Crew's Summer Faves -- Christa Poremba

Crew member Christa Poremba loves the summer and the heat! Part of that reason may be her summertime favorites from NRC -- she lays out what she uses to make the summer, not only bearable but fun!

Brooks Levitate: I love these shoes because of how much responsiveness it gives. And I love the upper material as well. 

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Flip belt: This belt is amazing to train with! Fits so many things in it!

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Balega socks: Ultra light is my favorite sock. Fits the foot like a glove. It has the perfect amount of cushion. I wear this sock all year round. 

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Spring Nutrition: I have a sensitive stomach when it comes to gels. The one nutrition product that gives me no problems is Spring. I love how it’s all real food (no added sugar!)

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From Christa: NRC is the best running store in town! With the most amazing crew :) We want everyone in Nashville to shop with us!

       

Crew's Summer Faves -- Ashley Carney

We don't know about you, but we're feeling the heat! Summer running/racing is in full swing. Crew member Ashley Carney lays out her favorite gear and nutrition to keep you on track while sweating it out. 

1. Grab the Gold: both flavors are great, and they’re a nice substantial breakfast before a race (or every day life) that doesn’t sit too heavy, offers balanced nutrition, and is Also gluten free! 

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2. Oiselle Roga Shorts: the wide waistband, super light fabric, and mid-length inseam are perfect for running! 

3. Adidas Boston: fave shoe because it’s really light and feels minimal but still offers some Cush. May not be enough for high mileage, but do a great job of allowing you to feel the road softly. 

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4. Goodr sunglasses: they are fun to wear and perfect for ALL kinds of outdoor activities. I love that they’re polarized and and fit well on my head. Because they’re only priced at $25, I am also not afraid to actually wear them out! 

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5. NRC tees and tanks! I love wearing our brand because it makes me feel like I’m part of a “team” - which is true! It’s always fun to rep a local business. 

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If any of these summer picks strikes your fancy, stop by our store, and we'll be happy to hook you up!

Crew's Summer Faves -- Brian Johnson

Even though the weather indicates that it’s been here for quite some time, Summer officially began last week! As with anything, your favorite gear, clothing, and nutrition can change with the seasons. We’ve asked our expert staff to provide you with their Summer Favorites!!

Up first, Brian Johnson (avid runner, outdoor enthusiast, and integral part of PR Bandits) shares what he uses to get through the Dog Days of Summer Running.

Tailwind - Great flavors and keep me going through runs, Orange Theory workouts, and long hikes. (complete energy + electrolytes + hydration with no guy bombs)

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Timp by Altra - Love these shoes! Aggressive (enough) tread for off road use but still great for those days I’m pounding pavement too. 

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Patagonia Trucker Hats – While I’m not always able to hit the shower immediately after a run, these hats are great to throw on for errands after a run or even a casual day around town.

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Thanks for sharing, Brian! If any of these tickle your fancy, stop by and let Brian or one of our other awesome crew members help you out!

Pinhoti 100: T-Minus 1.5 Weeks and Current Status Check

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It's less than two weeks until the Pinhoti 100 Mile Race, and heavy training is over for our trusty Race Team members Lee Wilson and Beth Meadows. Let's get a current status check on them, shall we? 

LEE: Less than three weeks out from this 100-miler. I'm typically not one to do more than bullet point write-ups because I typically delete emails much more than that (be it from an old boss or current vendor). It's probable that mentality will haunt me come Nov 4th!

Yet, as I take on this endeavor, I feel a few more bullet points are pertinent. If you've been reading along the past few weeks, I don't follow a specific training plan, but I feel like I'm 87% physically ready for this race and anything over 51% anymore is great news. Mentally, we'll see. I haven't run this much since college, and luckily, I've stayed injury free throughout even with more road running than I would've liked to do. As great as Nashville is, if you haven't noticed,  the traffic has increased so it's much easier to run from the front door than spend an hour dealing with the worst drivers I've ever seen on my way to a trail to get miles on the dirt. 

These past few weeks I've been able to hit 80+ miles/week three of the last five and four of the last nine. I'd never hit 80 in my life prior to nine weeks ago. Like most of us, I'd always like more of a base and more miles/week but the hays in the barn at this point. Injury free is key, and I'm tired so the taper over the next couple of weeks will hopefully make me feel 15 years younger. Every morning I wake up...sore, need more coffee, aches...rinse and repeat. Going into some of the bigger, for me at least, training days is always a drag for me, but I've been pretty happy with them -- a couple of 20/10 runs where I'll do 20 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. Those have gone well and running on tired legs for the 10 has hopefully made me stronger. This past weekend I did 40 on Saturday and 17 on Sunday. With the continuing humidity I was pleased with both runs. 

I ran with Beth for the majority of both runs this past weekend and tried to really hone in on nutrition during the 40...using what I'll use race day...GU Roctane Energy Drink with 250 calories and a combo of Spring and Huma gels. I took down a PB&J and some jerky to mix it up and all went well. My main focus on the 40 was to run slower and try to stay at an 11+ minute pace, which happened. It's difficult to run at a pace that isn't my typical speed because it works so many different muscles and parts of the body hurt that I haven't utilized in years. 

As for gear, for shoes I'm going to end up starting the race off with Inov-8 Parkclaw shoes...they've got more cushion than I typically use, decently wide toebox and great grip. I love Inov-8 shoes, although I'm a bit worried I might need a bit more shoe than the Parkclaw provides. At some point in in the race I assume I'll want pillows under my feet so I'm going to have the Brooks Caldera on reserve, if needed. I've used that Caldera on the back end of my 20/10s and the plush feel has been nice. As you might know, I've trained with the Salomon 5-set pack and that pack is money so that'll be my go to. I hate wearing a pack especially in the TN heat...just something extra to make me even hotter than it already is...but, it'll be needed for the majority of the race, if not all. My shirt and shorts will depend on weather...maybe sleeveless shirt with arm sleeves if the weather is cool. 

I say cool weather, but I'm going in to this race assuming it'll be 85 degrees with high humidity, I'll have 15 blisters, I'll puke 10 times, need a full roll of toilet paper, and want to quit after mile 10. So, I'm preparing for that the best I can. I hope it's cooler weather...snow would be great. If it's warm, I'll start out very slow, hike more than I'd like, and stay on point with hydration. I've tried not to overanalyze what the past Pinhoti runners have done and dive into where I should be at a certain mile because there are so many variables in a 100 it won't help me to do so. That doesn't mean I haven't listened to tidbits of recommendations from ultra finishers. I'm throwing the competitive nature out the window for this bad boy unless it's me vs Karl Meltzer coming around the track at the end...then it's elbow to the ribs...circa 1999. 99.9999% chance I won't be near the top, let alone beat Karl Meltzer, but if, by chance, it happens I can guarantee he won't out kick me! 

One thing I didn't do months ago but wish I would've started is lift a few weights. The goal wouldn't have been to gain mass but build a bit of muscle and feel stronger going in. I've only been on a weight training plan once in high school and it seemed to work for me. Some runners use weights, some don't. To each their own. Same as runners and yoga...if you feel like it helps you and you remain injury free then do it. Maybe for Georgia Death Race, if I qualify, I'll get back to the gym.

I'd also like to point out that I'm not throwing these brand names out because I have a store and like to sell their products. Over the years, I've had multiple brands ask me if I'd like to race for them with their gear and I've declined. I like to rep NRC and those that support us. Maybe someday I'll sell myself back to the MAN!

BETH: Well, I never thought I’d be the shorter-winded of the two in this friendship/running partnership, but Lee summed up everything really nicely. My “current status” is tired. And sore. And did I mention tired?

I can’t believe it’s less than two weeks away. I’m simultaneously underprepared and ready to go. I haven’t put in the super long runs like I intended, but I’ve hit a handful of 80+ miles. I was able to get in 35 miles of red loops (some with Lee, one glorious one with Scott Bennett) followed by 16 the day after. That topped off an 88 mile week which is the highest weekly mileage I’ve ever hit.  However, the week after, which was supposed to be another high mileage week, I hit a whopping 28 miles. So, I’ve been more inconsistent than I’d like, but it is what it is.

A couple of good things came from my long weekend which gives me hope and a little bit of comfort:

  • My ankes held up pretty well. After 35 miles, you’re going to feel your feet at least a little, and with my past history of ankle mishaps, that’s always the case for me. I could certainly feel some twinges, especially in the OG hurt ankle, but it was definitely an improvement from years past.
  • I finally found my race day shorts! Short liners are the bane of my existence as nothing can bring you to your knees quite like chafing from your liner. Luckily, it’s Oiselle to the rescue with their Stride Short of the no-ride compression variety. This seems pretty unimportant, but it’s something I’ve been worried about during my training.
  • My nutrition and hydration plan is as dialed in as I’ve ever had it. GU Roctane every 10 minutes with a Spring Energy or Huma gel every 40 minutes. I didn’t bonk once during my 35 miler which is HUUUGE since I would bonk on 15 milers with Lee earlier in training.
  • The Altra Lone Peaks are still the best shoe for me. The 3.5s threw me off at first with a seemingly higher stack and slightly less wide toe box. Coming back from ankle surgery, my proprioception has been off, and the more “minimal” shoes have been better at compensating for that. However, for the distance, it doesn’t get better than the Lone Peaks. I’ll start with those and have an extra pair or two in the car.  
  • Other gear will include: Balega socks to start, Swiftwick 12s in the crew bag, Salomon 5 pack, and Petzl Nao headlamp. Food will include: Little Debbie cakes, clementines, grapes, chips, and Cheetos.

I had a stellar crew going into Pinhoti last time, and I have an equally awesome one lined up now. Phil, Jobie, Jess, and Jobie are all skilled and knowledgeable in the art of ultras and crewing, and if something good and magical happens next weekend, it’ll be because of them. I’m lucky that they’re willing to give up their weekend to come schlep around in the Bama woods for me (and thank you families for letting them come!).  

My race day strategy is threefold: Conserve, Struggle, and Survive. Finishing is the only goal; digging deep into the pain cave and coming out the other side is all I want to do.

NRC: Enjoy the taper time, guys, and good luck!!!

 

Bigfoot 200: A Retrospective by Jeff Davis

Race Team Member Jeff Davis recently tackled the Bigfoot 200 endurance event. (no, 200 is not a typo). Here are his musings on this grand adventure.

JEFF: This is my long overdue attempt to make sense of my longest run to date.  The Bigfoot 200 is a 206.5 mile (to be exact) point-to-point run that begins at Mount St. Helens and finishes in Randle, WA traversing a section of the Cascade Mountains.  This run has 50,000+ feet of elevation gain and endless views.  I can’t say enough about Destination Trail and volunteers that truly made this a life changing event.  Everything was world class from start to finish.

 Photo Cred: Howie Stern

Photo Cred: Howie Stern

In summary, the run took me 71 hours and 43 minutes.  During this time I got roughly three and a half hours of sleep and some great hallucinations.  A mile-by-mile account of such an event would be terribly boring and wouldn’t capture the essence of this adventure.  Instead, I attempted to highlight some of my takeaways from the run.  If anyone would like advice on longer races, feel free to contact me.  Or if you want the full story, I’d be glad to grab a beer and tell the long version.

 Mt. Adams; photo cred: Howie Stern

Mt. Adams; photo cred: Howie Stern

After three days of running, here are my thoughts:

·         Fully embrace the highs and lows.  Sometimes you can’t change the situation, but you can direct your outlook.

 Lava Fields; Photo Cred: Howie Stern

Lava Fields; Photo Cred: Howie Stern

          One must be pushed past their preconceived notion of what’s possible in order to get a clear view of reality.  Our self-prescribed limits are often based on fear and projections of negative outcomes. 

·         If you’re uncomfortable talking to yourself or being alone with your thoughts, this distance is not for you.

 Johnston Ridge; Photo Cred: Howie Stern

Johnston Ridge; Photo Cred: Howie Stern

          Once you’re tired enough, a pile of fir needles or a partially decomposed log can look like a luxurious king size bed with 600 thread count sheets.  These runs are a great exercise for distinguishing your needs from your wants.

·         Negative speak has no place in endurance runs.  Venting may make you feel better for a moment, but it has no lasting effect and wastes valuable energy.

 Photo Cred: Jeff Davis

Photo Cred: Jeff Davis

          Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Even a 200 mile run without pacer or crew is built on the sacrifice and support of family, volunteers, and race officials.  Remember to be grateful for everyone you encounter out there.

·         Don’t project the enormity of the task ahead to your present situation.  Assess your present discomfort and objectively ask yourself if you can endure this moment.  The answer will most likely be yes.

 Before the Finish; Photo Cred: Jeff Davis

Before the Finish; Photo Cred: Jeff Davis

          A sage quote from Steve House says, “The simpler you make things, the richer the experience becomes.”  Don’t pack your fears for a run/adventure of any distance.  You need much less than you think.  Packing the appropriate gear is a constantly evolving art.  The goal should be to balance safety and reasonable comfort and still attain a raw experience in nature.  The more you cling to stuff you believe you need, the more baggage you carry with you.

·         There are two types of hallucinations.  In the first, you realize you’re hallucinating and your rational brain knows what you see/hear isn’t real.  The second type is a complete break with reality.  Obviously, you should try and sleep before the second type arrives.

Truly amazing and awe-inspiring. The highest of fives and biggest congrats, Jeff!

Pinhoti 100 Training: Strategy Time

It's been a couple weeks since checking in with Lee and Beth on their training for Pinhoti 100. In those couple of weeks, they've tackled Hurricane Harvey during a night run of 5 red loops, taken on the Defeated course, and suffered a couple of falls and stitches (ok, the latter was just Beth). Here, they elaborate on their training strategy, including nutrition and hydration. 

NRC: What’s your longest training run before the race?

Lee: I’ll shoot for 35-40-miler one day followed up with a 20-miler the next. I’m not following any specific plan but will plan to hit 80ish miles/week a couple of times between now and race day.

Beth: At least a 50k, with my preference being a 40 miler.  I’d definitely like to get in a couple of super long weekends, solid back-to-back runs.

NRC: How will you train/prepare yourself for being out there overnight?

Lee: I’m assuming having a young child and her periodic midnight “wake up” calls will be fine. In all seriousness, I’ll probably go run some miles one or two nights before the race. I’ll be so tired at some point in the race it’ll all feel like running in the dark!

Beth: I think the best way to do that is to hit up Percy late at night after working and being up all day for some nighttime slogging through the woods. It’s not just the running in the dark that I need to get ready for, it’s the running in the dark on tired legs. So, hopefully, I can get out a couple of times for some overnight runs.

NRC: Do you have any tips (for yourselves/others) that you’ll use to help you from getting lost?

Lee: Stay calm. I grew up playing and hunting in the woods and have been a bit lost multiple times. Like anything, once you lose focus things typically don’t end well. Missing a turn in a trail race happens all the time so if it happens in this race hopefully I’ll notice within a short time and turn back. The body and mind get so tired that keeping an eye on flags and signs will be key.

Beth: Pinhoti, from what I can remember, is very well marked. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything at 2am and 65 miles into the race. I’ll probably have a pacer/safety runner for the later miles in case I start going off course. The last time I did it, Jeff Davis and Ryne Anderson definitely had to keep me in check and on course.

NRC: Are you planning on training on the course at all? Explain.

Lee: If time allows, I’d like to. Seeing some new scenery will be nice. If I can get down there to run 20-30 miles and see one of the big climbs that’ll be nice but I won’t get bent out of shape if I don’t.

Beth: I’d really love to get down there, not just to practice for the race but also because they’re great trails. We’ll see if it actually happens though!

NRC: Beth, how will your training for Pinhoti this year differ from your training last time?

Beth: I’ll probably add a couple of longer runs. The last time I trained for it, my longest training run was a 50k so I’d definitely like to increase that. Other than that, I’ll probably stick to a relatively similar plan.

NRC: What’s your overall nutrition strategy (e.g. how often will you eat, how much per hour)?

Lee: I’m working on that right now. I’d like to take in 350 or so calories an hour. I’ve been working with Skratch, Tailwind and the GU Roctane on the liquid side of things and I’m leaning toward GU Roctane because it’s 250 calories in one packet and has been good to my GI. I’ll work in some Huma gels and Spring gels since they’re easy to take down and haven’t wreaked havoc on my GI yet. At some point, I’ll want something totally different so I’ll probably bring some beef jerky and have some chips and whatever saltiness I can get from the aid stations.

Beth: Right now, it’s basically non-existent. I’m so bad at nutrition which is something I really need to dial in during these next couple of months. Typically, the goal is to take in about 200 calories or so every hour. For the race, I think I’ll stick with GU Roctane and/or gels early in the race, and then just eat off the aid stations and according to feel later in the race.

NRC: How does nutrition differ from training to the actual race day?

Lee: Well, with this damn inferno we have to run in during the Summer, I’m hopeful I won’t have to take in as much liquid. By the time race day comes around, it better not differ too much. As I mentioned, at some point in long races I like to get some aid station love and eat something different.

Beth: It’s pretty similar, at least in the early portions of the race. Mostly, liquid calories and/or gels, gummies, etc. Later in the race though, I’m all about the aid station goodness that would be hard to replicate on training runs. Quesadillas, potatoes, soup, brownies, and more.

NRC: Favorite food, or drink, on the trail?

Lee: Do Alabamians drink beer? If so…game on! In all seriousness, when Beth and I were marking our Dark Sky 50 race earlier this year, she saved me by having some chips and grapes. Tasty and easy to get down. I love beef jerky, and since it’s a bit more substantial, I’ll bring some of that. Almost anything with sugar or salt! I’m not that picky nor do I follow any dietary plans so that opens things up as far as what I want/can eat.

Beth: I’m the least healthy eater ever, on the trails and off. But on the trails, nothing beats a Coke. It’s my absolute favorite and a must-have for me. I also love gummy bears, Little Debbie cakes, clementines, and some Hawaiian King rolls with cheese. Weird, I know. I’ve tried eating T Bell on a run, and it was disappointingly bad. So, I save that for post-run.

NRC: If you could have anything at an aid station, what would it be and why?

Lee: I always think beer or whiskey would be fun, but every time I’m in a race, I couldn't care less about that SO I’m going with beef jerky once again (going to be impossible to send in a cheeseburger from Burgerville back home). This is assuming Salma Hayek or Halle Berry are not available, correct?

Beth: Definitely Coke. Grilled cheeses are also spectacular. It’s always interesting to see what tickles your fancy later on in the race. You may see something that you’ve never wanted in your life, but at mile 80, you need it like you need air. I do remember, from last time, the most glorious brownies in all of the land at about mile 90 or 95.

NRC: How do you carry water with you and make sure you’re hydrated?

Lee: I currently wear the Salomon 5 Set vest and will probably have a soft flask on each side. As brutal as it is to do long runs in this recent heat, I do have to admit it forces you to stay hydrated which, in turn, will be a benefit on race day. I’ll need to remember to keep drinking, though, even in the cooler weather. Getting behind the 8-ball won’t be good.

Beth: I wear the Salomon vest, and two flasks are usually enough for me -- at least for race day. Longer summer runs, I’ll throw in a couple of more flasks, some with Coke and some with water.

NRC: Most importantly, what kind of beer do you want when you cross the finish line (hopefully your crew notes this)?

Lee: Tough call. I have to lean toward nostalgia and go with my favorite brew from back home...a Deschutes Mirror Pond. At that point, though, a Bud Light will do.

Beth: The most important questions! I think Founders All-Day IPA would be phenomenal. Or maybe a pumpkin beer. #Basic

Thanks, lady and gent! Good luck on this next round of training!