904’s Fittest: Jason Fe Langston
Name: Jason Fe Langston
Each month I am pleasantly surprised by the amazing people we share Jacksonville with. This month I had the chance to meet Jason Langston.
Over the years you may have heard of him as the one who starts the Gate River Run Dead last in an effort to raise awareness about organ donation. Each year anonymous sponsors pledge a dollar amount for each person he passes. His father was an organ donor recipient, making it a very personal event. That in itself is enough to have him as a featured athlete but last year he completed something I can’t even fathom, 48 Iron Distance Triathlons in each of the 48 contiguous states in 4 months, all in less than 17 hours.
What?!?! That’s what I said too! The first thing I did was knock on his knees to check for bionic legs… I think we could have easily written a book but he gave us the short version of how he got started.
“I started in 2003 progressing fast and enjoying different sports. I went from a 5k to an ultra -marathon, a sprint tri to an Ironman and then onto competitive bicycling racing. While training for my second Ironman in 2010 I was hit by a car. No broken bones just all the ligaments in my left shoulder were stretched and the shoulder was falling out of socket. Subsequently I needed shoulder surgery with months of rehab. We weren’t sure if I would ever be able to do the long distance events that I was used to. It was during that time I said to myself, if I can, I will do something great for a lesser known cause and that’s when the Iron Triathlon challenge was born.”
“I didn’t know it at the time but it was just a few years prior in 2006 that I had adopted my lesser known cause, Maggie Mae. She was a stray and had the strong possibility of being put down. She was nothing but skin and bones, her ribs and spine were protruding from her fur. Even with this, she would gingerly take food from my hand. No dog with this disposition needed to be put down. So I adopted her and to raise awareness on stopping animal abuse and promote animal adoption, I tied it in with the Iron Triathlon challenge.”
“In 2011 I just cycled and ran to give the shoulder as much time as possible to heal before swimming. Starting January 2012 I started swimming laps, working to my schedule of running 9 miles to the pool, swimming a few miles then running 9 more miles back home. I did this 5 days a week with long bike rides on the weekend.”
Ok, question time. I don’t even know where to begin. Just the training itself is hard to imagine.
How did you recoup from each event let alone the training? Did you foam roll? Massage?
“Some massage by my support crew. The first day after each event was just a constant feeling of fatigue but by the third day I was fidgety and ready to go again. It got to a point where the racing was my recoup. It’s wild what our bodies can do. We were designed to be able to do these things. We all used to be hunters and gatherers, we can still do all of those things, we just have to have to push our bodies and they’ll adapt.”
Did you suffer any injuries?
I had a bad shin splint on my left leg and that made me have to come up with a better system for the marathons. I would walk a ¼ mile then run ¾ of a mile which gave me breaks to shoot for.
How about the swims, where did you do all of the swimming?
“I did all the swimming in pools to make it easier for documentation. Every pool was at a YMCA except for Utah they didn’t have a Y pool.” (I waited for a Mormon joke, noth’n)“I looked at doing all official Ironmans but all of the states didn’t have them and it wasn’t logistically possible in the time frame I was shooting for.”
What was the hardest part of the entire trip?
The 1st one, (chuckle) Florida almost killed me. I looked like a skeleton after losing ten pounds on that course. It was so hot!!! I didn’t feel like eating and just drank water. That one made all the others seem a lot easier up until Connecticut. I had a mental breakdown. First my swim was delayed due to lightning and thunder then later on the RV died. I kept thinking through the entire event, if we can’t get it started again everything I am doing is pointless… I wouldn’t have a place to stay, a way to get to the next state and couldn’t afford any major repairs. It was definitely a mental challenge. Everything ended up working out ok though after a jump. Up north I had some tough rides before working out the kinks in our mapping system. I ended up on some gravel roads going up a 13% grade incline with my back wheel spinning trying to get up it. Fun times…”
The question we’ve all been waiting for… What did you eat!?!?
(chuckle) Tuna fish and macaroni was my favorite after an event but I ate a ton of Hungry Man meals. They were cost effective and easy for my support crew to make on the RV. I ate around six during each event. Everything was pretty much high calorie and microwavable, oh, and lots of Debbie Snacks to keep my sugar levels high. On my off days it was Cracker Barrel and Denny’s.
What was the best or most memorable part?
“The scenery… It was just beautiful, indescribable. In Louisiana a water crane just started flying with me off to my left for about a mile. It was wild, I was on my bike going around 22-23 miles per hour and here is this water crane flying right next to me, it was surreal. Out west all of the stars… I’d still be running at 11pm and would turn my head lamp out so I could see them. There’d be stars everywhere, as far as you could see… I saw all kinds of animals, skunks, cows, raccoons. The cows surprised me the most though, how curious they were. There was a heard that followed me all the way to the corner of the fence, just bunched up watching me pass.”
So what’s the next challenge? Do have something planned already?
“Well I have some ideas. I really try not to say a whole lot until I’m ready to start but it will probably be something that will take me across the country again.”
The Gate River Run is already here again. Do you have a goal of how many people you want to pass this year?
“My goal is always to pass more than I did the first year.”
What’s your pace?
“Around a 7 min mile, last year I came in at 1:06. This year I might be a little slower. My knees and hips are still recovering but it’s not anything that I won’t be able to work through.”
Well, I’ll see you out there. Good luck! And thanks for being another awesome person here in Jacksonville!
For those of you who like to find out more about Jason. You can find him on Facebook or his website, www.2helpthem.com.