive freely, one more chance to love well, one more invitation to grace.

“Thanks for valuing your employees at this level. Thanks, too, for the challenge to reflect on what the race meant to us.”

—Jennifer Day
Senior Editor
Practical Living

“This has been a fantastic experience! I have enjoyed the training, the walk and sprinting that final mile to shave off seconds. I finished in 3:22. The entire process was very special because my niece Kim was my walking partner. Those early mornings on Saturday were priceless. As we walked up 8th Avenue toward Jefferson Street, I was filled with emotion over the awesomeness of the day. Thank you for making this a special event. I will be there in 2008.”

—Kathleen Dietz
Director of Special Sales

“Wow! I don’t know how to even begin describing the experience of a half marathon. Mike’s challenge gave me a great vision and incentive. And Damon, my fiancé, was a huge encouragement to push myself, pace myself and achieve double splits. This is the first time I’ve ever accomplished an athletic event like this. The atmosphere of the race had me smiling for the majority of it… and completing that difficult last mile was a huge accomplishment. We completed it in 3:10.24! A big ‘Thank you!’ to Mike, Damon and all who helped make this possible!!!”

—Rachel Donnor
Administrative Assistant
Grupo Nelson and Global Publishing

“I started 2007 with the goal of getting in better shape. I think we all have grandiose plans at the beginning of each year. Two weeks into the year (I think), Mike sent the blog challenge about the half marathon. As I told Mike, I’m turning 40 this year and I’ve always wanted to achieve something significant. In fact, I wanted to run a full marathon. Given that I am already 39 and have never run much in my life, I decided the half marathon alternative was a better place to start. And…Lynn challenged me to do it. How could I turn that friendly competition down.

”I decided I needed both work and home competition, so I enlisted my husband, Eddie to run with me. I envisioned great training runs together that would be great for us as a married couple. In the end, we all trained individually. Eddie and I ran the race together on that beautiful Sunday. We helped each other through the rough spots; Eddie had a severe cramp in his right calf muscle during the first mile. I was a little winded by the 6th mile. Towards the end, Eddie teased me by walking behind me for a bit and then miraculously sprinting on past.

“The greatest moment was when I rounded the last leg of the race and my fellow co-workers were cheering me onward—Ann and little Jordan, Lynn screaming, Nichole Masker cheering and Amy looking very fashionable were just what I needed to finish the race. I tried the sprint thing, so I could ‘beat’ Eddie in the end. Unfortunately, he is 6 ft. 4 inches and has these very long legs. He quickly beat my 5 ft. 2 in frame. Eddie finished at 2:38:26 and I finished at 2:38:28. Darn. But the experience was incredible. We are both looking forward to running ‘The Rock,’ an annual Dallas marathon. As Mike said, I think I’m hooked. And, I have this incredible sense of accomplishment. I’m looking forward to this 40 thing!”

—Lara Dulaney
Vice President, Finance & Administration
Live Events Group (Dallas)

“WOW!!! What a day! I am so proud of all of you and was so proud to be a part of this awesome team. It was such an accomplishment. I have been an athlete my whole life until I hit 35 and then came the pounds. Mike, the challenge you issued was great. The training kept my focus on Weight Watchers and added an extra incentive to feel that feeling of an athletic accomplishment again. I finished in 3:34 and to date I have lost 45 pounds. I still have a ways to go, but I will make it. Thank you.

”I also want to thank Lisa Lehr and Lisa Mattern. Ladies, you pulled me through. Lisa L. your encouragement and training was awesome. Lisa M. you kept me going the last two miles when my right foot was giving out. Suzanne, I appreciate your encouragement and thank you for pulling this all together.

“Go Dragon Slayers!!!”

—Debbie Dzury
Contract Administrator
Law Department

“I was glad to participate. Helped put a goal before me while I’m trying to improve my health. Had a good running partner for the first three quarters of the race. The company helped pass the time. I drank some of the Accelerade that was being offered along the side of the run. Problem was, I hadn’t had any of it at any point in my training. My stomach ended up cramping up on me for the last 2.5 miles. My breaths had to be shallow. But there was no way I was going to let that keep me from running the entire race after the work I put into it! I finished in 2 hours 17 minutes (10.5 minutes per mile). My stomach didn’t stop hurting until 5pm later that evening. I have a lot of respect for the people that participate in the event. If I don’t run it next year, I’ll be there on the sidelines cheering them on!”

—Dax Edwards
Web Producer
Internet Channel

“No way am I RUNNING a half-marathon (this girl don’t run) but walking … sure, why not? The occasional blister aside, training was enjoyable, even addictive. I knew I’d turned a corner when I remarked to a co-worker that ‘I was only able to get in six miles on Saturday,’ and her response was, ‘Remember when we thought ONE mile was a long way?’

”The event itself was exhausting, occasionally painful, and rewarding. Although I got separated from the rest of the Women of Faith team and, lacking an iPod, was reduced to listening to the music that plays in my head, the weather was perfect, the volunteers enthusiastic, and the scenery … scenic. (Who knew Dallas had hills?) My time was considerably slower than I would have liked but there was never a question of not finishing.

“In the weeks since the event I’ve kept up my walking habit. In fact, I put in three miles just this morning. Now I’m looking forward to joining Team WoF at the upcoming Race for the Cure. 5K? Pshaw. That’s NOTHING! (Time: 3:57)”

—Susan Ellingburg
Live Events Group

“Running the half marathon was a fabulous experience for me. I never even knew I would find such enjoyment in running. I got home from the race and immediately started looking for the next one I could train for. I was slowed down by a foot injury, but managed to finish in 2 hours and 58 minutes.

”My most memorable race day moment was when we all took off together and all you could see were the hundreds of people following the course—it was so uplifting!

“The Lord also taught me things along the way. He gave me such a beautiful picture of what it looks like to run after Him and how if you have people by your side, running the race He set for us is much more attainable. I found so much strength and encouragement through my friends running by my side, not to mention the hundreds of other people. It was great to have one goal: the finish line, and all we had to do to get there was run. This parallels our walk with Christ and how we must love the Lord and love His people to find Him. The task is simple, the course is tough and there were definitely moments I wanted to give up, but the goal, the finish line, was worth it—much like Heaven will be for us one day soon.”

—Lauren Hafernick
Event Planner
Live Events Group (Dallas)

“I had been toying with the idea of running the Country Music Half Marathon for a while when Mike Hyatt issued his challenge to Nelson employees. The thought of being part of a team effort at the event motivated me to go ahead and sign up. As I moved into the longer weekend training runs, I wondered more than once why I’d gotten myself into it. But barring major injury, there was no way I was going to back out. I guess that’s the ‘magic’ of committing publicly to a something like this. When I walked up to the Dragon Slayers group at 6:30 last Saturday morning, I already knew it was going to be worth it. Just seeing the diversity of our group inspired me, each with a personal goal but everyone intent on finishing. I ran it in 1:52, a personal best. More important, I have been inspired to hear teammates talk about the obstacles they overcame along the way and the thrill of reaching their goal. No matter how fast or slow we may think we are, one of the most important things completing races like this teaches us is that—if we commit to a goal and then discipline ourselves to reach it—we can do more so much more than we think we can.”

—Brian Hampton
Senior Vice President & Publisher
Corporate Brands

“Well, team, we certainly slayed a few dragons on Saturday, didn’t we?

”It was such a great experience! My fiancée and I were both first-timers, but we actually did really well. My goal wasn’t a ‘time’ goal, but just to run the whole 13.1 miles without having to walk. And I made it! (well, besides the bathroom break at mile 0.2, so I don’t really count that J) My total time (including the break) was 2:19:42, but I actually only spent 2:13:00 of that running, so I averaged a little over 10-minute miles.

“Though I was very satisfied with my accomplishment, my competitive nature made me very jealous of the red-numbered people, so I think I may have to try for a full marathon some day. My fiancée Will says no way, so we’ll see how that goes.

”As for now, I’m still reveling in the triumphant feeling that began when Will and I crossed the finish line together. Thanks for making it possible, Mike.“

—Kim Hearon
Associate Editor

”Thanks for such a great challenge. I’m 67 years old and I have had all sorts of challenges. Running 10k’s, rupturing both calfs, almost dying from a bleeding ulcer. So I needed this challenge to get me out of a rut. The last 10 weeks of training has been a great experience that has helped me refocus new goals as far as it relates to a healthier lifestyle. Working out with the two Lisa’s (Lehr and Mattern) and Debbie D. was great, except the early cold mornings. Thanks, ladies. My goal was 3:15. My time was 3:25. Next years goal is 2:59. Count me in. I’m not ready the pasture just yet!“

—Bob Jones
Graphic Design Director
Inventory Management Production

”My dad is a marathon runner, and I have always been in awe of those who could be committed to reaching such a goal. It is quite a feat to be able to manage your training and your body to run over 26 miles and not collapse at some point along the way. When we were encouraged to sign up and train for the half marathon, I knew that I would probably need to walk, but that I was going to work towards this goal and then set another to run next year.

“When I registered, I thought it could possibly take me 4 hours and 30 minutes to make it across the finish line. I was hoping to be faster, but just did not know—this is the first time I have ever gone this far. I started in the very last group of the wave release. I figured, well, at least I can’t get any further behind. It was kind of a nice place to be. I passed people instead of the other way around! 

”I finished this race in 3 hours and 45 minutes. I know it’s not fast, but I had a great time and kept a steady pace throughout the race. I recovered well and don’t have much pain or stiffness. The trade-off for me was to go slower in this race and have fun than to push my self and feel miserable. As I have a longer term goal in mind, I look at this half marathon as my starting point and look forward to blowing past this time next year as I run across the finish line! I have to say I feel extremely accomplished! Thanks, Mike!“

—Christine Jones
Royalty Manager
Royalty Department

”This was such a neat experience for me. I ran the Country Music Half Marathon last year and was so amazed that I actually did it. I thought that it was just something I would do one time in my life. When Mike challenged anyone from the company to do it this year, though, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I was so excited that we would be part of the event as a company. I am a little disappointed that I didn’t beat my time from last year, but I am now more motivated than ever to actually keep running. I’m already thinking about next year and it is so exciting that many others are too.

“Thank you so much for the opportunity, Mike, and congratulations to all the first-timers! Your stories are so encouraging to me. What an amazing accomplishment! (2:20)”

—Nicole Kendig
Editorial Assistant
Bible Group

“Saturday’s race was a great overall, though I did have a few concerns going into it.

”My training went fairly well up until two weeks ago. I was in the UK for the London Book Fair and my bag, and subsequently my running shoes, did not arrive for 3 days! This meant that I missed 2 of my training runs. I was also a little concerned that there would be adverse affects from the jet lag upon my return. Much to my surprise, the jet lag actually worked in my favor; my 4 am rise on Saturday felt much more like a 10am wake up call to my body. Funny how these things work out, isn’t it?

“The first part of the race went well and I stayed on pace until mile 10. Let’s just say the wall I hit was tall and formidable. The motivation from the sidelines helped me push through though, as did the thought of lying down in the grass upon finishing. My pace wasn’t what it needed to be those last 3.1 miles to attain my goal, but finishing without walking (aside from two stretch breaks) is always an accomplishment. I am most proud of those that had never completed a race like this before. Getting out of our comfort zones is always a good thing and teaches us volumes.

”Thanks, Mike, and team for all of your support in slaying the dragon not only in training but in life as well. Here’s hoping we continue to have the courage to fight the good fight. (2:01)“

—Brittany Lassiter
International Marketing Specialist
International Sales

”What a great experience and being able to do it with my co-workers (not only sharing the event but the excitement leading up to it) made it even more incredible. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Seeing the other folks from Nelson—hearing their encouragement or shouting mine to them—made me feel like not only like a teammate but an athlete. I really couldn’t have done it without my gals, Lisa Mattern and Debbie Dzury—and at the end of the race, Bob (its-all-downhill-from-here) Jones.

“3 hrs and 26 minutes—hard work, but so worth it that the time flew by.”

—Lisa Lehr
Key Accounts Administrator
Mass Market Sales

“This was the first event like this I had ever participated in and to do it with the support of not only my wife Kim (who had previously run the Chicago full marathon), but also the Nelson ‘Dragon Slayers’ team was GREAT.

”Crossing the finish line was a huge sense of accomplishment (although my feet had other thoughts for the next several hours), and I enjoyed thoroughly looking up each Nelson person online later that day and applauding their efforts. I hope everyone wears their medals proudly all week! What a great team and company. We had first-timers mixed in with super-marathoners (Suzanne and apparently super Mark!).

“I’m looking forward to next year and who knows—maybe another half somewhere else in between! I finished in 2:57:56); my wife, Kim, finished in 2:32:35.”

—Dan Lynch
Senior Vice President & Publisher
Family Entertainment

“I will have to agree with everybody else, it was a wonderful day! My walking partners were a big inspiration for me throughout our training. If it had not been for them to push me along and planning our weekend walks, I would not have made it, but we persevered and made it through every single one of them. My daughter was also a big supporter. She started training and then strained some muscles and her MCL and then started back to training the week before and ran across the finish line with me. It was very triumphant! (I finished in 3:33.)”

—Lisa Mattern
Office Manager
Nelson Enrichment

“I had ‘talked’ about participating in the half marathon for the last three years, but when Mike laid the challenge before us I decided this would be the year. The sanity of my decision to participate came into question at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning as I drug myself out of bed.

”As the morning progressed the excitement and energy grew. It was incredible to experience this on two levels. The first being my personal goal to complete the race that was before me. My ability to train in the 3-4 weeks prior was limited due to some life stuff that came into play. At mile 10 my body hit the wall and the pain was some of the worse pain I have ever experienced. The last three miles were purely mental, and I never knew I had that in me. I realize that life will always have it’s challenges but if you have your goal set before you then you can get there.

“The second part of the experience was being part of a group of 29,000 focused on the same finish line. It was an incredible feeling to be part of that and to feel the energy that was all around. The energy of those who came out to cheer us all on was just as incredible. Though the race was very personal, it was much bigger than me and more than I could have ever imagined.

”Thanks to everyone and we will see you next year. (I finished in 3:22.)“

—Matt McCurry
Director of Inventory Management
Inventory Management Production

”I had run two full marathons in my twenties but had not run a race in 25 years, so this was truly an exciting day for me. I appreciate the challenge, the encouragement, and the support of my company, and I want to congratulate everyone who participated. It’s just another reason to be proud that we work for Thomas Nelson.“

—David McGee
Key Account Rep
Christian Retail Sales

”During the challenges of training (and that horrid mile 10), I learned once again what a great group of people I have the honoring of working alongside. Wren and Suzanne kept me in training as I struggled with a knee injury by encouraging, running with me and even tracking down a good orthopedic doctor! Saturday morning felt like a victory before the race even started, just seeing all of our Dragon Slayers pulling for each other. I finished in 2:06.“

—Laura Minchew
Vice President & Publisher
Children’s Books & Education

”What a wonderful day it was, and how fun it was to join coworkers and friends in one of the most incredible events we’ll ever do. I thought I had wasted away my opportunity when I didn’t do my marathon in my twenties. And then my thirties passed me by recently. Without the challenge from Mike and the support and encouragement from so many people in my life, I would have instead been mowing my grass on April 28. And, oh, how I would have missed out on a life-changing experience. Plus, my wife and daughters had a blast got to be filmed for Channel 4’s news (and my girls boast that they got close to 500 high-fives from all the athletes).

“After the race, I said I didn’t know if I’d ever do it again—but one close friend, who is an experienced runner, assured me I would. That I’d have to. And my wife, Jill, noticed that even after I complained about the difficult task and sore muscles, I quickly followed up with comments about what I could have done differently to improve my time. So I may, indeed, be hooked. In fact, many in our Sunday school class are already talking about running the December St. Jude’s marathon/half marathon/5K in Memphis in support of a classmates who will be running for his 4-year-old who is fighting brain cancer.

”I finished in 2:33:38.“

—Kyle Olund
Associate Acquisitions Editor
Strategy & Support

”The half marathon in Dallas was an exciting and rewarding experience and the first kind of athletic event that I have ever participated in! Thirteen miles sounds like quite a long way when considering covering that in one morning. I agreed instantly when this marathon was discussed. I was spurred on by the idea of doing this as a team with Thomas Nelson sponsoring it!

“Many years ago I walked five miles for exercise a few times, but thirteen miles is quite a leap from five! It was amazing how quickly my body responded when a goal was in mind. The walk was absolutely beautiful on a perfect day that God gave us. The camaraderie of our group felt so good. Before my team runners and runner/walkers passed me by they checked on me and encouraged me. Close to the goal line our cheerleaders (a few who finished early) were there jumping up and down coaching us to keep going. Going over the goal mat I felt like a winner but more than that I felt like a part of the winning team! Now I know that it will not be a one time challenge for me. Next year here I come! (3:35)”

—Nancy Pasch
Receptionist/Administrative Assistant
Live Events Group (Dallas)

“What an incredible experience! Different aspects of the experience keep coming to mind days after the event!   

”This was the first of any sort of long distance race for me.  Prior to the ∏ marathon I had rarely run over three miles or 30 minutes without stopping.  Even though I had some doubts about running 13.1 and at times it seems like Mt. Everest, I am pleased to say that I had enough strength and stamina to run at a 10 minutes-per-mile pace and finished in 2:13! 

“Mike without your challenge I would not have considered running.  Thank you!  I am already looking forward to doing this again next year.”

—Scott Phillips
Field Sales Manager
ABA Retail Sales

“All the training, all the planning, all the preparation came down to one word Saturday morning … ‘GO’ !! What an incredible experience. You asked how I feel about my participation? I feel privileged. Privileged to have both the physical and the mental ability; but more so, I feel especially privileged to part of the Dragon Slayers. My time was 2:14.”

—Neil Rogers
Production Manager
Inventory Management Production

“My wife, Irma, has never done anything athletically. She was one of four daughters who lost their father early and never really had chances to participate in sports growing up. I started walking with her as a ‘let’s lose some weight together’ and after reading Alternative Cures which is a must read, by the way, we started two years ago … walking one mile … very hard for her. She had gained several pounds and she struggled. Slowly the weight came off and ‘then we got the message about the company team.’ She’s been walking 5-6 miles over the last months, walking 12 a couple of times. What an accomplishment for her to finish in 3:33. Not sure I’ll get out there next year but doing this once was something really special.

”Next year I’ll train with you!“

—Paul Shepherd
National Accounts Manager, Bibles
Christian Retail Sales

”I am proud of all of us! It is fun to tell friends about all the people from the company that ran and FINISHED and they are shocked. They can’t believe that so many people stepped up and took on the challenge. Each of you should be proud of the accomplishment and to be a leader by example. Well done and thanks to Mike for the challenge to each of us.

“One of the toughest things to do is break thru barriers that you or your mind may have created. That race proved our will is stronger than any barrier that can be thrown in our way. This group now knows this for sure … tell us something can’t be done by this company, and I will tell them its time to give the Dragon Slayers a call. You don’t have any idea what you are dealing with!!!

”Think about what our group can accomplish everyday around here with the same ‘can do, never quit spirit.’ That was an awesome display of Dragon Slaying—Thomas Nelson style. Well done, gang!“

—Mark Schoenwald
Executive Vice President & Chief Sales Officer
Sales Group

”Thanks, Mike, for your challenge and support. If you hadn’t of challenged us, I probably would have never tried to complete a half marathon and would have never have felt such a sense of accomplishment. Fourteen years ago this month I had a surgery to remove a brain tumor. The operation was a success; however, in the process of removing the tumor they also had to remove half of my cerebellum which took away most of my balance and left me unable to walk along with other problems.

“When my husband and I arrived at Centennial Park Saturday morning and saw the pond in the park, we both knew God had truly blessed us. It wasn’t all that long ago that I use to stare out my hospital room window and watch the people running or just walking with their families around that pond. I never dreamed that one day I would even be able to walk around the park, much less be competing in a race there. I owe it all to the best family in the world, they’re awesome!

”Though I wasn’t able to train with the group, due to my own stupidity, I did feel the Nelson spirit each step of the way. Thanks everyone and Phil and I look forward to participating next year. We want to improve our times. I was a walker and finished in 3:02 my husband ran/walked and finished in 2:40.“

—Debbi Schmidt
Business Analyst
ABA Retail Sales

”Since I am not like Max Lucado, I cannot put in words how I feel.

“As far as my training, it was minimal, but it slowed me down when someone asked questions, God knew what he was doing. For all of you, and as many as we can get to participate next year, this type of exercise changes your life forever. Lifetime fitness should be the goal of everyone, no matter if you are competitive or not.

”I cannot express enough gratitude to Mike for making this possible. And thank you all so much for taking the time to train for this!“

—Suzanne Thompson
Director of Production
Production Department

”I have so many wonderful images etched into my memory from Saturday. It was so fun to see so many familiar faces all along the way. The cheers and encouragement of fellow Dragon Slayers really carried me through. The entire day shattered limitations and broadened horizons for me. I accomplished more physically and mentally than I thought I was capable of doing. I will definitely do this again and even plan on training for a triathlon soon. Thank you, Mike, not just for the challenge, but also for being the leader, the example and the encourager you are. I’m blessed to work here. I’m a better person for being amongst the people here. And I’m a stronger person for accomplishing this feat. Congratulations to all my fellow Dragon Slayers!“

—Sunny Vann
Administrative Assistant
Christian Retail Sales

”WOW! Dragon Slayers, what a great experience this was for me! This has totally changed my life! Mike, thank you so much for the challenge to set such a great accomplishment in my life. It encouraged me to do something that I’ve wanted to do at least once in my life, now I’m hooked!

“The training process kept me focused on my final goal—to make it across that finish line! Thanks to all that gave me support and encouragement and I challenge each of you to do it again next year.”

—Beverly Watson
Key Accounts Sales Manager
Specialty Markets

“Thank you so much, Mike, for challenging each of us to participate.

”For the past couple of years, I would think about doing the marathon and talk about doing it, but never did. I know that I would not have done it this year had it not been for Mike’s encouragement. Every friend and family member has been ‘WOWED’ by the fact that our CEO would make such a generous offer.

“I’m another one who had never participated in anything like this before and it was absolutely incredible! The most I walked during my minimal training for this event was 8 miles, so for me, every mile past 8 was an accomplishment. At mile 11, every square inch of my body hurt, and the last 2.1 miles were made by sheer determination for all of my friends who had asked in the past few weeks, ‘do you think you’ll make it?’ and to whom I had responded, ‘absolutely.’ I had no choice … lol.

”I bawled as I crossed the finish line (in 3:28) and cannot wait for the next one. I am hooked!“

—Sharon Wheeler
Production Manager
Production Department

”Thanks to all the Dragon Slayers who offered words of encouragement and concern especially during the event. I actually ran most of the first 8 miles, loved the down hills, and felt great until I hit ‘the wall.’ I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. The pain was excruciating! I shuffled across the finish line with a time of 3:46. Now the challenge is on for next year!“

—Sandy Whitwell
Executive Suite Receptionist

”The experience of running in this half Marathon was fantastic. The excitement of gathering the group together and goading each other on in the beginning, the preparatory planning luncheons, and finally meeting up all together early on the morning of the race, are all fun remembrances of the experience. The electricity in the anticipation of the runners, the nervous giggling and (last minute bathroom trips), and the start of the run with the sound of the air horn are all fresh as morning air in my mind. But none of these things is the actual running of the race! The proof to yourself that you can endure, mile after mile, running or walking, is the greater whole of the experience. I talked to myself and others the whole way with all the encouragement I could muster. I made deals with myself about how far I could run before I had to walk. I thanked all the people who volunteered to be there with water and snacks, and those who simply showed up to cheer everyone on! Those people are wonderful. But rounding toward that final mile full of exhilaration and relief that I was actually going to finish was so thrilling! Very near the end, I came upon a man who was 70 if he was a day, and we talked a minute. As I passed on toward the finish line, I said to him ‘See you on the other side!’ and it was one of those endorphin filled moments where you think, this race is a picture of the race we all run. What joy to complete it and celebrate the victory at the end!“

—Kerrie Willoughby
Group Registration Consultant
Live Events Group (Dallas)

”It’s been really exciting to watch the anticipation build at work for the past few months. A lot of the sales department walked or ran, so frequently our conversation has been about the shared excitement. This was my third half-marathon (my first was Country Music last year and I did Philadelphia Distance Run last September), so I was able to actually answer a few questions while pretending I knew what I was talking about.

“My running (and otherwise) hero is my dad. He came from Knoxville for the weekend and ran the first 11 miles with me. He left me at the half/whole split to finish his 25th full marathon. During mile 8, he asked me if I wanted to run another half in the fall. I laughed at him (I still had enough energy to do so at that point!) and told him to ask me again in a month. I realized, as many of us did, that having someone to encourage you is awesome. My slowest mile was 12, after he left.

”Forty-eight hours later, I’m already forgetting what my entire body aching feels like, the nausea, the whole world appearing cloudy, the feeling of probable momentary death. The only reminders my body has are the tank top shaped white mark on my back surrounded by a sunburn, my sore toenails (I think I’m going to have one fall off on each foot) and my legs, which seem to be sore in a different spot every few hours. Minor. So minor.  I can be faster next time (1:46:58).“

—Emily Wilson
Account Marketing Specialist
Christian Retail Sales

”I think I can sum up my marathon experience in one word—TEAMWORK. Starting with my body working with my mind to get through training and finish the race and ending with all the WOF staff not participating who were waiting at the finish line to cheer us on. In the middle there were the pep talks and motivational meetings to keep our team of Dragon Slayers going and of course the L-O-N-G runs where we could all gather the next day and complain about, WHOOPS I mean ‘discuss’ how we were feeling. :-)

“All in all, it was amazing to get to experience this with my co-workers. Thank you for allowing us to do this.

”P.S. The added benefit of weight loss and mental stimulation didn’t hurt either. I felt better physically during training than I had in months.“

—Lynn Wittenburg
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Live Events Group (Dallas)

”No matter how much you run or race, there is a high that comes with crossing the finish line….the high can last for weeks sometimes. It is great to intersect work and fitness which is what our CEO did for us. 1:54 was my time.“

—Wren Wrigley
National Sales Manager
Bargain and Remainder Books

”I was a first-time walker (I’d tried running during training, but kept getting shin-splints). So my goal was to walk 13.1 miles in 3:30, but because of an outbreak of heal blisters around mile 10, I ended up running the last three miles, because running actually made my feet hurt less. Turns out it’s a bad idea to walk in ‘running’ shoes. Oy—shins to the right of me, blisters to the left … here I am, finished at 3:02.“

—Wayne Zeitner
Director of Brand Development
Family Entertainment

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Want to Launch Your Own Blog

or upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress blog? It’s easier than you think! Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it, step-by-step. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started. Watch My Free Screencast

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.