Crew's Summer Faves -- Lee Wilson

Just because it’s September and football season is upon us doesn’t mean summer is over. And here to provide you with his summertime faves is our fearless leader, Lee Wilson.

Shoe(s) - I love Inov-8 trail shoes. I've worn a few flavors of their shoes, but my favorite over the years has been the Inov-8 X-Talon 195 (flexible, light and awesome traction). Currently, I've been wearing the Inov-8 Parkclaw 275, and it's been really in the toebox, cushion for the longer runs, and per the usual with Inov-8 . . . good traction. On the road, I'm not as picky. I wear about six types at one given time (Mizuno Shadow, adidas Boston, HOKA Hupana, Brooks Revel, ON Cloudflow and Altra Escalante), and I like them all, actually. I've never been one that's stuck on a certain flavor of shoe because I like my muscles (or lack thereof) to get a different workout each run. Plus, styles change from season to season. By changing it up, I don’t get all bent out of shape if a brand changes anything. 


Nutrition - As far as gels go, something that is tasty and doesn't mess with my GI are key. I usually go with a combo of two local brands...Huma and Spring. As for Huma, any of the fruit ones (I'm not a chocolate or mocha gel fanatic), and with Spring, you can't beat Canaberry. For hydration, I like Skratch because it's real (without any chalkiness) and doesn't mess with my GI. I also like using GU Roctane because it has quite a few calories which is always nice during long runs.

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Apparel - I'm not too picky on shorts, although I still love the split shorts (makes me still think I'm fast, possibly). I've never really had a pair that I couldn't stand wearing as long as it's not past my knees and too much fabric that holds sweat during these humid months. My favorite shirts at the moment are the Patagonia Cap (because it's thin and light) and the North Face BTN (for the same reasons...light and doesn't hold much sweat). 

Socks - I will wear the Swiftwick Aspire Zero, Balega Ultralight, and on the trails, I'll try to put on the Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Four (thin and seems to be durable so far).

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Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Lee! There's still plenty of hot summer running left  . . . stop by to stock up on any of Lee's favorites!

Trail to 50K

Tom Cirillo has been a staple at 12South Runners, PR Bandits, and East Nasty for a long time, and now he's joined our RunWILD trail training group. He's currently training for his first 50k -- StumpJump -- and we wanted to join Tom on his Trail to 50K. Tom was gracious enough to answer some of our questions, and over the next few weeks, we'll give you insight into why a 50K, his training, and any fun adventures he has a long the way!

NRC: What made you want to race a 50k?

Tom: Two races, one that I ran and one that I volunteered at, made me want to race a 50k.

Last November (2017), I ran The Flying Monkey Marathon in Percy Warner after a few years of hearing about how hard, hilly, and awful it was. I wanted to run it like a regular marathon even though it isn’t. I didn’t want to walk the hills and just stroll to the finish. From July until race day, I focused on that race and ran at Percy Warner about 3 times I week. I gradually stepped it up from the 5.8 to the 11.2 to going double on the 11.2 (11.2 x 2 is my favorite road training route in Nashville). The race was, to this point, the most challenging one I’ve done, but I felt great while I was running, was happy with the result, and knew that if I made and followed a tough training plan, I could run a race that was a more than a typical marathon.

 The past two years I’ve volunteered at an aid station for NRC’s Dark Sky race. The whole experience - from hanging out in the woods at the aid station to watching the runners go for 50 miles – made me want to participate as a runner in an ultra distance race.

NRC:  Why StumpJump

Tom: I chose StumpJump because it’s fairly close to Nashville and because several friends have enjoyed running it in the past and can give me some pointers.

NRC: How long have you been running? Trails?

Tom: I’ve been running since 2008 when I was a grad student at USC. I had done some other sports in high school (football, wrestling) and college (football – Go Kenyon!) – running was either a conditioning test or a punishment in those sports and anything more than 50 yards was considered long distance. After my incredibly mediocre gridiron career came to a close, I kept up with some working out but never thought much about running more than a mile at a time.

When I got to USC I became friends with some guys who led a club sports team that trained for the LA or Pasadena marathon from October to March every year. I ran the Pasadena Marathon in March 2009 – finishing the race itself was an incredible feeling, but it had been the training that I really loved. I made great friends, many of whom I’m still in touch with, I had something to do every weekend, and I found that I actually like getting up at 5 am on Sunday mornings to run 15-20 miles. Two months after my first marathon, I ran the LA race and I was hooked from there on out. From 2009 to 2014, I ran two to four marathons per year – never super-fast but with steady improvement.

When I moved to Nashville in the summer of 2015, I was coming off an injury that had had me out of commission for three months. I was psyched to find all the running groups (namely East Nasty, 12South, PR Bandits) in town – I jumped into those in order to meet people and learn about places to run in Nashville. I vividly remember doing the 11.2 in Percy Warner on July 4th, 2015 with PR Bandits, we saw a huge great horned owl right before starting and I thought “this could be a pretty interesting place to run.” However, I still had only a vague idea about the trails in Percy, despite hearing people talk cryptically (as far as I was concerned) about running “three reds,” “red, white, and blue,” etc.

I think my first time on trails was NRC’s Dry Creek Half in February 2016. I tried looking back to see if I had gotten off-road before doing it, but it was in the pre-Strava days for me so I’m not sure. Dry Creek was a good first trail race for me – approachable and runnable for someone new, but with enough rocks, roots, and mud to make it an adventure. The atmosphere of the event was also a huge factor in making me interested in doing more trail races. It was more laid back than a road race - runners and aid station volunteers were really encouraging to all the participants, but people were still out to work hard.

I signed up for the NRC 6-mile trail series, but I still hadn’t made running the trails part of the weekly regimen. I sprained my ankle at Bells Bend and thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this stuff and that I should stick to the roads so that I wouldn’t get injured. However, I’d also gotten the idea stuck in my head that trail running was real running and if I wanted to really run I’d have to do more of it on trails. I made sure I got out on the red trail in Percy once a week for the summer of 2016 and signed up for the rest of the NRC series. I ran those without hurting myself and decided to try the Dry Creek Marathon in February 2017. It was so much harder than the half had been and I faded really badly at the end. I was shuffling at probably a 15:00/mile pace thinking that theoretically I could keep this pace forever, but I ended up walking until I was just around the bend from the finish line. I returned to the roads for the rest of the winter and spring, but still wanted to be a trail runner.

Over the summer of 2017, someone was talking to me in less than flattering terms about the NRC Defeated Creek race and told me that “it was definitely not worth doing for just a t-shirt and no medal.” The name of the race and the description sounded cool if not a little intimidating, and I didn’t really care about a t-shirt or a medal, not that there’s anything bad about t-shirts and medals (turns out entrants got a hat and a cup too – who am I kidding? races are about the swag). The race lived up to its name - it was a harrowing slog especially early on when you’re “running” sideways down rocky uneven switchbacks. But after a mile, the course was more or less runnable up to the big climb that gets you to the turn-around point where you’re greeted with some incredible views that are better than t-shirts or medals.


I think that’s my favorite part of running on the trails – getting up to the top of something or the end of something and the feeling of remoteness, even if you’re in a city park. I had this experience recently when I drove down to this place called Black Mountain south of Crossville, TN. I read about it in a Tennessee hiking guide but couldn’t find much information online. The trailhead was hard to find, and I was cursing my luck for driving 2.5 hours and now being faced with the prospect of heading back for Nashville with no run. I ended up finding the trail, which had no markings at its start. The trail was narrow, overgrown, and went up a solid incline that made keeping a run difficult. To make things even better it started raining, light at first then a downpour, and I could hear some claps of thunder that seemed closer every few minutes until they were directly overhead. But after about three miles of plodding upwards, things leveled out near the summit, and there was some interesting stuff up there, and I had the feeling that no one had been to this place in quite a while (I made a Strava segment of the climb to the top and plenty of people have been there…but it didn’t feel like it at the time).


At the summit the storm chilled out for a few minutes and there were great views of the surrounding country side.


The elevation is nothing crazy, but pretty good for middle Tennessee (about 2800 feet). In the end of I was thankful for the weather, because the low clouds made it feel like I was much higher up. This run in particular made me want to get out an explore some more trails in TN that are a little further away from Nashville, so the next week, on July 4th, I went out to Mousetail Landing State Park  near Linden, TN and ran the Eagle Point Trail. AVOID THIS PARK AT ALL COSTS: I spent the next two hours eating cobwebs. The trail was runnable, had some good ups and downs, but I was stopping every five minutes to peel the webs and spiders off of me. You win some, you lose some.

Ok, pardon the digression: post-Defeated Creek, I was pretty focused on Flying Monkey and then the Country Music Marathon in April 2018 (I signed up for it the day after the 2017 race in which I got roasted by the heat and, like many, had the most miserable running experience of my life). In the meantime, I ran the 2018 Dry Creek marathon and had a much better go of it than the previous year. It was the first time that I felt like I was actually pushing it and racing on a trail. Country Music went well (PR by about seven minutes). I signed up for StumpJump around this time and decided that I needed to do most of my running on trails. Being on summer break, it’s been pretty easy for me to carve out some time to get in two or three decently long runs during the week at Percy Warner.

Looking ahead towards the next 2.5 months or so of training I’ll do more of the same – I work pretty close to the park, so I’ll head over in the afternoon/evening about twice a week and then get longer runs back-to-back runs in on the weekend.

NRC: Huge thanks to Tom for sharing some awesome trails and runs with us! Stay tuned for his nutrition and gear go-tos, as well as any fun (or mishaps) he's had training so far!





Crew's Summer Faves -- Diane Zandstra

Even though back to school is just around the corner, summer is still in full force! Crew member Diane Zandstra offers up her favorite gear for running through the summer!

Shoe - On Cloud

I’ve run through this shoe but like it now for post-run and cross-training. The elastic laces make it easy to slip on and off, and it’s the perfect lightweight, run around shoe for the summer. Plus, they are cool looking and the new colors are awesome!



Nutrition - Spring Canaberry Gel

I love everything from Spring as it’s all natural and tasty. Always want to have these on hand for those long run days. 


Goodr Glasses

What’s not to love about these sunglasses?!? Polarized, no slip, great colors (with funny names) and at $25, you can get several pairs. 


Oiselle Roga Shorts

This brand is made for women and most items are number sized for a more precise fit. They use great fabrics and the waistband on this short is comfy with a drawstring and a zip pocket on the back. 



Patagonia “Run NRC” cap sleeve tech shirt

This shirt is super lightweight and a great fit with a v-neck collar. And I get to represent the best running store in Nashville every time I wear it :-)


Thanks for sharing, Diane!! Stop by to try on or try out any of Diane's favorites!!


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. 


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. 


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!)


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! 


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. 


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! 



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)


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



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.


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


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!!!