Friday, June 23, 2017


Clint, from all your friends and well-wishers:

Kirk McMorris:  "Run swift, run strong."

Lisa Coronado:  "Western States is an awesome adventure and you're one of the lucky few who gets to experience it.  Stay present in your Western States story and find joy in each mile.  When it gets bad, remember that it hurts for everyone, and DBAP!  See you in Auburn!"

Michael Mulnix:  "Clint, go out and have a great time!  Remember finishing will have sweet rewards!"

Alysa Dunn: "All your hard work will pay off on Saturday.  I know you will have a village out there! Having the opportunity to run such an iconic race is one in a million but we have the privilege of living here and training here.  Cheers to your amazing adventure!  I'll be cheering you on through your adventure!"

Gary Duran:  "Have fun and good luck brother."

Beth and Bret Lang:  "We are so excited for you!  Enjoy every moment of your Western States experience, and when the going gets tough, remember the huge number of people thinking about you and cheering you on, including us.  See you at the finish line!"

Aren Knighton:  "Clint, you showed me trail running is better than road.  You also taught me that hipppies are people too.  Thanks for being so inspirational, I love you.  Aren."

Veronica Runyan:  "To one of my favorite Dirt Bags.  You are an inspiration. I remember the first time I saw you run a 100.....  despite the pain, you were all smiles and appreciative of all those around you. No one is more deserving of this honor than you.  I have belief in you and wish you the best.  Enjoy your experience and enjoy the journey.  Love you big guy.  I can't wait to see you cross the finish.  Go get it!"

Sunny Carder:  "Good luck, Clint!  You're gonna crush it out there.  When the times seem dark, you can think of our inappropriate conversations to keep you going.  You know, the ones you always would share with Becca afterwards.  Cheers brother!" 

Matt Brayton:  "I wish Clint all the best this weekend.  He's a remarkable guy, and not just as a runner.  He's a huge fan of all runners and the lifestyle.  As co-conspirator of the official unofficial CIM aid station, he cheers for marathon road runners as much as anyone  and is always volunteering or working races when not running.  And his story ... going from overweight and having let himself go - to pulling it together and getting to where he is today - is inspirational.  Add to that, being a former high school football coach (leading young men is a very important and difficult job) and you can't help but root for the guy and follow his efforts.  I know I'll be one of those guys out there waiting for every update and aid station check in.  Run hard, run smart brother.  And no matter what happens, there is a lot to celebrate, and we will!"  (And, of course, we'll be celebrating his awesome wife Rebecca, who puts up with all this silliness.) 
Sylvia Ward: "You are a winner even before you toe the line.  To the man who loves his family first and foremost; to the big guy who is the life of the party; to the dirt bag who knows what authenticity is; and to the ultrarunner who worked hard for and deserved his bib # 347 - you are an inspiration to so many of us in ways that you don't even realize.  You got this.  Rock those trails.  I'll see you on the other side of the finish line."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


The time to toe the line is quickly approaching and Clint's big day is almost here.  The whole focus of this blog is now right around the corner. It's hard to believe that the next blog I write will be post-race and full of photos and stories about his trek from Squaw Valley to Placer High School.  I met with Clint one more time to review details about his race preparation and plans.  He was surprisingly calm and collected, but I could feel the excitement and positive energy in his entire house.  Becca, Kaleb and Halle were all there and the energy in the house was positive, serious, and focused.  Clint would apologize about being "all over the place," but that must have been how he felt internally because it certainly was not what he projected outwardly.  In all past interviews, Clint was always more pensive; often his foot would be bouncing at a fast tempo, and he would be quick to get up, check his phone, or change the direction of the conversation. Yesterday, however, he was in a completely different space.  He seemed focused, calm, and intentional.  I suspect 'race mode' is kicking in, and I certainly felt it.

The first questions I asked were about his pacers and crew.  We have talked about it before, and now is the time for more specific details. I know that Becca is his experienced and trusted crew captain, but I wanted to understand the logistics of who all would be at which aid stations.  The layout of the aid stations and the accessibility of roads getting to each one makes it nearly impossible for one crew car to get to each station. Becca, Theresa Lewis, Kaleb, and Clint's mother will be the 'A' crew team who will meet Clint at Robinson Flat (mile 30.3) and Michigan Bluff (mile 55.7).  His 'B' crew team will be fellow Dirtbag Runners Tim and Erin Thomas. They will meet Clint at the more remote aid stations of Duncan Canyon (mile 24.4) and Dusty Corners (mile 38). All crew members will converge at Foresthill, a central aid station at mile 62. There Clint will pick up Tyler, who will pace for nearly 18 miles to Green Gate Aid Station (mile 79.8) as they transition from running in the daytime to running in darkness. This is where the race will take a whole new direction and offer new challenges.  At Green Gate, Peter will take the pacing bib and continue to Robie Point at mile 98.9.  At this point, Clint will be met by the village who have supported him on this chase for the buckle.  Joining the family, pacers and crew will be Bill Yeates, Clint's dear friend and trusted workout partner from The Ranch.

Becca and Halle will meet Clint at the Placer High School track so that Halle can join her father as he crosses the finish line.  Becca, Kaleb, Nancy and the crew will all be on the other side of the finish line to share in the celebration of this monumental accomplishment.

Back to race preparation:  The next thing I was curious about was his gear.  Clint will be wearing two different race shirts that are designed specifically for this race by Paulo Medina of Single Track Running and Shawna Stewart of Wild and High, an outdoor lifestyle brand.  He will be wearing his Hoka Stinson ATR 3 trail shoes for the snow sections of the race and then changing into another pair of Hoka Stinson ATR 3 shoes at Robinson Flat.  If needed, Becca will have a pair of Hoka Challenger 3 shoes at Foresthill.  After crossing the river at Rucky Chucky, his crew will meet him at Green Gate with a fresh pair of New Balance Hiero V2 fresh foam shoes to get him to the finish line. For prevention of blisters, Clint will be using RunGoo each time he changes his shoes.  "Other than my knees, blisters are the next biggest concern." Clint's hydration vest is an Ultimate Direction AK3.0   He's planning to use arm sleeves to protect his skin from the sun, but more importantly, to hold ice during the near 100 degree temperatures he will face in The Canyons.  During the evening hours some time after Foresthill, Clint will wear a headlamp to navigate the technical trail in the darkness.

For calories, electrolytes, and nutrition, his crew will provide Tailwind at the aid stations, salted watermelon flavored Guu shot blocks, Pro Bar Fuel bars and Vegan Jerky.  During the early part of the race, Clint will primarily eat the Quinoa Porridge that settles well in his stomach and provides adequate energy.  But when he craves something warm, Becca and his crew will provide a burrito, Miso Ramen, and Mac and cheese throughout the late afternoon and evening.

When I asked Clint about his racing strategy and specifically about the initial 4-mile race up the Escarpment, he said he planned to take it easy and try to control the adrenaline rush by hiking the 2,550 foot climb to Watson Monument.  He wants to run this race intelligently given the state of his arthritis-riddled knees.  He recently received Cortisone shots, but knows that he will need to be strategic and patient.  And of course, I had to ask if he had a goal finish time.  He shook his head and said that his goal was to finish.  This has been a life-long dream and focus for over five years.  I reached out to many of his family, friends and supporters, and here are their words about and to Clint:

Nancy Ouding, Clint's mother:  I wish him to be carried on eagles' wings, delighting and delighted in the scenery, the glory of running in this esteemed race, proud of his accomplishments, as all of us are proud of him and cheering him on.  I get teary with pride of this son of mine.  "Go get'em Clint!!!"

Becca, Clint's wife:"Even before you run, I want you to know how proud I am of you.  You've worked so hard to get to this place and your perseverance has paid off!  I know you feel guilty for all the long hours of training, but I just want you to know how much it means to me to see you accomplish your goals, and every hour away will be worth the smile on your face when you cross that finish line."

Kaleb Welch, Clint's son: "Good Luck, Old Man!"

Halle Welch, Clint's daughter: "Good luck Daddy.  I can't wait to cross the finish line with you!"

Chad Welch, Clint's twin brother:  Clint is very driven and very motivated.  When he does anything, he goes all the way - there is no inbetween with that guy.  And to Clint: "I'm fortunate to have a twin as awesome as you are.  Good luck. Go get'em.  You are an inspiration to all of us."

Shawna Stewart, Clint's sister:  I'm so proud of Clint.  He has worked so hard and it's cool to see him realize his dream.  I want him to have fun and fingers are crossed.  Ultimately, all I want is for him to be okay.  It's been just incredible to witness his lifestyle transformation.  And to Clint: "Have fun! Enjoy the adventure and all that it is.  You deserve this!"

Bill Yeates, Clint's twice-weekly workout buddy:  He seems ready for this very hot Western States run.  I look forward to seeing him at the finish and will be grateful that he will finish this journey.  His love for the challenge and stubbornness will likely overcome his balky knees.  He also has the mental toughness to overcome the heat, but it is going to be brutal in the canyons.

Paolo Medina, fellow 2017 Western States runner:  I think he's gotta run with his heart and mind, not his legs.  If he does that, he won't have any issues.

Theresa Lewis, Crew A team: "Stop being a pussy, Clint!"

Tim Thomas, Crew B team: "You're an inspiration and a natural light, now get the fuck out there and let your light shine!  See you in Auburn brother." 

Luis Escobar, 8-time Western States finisher, and photographer featured in Christopher McDougall's Born To Run:  Clint is a 'big character' who is full of life and occupies the whole room when he walks in.  He has embraced the ultra-running community and is a leader in the Born To Run community.  He is outgoing, looks for challenges, and is self-motivated.  He also loves socializing and the outdoors.  And to Clint: "Hey Clint.  Run gently. Run simply. Run free."

There are several other friends who will also be toeing the line in Squaw at 5:00 am on Saturday morning. Clint and I both want to wish all of you a very safe run that is filled with adventure, beauty, challenge, and joy. To Lance Gilbert, Paulo Medina, Paul Grimes, Tina Fritzner, Terry Hall, Melissa Johnson,  Jodie Wood, and Gary Klein - got get that buckle!

#seeyouinSquaw in 3 days

Monday, June 5, 2017

Born To Run

After hearing the stories, seeing lots of photos, and reading so many positive comments on FaceBook about the Born To Run Ultramarathons put on by Luis Escobar, I was motivated to read the book with the same title by Christopher McDougall.  I have to plug that my oldest son had this book sent to me as a gift; a very special gesture given books are my go-to gift during the holiday season.  I started the book a few years ago but never finished it.  I opted to listen to it on Audible after meeting with Clint last weekend and hearing about the free-spirited, genuinely loving culture of those who attend this annual event and embrace the 'run free' spirit.  When I listened to the last chapter yesterday, I had the familiar feeling of being blue when finishing a treasured story or saying good-bye to a close friend.  This book is now at the top of my recommendation list for anyone interested in a true story that includes lots of information about the history of running.

Luis Escobar 'riding' Clint
The story centers around the Tarahumara, a tribe of reclusive Indians in Northern Mexico who are noted for their long distance running prowess, without special shoes, clothing, food - and most notably, without injury.  From chapter 15: "That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they'd never forgotten what it felt like to love running.  They remembered that running was mankind's first fine art, our original act of inspired creation." When Clint told me last week that his "soul was cleansed" from being around "my people," I now have a much better understanding of what he meant.  Luis Escobar, the race director of the Born To Run Ultramarathons, is featured in the book. Luis was the photographer and actually took part in the "Greatest Race the World has Never Seen' that pitted Scott Jurek, "Caballo Blanco," and two American college students against some Raramuri runners (original name of the Tarahumara that means "runners on foot") in a 50-mile race across the Copper Canyons of Mexico.  I told Clint that after reading the book, I felt like he had a celebrity riding on his back during the Beer Mile.  Clint's immediate response was, "Yea, my kind of celebrity."  The more and more I learn about Clint and ultrarunners, the more in awe I am of the special brand of people who are drawn to this sport.

One of the many things that Clint shares in common with the native Tarahumara runners is his diet.  The tribe is not necessarily vegan, but 95% of their diet is made up of maize, beans, greens, squash, and tobacco. Pinole is featured in the book, plus references to tamales, beans, and chia seeds.  I learned that Clint is vegan when I first interviewed him for this blog, so I decided to spend at least one segment focused on his normal and racing diet.

On regular days, Clint enjoys a Spirulina shake once or twice a day made up of 2 bananas, 1 cup of fresh or frozen mango or pineapple chunks, 4 cups of water, 2 teaspoons spirulina powder, and 1 teaspoon of miso. This is not necessarily a staple during the race, but Becca and his crew will have it ready in case it's something he craves during Western States.  Lunch typically consists of a large kale salad with tofu, almonds, flax and chia seeds with a honey mustard dressing.  Dinner is usually some variation of beans and/or potatoes.

The evening before a big race, Clint's customary dinner is pizza with spinach, mushrooms, potatoes, but no cheese. For breakfast, Clint and Becca make 4-full servings of Quinoa porridge.  Clint says that he continues to eat this during the first part of his 100-mile races whenever he meets up with his crew until his body starts to crave something hot.
  • 1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup almond milk or your favorite nondairy milk
  • 1 ripe pear, cored, quartered, and finely sliced, or 1 banana sliced
  • ¼ cup dried coconut flakes
  • 3 tablespoons Flora Oil 3-6-9 Blend
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or light miso
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Throughout the 24+ hour race, the things that Clint relies on for nutrition and hydration are, according to Becca: "In the afternoons, he likes quinoa wraps made up of tortillas, potato, quinoa, black beans, corn, and spinach.  In addition to water and electrolytes, he likes to drink orange juice and coconut water.  Fruit is also a favorite.  At night, he likes to eat pizza if its available, Ramen soup, and anything else I can get him to eat."  

Immediately after crossing the finish line and collecting the buckle, Becca will have an anti-inflammatory protein shake ready before he gets to indulge in his favorite beer. And he will probably have more than just a few.

Anti-Inflammatory protein shake:
2 cups of water
1 banana
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/4 cup dried coconut flakes
3 tablespoons of plant protein powder (brown rice, pea, etc.)
1 1/2 teaspoons of miso
1 1-inch turmeric root, chopped, or teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced, or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

This past weekend as part of his continued training, Clint ran Pacific Coast Trails Runs' Mount Diablo Half Marathon in Clayton, California.  The half marathon included a race up Devil Mountain with a total elevation gain of 3,864'.  Clint finished 15th overall and brought home the AG medal.  "I felt good on the uphills though out of shape.  That race is beyond sadistic.  Downhills still aren't great [on my knees] on the real steep parts, but the pain was manageable."  

Going along with the nutrition theme, I asked him what he ate prior to, during, and after the race.  For breakfast, he had a bagel with hummus. During the race, Clint drank lots of water during this really hot race and ate two Pro Bars. After the race, he and Becca celebrated in Berkeley with a deep dish pizza from Zacharies with vegan cheese, mushrooms, zucchini, pineapples, and jalapenos.  Afterwards, they continued the celebration with Fetch Pale Ales at Fieldwork Brewing.

This week's training 05/29/17-06/04/17
Mon - Cap Tapper's - 6 mins at full effort with 90 second rest x 6
Tues - The Ranch - strength, mobility, flexibility, tissue quality
Wed - Speed work - 2 minutes full effort, 2 minutes easy x 8
Thur - The Ranch 
Fri -  Rest and recovery
Sat - Half Marathon at 90% effort (Mount Diablo)
Sun - 4.5 miles hard

Now that the race is less than 3 weeks away, Clint and fellow Western States runners are beginning to finalize race plans with their crews and pacers.  One significant consideration is the snow that still clings to the trail. During the Western States Endurance Run Training Camp runs last week, several feet of snow were still at Robinson Flat. Clint said that he expects to deal with some sort of snow for the first 30 miles of the race. However, on a positive note,  according to the statistics from the Western States website, the years when snow was still present had higher percentages of finishers than those years when the average temperatures were above 85 degrees.  I wonder if hoping for hot weather to melt the snow is a good or bad thing? 

Twice as long and with more rugged elevation than the Tarahumara race in Mexico, the Western States Endurance Run is considered the World's Oldest 100-Mile Trail Race.  And, it's less than three weeks away.

#seeyouinsquaw in 19 days.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Shit Happens

In 2016, 72-year-old Wally Hesselfine narrowly missed the 30-hour cutoff at Western States by crossing the finish line 2 minutes late.  In 2015, 70-year-old Gunhild Swanson crossed the line with 6 seconds to spare. Running does amazing things to keep the body young.  And according to Dr. Jordan D. Metzl's article "The Incredible Medicine of Movement" in the Special edition of Time: The Science of Exercise, "Exercise is a miracle drug."  He goes on to say, "It works for everyone who takes it, young or old, and if done correctly, it has few or no negative side effects.  Every dose is 100% effective - even the small ones.  It's the most powerful, readily available drug in the world.  And it's free."

But, shit happens.  One thing that happens is age.  So many of us take our health and our ability to run for granted.  We wake up and decide that we simply are not going to exercise today, or postpone the planned run because something else takes priority.  But others would literally die to trade their bodies for our capable ones.  I get my high energy and active choices from my mother.  When I was young, she was on her feet and busy before I woke up, and still up and doing things far after I went to bed. My father's nickname for her was "Speedy" because she was always busy.  But, age happens.  My mother is 82-years-old and unable to walk to the mailbox.  She has the heart and mental state of a much younger woman, but her body is not cooperating - and that sucks.  When I am faced with the decision of "To exercise, or not to exercise," I think of my mother and realize that one day, that decision may not be mine to make anymore.

And, I think of my dear friend Shelly Austin Hoover who is fighting a strong fight against ALS.  Shelly must constantly adjust her "exercise" routine as her body parts aggressively refuse to cooperate and no longer function under her control.  Lately, her tasks center around delicately maneuvering her fork to her mouth during meals.  Life happens - and it sucks.  But we adjust and focus on what we do have under our control

Clint and Becca, BTR 2017
And adjustment and adaptation are exactly what Clint is facing, with only 26 days left before his big Western States debut. After a three-week hiatus to deal with life, I finally met with Clint again to get an update on his progress and training.  My daughter and I spent an hour with Clint, Becca, and Halle Saturday afternoon. He was still suffering from BTR Blues, but took time out of his weekend to share with me the recent adaptations to his training plan. The last few of my blogs have mentioned the battle that Clint has been waging against his arthritis-ridden knees.  Clint is a tough guy and can more than handle pain.  He's not a whiner or one to make excuses.  But life has happened.  And he's going to do whatever it takes to make the trek from Squaw to the Placer High school track.

With surgery and medical procedures out of the question, Clint returned to his roots and experts.  He went back to his "country folk"  and is now using a non-medical cream on his knees; the same cream used on racehorses.  It has the same properties that seem to attack the exact symptoms Clint deals with in his knees: arthritis, inflammation, pain.  And to preserve the damage to the knees by reducing the amount of friction and bone-to-bone contact, Clint also made drastic changes to his training plan.

Heat training after the beer mile.
Traditional training plans for the 100-mile race include increasing weekly mileage that currently ranges between 70 to 140 miles per week, depending on the elite status of the runner. But Clint consulted with others in the know and has adjusted to lower mileage, with higher intensity workouts.  His term of choice is "Balls out effort."  The adjusted training routine includes two days in the gym at The Ranch with strength workouts supervised by Seth Kotelnicki, one day of hiking or easy runs in elevation, and three days of high intensity running workouts.  "The workouts are not fun.  I'm not throwing up, but it's not like the long training runs that you can dial back when you aren't feeling it." For example, this weekend he is running three consecutive 5Ks at race pace with a ten minute break in between.   "Physically I'm feeling great.  My knees are much better.  I'm not pain free, but the adjustments have helped a lot.  My challenge is mental.  I'm not used to the low mileage training.  I need to trust that this training is going to get me over the hill."

Heat training is another adjustment to Clint's current training plan.  When temperatures flirted with triple digits last week, he kept sweats on while working in the yard.  He doesn't turn the air conditioner on in his car nor at work.  "This year we are going to experience the first 30 miles dealing with snow, and will probably end with typical summer heat."

But the best medicine that Clint did for himself and Becca was to sign up for the 4-day Born to Run Ultramarathons.  It was immediately obvious that his mindset, mood, spirit and attitude were uplifted and rejuvenated by spending time with his BTR and Dirtbag Runner family. "My confidence about States ramped up after being with 'my people.'  It may sound corny, but I feel like my soul has been cleansed. "  He was surrounded with positive energy, down-to-earth people, memorable shenanigans, and never ending availability of beer.

Both of his pacers, Tyler and Peter, traveled from Colorado for this annual event. They were so positive and motivating about their role in Western States.  Clint and Tyler were practically joined at the hip.  Luis Escobar, the man who puts on the race, was drinking beer right alongside them for most of the shenanigans.  He even helped Clint with heat and strength training by riding on Clint's back at the end of the infamous Beer mile.

A smaller group of BTR campers continued the love into Monday for an After Party Beach Camp Out. It seems everyone involved in Clint's quest for the prize buckle are sending positive energy his way, and Clint is doing his part by adjusting to all that life throws his way. And you can bet that Clint will be feeling the love when he runs into various members of his BTR and Dirtbag Runner family members lining the trail and keeping him motivated.

Sometimes, really good shit happens.

#seeyouinsquaw in 26 days.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Clint is the lucky lottery winner of bib #347 at this year's Western States race but it takes a team to train for and run an Ultra marathon.  So far, we've been focusing on the family and team that surrounds him and is supporting his effort.  This week I wanted to learn more about Clint's two pacers for his Western States debut.  I contacted the two Dirtbag runners, Tyler and Peter, and learned that Clint is quite the pacer and crew chief himself. In fact, it sounds like he is as good at giving and supporting, as he is at running and training.

Tyler is Clint's pacer who will join him at the Foresthill Aid Station and pace him through to Green Gate. When I reached out and told Tyler I wanted to learn more about Clint and their relationship, I found out that Clint has quite the reputation of being an amazing pacer and crew member himself.  And, he has a reputation around beer, laughter, and good times.  In 2016, Clint paced Tyler at the Pine To Palm 100 mile race in Williams, Oregon.  Tyler shared that "Clint is one of the best crew/pacer I've ever had!  He is a great motivator and is happy to do whatever needs to happen to make sure his runner gets across the line."

As we have all been witnessing, Clint knows how to train and work hard.  But he also has a reputation of knowing how to have a good time, and that usually involves beer.  When I asked Tyler about his role at Western States, Tyler said that along with pacing, his job is to make sure Clint makes it to the start line. Apparently, in 2016, Tyler drove down from Ashland, Oregon to share in the shenanigans of the Mokelumne Trail Festival.  Clint typically helps volunteer at the race, and was up drinking from a keg of beer when Tyler arrived after 11 pm the evening before the 50K race.  Clint and Tyler were both registered to run the race. Tyler decided that Clint's beer should never be empty, so he kept refilling it. Needless to say, the two didn't get to bed until the early morning hours, Tyler in his truck, and Clint in his tent that was located right next the start line.  Tyler shared the story that gave birth to the term '#Clinting.'  "I woke up a little late and was changing clothes as the race started.  I took off and thought I would try to catch Clint before turning back on the out and back course.  Well, I made it to the turn around and had seen no sign of Clint!  I was very confused until I showed up at the finish line to see Clint taking finisher photos [of other runners].  Even though he was camped right next to the start line, he slept through the start of the race, and the term #Clinting was born!"  I imagine Tyler will take his job seriously at Western States; topping off someone else's beer from the keg and making sure Clint makes it to the start line. Tyler also wrote, "I'm so excited to head to States and be that same crew for him. This is going to be a pretty amazing experience!"

At Green Gate, Tyler will pass off Clint to his second pacer Peter, who will run with Clint to the finish.  Not surprisingly, the first thing Peter talked about was how great of a pacer and crew chief Clint has been.  Clint was Peter's pacer from miles 53 - 75 at this year's Angeles Crest 100 mile race.  "I asked Clint to pace me because I wanted someone who could make me laugh and keep my spirits up through the mid-section of the race and he fits that bill perfectly!"

And of course, I asked Peter to share some fun memories about Clint as well, and it happens that he shared a story that took place while they were running together at that race.  "... at Newcomb Saddle Aid Station, Clint ate some bad soup and immediately started projectile vomiting into the bushes as we were running out of the aid station.  It was a pretty hilarious moment... for me at least.  Clint yelled at me 'JUST GO!'  It was pretty dramatic."

In all seriousness, Peter repeated the same sentiment that Tyler did: "Clint was the best crew member...  He was super on the ball, not just during the race as the crew chief and pacer, but the night before, asking all the right questions and preparing himself to not miss a beat the next day."  Peter even went on to say that "... he was a big part of ensuring my success throughout the race. I'm super stoked to return the favor at States."

I missed a week posting Clint's blog during Easter Break, so I will include two weeks of Clint's training schedule.  Here is his week prior to Easter, for those of you interested in his training plan.

Last week's training 04/10/27-04/16/17
Mon - Cortisone shot in left knee.  No run.
Tues - The Ranch - strength, mobility, flexibility, tissue quality
Wed - 4.1 mile run before work.  Cortisone shot in right knee.
Thur - The Ranch
Fri -  30 mile run with little elevation
Sat - Easter celebration #1 with Becca's father
Sun - 10 mile run before Easter Celebration #2 with Clint's twin brother

Both Tyler and Peter, along with Clint's family and crew, will play a crucial role in getting Clint across the finish line at Placer High School. Clint said that his family, pacers, crew, and Bill Yeates will meet him at Robie Point and run with him down to the Placer High School track where he will finish his last mile before crossing the finish line and getting his much earned buckle.

And Clint has taken that support role with many other runners and is probably more comfortable giving support than receiving it.  Even this week, when I asked for Clint's training schedule, it just proved what his mother told me about her son.  "He puts his family before his training."   Becca threw out her back last week, so Clint completely adjusted his training schedule to make sure that he was able to take care of his responsibilities around the house and with his wife and children first.  He did all his training runs close to home to reduce the number of hours he would be away from home.

This week's training 04/17/27-04/23/17
Mon - Cap Tappers 5.6 mile run
Tues - The Ranch
Wed - 10 miles
Thur - The Ranch
Fri -  5 straight hours of yard work (Ha Ha - core workout for sure)
Sat - Helped direct Mokelumne 50 Mile/50K with Paulo
Sun - 13.1 Mokelumne River Trail Running Festival

Here is a photo of lint from this year's Mokelumne Trail Festival.  Ultra running is work, but it's also a ton of fun.

Running 100 miles requires the help of a team of people.  Ultra races usually allow for pacers who share the trail with the runner, and crews to meet at aid stations to provide food, a change of clothes, medical supplies, or a quick muscle massage.  Clint has lots of experience being both a pacer and a crew chief, and according to those he has supported, he's one of the best.    I think he can count on having a team ready to return the favor.

#seeyouinsquaw in 61 days

Monday, April 10, 2017

Training Ups and Downs

When I was nervous about running my first 50K earlier this year, Clint's advice to me was "there are going to be high points and low points during your run."  And then during another one of our conversations since then, he again said that there will be training days that are good, but there will definitely be training days that are a low.  And that's the reality of training for ultra runs, and running ultra races. I like to refer to this as 'the good, the bad, and the ugly.' And this is one of the types of weeks to report this week.

So, the good about this week:  During the week of Clint's birthday, he engaged in a March Madness style Twitter battle - #URMadness (something I know virtually nothing about as I do not Twitter).  During the week, I kept seeing the bracket on Facebook, and most people are probably far more familiar with all this than I am.  Our own ClintLikesBeer won.  This coincided nicely with his 40th birthday shenanigans. He went up against other elite ultra runners in a social media battle, and apparently Clint is talented in wit and humor as well.

And now to the bad about this week:  Clint doesn't like to complain. At all. I try to ask questions and prod for information, and he agrees that this blog needs to be authentic, but he really tries to downplay the issue that he's dealing with regarding his knees. I wanted to help.  I developed runners knee while training for my first 50K, looked up on YouTube how to use KT tape, and had fantastic luck on my own knees.  When I ran the 50K, I had zero pain in my knees. So, I've researched more about taping and use KT tape on my track athletes who are dealing with shin splints and sore knees.  So, naively, my birthday present to Clint was to wrap his knees and have him try out KT tape on a short run.   I learned about his knee surgeries on two interviews with Clint and again when I met with Becca, but when I went to Clint's house to get updated on his training this week, I was in for an awakening - a bad awakening. I shared a few beers with Clint while Becca prepared dinner for the family; he had Pavlo from Claimstake Brewing while I had a Monkey Knife Fight from Rubicon Brewing. Right before I left, I reminded Clint that I wanted to try the KT tape on his knees, and Becca laughingly asked him to 'drop trou' for me.  He didn't, but left the room to put on a pair of shorts.  He took a seat in the living room on the couch because I needed his knee at a 90 degree angle.  I seated myself on the floor in front of him, and when I saw his knees, I knew that tape was not going to do a damn thing to help him.  I've been taping a few knees for relatively decent-sized high school students, but nothing prepared me for the size of Clint's knee.  Scars are still prominent, and I had a really difficult time finding his knee caps.  His knee is over three times larger than any knee I have seen up close.  And it's not because he's a big guy - it's because his knees have been rebuilt and are no longer the same shape as 'regular' knees.  I went ahead and taped his knees, but I knew his pain is coming from a much, much more serious place and this tape was not going to be enough to offer relief.

This week's training 04/03/27-04/09/17
Mon - Cap Tapper's Shake Our Run 5.7 miles
Tues - The Ranch - strength, mobility, flexibility, tissue quality
Wed - 7.8 mile speed workout
Thur - The Ranch + 3.4 mile Django Run
Fri -  Rest and recovery
Sat - 6 miles along American River Bike Trail
Sun - K2 Challenge (Training Hill) 3 loops - almost 1,000 ft elevation gain each loop

And the ugly for this week:  Let me just say that the tape did not do any good, and the K2 Challenge was not pretty.  And I'll leave it at that.  It's just a reminder of the advice Clint himself gave me: "There will be good training days, and bad training days."  And this is the reality that Clint must face as he continues to train for Western States, and the reality he wants to share with any blog followers who hope to run a 100-mile ultra race.

According to the article "45 Mind Numbing Facts, Figures, and Statistics about Running" on, only 0.5% of the American population has ever completed a marathon. And, according to, a German website with statistics about runners by nation, in 2016 there were about 7,500 finishers of 100-mile races in the United States. That equates to about 0.0024% of the US population who have done what Clint has done - and will do again.  This feat that Clint is training for is monumental.

And to go full cycle and end on another 'good' reminder:  Clint has the love and support of a huge community of friends, runners (and social media fans), but more importantly, he is blessed with support at home.  His favorite medal rack is the one that was made for him by Becca's father.  These are beer taps for each of Clint's 100-mile races:  Tahoe Rim Trail, Javelina, San Diego, and Rio Del Lago. And yes, there in the center is Western States.  I can only imagine the percentage of people who can proudly display this medal rack on their wall, and have a medal hanging from each tap.

#seeyouinsquaw  in 75 days.

Monday, April 3, 2017

"The 20X Factor"

As the Western States race gets closer, Clint's training is starting to ramp up.  He is continuing his three week build up of mileage, followed by a week of less mileage.  There are a few races built into the training schedule to practice running under race conditions and to test out gear and nutrition.  One rule of ultra running is to practice with the same decisions you plan to make on race day.  So Clint has a few upcoming races on his calendar: The K2 Challenge next week, Mokelumne River Festival Half Marathon in mid-April, The Canyons Endurance Run 50K in late April, and Born to Run Ultra Marathons 30 mile in late May.

In the past, Clint has already completed five endurance runs that are over 50 miles: one 50-mile race, one 100K race, and three 100-mile races.  There were always training plans for each respective race, and Clint does not train with a running coach.  He reads a lot and uses the internet to research the logic behind different training plans.  Based on all this experience, Clint developed a training plan for Western States using prior plans that worked, and taking into consideration prior plans that did not work as well.  One realization that he had was that his best races were when he was lifting weights and doing interval training on the treadmill.  Some of his less successful races followed training plans that focused on increased weekly mileage.  So he decided to use a hybrid plan.

Halle joining Clint on his birthday workout
As we have been sharing, the current training includes two days of strength, mobility, and flexibility drills that improve tissue quality. This training is done on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Seth Kotelniki at The Ranch Athletics in Loomis, CA.  I asked Seth to educate me on the philosophy behind the individualized training he is currently using for Clint.  He said that the first things to focus on are correct movement patterns and to restore soft tissue.  This would provide for faster recovery following the many grueling training runs that Clint needs to do to prepare  his body for the 100-mile race.  Secondly, Seth wants Clint to focus on conditioning the whole body, and especially the core.  "Energy is wasted with poor posture," and a strong core helps improve correct form.  To some, working out on strength may seem counter-intuitive for an ultra runner.  But, according to Seth, "Strength is never a weakness."  These workouts strengthen muscle fibers that are different from muscle groups needed for running.  So, a runner can work out at The Ranch and do a long run on the same day. In addition, "most runners do not have full range of motion of joints." Training sessions focus on the entire body.

I wanted to understand how increased strength and power can improve a runner's endurance and potentially, speed.  Seth used a biker's analogy to help clarify the logic behind this philosophy.  The following is not a direct quote, but my attempt to transcribe what I learned: "Let's use an example for bikers.  To keep things simple, I'll use even numbers.  Let's say it takes 10 pounds of strength for a  rider to bear down on the bike pedal for one rotation.  Assuming this rider has the strength to squat 100 pounds, he is expending 10% of his power on each rotation.  If I can improve the rider's strength so he can squat 200 pounds, it will take less of his energy (only 5%) on each rotation.  This should improve  the rider's endurance, and with less expenditure of energy, form and speed will benefit as well."

Finally, I asked Seth what he thought about Clint as a client.  "He's very upbeat.  He's very interested in personal growth and development.  Actually, we talk a lot about books."  One book that Seth recommended is Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine.  Clint had already mentioned this book to me on our very first meeting. He has read it twice and recommended it to others, myself included. The book is written by a retired Navy SEAL and focuses on the development of mental toughness and clarity.  According to Mark Divine, " are capable of at least twenty times more than you previously thought." (The 20X Factor).

Not many people know the story behind how it came about that Clint is training at The Ranch. On the very first day I met with Clint, he shared two stories that made him pause, swallow down a knot in his throat, and blink away wetness in his eyes. The first story was the one we shared in "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" blog about not picking up Halle at the finish line of his 2013 Run on the Sly 50K race in Pollock Pines.  And this is where the second story comes in.  Clint was telling me about all the family and friends who have been supportive throughout his entire trail running journey, and how it has become even more evident now that he is running in Western States.  He told me that he is so very grateful and thankful for his dear friend, Bill Yeates, who is making this part of his training possible.

I reached out to Bill Yeates and asked him to share the full story behind his support of Clint's dream of completing Western States.  Bill told me that he met Clint in 2013 at Capital Beer and Tap Room on a Cap Tapper's Monday Shakeout run.  "When I met Clint, I was trying to get my marathon time down below 4 hours.  Clint, along with others like my coach Chad Worthen from Fleet Feet FIT program, gave me motivation and inspiration.  Clint even got me to dip my toe in trail running."  Bill was able to improve his time below 3:50 and qualified for the Boston Marathon which he ran in 2016.

Bill and Clint at The Ranch Athletics
"I know what it feels like as a runner to set a goal and achieve it."  In 2015, Bill was aware of Clint's four lottery tickets not being drawn in the lottery.  "I know how much Clint wanted to get into Western States. And it was disappointing in 2015 when his name did not get drawn."  The two continued to meet for regular Monday Shakeout Runs.  "I think at a Monday night CapTapper gathering, I told him that when he gets drawn in 2016, I would cover the cost of the Ranch." Clint and Bill had both heard that this gym really helps ultrarunners with strength and mobility.  So, when Clint won the lottery, Bill followed through on his promise. And the two work out together twice a week, even sharing a ride. "I have been injured most of 2016, so it has been great to have someone to travel out to Loomis with when we go to The Ranch.  I hope it helps him. I admire his dedication and commitment.  His enthusiasm for his sport is infectious.  He genuinely cares about anyone who is a runner no matter the distance.  Most of all, he is a wonderful Dirtbag Runner who loves and supports his colleagues and they love him back.  You can't help but root for Clint and enjoy his quest."

Everyone I have talked to seems to say about the same thing.  I don't think Clint even knows how much people respect him and want him to realize this dream.  He is one of those guys who is always taking care of everyone else and not wanting the focus to be on him.  He has such humility.

Another person who is a huge supporter of Clint's is Paulo Medina, owner and director of SingleTrack Running.  I asked Paulo about his relationship with Clint. The two have known each other for 4 to 5 years, but Paulo said he was having trouble remembering the first time they actually met.  "I probably met him when we went running one day and it was like a long lost friendship, you kind of keep on going from that point on, as if you never lost time before."  Clint is just that kind of guy; when you meet, you become instant friends.  "My very first recollection of him was when I was dying during Gold Rush 100K in 2013 and he was out there cheering runners on."

Paulo Medina was also a lucky lottery winner who was selected to run the Western States Endurance Run this year and will wear bib #270. "As a friend and previous Western States finisher, I am really happy he was able to get into the race this year.  My experience during WS really changed my life, and I can only hope that he has a similar experience.  Seeing all your friends and family during the race is very special, and after all, this is our backyard and we finally get invited to the biggest party of them all."

Speaking of parties, Clint celebrated his 40th birthday last week.  Many of his friends, family and fellow runners helped him celebrate and, as expected, this usually involved craft beer.  His beer of choice was the Pavlo Double IPA from Claimstake Brewing. Here is Clint at his party held at the Claimstake Brewery, wearing his favorite t-shirt, a birthday gift from his wife.  And luckily, a week of lower mileage coincided with the celebrations.

This week's training 03/27-04/02/17
Mon - Recovery from 40th birthday celebrations - no run
Tues - The Ranch - strength, mobility, flexibility, tissue quality
Wed - 10 mile run
Thur - The Ranch
Fri -  Rest and recovery
Sat - 24.4 mile hill repeats at Stagecoach Trail (2 mile hill with 900+ feet elevation gain x 6)
Sun - 10 mile run

In addition to support here at home, Clint will be getting support from fellow Dirt Bag Runners Peter Brennen and Tyler Clemens who will pace him out on the Western States Trail.  I think Clint just might have the 20X factor when it comes to the amount of support, love, and respect so many of us have for him and his quest for a very special buckle.