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