Friday, April 19, 2013

Chasing Adam Hill

I’ve met a lot of people in my life, some for the better, some I’d rather not have the second encounter with; but If I’ve learned anything more valuable from my social life , it takes a deep conversation and couple valuable times with one another for a real certainty to judge. I’ve have a lot of “hero’s” in my life, of course my most prompt is my parents for their unconditional love; but down the years some of my closest influences have shaped my life beyond what I can simply spill onto this page. Many are runners, many are not, and beyond all circumstances they have shaped my life  in a certain manner. Whether the influence was of mentality, strength, wisdom, simplicity, courage, or route to a true gentleman, I’ve picked and nabbed at each “side of the story/ the grass on the other side” and truly believe I’ve given a lot of the aspects a whirl. 

On Tuesday I spent a day with Adam Hill, marking a trail section within the Pisgah National forest above 6k ft. First of all, this trail WAS AMAZING, but this page has nothing to do with that. Rather I want to talk about a man who seems to have found him a young Irish  pup drooling onto his torn shoes, eyes glazed with excitement to learn the land from his new master. 

Along with my lack of time in the sport of Ultra running, I’ve also been blind, due to media and lack of research, to some of the true hero’s within Ultra running. Now of course I’m biased, but Its my hero’s so I make the rules here. Anyways, Adam Hill is an incredible creature. He is a light man, frame holding nothing but whats necessary, with the eyes of a twelve year old child. He speaks the lingo of “Boy Meets World” days, and takes life to all simplicity. Adam has three children with his beautiful wife, Assa, Annie, and my favorite, Ava. His simplicity can be seen with his no socks, ripped running flats, torn split shorts held by race pins, baseball socks for arm warmers, run everday to work style. Adam Hill doesn’t drink water except from the stream, yet he pees three times to the hour with coffee from the morning and beer from the night before. Adam Hill doesn’t sweat, as he never takes a shower for weeks at time, yet never smells at all? And, as I said before, his wife is beautiful... so he’s doing something right? Adam Hill doesn’t have txting, a blog, a facebook, nor has he signed up for a competition race in ###’ S of years. When I first met Adam, I was truly expecting “in terms of Horton” the Canuck; But here was a skinny bearded man tattered and torn with scratches and gashes from the bush whacking he had practiced in his own backyard. He asked me to do a quick warm up while we waited for the others.... Adam talked, I was unable to catch enough breathe to even make sense of his words.

Adam has eyes of a twelve year old, and not much more older outlook on life. The earth is his play ground, his study, his meaning in life. Instead of hosting races for his own pocket, he constructs a Wiki site in which he organizes “free lance” Ultra’s, with aid, times, and best of all... laughter. Adam Hill knows everybody and anything within the culture of ultra running, hiking, outdoors. He has the persona/reputation that any and every company in the system has tried to get representation from; but Adam sees life differently. Adam Hill is a master of the WNC trails, and never ignores a flowering bud to the left or right of him. Adam Hill loves the local flora, the Mountains, the rivers, the wildlife, and makes it his study. And what Adam doesn’t know, your sure to be introduced to someone he has befriended. My palms were in sweat mode as I stood at the door step of Jennifer Pharr Davis, record holder for the supported thru hike of the AT 46 days, simply to pick up a pack used to carry Ava. This pack is in full rotation within the outdoor, newborn, parents, as, Jennifer’s young child Charlie smiled at the long beard off Adam’s face. I’ve seen Jennifer many times before, but I never got to shake the thin but muscular hand of this Appalachian giant.

Later he told me of a long time “Birder” of the area, living directly in Black Mountain, and a veteran to Western States 100. I cant even imagine the hours I’ll spend with this friend of Adam’s, stomping up the Mountain with our binoculars at ready for the sight of flight, and the repeating calls that takes the hands on learning with constant repetition at an ears shot to master.

Adam Hill is an artist, at life, and its my chalkboard that Im asking him to draw on.
We are going to have a lot of fun together in the future, and whether he likes it or not, I want to show the rest of the world his life.

“What knocks a man down, can only make him stronger.”


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lunch with Apache

I started my week tired and demoralized from lack of energy over the weekend. I truly enjoy running when it becomes a “vibe and groove”, but the legs seemed tired from lugging my fat ass up and down the mountain constantly. Things changed quickly as I met up with a new friend, named Josh, early Monday in order to do a 6 mile run through the Warren Wilson trails in Asheville. Its a beautiful little rolling trail section near the Swannanoa river, with small and large loops making it easy to get lost for a good two hours... then all of sudden you see your car! Josh and I tackled this Monday with tired legs, then Tuesday he managed to drag me to UNC of Asheville’s track. Now the last time I touched a track was probably three years ago, maybe with Vince or T-Bird, and I remember running a 5:04 mile at one point. This time, there was no 5:04 mile.
I’ll start this little workout story with a background on my friend Josh. Josh is twenty six years old and has retired to the reserves after being a top military sergeant deployed in Afghanistan. He lugged sixty pounds of gear up mountain passages at 15k feet every day for a year or two, and risked his life at sniper’s aim daily. I’ve always been interested in the military, as every boy, dreaming of fighting in battle for their country. I have always loved to talking to people who have gone through deployment and have come back after serving. I love the stories they have to offer as it intrigues me so much on how common it is to be shot at out in the field. I have more than respect for these people, I look up to them. Josh is a freak of an athlete, competing in the triathlons on the pro level, and he has the knack for competition. I so arrogantly thought I could stick with him and even out run him in the later laps. Josh himself even asked if i was going to clip some 5:30’s while he would trail, I smiled. With a strong stride we started or 5x1mi workout, with a “casual” 5:50 on first. I was on the ground by the second, and walking the third lap on three. Taking a nap as Josh did his forth, and then joined him for the finishing cool down around the campus. It was a nice punch in the gut,  as I found my running was going in one direction rather than all around better. 

It was good running with Josh for three days in a row, but it was time Apache and I hit the Mountains. Apache is my dog, my best friend, and most favorite running partner. He only talks when we stop, he never complains, and his “four paw drive” with a measly 30lb muscular frame cruises up the Mountain with no effort what so ever. He logs anywhere from 6-30 miles at a time, and is always ready to go out the next day. Our favorite route to run is up the West Ridge to Graybeard peak. Its a 6 mi run up to the peak from my house, with over 4,000 ft of gain and some loss! The grit it takes to run this route is unbelievable, and has taken me plenty of trials before understanding the  gears required to climb this grueling section. There is little areas to open stride, and you find yourself using your hands and arms to pull your body up rocks. Apache kills it, and when we get to the top, its lunch. He and I sit in a spot not to many people are able to visit on a daily basis such as us. With a hard hour and a half of running straight up, we relax for over five minutes as I eat my noon time pop tarts and Apache drinks from the one bottle I choose to carry. Its a special time with an incredible view, then we turn around and bomb!!! This trail is so gnarly that I even choose to carry a whistle with me at all times, as I can be a very careless downhill runner and am expecting to break my leg once in the years to come. Rocks jag in and out, as I come back everyday with a new battle wound due to either them or thorns. I love it.

With strength growing everyday, the Mountains and I are starting to get along. 

“I never walk the streets thinking its all about me, but deep in my heart it really could be.” Phife Dawg

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Big Move

Im starting my blog with a very monumental time in my life, I have moved out of Northeast Ohio since my small amount of time in Virginia when I was less than one years old. I recently moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina, a mountainous small town wedged up against the Seven Sisters and a spit shot away from the ever growing city of Asheville. I moved at a time when I was at my lowest, I had a rough 2012 and was happy to be done with college. I lost somebody dear to me, whether for better or for worse, and my mind, heart, soul took a hit that I can only dampen by throwing my face into a pillow and letting it all go. So I packed my bags and headed for the south, and I take it day by day.
Black Mountain is a wonderful area, home to the tallest point east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell, and it takes the cake for mountain running in the Appalachia. I knew it was a place for me, with its laid back, small town, blue collar, hippie feel. I quickly signed a lease with a realty and was in the mountains as soon as possibly. Joy filled my heart when I instantly found a small trail in my back woods that lead me directly up the West Ridge, Middle Mountains, all the way to the notorious Graybeard Peak. Apache and I knocked this run out a couple of times, and since then I've come to appreciate the difficulty it takes to train in the mountains. In Ohio, I could run 4-5 hours through the Valley and would only encounter fatigue, but here in BM I encounter a whole knew activation of muscle groups. Im excited to see where my mountain running will get me in couple weeks  , as Im signed up for Promise Land 50k to gage where my body has come . I only fear that I am not yet ready for promise land, as the move has been quite time consuming and the terrain has taking a large notch out of my "peak training" weekly mileage.
The people of WNC  make it worth its while, with a smile on nearly everyones face, and the hardworking blue collar modesty that follows. Its what really attracted me to the area, along with some great runners who had arms wide open for my arrival. People such as Mark Lundblad, Adam Hill, and Peter Ripmaster, treated me like a long time friend as I nabbed at the idea of moving. It made my transition a lot easier and my social life not so absent for the first weeks. I started working for Peter, taking care of the Running Specialty store her in town called Black Mountain Running Co. which has eaten some of my time. In the summer I will be working at the Swannanoa 4H Boys and Girls outdoor camp, in which I will be a camp counselor teaching all types of outdoor knowledge I've learned in the past. I cant wait to start work to meet more people of the area, as it will keep me even more busy.
So I leave with a goodbye, and a note that Everyone needs to be true to themselves
  Until my next post, LIVE EASY and RUN HARD