The Runners profile, highlighting an athlete in the Triad, is posted on Friday mornings at Running Shorts. Today, meet Pfafftown's Nick Bartash.
Wife, Kerri; son, Nicholas IV, born in April
Firefighter, Winston-Salem Fire Department ("I've been doing that for about two years now. And I absolutely love my job.")
Why I run
"Running, to me, is therapy. It allows me to think about anything I want. Or just not think about anything at all. It keeps me balanced. It's definitely my main outlet in life. A lot of people don't really have outlets or ways that they can de-stress. Running has been a great de-stresser for myself. And then I like the places it takes me, especially in the mountains. I've seen a lot of beautiful places that not many people get to experience. With my own two feet, I can go and see these amazing places. It keeps me going."
The runner's high
"I'm not a quitter, and anything I start, I put my mind to and finish. During the process, you might have points where you're not enjoying it. But toward the end, when you cross the finish line, you just feel really good. You accomplished something you didn't think you could, or maybe thought you could, but just getting through, getting to the finish line. Even in training, sometimes we have so much stuff going on, and it's hard to get in a run. But when you get that run in, you feel better, you feel like you can keep going. And sometimes it's just important to get through those hurdles in life. The runner's high, I get from accomplishing what I put my mind to."
Third place at Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock 50K ...
"The race (on Saturday) started out really well for me. I was in second place for about two-thirds of the race. I got a little bit behind on my electrolytes, so toward the end when I got into Hanging Rock, I had some cramping issues. But as far as the race in its entirety, it was a success for me. I had knee surgery back in February (Feb. 18), so this was my first ultra since January of this year. For me to podium, I was really happy with that."
... and how he got there
"It's my right leg, and I had a complete ACL reconstruction and a partial menisectomy. That was an issue that I developed back in 2017 but didn't know it until about 2018, November. I got an MRI, and it said complete tear. So I had gone over a year with a torn ACL and meniscus and had no idea.
"With the surgery, I also had a microfracture surgery, and with that you're in an immobilizer for six weeks. I weaned myself off in five and as soon as I could start walking (laughs), I just started doing laps around my neighborhood. Within about five weeks, I'd gone about a hundred miles, which I guess was 34, 35 hours of walking. That builds up the strength in my legs, so by three months, I was already jogging. My physiotherapist said, 'You've got enough strength in your legs to start jogging.'
"So, by three months, I was doing intervals, walk-jog intervals, and then at about three and a half or four months, I was up to about 5 or 6 miles running, maybe an eight-minute pace, 8:30. When I went for my follow-up (laughs), my surgeon told me, 'You're jogging already? You weren't supposed to jog until four months.' 'My physical therapist, talk to him; he said I could.' I was out of work for about three months.
"And then during the summer I just did a lot of slow running, easy miles, just to build the strength back in my leg. My first race was Moonlight Madness (Sept. 20). I did fairly well there (editor's note: Bartash won, in 18:21) and then the Pilot Mountain to Hanging Rock 50K was my first ultramarathon after the surgery, and that went fairly well as well."
What I'm doing when I'm not running
"Just spending time with family."
My running tribe
"We have a group called the Knob Joggers, a reference to Pilot Mountain. It's a group of us, and we run trails."
"Inov-8 and adidas."
Mornings, afternoons or evenings?
"Any time I can."
Workout I hate
"The one I don't do."
Workout I love
"I love a fartlek."
"I love '80s movies, so it has to be Sammy Hagar, 'Winner Takes it All' (movie, 'Over the Top,' 1987)."
"I love Chinese food, so beef and broccoli with white rice."
"Beer. Foothills Brewing's got some good ones."
Brush with greatness
"Finishing a 50-miler within a torn ACL is a brush with greatness (Iron Mountain 50 miles, Damascus, Va.)."
Race everyone must do
"Quest for the Crest 50K, in Burnsville, N.C. If anybody is into trail running and beautiful mountains, that's definitely a race to do."
"I'm thinking about signing up for the Pilot Mountain Goat (Dec. 21), the 7-miler. Also, I'm thinking about doing the Warrior Creek Half Marathon (Dec. 14), which is in Wilkesboro, and that's a trail race as well."
Trails or roads?
"I actually do prefer trail races over road races. I'm not the fastest person. So when it comes to trail running, the terrain is a great equalizer. The terrain dictates your pace and requires a lot more overall strength instead of just raw speed like road running. I've found success in trail running, so I really enjoy that.
"When I first started running, I primarily ran on trails, but to get faster, you've got to do some roadwork. I try to do about 50-50, maybe it's 75-25 depending on what my goal is. But I do a lot of road miles now and then try to do two to three trail runs during the week if I can."
That other fast runner from Pfafftown ...
The Mullet does not lie! Using a 51.92 for last 400m, Craig Engels took the win from Matthew Centrowitz, 3:44.93 to 3;44.97, with Josh Thompson, 3:45.25, Toyota USATF Outdoor, photo by PhotoRun, #toyotausatfoutdoor, @drakeuniversity,#bbcWsports,@iaaf, @euroathletics pic.twitter.com/FDeG33dBDa— RunBlogRun (@RunBlogRun) July 29, 2019
"People used to say I look just like Craig Engels. And now he doesn't have a mustache anymore. He's not my doppelganger anymore."
Important Craig Engels update: the mullet and mustache are gone. pic.twitter.com/wcjup3j17r— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) October 10, 2019
What I think about while I'm running
"Sometimes, we're constantly going, we're just moving at a hundred miles per hour throughout the day. And when I get out for my run, I can process everything and go back through and think about the day I had and the day I'm going to have."
What I've learned about myself through running
"You are much more capable than what you think. Sometimes we put limitations on ourselves. And through running, I've found that when you think you're done, you're really not done. You can keep on going."
Words to the wise
"To just not give up and whatever you start, finish. There are always going to be roadblocks or hurdles. And it's just something that we all have to go through. But once you get through and get to the other side or get to the finish line, it's a great feeling. Keep on going, and just do what you love."