Today’s guest is someone that I’ve bumped into a few times on the trails back in Florida.
I’m looking forward to getting to know a little more about the man, the myth, the legend, the colonel.
Let’s get the conversation started as I go a few easy miles with James Mathis.
A Simple Childhood
James Mathis ran non-competitively beginning in middle school.
He grew up in rural Florida and would often run around the “block” after school.
James guesstimated the block to be around 2 miles in length.
Upon graduating from high school, James joined the Army.
In the Army running was a requirement.
After he completed his time in the armed forces, James got married.
He was married for 18 years before he and his wife got a divorce.
Following the divorce, his health habits began to go downhill.
An Unexpected Turn
James has always enjoyed drinking, but 3 years after his divorce he found himself relying on alcohol.
The bar that he frequented had started a run club that would meet every other Sunday morning.
James couldn’t run at the time, but he figured he could walk and then have a beer afterward.
He did that for a few weeks and then decided to join the group and walk in an upcoming 5k.
James was about 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds at this point in his life.
His knees hurt from all the extra weight and over time he found that his knees stopped hurting as he kept losing weight.
James wanted to meet with the club more than just every other week.
He organized a weekly meet up and things quickly escalated from there.
James became close friends with some of the club members and began doing 5ks and 10ks nearly every weekend.
It didn’t take long for them to get the idea to want to do a half marathon.
At the end of the first year of running, James had completed 4 half marathons.
From there, his running escalated once again as he began eyeing a marathon.
James wanted more guidance as the distances got longer so he hired a coach to help.
Needs: Dirt And Shade
James began his running journey on the pavement, but once he found the trails there was no going back.
As he is getting older and slower, James has found that he needs dirt and shade.
He especially enjoys time events that take place on loops and are “long enough to take a nap.”
James is fortunate that he has 6 trailheads within a 30-minute drive.
In the last few years, James has done several ultras with his longest distance thus far being 50 miles.
He enjoys doing things that people said he couldn’t do.
A Social Runner
The social aspect is admittedly one of the biggest reasons James enjoys running.
Running friends are unique, in that everyone goes through a lot together both in training and during the race.
As a once-broken person, James has found that there are a lot of people similar to himself on the trails.
James has plans to eventually hit the 100k distance, with the possibility of going further.
The seed to complete 100 miles is planted and he won’t rule it out in the future.
He will continue to prove others wrong while enjoying some much-needed time on the trails.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon and 5K
- Combos(R) Marathon and Half Marathon
- Long Haul 100
- Seven Trails Ultra Festival
Stay connected to James Mathis by following him on Instagram.
James Mathis prefers to run distances that are long enough for him to take a nap. Those distances also tend to be the ones people don't think he can do and he loves to prove them wrong. Click To Tweet
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