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.

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