I’ve known Jason Cook for quite a while, since the days when we were both Mckinley Elementary Mavericks. He’s a couple years older than I am, which is enough of a divide that we didn’t really hang out much, but we grew up in the same neighborhood and matriculated through the same Norman Public Schools.
By the time I was a junior, running had become my sport and passion and I was logging lots of miles on my own in addition to the allotted practice time at school. That whole time and through my first few years of college, I can safely say I never encountered Jason a single time running the streets. I know he never participated in track or cross country in school and started running much later, and so it’s pretty cool to see the level that he has attained over the last couple years and witness the accomplishments he has started to rack up. I’ll try to lend some insight into the man who just won both the Oklahoma City and Williams Route 66 Marathons this year.
(As a sidenote, I would say Jason is probably more regimented in his running routine than I am, but we share a love of outdoor exploration and hoppy beer. He also may be rapidly approaching the all time mileage record run on Pickard Avenue, presumably held at this point by either myself or Adam Cohen — but the deficit is shrinking rapidly.)
(Above: Jason wins the 2014 Williams Route 66 Marathon, photo by Chris Barnes)
SCOTT: Tell us about your beginnings in the sport and what compelled you to get your feet wet at the marathon?
JASON: I am not sure where the desire to run came from. I have great memories of running, or trying to run, the two miles from my house to my parent’s house with my brother Brad early in the morning when we lived together in college. I think more than anything, trying to figure out the puzzle of overcoming shin splints might have pushed me to keep at it. I very much wanted to just be able to get out and enjoy a run. Running was something positive and personally rewarding that I could do on a regular basis and moving to the marathon just seemed to be part of a natural progression for me.
SCOTT: Where do you work and when do you train?
JASON: I work in Human Resources at OU. I run before and/or after work.
SCOTT: What are your race plans for the foreseeable future? Ultra, track, major marathons?
JASON: Hard to say. I still have a couple of bucket list marathons that I would like to run like Big Sur, New York, and Chicago. I am considering the Hospital Hill Run in Kansas City in the coming year as I have heard good things about it. I also hope to do at least a few trail races here and there next year and I would really like to get back and tackle the Imogene Pass Run in Ouray, Colorado again (Jason previously finished this race as the top runner not hailing from altitude). I would like to try some of the longer, high altitude ultras out west at some point but I do not have a specific time frame in mind.
SCOTT: What is your race plan typically at the two in state marathons, you have just managed to win in the same year? Do you just set out how you feel or do you concern yourself with the rest of the field? (ed. note: this is no small feat, with notoriously fickle weather at both events and variable competition in any given year)
JASON: For these two races I have just tried to run as well as the weather and my training will allow me to run. I have had two particularly tough years in Oklahoma City. My first attempt at the marathon was in OKC in 2009, and although I was physically prepared for the race, those last 6 miles were tougher than I thought they would be. An ambitious early pace in a warm 2012 caught up with me and I now have a much healthier respect for the conditions on any given day. I had aspirations of eventually winning OKC, but I thought my best chances would be in a of couple years, with several more high mileage training periods under my belt. It was very much a surprise to find myself in the lead and hanging on to win this year. My marathon PR occurred at Route 66 in 2013 with temperatures in the mid 20s. I finished second in a chilly race that motivated me to come back this year. There are a lot of fast runners who are likely to show up any given year, and I just try to focus on my own race and hope for the best.
(Above: Jason wins the 2014 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, photo by Chris Barnes)
SCOTT: Take us through a typical Sunday long run day, of which you have become famously regular for including coffee routine? (ed. note: Jason roasts his own coffee beans)
JASON: Sunday long runs frequently start off with coffee and a bagel an hour or so before I run. I have met up with David Wrenn for most Sunday long runs the past two or three years. We run mostly run on North Base and Rock Creek Road. Typically they are anywhere from 16 – 24 miles.
SCOTT: PRs; number of marathons completed?
JASON: 10 Marathons, PR of 2:36:44
SCOTT: Favorite training shoe?
JASON: Mizuno Sayonara
SCOTT: Beer night before race?
JASON: 2 Anchor IPA’s
SCOTT: Night before race meal?
JASON: Pollo Saltado from Mamaveca’s for lunch followed by Andolini’s pizza for dinner
SCOTT: Highest mileage week?
SCOTT: Favorite Race?
JASON: Tulsa Run
SCOTT: NASCAR or Soccer?
JASON: Indycar or F1, but I like NASCAR
SCOTT: # of consecutive days running same route?
JASON: Its slightly different every day, but I run the same base route 6 days a week, only changing things up on Sunday
SCOTT: # of consecutive days running in same outfit(washed)?
JASON: I have no idea. Quite a few probably. I am sure I get pretty stinky late in the week.
SCOTT: Training group or solo?
JASON: Mostly solo except for Sundays
SCOTT: Regular massage/physio?
SCOTT: Favorite restaurant?
JASON: Pepe Delgados
SCOTT: Favorite beer/wine/other?
JASON: IPA’s, I am partial to Sierra Nevada and Anchor beers.
SCOTT: Final comments?
JASON: My girlfriend Jennifer and my family put up with a lot rigid eating, sleeping, and running specific schedules and are very accommodating to what I am sure appears to be a pretty neurotic lifestyle. Their support, both at races and just in general means more to me than I could ever express to them.
Thanks to Jason for this interview.
(Above: Jason finishing the 17.1 mile run over 13K’ Imogene Pass, never getting below 8K’ (under 3 hours))
Share this post: