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! 

Pinhoti 100 Training: Beth's Weekend of Highs and Lows

While Lee was gallivanting in the Smokies, Beth had her own, somewhat eventful, training weekend. Here's what she had to say about it.


A Weekend of Highs and Lows

Last week, the realness of Pinhoti began to set in, and I decided that I might, perhaps, need to start doing some runs in the 20 mile(+) range. Aside from scouting and marking Dark Sky 50 back in the Spring, it had been well over a year since these old legs had seen 20 miles on them. Knowing that the RunWILD group was headed to the Walls of Jericho on Saturday, I decided to do my long run Friday afternoon. I gave myself the audacious goal of 4 progressive red loops (with a couple of extra miles to even it up to 20). I’ve bonked each and every long run I've done since training started. Figuring this was the perfect opportunity to work on nutrition and hydration, I loaded up on an assortment of gels and Gu Roctane drink mix, along with my brand spanking new Salomon pack from Nashville Running Company. Nothing like new gear to get you motivated and out on the trail!

My strategy was to fill one flask with the Roctane mix and one with water, sipping on the Roctane every 10 minutes and eating a gel every 40. I took it really easy on the first loop and was surprised when I had completed it, plus extra on the road, in under an hour. The next loop, I picked up the pace only slightly and finished in 55 minutes. For my third loop, I wanted to go around 50 minutes without blowing my legs out for the fourth. The next 4.5 miles were some of the greatest of my life. I felt so good, especially on the flats, and was pretty (and happily) surprised when I checked out my pace. I tried slowing myself down but said screw it, run how you feel. It felt amazing to “unleash” the legs a little bit. It was a feeling I haven’t had in a long while. That feeling you wish you could bottle and bust out when runs are the freaking pits. I kept thinking “I can’t wait to see my Strava for this!”* I came in on the third right around 47 minutes. I thought the fourth one might really suck the big one after that, but I felt just as good as I had on the one before. Maybe Lee had been right when he told me I just needed to eat on all of those runs where I bonked. I finished out the 4 loops and 20 miles in under 3:30. I felt damn good. For once in my life, I followed something to a T . . . and by golly, it worked! Perfection.

*My data file was corrupted between the Suunto app and Strava, and this glorious run of mine will never be able to be shared with the world. Womp, womp.

The run that never was

The run that never was

On Saturday, the RunWILD crew traveled down to the State of Champions and ran the Walls of Jericho in Alabama. Right off the bat, we started a three-mile descent which would take us to the shining star of the Walls of Jericho, the waterfall. Three miles of toe-catching rocks and gnarly roots on some pretty steep downhills and switchbacks quickly woke us up. We all anxiously ran towards the freaking stud of a waterfall . . . except the waterfall was nowhere to be found. The majesty that had rained down on us only a couple of months earlier was now bone dry. Luckily, there were still some pools of water around so Phil could get his swim on. After frolicking in the water and rocks, we headed a mile or so back to the 3rd Saturday in October split in the trail. One way leads to glory (Alabama); the other leads to defeat (Tennessee). Some of us took the steep but less technical climb towards the Tennessee trailhead of the park. There was a lot more hiking than running on those four miles, and by the time we made it up to the trail head, I was spent. I took the wuss way out and headed back on the road towards the Bama state line. At 10ish miles for the day, eating gummy bears in the sun was a more enjoyable decision. . . though I’ll probably regret that come November 4.

Here's the video from winter semester of RunWILD:

My legs were pretty dead on Sunday so I decided to stick to the roads. I lazed around all morning long, and it was lunch time by the time I got out the door. I have a normal 10 mile loop that I do, but this time I decided to reverse it. After the first mile, I was surprised at how good I felt. Just as I was thinking about how many miles this would give me for the week, I stepped off a curb wrong, my right ankle turned, and I fell Superman-style in front of Rosepepper and its lunch crowd. I jumped up, brushed the asphalt from my torso, and gathered my pride from the street. I tried to flee the scene as quickly as possible, but my ankle was angry and wanted me to simmer in my humiliation a little while longer. I hobbled the rest of the way home, my ego, spirit, and ankle all in pain. Worst part – I didn’t get a free margarita or a shoutout on Rosepepper’s sign.

Me in front of Rosepepper

Me in front of Rosepepper

It was definitely a weekend of highs and lows, the best run I’ve had in a long time, Strava stabbing me in the back, a great run with RunWILD, an invisible waterfall, and a (briefly) sidelining injury. Highs and lows – the epitome of ultrarunning. And the great part of ultrarunning is it's a microcosm of life. Highs and low, good and bad, darkness and light, beauty and pain. All we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.



Pinhoti 100 Training: Lee's Smokies Trek

Last weekend, Lee took off to the Smokies with fellow race team member Ryne Anderson for some solid Pinhoti training. Here's his tale of adventure.


Seems a bit odd, but it's not often that I take a running excursion outside of Nashville. Luckily, my friend and trail guru Ryne Anderson was nice enough to ask me again (wasn't able to go the initial go-around) to hit the Smokies for some running this past weekend. 

When I say's more along the lines of 'hey, I already have been lucky (and somewhat selfish) enough to start a small business revolving around what I love to do and have knowledge of, feel guilty if I'm not either at home with the family or at work on a weekend, and/or feel bad if I'm out running for 3-4 hours for some race that further takes time away from what's actually more important in life.' 

But, my mind, like many others, wouldn't click if I didn't at least take a bit of time to run where I have time to dream about how much I love social media, think about how there aren't any problems in the world, and dream up plays I can relay to Uncle Phil where he can then relay them to the coaches of our Ducks' upcoming championship season! 

I digress...

I've been to the Smokies before (one to get boiled peanuts and one to help assist Jeff Davis and Jim Fleming to conquer some crazy overnight run they had planned) but never to actually get in some running miles so I was stoked about what was to come. 

Ryne and I left Nashville early Saturday morning and got to the Cosby Campground a bit after 10am EST. I feel, as an Oregonian, being one with nature comes hand in hand, but it's been almost 15 years since I've lived there so I felt like a toddler setting up camp (the hunting/camping I did with my Dad, running in the woods, or jetting around the forests on 4-wheelers has long been forgotten). We threw on our running gear (Salomon 5 Set for a vest and Salomon Sense Ride for shoes), filled up our packs, and headed toward the trail head. 


Just looking around during the hike out of camp, I knew it was going to be fun. It's gorgeous over there! Thankfully, Ryne knew the area like the back of his hand. I try not to think much, in general, so it was nice to simply run and not worry too much about directions or which trail to turn. Every trail we were on was marked very well which was extremely nice. We hike/jogged uphill for five miles on our way to Mount Guyot. I knew it'd be a long day so hiking for the majority of five miles was good for two reasons...slowly get the legs moving after the car ride and great training for what I'll be doing a ton of at Pinhoti. I'm not a big fan of hiking; it's boring to me. I want to get moving, get to where I need to go, and focus on what I need to do next. That will be a struggle for me as I train and hopefully finish this 100 because, if I don't change my mindset, I'll be in big trouble. 

One of my primary focuses for the day was going to be nutrition, and I think I did a pretty good job of managing that. I used a variety of the Spring gels and some beef jerky as well as GU Roctane mix for my drink. I was pleasantly surprised at actually liking Spring's new flavor titled Mcraecovery (chocolatey/cherry flavor) because usually, I like the fruitier gels. This bad boy has 150 calories, though, and I could definitely feel it kick in. Although I'm a fan of Sally McRae and her love of one of our local brands...the name Mcraecovery is a bit "eh". Maybe "Sallery" or "Mcraecrae"...something. Or..."Mcraecraving"....boom!! me...I'm for hire! 

Although the nutrition went well, it sure didn't mean I was without low points along our 30-mile trek. The lowest I felt was heading up to Mount Sterling. Just tired and ready to be done even though we had 10 more miles to go. Once we got to Sterling, though, all was good. We climbed up the fire tower and rested and took in the views...clear day and beautiful! Plus, we knew we had 5+ miles of downhill coming up so we could get some energy back. After that downhill, my legs were about shot. We climbed a bit more then back down for 2.5-3 miles to camp, and I'm glad Ryne wasn't in the mood to go sub 6's or something crazy because I probably would've lost some teeth. My legs and feet were toast. I know better than to use a brand new shoe for a weekend like this, but I did it anyway...the Sense Rides held up well. Although I'm used to more flexible and lighter trail shoes, I know I'll need more shoe for the 100, thus the Sense Ride. This shoe is fairly new to the market, and compared to Salomons I've worn in the past, it has a wider toe and not quite as rigid...which I enjoyed. My feet held up well, and I know I could get through a 100 in them so they're in contention! 


Ryne had us dialed in and was gracious enough to take it easy on me...I didn't even have to yell out I needed a hike break because every time I wanted to pass out, he somehow stopped and started hiking. The man is a mind reader! He's fresh off finishing the Bighorn 100 so had some great insight for me and asked what I was most worried about going into Pinhoti. Number one is nutrition, and second is "running" again after stopping and/or hiking. I found it harder than usual to run after we stopped to hike. That'll be tough to do once I make it, hopefully, to the higher miles in the race. The body will want to walk or stop and the mind has to be strong enough to keep the body moving. We'll see! 

Once back to camp we licked our wounds before heading over to what we'd been waiting for all afternoon....the frigid creek!! That creek was the saving grace! It's like, what I assume would be, drinking a Deschutes Mirror Pond (Oregon brew) and Smith and Lentz the same time...just pure magic! It was cold, refreshing, and readied the legs for another run the next morning! Plus, it supplanted a shower! I'm actually going to Kentucky next month and am going to purchase some Mirror Pond (somehow it's sold in KY and not TN) so I can do my taste test! 

Ryne fried up some bad boy quesadillas for dinner while we chatted about the day and set our alarms for an early morning run up Mount Cammerer to catch a glimpse of the sunrise! One of the best things I noticed that damn mosquitoes...unreal how thankful one can be not to have those pests flying around. Guess it could be worse...could be an Alaskan caribou getting swarmed by mosquitoes every second of your life! 


It was about five miles uphill on Sunday morn to get up Cammerer...another great long hike with a bit of running tossed in. Once at the top, we were able to catch the sun at it was coming up over the mountains. Chilled out at the rock lookout tower at Cammerer before making the 10 mile downhill back down to camp. That downhill had some awesome trails on it and was mainly a smooth ride down...other than the black bear we saw hightailing it down the trail in front of us. Ryne was a couple of seconds in front of me, and I hear him yell "hey bear". I think he's joking...then "hey bear" comes again...joke's on me as I speed up a second and see the tail end of that bear scooting around a corner of the trail before it headed up the mountain. We probably smelled so rank it decided not to get too close. That's another thing I noticed out there...lots of warning signs that bears are around. One might assume that Winter might be safer to head over there! 

Got back to camp and hit the creek again to soak the legs and rinse off! The nostalgia of soaking the legs...reminded me of a cold ice bath back in the day, which was both haunting and funny. Then we hit the road back to Nashville! Home, safe and sound by 2pm. 

Overall, it was a phenomenal and memorable weekend! Getting into the wilderness, especially when running, is a thing I love doing and don't do enough of it anymore. When it's with such a great dude like Ryne, it makes everything that much more awesome. It's nice running with someone where the conversation isn't forced, and the trails are second nature to him so it made for some non-stressed running. The 45 miles we ran in the Smokies were a big part of the 86+ miles for my week. That's the most miles I've ever run in one week, and I felt it for a couple of days afterward. Hopefully, these miles will translate into a successful finish at Pinhoti. If not, made for a damn good weekend to remember!

Stay tuned for Beth's recount of her training weekend tomorrow!

Pinhoti 100 Training: Lee vs. Beth

Pinhoti 100 Training:  Lee vs. Beth

Two NRC Race Team members, Lee Wilson and Beth Meadows, are tackling the Pinhoti 100 down in Alabama this November. As occasional training partners with differing takes on running and training (Lee, relying more raw talent and dancing how he feels; Beth, a little more anal and obsessed with what the elites are doing), we thought it'd be fun to get their individual takes on preparation, the race, and more  throughout the next couple of months.

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Farewell, Steven McNeal!

Farewell, Steven McNeal!

So, by now, you probably know that NRC Crew Member and RunWILD Coach extraordinaire, Steven McNeal, is leaving Nashville and heading on the Oregon trail soon. Since we don’t have the mad videography skills that Steven does, we wanted to do a short write-up on just how awesome he is. A few of Steven’s friends and running partners have taken the time to share just what makes Steven so special!

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2016 Running Recap: Jeff Davis

"Sometime after midnight in the Smoky Mountains, we sat down on a rock.  The purpose of our stop was to put on jackets, but in reality, we were reaching our breaking point.  “If the temperature requires a jacket, we must be above 5,000 feet”, I unconvincingly told myself.  A quick glance at the watch confirmed we were still under 4,000 feet with 2,500 left to the top of Mount LeConte..."

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RunWILD Spotlight: Sinith Suong

You all may know Sinith Suong by many names – Beast, Bad Ass, Legend, Calves of Steel. He races more in a month than most people do all year, and he crushes them! He’s known for his crazy race schedule, his back flip(s), and for being a little more on the reserved side in a world full of loud-mouths. After he raced Bourbon Chase AND our Defeated Creek Trail Half this weekend, we wanted to know more about Sinith, and thankfully, he’s agreed to “come out of the shadows for his fans.”

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