This is the second 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.
Kevin Ballantine, 30, Concord
Occupation: Vice President of Operations & Quality Assurance at Icon Advisory Group.
Competing in: Saturday's half-marathon.
Been running since: "I started working out again consistently in January 2009, but really didn't start focus on running until this summer."
Longest race to date: 8K (SouthPark Turkey Trot).
Longest training run: 10.1 miles (three times).
Goal for Saturday's race: "I know I shouldn't have a time goal, I should just be proud to finish the race, but I really want to finish in the 1:40 to 1:50 range."
Q. Why are you doing this?
At the beginning, I had really just wanted to get in shape and lose some weight. After about six months of consistently working out, I finally got to the weight range I wanted to be in. But I am a super-goal-oriented person, so without the weight loss as a goal, I needed something else to look forward to. A good friend from high school suggested doing a half-marathon. She said training wasn't brutal and the recovery time was pretty short. My sister Kristen, who is also running her first half at Thunder Road, suggested that I run it with her, and so here I am!
Q. Have you two been training together?
No, but we've kinda stuck to similar training plans, so it has been cool to finish a long run and then call her and see how she did. This has really brought us closer together. We've gone to running stores together, tried different GUs, and just been able to share a lot of cool experiences through running. Plus, when we both did our first 10 milers, we were super-excited for each other. She just finished doing 12 miles last week -- I was jealous!
Q. Will you run with her on Saturday?
I'm going to start with my sister, and then I will run my race and maybe run with her again for the last ½ mile after I finish. I've been training solo this whole time, so I'll probably just find a pack of people going my pace and trail a bit.
Q. What was your most significant training breakthrough?
Probably running 10 miles for the first time. I was incredibly excited -- even posted it on my Facebook wall and got a lot of support from friends. I've found that I get faster the longer I run, and that has made me feel good about my chances on race day.
Q. Are you more nervous, or are you more excited, about race day?
I am really excited to go out there run a good race. I'm sure I will have plenty of nerves Friday and Saturday morning, but by Mile 3 I should be hitting me groove and really enjoying myself.
Q. Got a song you're planning to cue up on your iPod when the going gets tough?
I've got a special list of like 150 awesome songs on my iPod for the race. If the going gets tough, I'm going to look for one of three songs: "Forever" by Drake, "Hustler" by Simian Mobile Disco, or "Running Free" by Coheed and Cambria.
Q. Can you say yet whether there's a full marathon in your future?
Great question. I want to finish this guy and then see how I feel. I think I would enjoy the challenge, but I would really find it hard to get in all of the training required. 50/50.
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.