The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 11, 2014

Half takes their all: Local ‘team’ trains to go the distance

Challenge + Goals + Training + Completion = Elation.

If there is any doubt in your mind about the values of this equation, ask the Greenbrier County team that Dr. Alinda Perrine trained to run the Nashville Half Marathon this past April.

Race Day: April 28, 2014, Nashville, Tenn. The team went feeling prepared, but uncertain. A half marathon was an event that none of the team had experienced. Their coach, a highly experienced endurance runner, was confident that they would cross the finish line and do well. Enthusiastically, the four team members shared some of their race day experiences.

Bonnie Marshall had experience in cycling events, but had never been a runner. She was anxious to add a half marathon to her skill set. Though difficult to put into words, she never questioned why she was challenging herself.

“I can say my feet were sore, I was tired, but never ever had a negative thought as to why I was doing this half marathon. I just did it and kept thinking about getting my chocolate milk once I finished the run.”

She appreciated the encouragement from the spectators, “I even ‘high-fived’ a spectator holding a sign, ‘Running is all mental — You are insane’. The event was spectacular, truly fun, and now, one of my favorite memories. I will do this again and encourage others to give it a try.  Just do it!”

As Jennifer Dent trained, she was thinking, “Can I really run 13.1 miles? Do I really want to run with so many people all around me?”

Coach Alinda Perrine assured her, “You can and will.”

And she did. In fact, she was the first of the three at the finish line. As she ran, she enjoyed being in the mix of runners and seeing the variety of colors for miles. At the finish line, as the medal was placed around her neck, she was thrilled. “I love the medal. It is a wonderful symbol of accomplishment but what I think is most important are the positive and unique relationships that were established with others during the team training.” Jennifer already has another event on her calendar.

Andrea Smart admits she was nervous about the race, though she knew she was ready mentally and physically. “I was actually relieved that run day had arrived.  I was eager to begin the challenge of carrying myself through the finish line.  When it was over, I felt elated — it was an amazing feeling.” Not only had she accomplished a 13.1 mile feat, but on this date, she had a bigger reason to celebrate. With tears in her eyes, she shared with the group, “Six years ago today, I started chemotherapy. I am a breast cancer survivor and now I am also a half-marathoner.” There was not a dry eye in the group. “I felt blessed six years ago and I still feel blessed. I recognize the power of being positive and appreciate Alinda for her relentlessly positive spirit.  Without her influence and urging I never would have put my mind and body to this test. Six years ago I didn’t imagine I’d be running a foot race but I’m very thankful that’s how I celebrated!” Andrea is anxious to set the next date and she hopes to get her daughter involved.

Initially, Alinda had planned on running the full marathon while the other team members ran the half marathon. However, she changed her mind and ran the half marathon so she could watch each of “her” team cross the finish line. As their coach, her gratification came in their accomplishment, not hers.  She shared her perspective on each one of their achievements.

“From a physical point of view, Bonnie had made a huge change. When she started training, she was walk/running at 25 minutes per mile pace. On race day, she ran 13 to 14 minutes a mile. Physically, that is a great accomplishment.”

“For Andrea, the accomplishment is in the emotional, spiritual realm,” continued Alinda. “Her gratitude transcends the physical or mental realm and to be a healthy athlete is beyond merely survival. She is living life to the fullest. This date will now be a positive date in her life — the day she ran her first half marathon which is truly a celebration.

Jennifer, said Alinda, exemplified the changes that occur through commitment to training. “She followed her training calendar regardless of inclement weather, work schedules, or family obligations. Nothing deterred her to complete the physical training. But mentally, she self-doubted. Self-doubt is dangerous. Getting her to the start line would be harder than getting her to the finish line. But once at the starting line, she really got it. Personal accomplishment in an event like this is almost like a graduation. It is a moment you know you can do more and Jennifer will do much more.”

Alinda summed it up, “It was a hard winter to train but it was worth sticking it out and not giving up. Dreams are accomplished not through imagination, but through perseverance.” Obviously, each one accomplished their dream. Now, the team is scoping out events for the coming months and Coach Alinda is designing training goals and schedules. She is also forming an entirely new group to train, who like these three, never desired or even dreamed they would want to do an event like this.

Do the math: Challenge + Goals + Training + Completion = Elation. It all adds up. The formula results in endless possibilities and accomplishment. Is it time to get your challenge on?  See you at the start and finish line!

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