Finishing the New York City Marathon, the world’s largest marathon, on Sunday, Dr. Jon Huebschman with the Internal Medicine Group of Cleveland is making a life statement on the importance of staying fit, setting goals and enjoying life.
Huebschman was among some 48,000 runners being cheered by more than 2 million spectators as he ran the 26.2-mile journey through the five boroughs of New York City, which started in Staten Island at 9:40 a.m. Sunday.
He described the 43rd running of the NYC Marathon as “awesome” and “perfect,” adding that “It couldn’t have been better!”
Ordinarily he trains for each race for about four to six months, but Huebschman said this year he trained “extra months” and was feeling “very good.” His time was 4 hours, 42 seconds. This was his fourth full marathon. He has also run nine half marathons so far. The New York City marathon began in 1970 with a small group of runners in Central Park and has been held every year since, with the exception of 2012, when the race was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.
Huebschman, who ran the world-famous marathon in 2009, said, “I was entered last year when they canceled the New York Marathon. I had actually gotten to New York when they canceled it. So I had my entry transferred to this year.”
Because of the popularity of the race, participation is chosen largely by a lottery system.
“In the New York marathon you have to qualify or get in via lottery. I got in via lottery,” said Huebschman, who started running in grade school but lapsed off a few years when he first moved to Cleveland in 1987.
“I enjoy running because it’s one of those things that is completely up to you,” he said. “Your success, failure, performance — it’s nobody’s fault but your own. You do as well as you train yourself to do. When you’re training for a marathon like this, I do at least one long run on a weekend. It becomes part of your schedule. I get up early on Saturday or Sunday mornings before the sun comes up to get it done. During the week — it depends on my schedule — I’ll run either the first thing in the morning before I go to work or before I go home after work.”
Such self-discipline became a part of the 55-year-old physician’s life as a youth raised in Southwestern Indiana, according to Huebschman.
“Growing up in the Midwest with a German heritage I was brought up that this is what you do, and you don’t have to have anyone standing over you to make sure you do it right,” he explained. “You were just told to do it, and do it right. I had grandparents who grew up on farms and you were given a task and it was expected to be done when it was supposed to be done.”
His grown son, Kevin, is also a runner with the same grit that propels him to take every task seriously and responsibly. In April, Huebschman said he visited his son in Champaign, III.
“My son decided he wanted to run a marathon,” he said. “He’d run a couple of half-marathons with me and decided he wanted to run a marathon up in Champaign, III., where he lives. So we started training for that and he hurt his foot. But he decided to run anyway. He, a friend of his and I started that morning. We made it 10 or 11 miles before his foot gave out. I walked with him until he got the turn-off for the half-marathon; then I finished the marathon while he finished the half-marathon.”
According to Huebschman, running can be a metaphor for life in general with similar lessons in self-discipline and the need to pace one’s self so as not to burn out or give up.
“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Life is a marathon, not a sprint.’ It’s just like if you’re doing a long training run or a marathon. There are times when you think, ‘This it it. I can’t do this anymore. This is ridiculous! I can’t go any further.’ Then you gather yourself and move on — just keep heading for the finish line. If you fall, get back up.”
As a physician, Huebschman is also keen on raising awareness about the benefits of walking and running — not as much as a sport, but as a lifestyle choice to improve health and fitness.
“I tell people to get out and walk. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day you are going to have more energy and feel better than if you stayed at home and did nothing,” he said.
Huebschman, who attended medical school at Indiana University, admits, “I’d love to run the Boston Marathon one day. But I’d have to work on my qualifying time. That one, you only get in by qualifying or running for a charity. There is no lottery. It’s considered the Granddaddy of world marathons. I think before I die I would really like to run Boston.”
Although the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15 turned a celebration of running into a nightmare of terror — killing three and injuring more than 260 people, Huebschman admitted, “I’m one of those who would have been out the very next day to finish the marathon. You can paralyze yourself worrying about what everyone else is thinking or doing. You can’t live like that.”