Isaac Heitmann ’22 and his mother, Chiuying Lu, won the Catholic Medical Center (C.M.C.) Manchester City Half Marathon Relay with a time of 1:42:25.8 on November 8. Heitmann, a member of Andover Boys Cross Country and Track & Field, ran a second leg of 8.3 miles and finished almost three minutes ahead of the runner-up.
“Crossing the finish line was a pretty memorable moment for me. The time wasn’t too much to brag about, but my mom was jumping up and down and screaming when she saw me since we’d just won the relay together, and seeing her so excited made me feel like I’d accomplished something,” wrote Heitmann in an email to The Phillipian.
Heitmann and his mother share a love for running that began several years ago and continues today. According to Heitmann, this race further strengthened their bond.
“My relationship with my mom is something I’m really grateful for. We have always been comfortable around each other, and she has given me a lot of inspiration because of the way she puts a huge amount of effort into everything she does. That’s a big reason why seeing her so happy because of our win meant a ton to me when I crossed the finish line. I think that this win has definitely given us something to talk about when I’m older,” wrote Heitmann.
Despite the need for safety restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the race still provided a fun and competitive environment, according to Heitmann.
“From what I saw, the atmosphere at the race was pretty happy and almost laid-back. I think that a lot of people there hadn’t done a race like this in months, and they were probably grateful simply for the chance to have some safe, friendly competition,” wrote Heitmann.
In order to win the gold medal, Heitmann trained vigorously in the weeks leading up to the race, citing his Cross Country practices as a key component of his regimen.
“Before the race, I had been mostly training with [Andover’s] cross country team and participating in their drills. These included not only speed drills, but also longer runs (8-11 miles) as well, both of which were deciding factors in my race,” wrote Heitmann.
Though the training process was strenuous, Heitmann benefited from the company and support of his fellow teammates.
“For me, being able to do long runs with my teammates was probably the most beneficial aspect of training. Long-distance running is fairly painful (in more technical terms, it’s ‘geared towards endurance’), and talking to teammates while running is a great way to practice ignoring pain,” wrote Heitmann.
Boys Cross Country Head Coach Patrick Rielly was not surprised by the outcome of the race. Rielly pointed to Heitmann’s focus and drive as qualities that are essential for winning competitive races.
“He’s a focused, committed athlete who trains consistently and well. I wasn’t surprised to see that he and his mother had won their combined race because Isaac thrives in competitive settings in which he can test his strength against other runners,” wrote Rielly in an email to The Phillipian.
For Heitmann, running has allowed him to improve more than just his physical conditioning.
“Running honestly gives me a chance to relax and reorganize my mind. That sounds pretentious, since I’m in high school, but it really does help me take my mind off of more pressing matters at school or at home. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to listen to my favorite songs and take in cool scenery,” wrote Heitmann.