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CHRIS REED

Age

30

Residence

Greensboro

Day job

Works at Fleet Feet Sports, Greensboro

Why I run

"I was in an abusive relationship back in 2008. And I separated from my then-girlfriend. I was down in Myrtle Beach with my mother (Robin Wolfe Arch) and a couple of other family members on vacation. Not too enthusiastic about anything; I'd been through the ringer pretty much. My mom says, 'Hey, me and Ann are going to go run a marathon in October; do you want to do it?' I'd never done anything physical aside from marching band and a couple other things like that. 'OK, I'll do it,' not really knowing what I was getting myself into. And so that started me out. My first 5K was a Mother's Day 5K in Asheville. I think I came in like 32 (minutes), 31. That was my very first big race.

"And from there, it escalated. Our marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2009. I went from being a non-runner, in about six or seven months, to being a marathoner. And then signed up for another one. And then another one. It just started building.

"I got to looking around at my friends back in Cherokee. Cherokee's got a lot of obese and a lot of diabetic people. My dad (Samuel Reed) is borderline diabetic, and there's all kinds of health issues. I wanted to at least take care of myself and have something physical that I can rely on to keep me mentally healthy and physically healthy. That was one big draw when I first started, and it still is today.

"But especially if I'm at the shop, I'm talking to new runners and even experienced runners, and it's always cool to see how everybody has changed. In my 2½ years at Fleet Feet, I've seen them come in, they've never run or walked, and now they're out there doing half marathons, full marathons and 5Ks. It's always really inspiring. I'd like to show people that while I'm not the fastest guy in the world, I can at least get out there and push out some mileage and it's quality. There's no bad mile. We may feel bad, but it's still a mile."

A typical week

"Maybe two or three days a week, 3 to 5 miles. A lot of my friends at work joke with me that I don't train. And I guess some of it's true. But I try to get other stuff in: body resistance workouts, that kind of thing."

Favorite places to run

"Favorite place out of all of Greensboro would probably be Bur-Mil's Big Loop. I can get maybe a mile and a half on that loop. And it's challenging because you have a lot of inclines, some flat sections, and it's not too technical. It's very well-maintained.

"(At Cherokee) There's a tiny little trail that runs along our river (Oconoluftee). You're almost always beside water. And you can actually run that to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park."

Faster, higher, stronger

"I'd never done yoga until late last year. Once I started doing it, I felt so much better. I've always suffered from tight IT bands. And just doing certain stretches, I would wake up the next day and just feel fantastic. And I could go out and do whatever mileage I needed; I didn't have to worry about my knees aching. I've got a set of resistance bands. I'm doing a lot of full-body exercises like burpees, pushups, planks that are lower impact."

32 miles at the Summer Solstice Ultra Relay

"I started hydrating about a week and a half early (for the Summer Solstice Ultra Relay). I normally get off work at 7:30 in the evening. It would still be in the 85-degree range, and that's when I get a lot of my training.

"I started pushing electrolytes and water pretty much exclusively, making sure there was the right balance. That morning, we had 100 percent humidity. It was 75 degrees when Joe Randene and I set up our tent. As soon as we got there, I had a glass of water, and I had a bottle or two as we were waiting around. And I was sipping on a little bit of water until probably about Mile 5. That's when I switched over to alternating it with an electrolyte beverage. The weather was high humidity all the way until probably 11:30 that morning. I got to my half marathon distance right around 9:30, 9:40. At that point, it was probably 80 degrees, maybe 85.

"I ended up going to a slow walk because I didn't want to tax my body too much. It wasn't like in past marathons where I went out and tried to run the entire thing and felt horrible for the next week or two. I'm feeling pretty good right now. That was all about just making sure my hydration and everything was on point well in advance. Probably every lap or two, I would come in and drink a full bottle of water. And then maybe alternating with a 10-ounce or 16-ounce electrolyte beverage."

Cherokee and a Beloved Man

"I'm almost full-blooded Cherokee, Eastern Band. My blood quantum is 113 over 128. So I'm almost full-blood. And that's Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. My grandfather, Jerry Wolfe, was full blood (Wolfe died in 2018). He was the first Beloved Man of our tribe in about 200 years. So he was very prominent in the community and a kind of repository of all of our culture and our history. So if there was a specific thing that people needed to know about -- say, a ceremony or an event -- they would go to him and he would list everything that he knew and what he would take from history books and oral and personal accounts.

"He was always happy and supportive of my running. We believe in certain medicines, a certain symbolism. In 2011, he had been hiking in the woods and he found this snake, a blue racer, one of the quickest snakes in the mountains. He caught it, and he cut the very tip of the tail off. What Cherokee believe is if you take that tail with water, it's going to give you speed and make you quick. He gave it to me and said, 'Take this. Drink it with a nice glass of water. And it's going to help you get fast.' The fact that he did that for me and that those snakes are just so hard to catch or to track, it was very emotional for me. He was always interested about where I was going to run. He didn't understand times. But I would tell him I ran this distance, and he would get excited, 'That's going to Sylva, North Carolina, right?' He would always tell his friends and people he meets, 'My grandson, he's a runner; he runs these big, big, long distances.' If I would have told him, 'I did 32 miles,' I'm pretty sure he would have had a ball with that. ...

"Growing up in Cherokee was pretty similar to most every small North Carolina town. The only difference: I went to a tribal school (Cherokee High School). We still had people that weren't Cherokee that went there. But there was a lot of emphasis on culture and language and even being at the forefront of technology. We had a state-of-the-art computer lab well before some of the public schools in our area did. It's not a big town. These days, we have Harrah's Casino and all that. But when I was little, there wasn't hardly anything. We had maybe two or three fast-food joints, maybe two or three family-owned diners. We had to drive to Asheville or Waynesville, 30 or 35 minutes, to go clothes shopping or school shopping. It was a big deal whenever my aunt and uncle got dial-up Internet, and I remember when we got dial-up Internet at my mom's house, and it was a game-changer. Other places already had it for years. 

"Right now, there's a lot of rejuvenation and culture. There's not only architecture, but craft work in general, language; we have an immersion school now. My little brother and sisters -- one is fluent in Cherokee now, and the other two can understand and talk to her but they're not quite on that same language level. 

"It's always been an outdoor kind of recreation area. We've got a couple nice mountain biking and hiking trails, right outside the Great Smoky Mountains. I spent a lot of my childhood outside. But when teenage years come around, not many teenagers want to be outside, especially these days with technology. But it's always been something that I wanted to do."

Life passions

"If I ever go back to Cherokee, I'd want to work with something in the tourism field. It's booming right now. I also like to do a lot of karaoke. People have seen me out at some of the little dive bars."

My running inspirations

"Before Saturday, I would have probably said maybe Billy Mills, Bill Rodgers. After Saturday, I'd probably say Joe Randene. When I passed the marathon distance, he was in there telling me, 'You've already done something tough. All you gotta do is just a couple more miles and you'll have your overall goal. And the insight that he gave me leading up to the event, the kind of knowledge that he provided during the event, not only I guess, personal or emotional support but just the technical stuff, he gave me a lot of good insight."

What I think about when I'm running

"Outside of thinking about breath and pace and cadence, I think about my mom a lot, think about my dad a lot. She's got a big wall with medals at her house, and while my dad didn't run, he was in the Marine Corps. He would talk to me about walking and marching certain distances, and I think about that quite a bit."

Look what I did 

"When I finished my first marathon, I must've bawled my eyes out five or 10 minutes, just standing there at the finish line, and the Marines had to push me aside. It was such a figurehead that I just needed to experience it, and then kind of build off it. That's what kept me going and running and kept it fresh."

Something I'd still like to do

"Especially after feeling how 32 miles went, there's a race called the JFK 50. I'd like to do that 50-miler. And then, in South Africa, there's one called the Comrades, 56 miles. I would like to eventually do those."

Up next

"A few people from work might do Doggettville."

Words to the wise

"Listen to your body. If you're feeling fatigued, make sure you're getting quality rest, make sure you're doing preventative measures."

Contact Eddie Wooten at (336) 373-7093, and follow @EddieWootenNR on Twitter.