Roseville principal takes on half marathon

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 6, 2013

 Holly and Pete Hedemark cool off after finishing the half-marathon race Oct. 20 in Detroit. Pete Hedemark has been running for four years as a way to keep in shape.

Holly and Pete Hedemark cool off after finishing the half-marathon race Oct. 20 in Detroit. Pete Hedemark has been running for four years as a way to keep in shape.

Photo courtesy of Pete Hedemark

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ROSEVILLE — On Oct. 20, Roseville High School Principal Pete Hedemark completed a half marathon, 13.1 miles, in Detroit.

The 47-year-old Hedemark was not the only person from the school system or the area to participate in the Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon, which also includes half-marathon, relay and 5k races, though he is the first to admit he does not look the part of a runner. Hedemark said in the four or so years he’s been running, he has been able to do one important thing: improve his health.

“I just had to take better care of my health,” he said. “I knew in the first five or six years as an administrator, and also being a parent with young kids, I had developed very unhealthy habits, and I am working hard to break those — like eating late, skipping breakfast, skipping lunch and not taking the time to exercise.”

Hedemark said what made him decide to take up running was being at Roseville’s Big Bird Run in 2009, where one of his daughters was playing in the school band. He said he ran into some friends who were running in the race, and after talking with them, he decided to make it a goal to run in it the following year.

“I went to Hanson’s Running Shop, got fitted for the right shoes, and started slowly,” He said. “What was unbelievable to me is the support and network of people who also enjoy doing it and helped me do it.”

Hedemark said district staff members Keith Penhorwood, Scott Trice, and Sheryl Vitale, as well as local parents Walter Kotelniski and Rebecca Hendren, have all been great members of his own running support network and are some solid runners in their own rights.

His training ended up going well enough that he took on the Free Press Talmer Bank half marathon for the first time in 2010, finishing it and leading him to believe he was more than ready for the Big Bird Run.

“I was getting ready for that but was ready to run for double that, and more,” Hedemark said.

This year, he ran the Free Press Run with his daughter Holly who participated in high school soccer and swimming before graduating.

“It was really rewarding to be able to do with Holly,” Hedemark said. “That was a lot of fun. Of course, she beat me, as she is way faster than I am. I have no dreams of being fast.”

He said he finished at a time of 2 hours and 46 minutes, better than he did last year but below his best time of 2:34. Hedemark added that was “a snail’s pace” compared to the times set by Trice — 1:30 — and Kotelniski, who ran it in 1:28, but he stresses that he was not racing them, just himself.

“You set your own goal, and in some cases, just finishing is a victory,” he said. “That’s a lot of miles.”

Looking forward, Hedemark is planning on entering the Big Bird Run Nov. 10 and the Turkey Trot in downtown Detroit Nov. 28. He said last year’s Turkey Trot was a wonderful event, since he had the chance to run it with all three of his daughters: Holly, Carly and Meghan.

He recommended that anyone interested in getting into running should first invest in a good pair of properly fitted shoes, since those can help prevent injuries. From there, he said to follow the Nike commercial slogan and “just do it.”

“Get out there and don’t care if you start slow; just get out there,” Hedemark said. “If you haven’t run in years, the first time you try to do a couple miles, you’ll end up walking and jogging and walking and jogging, and that’s what books want you to do. Pretty soon, you’re just jogging.”

From there, Hedemark recommended getting in touch with other local runners who can lend encouragement and support, and to eat well.

Trice, who started running in 2008 and occasionally runs with Hedemark, said it’s important to build “a base” level of leg strength by simply getting out and running, and that a person can build the strength to go from the couch to a 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the distance.

“It’s the speed and endurance (that) is really developed with specific training,” Trice said. “For a half marathon distance like Mr. Hedemark did, you need to commit eight-10 weeks to build up for the race, and rest a bit before you actually race.”

Trice added that it is not the distance a person is running when training so much as the time spent out and about, as once muscle starts building after the first week, the runs start to feel better.

“Just having a support group is really helpful. It starts at home with the family,” he said. “Mr. Hedemark is really lucky; he has three girls at home who like to get out and run with him.”

Penhorwood said he primarily trains by himself but added that he enjoys having other people to talk to in the school about training, as they can talk about their personal goals and lend advice or support.

“We have a teacher in our building who boasts a 3:20-something marathon and a sub-12-hour full Ironman race who has taken a lot of time and given me a lot of advice to get me into triathlon training,” Penhorwood said. “Which I would not have done without him. It is a very encouraging community in our building.”

He said that practically no one else who runs in the school building is an elite athlete beyond the Ironman runner, just ordinary people — the sort who make up most of the finishers of these races. 

“For me, the hardest part was simply getting out the door more than once or twice a week,” Penhorwood said. “But having a race goal in mind, even if those race goals at first are smaller, like finishing a 5k or 10k, really helped to make running something that stuck for me.”

He added that goals should be specific, such as deciding to run a half-marathon in an hour and 45 minutes, as vague ones are less likely to get a person out the door on days they do not feel like running.

Vitale said she started running as a way to get exercise with her dog and suggested that if someone is interested in taking it up, that they simply get out and do it to the best of their abilities.

“Whether you run a mile or walk a mile, run five minutes or walk a minute, just getting out there and doing it (is important),” Vitale said. “Having good music helps, too; I prefer to run with music. I know its not always the safest way, but that’s what I prefer.”

She said while she has not actually run with Hedemark, they have talked about what to eat before the race and how to recover afterward. Vitale added that she sees a number of the other runners in the school district show up to races throughout the area.

While Hedemark enjoys other outdoor activities, such as cross-country skiing, swimming, walking, as well as hunting and fishing, he noted he is not particularly good at any of them. But good or not, he said he likes the idea of an endurance activity as a way to keep himself in good health.

“When I started as a principal in 1993, I weighed 185 pounds,” Hedemark said. “I wish I had started running right then.”

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