The Casual Runner

My First Mile: Jason Cartwright

My First Mile
Guest Contributor: Jason Cartwright


Jason joins the growing collection of Casual Runners sharing their First Mile Stories.
If you want to be inspired by so many who achieved so much,
check out our First Mile Series Now!

Jason, a Casual Runner in his own right, is a good friend of Casual Runner and Casual Adventurer.  Jason lives in Orlando, Florida and enjoys spending his time at the Walt Disney World Resort with his wife, Laura.

As Casual Runners, we all know that each training run or race can be a completely different experience from the last.  Sometimes our head is in the game and we stay focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes we just want to get it over with.  And sometimes we don’t even think about running and our minds wander elsewhere.  About a year ago (when I first started writing this!), I went out for what would be my longest training run to date.  The 18 mile run I had planned turned into an emotional 20 mile journey down memory lane!

Just another 20 mile training run a few months after the first one!

7 miles into my carefully mapped out route, I reached my old neighborhood. I was looking forward to running through that neighborhood, but found myself getting very emotional. It just hit me that this was where my running and weight loss journey all began.  6 years earlier, the doctor told me I was “borderline pre-diabetic.”  That terrified me so I started walking and counting calories.  I had always been heavy and never had any interest in doing anything remotely athletic, so this was extremely out of character for me.     

One of my heaviest points before my running journey began

I started out at 335 pounds and just 4 months later had lost 35 pounds! Unfortunately, I did not quite break that 300 pound barrier before falling off track and gradually gaining 25 pounds back.  Since then, I’ve fallen off track and got back on multiple times, but that year taught me that I could do this!  I eventually did break that 300 pound barrier when I lost 50 pounds in a year just from walking and eating right.  

Toeing the line of my FIRST 1/2 Marathon, the 2016 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

But this is not a story about walking or weight loss, I promise it is about running!  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would transition from mostly walking to mostly running!  By about mile 12 of my long training run, I realized that Google Maps had failed me!  My 18 mile plan was going to be at least 19. Shortly after that I got a motivation boost and refreshed supplies from my then fiancée, now wife, Laura. I had only run greater than a 1/2 marathon distance once before, so it felt amazing to have a fresh towel and cold water!

…and this is what happened 13.1 miles later!

A couple miles later I realized this was going to be more than 19 miles, so I decided, “Why not make it 20?!”   At about mile 18.5 I started getting very emotional again. My mind had been wandering and I started piecing together a timeline of when my running journey began.  I realized it was EXACTLY 1 year ago to the day that I became a runner!  

Running through Sleeping Beauty Castle during my favorite race, the 2016 Disneyland 10K

On March 26, 2015 I was participating in a Biggest Loser Challenge at work and was having a particularly bad week.  I was feeling down about it, but then pulled some inspiration from so many amazing friends that had pushed their boundaries and found success with running and/or weight loss. One of those people was my wife Laura who I just started talking to 4 days earlier!  I went to the gym that night and instead of doing my standard walking routine, I got on that treadmill and started running!  I couldn’t believe the adrenaline that came over me!  I actually ran an entire mile for the first time and never looked back!

Approaching the finish line of the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon!

Fast forward one year to the training run this story began with and before I knew it, I had finished 20 miles!  Was it tough? Yes!  Was I in pain? Yes!  Was it worth it?  Hell yes!!  I couldn’t have been more proud of my accomplishments. That long morning run was a grueling, yet wonderful trip through the past, present, and future of my running journey.  I knew I could do anything I put my mind to!  Another year has gone by, and I have now completed my first marathon, the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, and am training for the 2018 Dopey Challenge.  Nobody I have ever known, including myself, could have seen this coming, but I say bring it on!

Jason joins the growing collection of Casual Runners sharing their First Mile Stories.
If you want to be inspired by so many who achieved so much,
check out our First Mile Series Now!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!