Another Mountain to Climb: My Story

Bobby in Evolution Valley

Read below to learn more about Bobby Bresemann and his take on life as a runner, overcoming big obstacles, why he hates the New York Yankees, and why he’ll never stop striving to reach his personal best.

Connect with him @cptphoenix82 on social media and visit him at Up and Running in Centerville to learn more about his favorite products and what it takes to reach that next level.  Bobby regularly leads a Tuesday night 6:00pm training run from the store.

You’ve come a long way as a runner in a short period of time.  How did you first get involved in our sport?

Somewhere around a decade ago I found myself needing to find an outlet to work out life stress and also realized I wasn’t in terribly good shape.  That didn’t feel like who I was so I just started running.  I lost some weight, met my wife, gained some weight back, then realized I needed to get “back to myself” again and I haven’t looked back since.

Tell me about some of the long-distance hikes that you’ve done and how your preparation for that compares to running.  Do you feel like that helps or hurts you as a runner?

I could talk forever about this.  I’ve completed many multi-day hikes that include areas like Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Yellowstone, Colorado wilderness areas several times, Sequoia National Park, the Grand Tetons, and mostly notably and memorably for me the Collegiate West Alternate in Colorado and the 220 mile John Muir Trail in California.  A few of these trips have included ascending some 14,000 ft. mountains.  Most are within the span of a week, though the JMT took us 23 days and was a life-changing experience.

Preparation varies with the length of the hike and the specific challenges of the areas (and seasons) we are going to be in.  Mostly it’s logistics: what to pack, how much food, transportation, gear, etc.  I suppose there are some comparisons to major endurance events there.

The main overlap between running and hiking/mountaineering to me is mental.  There is a fairly obvious endurance component to both.  I would say that running conditions me for the mountains more than mountains condition me for running.  I never feel strong on a run right after a big hike; I’m still recovering physically from the experience.  However, the mental component impacts my training and my racing tremendously.  I’ll never forget going into my first marathon thinking, “If I can make it through the JMT under the extreme conditions we survived in, then I can make it through this marathon.”  There’s a lot more to the JMT story that I could unpack – I’d be glad to share my experience there with anyone who wants to learn more.

I’m interested in your background in music because that seems to be an area that lacks a traditional support structure, much like running as a post-collegiate or adult athlete.  How involved are you still in music and how much do you still play?

Answering this question STILL feels raw.  A short background: I have two degrees in Music Performance.  My Master’s degree is from one of the most venerated conservatories in the world.  I’ve performed in almost every orchestra in this region.  I’ve performed with one of the World’s greatest orchestras, the Chicago Symphony.  All my life that’s what I was, a performing musician.  Until I wasn’t.  And that’s been a difficult transition to make.

I like to make this a baseball analogy.  If I were a baseball player, I was the guy who went top 20 in the draft, became one of the Yankee’s top prospects, pitched an inning of relief in the big leagues, blew out his arm, and then spent 5 years trying to make a comeback before realizing that life would be more rewarding elsewhere.  I no longer do anything music related, though I still love it dearly.  I’ve made my peace with it after hiding my pain in quiet solitude for years.  Maybe it’s a sad story, but I have a wonderful life and I am quite happy now, so maybe it’s not a sad story after all.

You have an exceptional taste for good products, whether it’s the craft beer you are brewing at home or the running-related products you feature and sell.  I admire that you’re very open to trying new things.  Tell me a little about your philosophy on having the right tools/equipment to get the job done.

Here’s some more overlap with backpacking – having the right tools, skills, and fitness in the wilderness has literally kept me alive.  Proper gear can make the difference between having an incredibly enjoyable experience versus being absolutely miserable.  In backpacking it means the difference between carrying 25 lbs. instead of 60 lbs. (believe me you’d rather be carrying 25 lbs.) or shivering through a cold, soaked night eating cold, gross food, or even running out of food all together.  Gaining experience is critical too, similar to training for a marathon.  Running in sub-freezing weather is not bad if you are conditioned well and have the right gear.  Everyone is going to have different thoughts on what the best gear or nutrition or training plan is; my goal is to engage with other experienced runners and hikers to find out what has worked best for them so I can share that information with my friends and customers.

What are your competitive goals for running in 2019?

Well, I am adamant that I’m only ever competing against myself.  I am a solid “middling” runner – I’m not really a guy who’s going to be winning races or maybe not even getting my BQ.  I’ve got to shave about 25 minutes off of my marathon PR for that to happen, and that’s a tall order.  HOWEVER, I will be damned if I’m not going to try to keep the arc of improvement bending towards awesomeness.  For me that probably means trying to shave 10 minutes off my next marathon.  Citius, Altius, Fortius!

There are going to be some big challenges though.  My wife and I are expecting our first baby on July 4th, 2019, so training hard and learning to be a parent is going to be pretty tough.  We’ll see what happens!  I like to say, “Know your limits, but don’t accept them.”  I think I’d also like to get into some ultra-distances, because I love mountains and trails and I might not be able to get away for weeks at a time for a big hike as a new parent.  Could be fun!

What do you enjoy most about our sport?

Confidence?  Health?  A slightly less-pudgy reflection in the mirror?  The ability to eat Snickers and drink beer without too much regret?  It gives me a sense of purpose.  You climb the mountain because it’s there.  To paraphrase JFK, “We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things…because they are hard.”  We don’t all have to be 1st place finishers.  Race the course.  Race the mountain.  Race yourself.  There’s truth in all of those but the best thing for me is finding some really great people to spend time with.  We share our struggles, our triumphs, laughs, the occasional ill-timed snot-rocket (sorry K), and help each other reach our goals.  It’s brought me pain, sure.  But the joy it’s brought is profound and lasts a lot longer.

What other special interests do you have that I don’t know about?

How long of an article can you write?  I love lots of things – the aforementioned home-brewing, books, I like to build PCs; I’ve gotten really into photography, especially trying to document my adventures in the wilderness.  I’ve been trying to find the time to learn video editing so I can put together short videos on my hikes.  One day I’d like to be able to do major through-hikes of our country’s long trails: AT, PCT, CDT, the Vermont Long Trail, and climb Mt. Rainer.  I’m only slightly joking when I say I’d like to be the next Dos Equis guy, although I think I can do MUCH better in a beer!

Bobby and his wife Melissa at the 2017 Indy Monumental Marathon.  Bobby improved his time by over 9 minutes in 2018 by running 3:26 with his team and training group TrampsLikeUs.

OHLORU thanks Bobby for sharing his story with us and other runners.  Find him punishing the hills at the weekly 6pm group run from Up and Running in Centerville and use his hashtag #HoraClarifica to connect your story with his!

Phoenix and Victory Dance at the Summit
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