Jillian Heddaeus has quickly become one of Tallahassee's best runners and triathletes. Lately, Heddaeus has been tearing it up on the local road running circuit. She finished third overall at last weekend's Red Fox Trot, seventh at the muddy Bradley's 15K, and fifth at the 10 Mile Challenge. Jillian finished 6th in her age group at Ironman 70.3 Panama on February 16th, a race she has competed in since its inception.
Heddaeus balances a full time career, puts in time as a gymnastics coach, inspires young athletes to take up running, and somehow finds time to train and race. Until recently, she served on the Board of Directors for the Gulf Winds Triathlon Club. Here is a little more about this energetic and humble athlete.
SG: What sports did you do growing up? How did you get involved with triathlons?
JH: I was very active as a child and was involved in several sports. My primary childhood sports were gymnastics and then soccer in high school.
I started running as my primary form of exercise in 2008 and participating in local 5k's. I wanted more of a challenge and triathlons seemed like the next "logical" step.
SG: What was your first race?
JH: My first triathlon was in the summer of 2009, part of the Jacksonville race series.
SG. What is your favorite race? What races are on your bucket list?
JH: Ironman 70.3 Panama. I was born and raised in Panama, so I will always be partial to this one. February 2014 will be the third and final year the race is held in Panama. Participating in all three years has been a wonderful experience. I am hoping 70.3 St. Croix is next.
SG: How do you balance work, training, and social time?
JH: Between work, coaching gymnastics in the evenings and training, it makes for a long day. I enjoy each part of what I do every day and try to balance it all as best as I can.
SG: Who has inspired you or served as a mentor?
JH: My father, who knows what it takes to be a competitive cyclist. My mother, who reminds me to have fun with it.
SG: What advice or words of wisdom would you give to a beginner triathlete?
JH: Have fun with it!
Jillian finished 6th in her age group at Ironman Panama 70.3 this past February.