I notice that we always get stories (and books) about the most elite athletes, but how many of us middle-of-the-packers can relate to their stories. For example, Scott Jurek's stories about running in the dark during an ultra with your headlamp off to sneak up on the runner you want to pass - then at the last moment turning on your light and blaze past so you can crush their spirits. To most of us, the leaders are in a different orbit. Most of us are chipping away at our personal bests and deriving much pleasure in the process. This led me to ask some runners I admire to answer a few interview-style questions. Their stories will hopefully inspire others as they have inspired me!
Cheers to our first member of the Gaited Community. I met Jason (featured below) on the DC Metro at 5:30am en route to my first marathon. I was totally unprepared and about to hurt myself. Jason seemed so calm and ready to (actually) race it! He talked me into going with coaching to get better prepared. I owe him big time for that, and introducing me to 'Born To Run's Eric Orton (www.runningwitheric.com). A few years ago, Jason started out with >2hour half marathon - got stronger, faster, smarter - today he's preparing for the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he'll likely break 3hours (sub 7 min/ mile for 26.2 miles!).
*Note, I've been chasing him for a while, I frequently joke that me getting faster/better helps encourage him to improve. Well, something's working! GO Jason!!
> Why did you start running?
About 2005, I started running because I needed to lose weight. I had run very little growing up or playing any sports. I was 190 lbs and I needed to do something about that. I did very little running and signed up for my first 5k, Washington DC's race for the cure. I remember running for 15 minutes max at a time and never doing more than 3 days a week. I ran that race and expected to run with 10 min per mile pace. I ended up running my first 5k at 25:55 at an 8:20 pace much faster than I thought. I loved it. I loved running with people, I loved the competition and I loved pushing myself. The very next day, I signed up for the Baltimore half marathon and pieced together a training plan from runner’s world. I loved running but didn’t really begin doing it daily until the winter of 2005. When a personal situation forced me to reevaluate my life, I began running daily. I lost weight and started getting faster. My first marathon was in 2006 and since not a year has gone by without at least a marathon.
> What were your first runs like?
Horrible. I hated it. I had old new balance shoes that I bought for fashion and ran in. I had no idea what shoes to buy, how fast to run, or what to run in. I ran in army fatigue cut offs and cotton t shirts. I sweated so much, I had no idea what to do. But when I raced, it felt so freeing.
> What was your most memorable run so far and why?
JFK 50. Until this race, I had never believed in the runners high. But at mile 42 I was so happy and delirious. I was slapping people’s backs and yelling that we were going to finish. I had no idea how I was going to do and to finish in the top 100 was a big deal for me.>Note, top 100 is better than 10% finisher. That is the oldest, biggest Ultra in the country, so that's saying something!!
> Do you do other fitness related activity? If so, what?
I do core. I enjoy biking, canoeing and hiking. If I could kayak everyday, I would. I enjoyed rock climbing in the past, but I rarely do anything besides run.
> What has kept you running?
Love. I truly believe it is the only sport that I practice every day and see growth. I love because I need no equipment besides my body and shoes. I don’t need a weight or a bike. It is all about me.
> What is your next running goal or milestone?
Run a sub 3 marathon. Finish a 100 miler. Become more efficient trail runner.
> Have you seen any improvement to your health that can be attributed to running? If so, please explain.
Lowering of my HR and weight.
> What has been your worst running experience so far?
Just feeling the doubt of myself. I have run races where I start doubting myself and my ability. This has led to some bad races and a few DNFs. I regret those but I am glad to have learned.
> What advice do you have for new runners?
Don’t believe that every run needs to be run at a break neck speed. In fact, run slow at first. Force yourself to run slow. If not, it will not be fun or enjoyable. Also remember that you need to be consistent and patient with running. The more consistent you are the less likely running injuries will occur.
Any questions for Jason? (I pick his brain all the time). He works as an educator and Cross Country Coach.