Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)
A: I grew up on a small farm outside of Kahoka, Missouri. I lived there until I graduated from high school and went off to college. The summer after my freshman year of college I applied to work at cool places all over the country, like in Yellowstone and Alaska, but somehow I ended up at the Wall Drug Store, in Wall, SD. The whole interview process was completed via email, and because my name is Jesse, they were expecting me to be a girl. Despite that, I really enjoyed living in the Badlands and Black Hills area. Since then I have lived in 6 other states (including an island off the coast of Maine). I moved to Rapid City in the fall of 2013 to pursue a certification in secondary education, and have been here ever since. I am now a teacher and coach at South Middle School.
I’m also getting married this month, to a fellow running club member. We actually met at one of the social runs that the runner’s club puts on.
Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?
A: I first started running during track season in 8th grade. I had noticed in PE and recess that I seemed to be able to run or play longer than other kids, and I knew that my dad had been a good runner back in the day, so I figured I would give it a try.
Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?
A: I haven’t run much with a group since college. Nowadays I typically run by myself or with my fiancé. On days when I want to run faster, she bikes or roller blades alongside me.
Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?
A: Definitely roads. I fall almost every time I run on a trail, so that kind of takes the fun out of it for me. I prefer to hike on the trails.
Q: What is your favorite distance or race?
A: 5k on the track. I’ve always liked running track more than road races or cross country. It’s so easy to get into a rhythm and not think about the fact that you’re running 12.5 laps around an oval. However, for some reason that way of thinking never worked for me in the 10k on the track. 25 laps is just tedious and excruciating.
Q: If I didn’t run I’d ………..
A: Probably be a lot heavier then I currently am. If I ever stop running, I’m going to have to seriously limit my caloric intake.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
A: I love the competitive aspect of it. Whether the competiveness comes from running in a race, or it comes from running a workout or a particular route faster than I ever have, being competitive is what keeps me going.
Q: What is your favorite running memory?
A: Probably running at the Chili Pepper Festival cross country meet at the University of Arkansas. Growing up in Missouri, I knew all about the University of Arkansas’ program and their legendary coach, John McDonnell. It was so cool to compete in that environment and against that level of competition. Our team camp was set up right next to Oklahoma State, who went on to win the Division 1 National Championship for cross country that fall. I also ran my 10k PR in that race. After my race, I was standing near the start line watching another race begin, and somebody approached the tall guy standing next to me and asked to take a picture with him. Then I realized that I had been standing right next to John McDonnell for about 5 minutes and had no idea it was him!
Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual?
A: I used to be pretty superstitious about what I had to eat, what I had to wear and a particular warmup routine that I had to follow before a race, but not anymore. Now I just go out and run.
Q: What are your running goals for the future?
A: I would still like to break 16 minutes for the 5k. I ran a 16:20 last summer, so hopefully that ship hasn’t sailed. I also want to run a race in all 50 states. I’ve ran in 21 right now, so I’m almost halfway finished.
Q: What advice do you have for new runners?
A: I tell my middle schoolers all the time, just keep running! One of the things I love about running is that you truly get out of it what you put into it. So the harder you work, the better you are going to be.