CNS Running Crew conquers marathon

Posted: April 16, 2015 - 1:27pm

"It was amazing!" That is how Y-12 employee Barbara King described her first marathon.

The 53-year-old Information, Solutions and Services worker, who joined the "Couch to 5K LiveWise program two years ago, accomplished her feat at the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon on March 29. She was one of 26 Y-12 employees who ran in this year's race.

"Running the first half was so much fun," said King. "The amount of volunteers and spectators cheering you on, the funny signs and the current of other runners kept my energy level high."

Less than 600 of the more than 7500 runners, who signed up for this year's marathon, ran the full 26.2 miles. The rest ran either the half-marathon or 5-K. "Hitting the split between the courses and watching almost all the runners around me take the right turn toward the finish line, knowing they were done and I was only half-way was sobering," King admitted.

King also says the second half of the race was much more challenging. Where there had been a lot of fanfare early along the route, she says there were stretches of the race that were pretty desolate — no spectators and no other runners in sight. She says even the sight of a water station was a "major recharge" for her.

Finally though, as King was approaching the last portion of the race, she says she saw LiveWise Athletic Trainer Robert Eichin, wearing his mylar blanket with ice saran-wrapped to his knees. "Seeing Robert on Clinch Avenue was one of the most beautiful things because I knew then that I was almost finished," she said smiling.

Eichin ran with King down Clinch Avenue, down 11th Street, across Cumberland Avenue, up Estabrook and into Neyland Stadium. He stopped short of the grass so that she could run the finisher's chute alone. "With some of the unpleasant experiences she had in one or two of her other races I was not going to leave her out there to have anything but a great memory of the big race in our own back yard," Eichin said.

Happy to see Eichin, King says she finished the race as she had started it — strong. "My last half marathon time was 3 hours 34 minutes. This year, running the full, I was so pumped I ran the first half in 3 hours 15 minutes!" she said.

And the best part of a race filled with great moments was the finish. "Hearing your name announced in Neyland as you cross the 50 yard line, getting your medal and being done," King said, "that's priceless!"

Eichin also singled out two other Y-12 runners — Toni Roberts and Jeff Gates — who ran their first half-marathon last fall. He says they ran it again at this year's Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. "I am so ecstatic and could not be more proud of such a great group of people who've trained so hard to be where they are," he said of Roberts, Gates and all the Y-12 runners who participated in the race.

As for King, who ran her first 5K just two years ago, she reflects back on her marathon experience with pride: "I was so exhausted and so exhilarated at the same time. For a brief moment I felt invincible."