The Casual Runner

My First Mile: Jake

The Casual Runner Team wants to welcome our newest member, Jake.  We are excited to have Jake on the Team, and there is no better way for him to introduce himself to all of the Casual Runners out there than by sharing the story of his first mile. 

Unlike some of my fellow Casual Runners, I have considered myself a “runner” as far back as I can remember (for the first 38 years of my life, “runner” really meant “sprinter”). From the time I could put one foot in front of the other, I wanted to go as fast as my two feet could carry me. I was the fastest sprinter of my age throughout elementary school and don’t remember losing a foot race to anyone before a county track meet in 6th grade. In 7th grade, my new track coach made everyone run for a couple miles at every practice, even those of us only interested in the short distance races.


Kachow! Jake showing off his awesome race costuming skills.

I was a sprinter, running anything measured in miles was for the cross country team, right?… what the hell was he trying to do to me? It didn’t take long before I got my first introduction to shin splints (a recurring issue for me over the years) and decided to turn my attention to other interests. The lesson I took away: I was not built for distance running.


A few years ago, my wife Jennifer and I were living in Tampa and a friend of hers was in town to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. We made plans to go stay at Disney World, do the parks, and cheer on her friend. The morning of the race, she woke up early and got started on her long run on a cold February morning (cold for Orlando, that is). The rest of us slept in and grabbed some coffee before heading out to cheer her on somewhere around the halfway point. As we were standing there, bundled up, watching crazy people run by, I clearly remember thinking, and probably saying aloud, “There’s no way I’ll ever do that!”


So, after 38 years of doing my best to avoid distance running, my wife tells me she wants to train for a half marathon, specifically the 2013 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. We’re both big fans of food and wine, so talking me into going to the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival at Disney World was pretty easy; the half marathon part was a little more challenging.


Jennifer & Jake celebrating their 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World Half Marathon finishes.

I played the part of supportive husband, “Sure, Honey… I’ll do it with you.” But in my head I was thinking, “You have lost your mind, Woman!”

She told me about the run/walk method and I gave it some more thought. After all, I was making an effort to get in better shape and looking for something to help motivate me. It was also a good way to stay connected to Jennifer while I was working in Korea and would give us something to do together when I got home.

Those were my first few steps in the mental battle, even though I still hadn’t actually taken a step. A few months later, Jennifer flew out to visit and took me out for a run using her Garmin to keep us moving between run and walk cycles. We ran 4 miles right out of the gate. Those were my first few miles of the physical battle, but it was the mental battle that I won that day: I started to think I might actually be able to do it.


Fueled by my new-found drive, and using the tools of the run/walk method and a Garmin of my own, I continued my training over the next few months. Jennifer and I made it back under the same roof and we started to train together.


Going bi-coastal to conquer the Inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland.

I had hoped we would be able to run side by side, but we figured out pretty quickly that wasn’t meant to be; our running styles are just too different. I figured out that running too slow is one of the things that cause my shin splints. I have to run fast during my run cycles and walk slow during my walk cycles or the splints come right back.

Every Casual Runner defines running in their own way, and I found what works for me… the key is to find what works for you. I have currently completed 8 distance races of 10 or more miles and plan to run 5 more before the end of 2015.

Through all of those races, I have an amazing running partner who also happens to be a Casual Runner. She runs her way and I run mine. You see, I WASN’T built for distance running; I’m a sprinter. I just sprint between my walk cycles now.


Anyone who says that it isn’t about the bling is just lying.

Jake’s story is the latest in our series of First Mile features. You can check out the others below, and, if you are so inclined, we’d love to add your own story to this collection!

– Jennifer is a mainstay of the Casual Runner Team, but she had to start somewhere. Here is her first mile story.

– Mike also had to start somewhere. As we mentioned above, it took him several times of trying and failing before he was able to succeed in his goal of becoming a Casual Runner, Here is his story.

– Starting from a different point of view, Steve, ran his first mile, and never looked back.

– In sharing her first mile story, Jen helped us understand the way we view ourselves as runners and running itself.

– Ryan’s compelling first mile involved conquering some personal challenges.

– Carly shared with us why she wants to be a runDisney Princess, and reminded us of the importance of setting personal goals and sticking to them.

– Allison inspired us by sharing where she found her own inspiration.

– Kari’s first miles and race experience were unique and personal, and serve to remind us that we all have unique experiences and stories to share.

The Casual Runner Team wants to hear from you. If you have any questions about anything we cover here on Casual Runner, if you have any questions regarding running gear or training for your own Casual Running needs, or if there is anything that you would like us to cover on Casual Runner, please leave a comment or email us using the links below.  To ensure that you do not miss all of the great content from Casual Runner, please be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and add us to your circle on Google+.  See you out on the running trails!  



4 thoughts on “My First Mile: Jake

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