Thursday, December 10, 2009

At Thunder Road, he'll tackle his first 26.2

This is the last in a series of profiles saluting everyday Charlotte-area runners who are tackling the 13.1-mile and 26.2-mile distances for the first time at the Thunder Road Marathon on Saturday.

Jonathan Heigel, 40, Charlotte
Occupation: Management Consultant.
Competing in: Saturday's full marathon.
Been running: "Off and on since high school, but running long distance seriously only for the past two years as part of a triathlon training focus."
Longest race to date: Half marathon.
Longest training run: 24 miles.
Goal for Saturday's race:‬ "A smart race with a respectable finish -- not jinxing myself with a public time promise."

Q. Why are you doing this?
As an personal fitness goal, but also as preparation for my first full Ironman triathlon in 2010. My wife wisely pointed out it might be a good idea to actually race a standalone 26.2 miles before tacking one on the end of a long race day in the water and on the bike.
Q. What's been the worst training mistake you've made?
Running too hard in training. A good friend and coach once told me "you have to run slow to run fast" -- she's certainly right about building base before trying to set the world on fire.

Q. What was your most significant training breakthrough?
I was pretty amazed the first time I went over 20 miles on a long Saturday morning training run and still could walk afterwards. Two years ago, I'd have thought 20 miles was a long distance to drive, let alone run.

Q. Anything you've turned to for inspiration during your training?
Yes, this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Q. Speaking of quotes, do you have a mantra you'll use if the going gets tough?
"Break it down and deal with it!" Get respectably up the next hill, to the next stoplight, or the next turn and live in the moment. Thinking about how many miles are left does you no good.

Q. What are the most significant things you've learned about yourself during this whole process?
I'm a marathoner trapped in the body of a linebacker, struggling to escape! ... Coming from a strong bicycling and swimming background, I saw running as a necessary evil in triathlon. As I've focused on the long run, especially in terms of form and discipline, I've found I actually like it, almost as much as my other endurance disciplines. I've also gained extreme respect for those runners out there competing in ultra-distance road and trail races. Who knows how far I'll end up running?

Nearly 2,000 marathoners and more than 4,000 half-marathoners are expected to run Thunder Road on Saturday. For details on the race, click here.