Local teacher's Boston Marathon dream coming true
DAYTON, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Every year, Trish Newsom puts each of her Dayton City School gym classes to the test with a one-mile run.
There is no goal time. There is no trophy for the winner. In fact, the only requirement is that you don't give up.
"I was always one that struggled with weight, struggled with image, and struggled with self confidence," said Newsom, who has taught physical education at the Rhea County school for the past five years. "I wanted to be able to teach kids how to handle that in a way that's healthy."
If doing it for themselves is not enough, the students need only look at their teacher for motivation.
At 43 years young, Newsom is a fully-committed marathon runner. Her kids realize that if she can do 26.2 miles on her own, the least they can do is one.
"It's amazing," said sixth-grader Micah Black. "To run twenty-six miles, it's like you're dead after it. Twenty-six miles is a really long way."
Added her equally-impressed classmate Lucas Travis: "It was hard enough running one mile. Twenty-six would be a lot harder."
And it was hard for Newsom, who admitted she hardly grew up as an athlete.
"I was active because my family was active, but I didn't play sports," she recalled. "One time my dad tried to get me to run and I didn't want to finish. He just kept saying, 'Make it to the next mailbox. Just make it to the next mailbox,' and eventually I made it home.
"That became the basis for my story since I was in the eighth grade. We've just been making it to the next mailbox, and Boston is my big mailbox."
Not the city, but the race.
The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest 26.2 mile run, making it the "holy grail" of marathons for avid racers.
Newsom's been focused on it as far back as a decade, when as a contestant on 'Wheel of Fortune,' she told a national television audience it was her goal to qualify for the prestigious race.
She was a novice in competitive distance races then, having just completed her first marathon. Since then she's notched seven more in her belt, adding routine workouts with her local "Run for God" group along the way.
"It's the competition, and just knowing that I can do it," Newsom said of her will to run. "It was the best day of my life when I finished that first marathon, that is until I got married.
"There was just such a high to know that I could physically push myself to do something like that."
In early 2011, Newsom decided it was time to make her move towards the holy grail. She ramped up her training over a seven-week period ahead of June's RNR San Diego Marathon, which is a Boston Marathon qualifier.
"She ended up missing (the qualifying time) by 53 seconds, which works out to about two seconds a mile," said Newsom's trainer and former Bryan College track standout, Andrew Dorn. "That was tough, but her initial reaction after not quite hitting the mark was to go again."
So off she went two weeks later to Tupelo, Mississippi, for one of Boston's final qualifiers. This time she hit her mark, crossing the line in 3 hours, 48 minutes and 59 seconds, which was nearly three minutes faster than her San Diego run.
Her joy, however, was short-lived. New qualifying procedures put in place this year eliminated Newsom's time in a second round of cuts. She was once again on the outside looking in, 13 seconds shy of a time that would have put her in the Boston field.
That's when fate stepped in.
Newsom contacted a few charities, including Team Hoyt, about finding a spot with their groups running the race. It turns out Team Hoyt had just lost one of its long-time members for the Boston run the same day Newsom sent them an email.
Finally she was in.
"I could be running Boston on April 16 as just a qualifier," she says with a smile, "but now I feel truly blessed to be running with an amazing team."
Not just any team. A team that in a way, personifies her journey.
Dick Hoyt and his son Rick will be running their 30th consecutive Boston Marathon this year. Like each one before, Rick will be confined to a wheel chair because of cerebral palsy, pushed by his 71-year-old father.
"They're such an example of perseverance, devotion and our Heavenly Father's love," Newsom said. "They never quit. They're motto is, 'Yes You Can,' and know I can do this. He's given me this ability and this opportunity."
And she is doing her best to share it with those around her.
Every member of Team Hoyt must raise $5,000 for charity before running the race, and with the help of Rhea County and its surrounding communities Newsom raised $8,228. Much of it came from a "Run with Trish" 5K, but nearly $900 of it came from a penny campaign by the students in Newsom's Dayton City School classes.
Newsom keeps track of her journey on her blog and hopes to document her trip on camera, including portions of the race. She has also set up a live tracker through the school's website that will allow her students and friends to follow her on the race path on Monday and track her progress.
"It's truly unbelievable to see God's hand in this and see how he brought us all together," Newsom said. "To do the big run here in this way, I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Her final mailbox is in full view. Her dream is about to become a reality, thanks in part to her willingness to keep trying... and maybe a little help from above.