Every year, Covenant Health and marathon organizers put together a team of local folks to serve as ambassadors for health and fitness and the marathon. Bryan Paschal, 52, is a South Knox resident. A personalized learning facilitator with Knox County Schools, he has been through a medical mystery. We’re really proud of him for the way he keeps going.
Here’s a Q&A from Paschal:
Before joining the team the first time, were you athletic? Competitive? A couch potato?
As a kid, I was always doing something outside. Then, I became an adult and life happened. Before I joined the team, I wasn’t as active as I needed to be. It took a little battle with hemochromatosis to convince me I needed to turn things around. I missed almost a year of work due to it. I knew I needed to do things differently.
How has your experience with the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon changed you?
I’ve met so many different people. I have fallen in love with hiking in the Smoky Mountains. I enjoy running half-marathons and marathons. Being a part of the team has made me realize I can do anything.
What’s been going on in your life since you were last on the team? Have you had to jump any major hurdles? Have you continued to train?
In the two years immediately following being on the team (2013), I ran five or six marathons and a ton of half-marathons. Then, one day while I was training with my friend Kaycee, I collapsed while running. For months after that, I experienced symptoms like vertigo and light-headedness. It took away my running. For the next five years, I went from doctor to doctor trying to figure things out. From what we’ve figured out, my brain and my heart don’t always communicate with each other. Now, I’m working to retrain my brain.
Why did you want to return to the team?
This is the comeback. Instead of letting the health issues of my past hold me back, I’m letting my health fuel my future. I love being on the team. It’s great to have a lot of teammates and coaches who are so supportive. Although I have walked several half marathons in the past few years, this will be the first half marathon I will actually run since the fall of 2015.
What’s the goal for your event in the CHKM – and what are your long-term goals beyond the finish line? What would you tell others about the CHKM and training experience?
My crazy goal for the CHKM is to run the half marathon in less than 2:00:00. That was my goal the first time I was on the team and I missed it by 34 seconds. I blame it on Missy and one of her photo ops. That will be about an hour faster than I have done a half since I collapsed in 2015. Beyond this race, my goal is to run the next full in the spring with a goal of finishing in 4:30:00.
My advice to others is to set a goal so big you have to change who you are to accomplish it. (I totally stole that quote from somewhere.) When you think about CHKM, it’s an opportunity to change who you are as a person.
Some favorite memories:
Noticing at the end of four months of training, we were talking about running ONLY three miles when that seemed so far when we first started.
Tonya Stoutt-Brown is a public relations and media specialist with Covenant Health.