Posted by: Clint Nelson | March 21, 2013

Georgia Death March 60ish miles ultramarathon

This was the inaugural year of the Georgia Death March. Even more uniquely my first race totally untrained! Mike D and I drove down Friday early morning from VA to GA. We had a great drive through the Great Smokey Mountains, and awed at the amount of places of worship in the south. There must have been a church every 1/4 mile. He dropped me off at the Holiday Inn Express. I waited there along with Mike M for Sarah. We set off for the pre-race meeting at Vogel State Park. It was on a pristine lake, and had a campground. At the meeting I introduced Sarah to Helen. Helen and I had put in some miles training along the AT. She introduced me to Jeffery, which I heard a lot about. Helen is another talented runner with a kindred spirit. After the meeting, Sarah and I grabbed a bit to eat. This was her longest run to date. She seemed anxious, and reserved. I could sympathize recalling my feelings before the RDL 100. I assured her we would finish, and I would stay by her side the whole way. Just a little history. I met Sarah at Iron Mountain 50 in Damascus, VA., September 2012. I noticed her at the pre-race meeting. Later that day we ran together. We were so engulfed in talking, and each other we missed a turn. That resulted in our first DNF. This was very hard to accept. I couldn’t stop thinking of that DNF, or her for that matter. Since we have had time to mend that DNF, and get to know each other. Sarah is an amazing athlete, with an awesome race history in triathlons and running. That night we had to set the alarms for 0230. There was a 0330 drop bag cut-off, and toeing up at 0400. We scrambled around getting last-minute supplies. Next thing we see is 5 minutes left to start. We jogged to the start. Sean Run Bum (Race Director) is giving a few words, and started the race. Sarah informed me that she has a habit of falling. I’m not sure I’d even say that, nor wish it upon anyone. Well it didn’t take her long to prove her point. Around mile 5 she took a fall. It takes time to get used to running in the dark. She brushed it off, and carried on. I thought to myself, I’ve got myself a little baddass on my hands today! When we got to a creek crossing I cleaned up her cuts. While getting some rocks out of her shoe. She happen to notice her insoles were left out. She said possibly they are on my dryer back home. Not a real good place for them. This didn’t faze her in the least bit. Any other person it would spark confusion, and a loss of momentum. I did give her a pair of my Feeture’s socks. Which I’ve never had one blister wearing. We made it to our 1st aid station, and had some bananas. The next section had some climbing. The Duncan Ridge Trail is notorious for its steep accents, and descents. It was nice to climb in the morning barley awake. You really have no feeling this early in the morning. When the sun came up there was some amazing vista points. There were times I would speed up. I was itching to shoot out after practicing negative splits. I promised Sarah we would cross that finish line together. The day went well with the exception of the food. The PB&J’s were getting old fast. It had already been our breakfast, now our lunch. Sarah was also refraining from eating them, not good. She said they didn’t appeal to her taste buds. Outside a race I’m never eating PB&J’s. You just have to grit it, and eat. At the next aid station runners were talking about their Garmin’s not matching Run Bum’s markers. This later became an issue. Ultra distances can be more mental than physical. Just one extra mile might seemed like 10 miles. When night fell we did get some potatoes, and grilled cheese sandwiches. The next aid station was soup. Sarah and I both had some soup and relaxed a little. I tapped into something new and grabbed a soda. I really don’t like the sugar/caffeine crash. When I held the cup I thought about liquor. I jokingly asked the chick if she had any rum for this fine cola. They all laughed and said of course we do. Would you like Jack or Rum? I’m now laughing with excitement. She poured me a big shot of Jack. Sarah is just looking at me like I’m crazy. I embrace this stereotype. This next section was 8ish miles to the final aid station. This was when Sarah took a wide turn the left. She started walking slow and got real quiet. I had been talking the whole race. She mentioned before that she stays quiet and is a loner on the trails. Boy she was in for a rude awaking with my mouth. A few times she said “Don’t you want to listen to your music”? What that really meant was “be quiet Clint”! I let her battle this stretch out. We stopped a few times. Sean Run Bum’s distance calculations was working with her head. I wasn’t going to leave her side. When she sat down I stood close by making sure she didn’t fall over asleep. The last aid station we went in, and left fast. The final 6 miles was all forest service roads. We picked up the pace. A truck approached us, and informed us that we were being re-routed. Great, we thought just one more thing. This put us down a paved, and very steep gradient road. Along the way we had 2 guys trailing us. We could hear one complaining of his feet. I’m thinking, here Sarah is running with no insoles, and not a word about pain or discomfort. I asked if we could pick the pace up so I didn’t have to listen to this grown man cry. Sarah was starting to get frustrated at the fact it was so dark, and no sign of the finish line. A little later we made a sharp bend and saw the light at the lodge, and the finish. She asked me if I was excited about the engraved railroad spike finisher’s award. I’m really not one to relish over trophy’s. This was our first ultra, and 60 (more like 65). It would be a good reminder of the good times shared. Sean Run Bum approached us at the finish just to tell us he ran out of finisher’s awards. He said, “I really didn’t expect this many to finish”! I don’t think we cared about that. Just give us the finisher’s award dude! I looked at Sarah that was masking her disgust well. The excitement wasn’t over yet. We climbed in the shuttle, and I made Sarah a makeshift pillow to get some sleep. About 5 minutes before arriving back to the finish. The shuttle driver falls asleep at the wheel and runs off the road. Really, what more could happen? We just knew we needed to wrap up this day up. Sarah and I had tons of fun, with laughs, ups, and downs. Next up is the Knoxville Marathon in April where I will get my Boston qualifying time. The C&O Canal 100 in MD the end of April. This race my family will crew me, and Sarah will pace my last 25 miles. In June we will attending the 20th anniversary Kona Marathon on the Big Island Hawaii.
We pay our deepest respects to SO Matthew John Leathers, who went missing February 19th of the coast of Kaena Point, Oahu. He served in SDV Team One. Matthew was an extremely devoted, and very determined warrior. Many blessings to Matthew’s family, and their devotion. You will always be remembered, never forgotten. Thanks to all of those who have supported me in any way. On behalf on The Navy SEAL Foundation, and The 31 Heroes Project all your donations to help the families are greatly appreciated.

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Posted by: Clint Nelson | December 11, 2012

An epic end to 2012, recap, and whats in store for 2013!

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Thanksgiving morning I was toeing the start of the Drumstick Dash 5k in downtown Roanoke.  It was a very chilly, but clear skies and bright day.  My sister Donna, KK, and Brogan and some friends  where all there.  I noticed a guy that smoked the Fincastle 10k a few weeks ago beside me.  I introduced myself and asked him what pace he was shooting for.  He said he would like to run a 5:45. Just the thought of a 5 minute anything seemed impossible. He returned and asked me what I was planning to run.  My only goal was to PR my 5k, my best was 6:33.  Anything below that would be fine. I felt good, and also knew that my hernia surgery was in a couple of weeks. I started off running a little below my max. speed. I just flowed with the lead pack trying to conserve my energy. After the 1 1/2 mark, people were passing me. I stayed focused on my pace. This was great to see the runner’s style passing me. Everyone seemed to have a different style. I was learning so much watching the runners sprinting passed me. I had a great time, and finished with a 5:51 pace. This year has been a constant ladder. Every race I excelled passed my last times or distances!  Next year, I will focus on speed and consistency.

I had a surprising lesson on the AT. A fellow ultra runner invited me to a 30 mile point to point run. Last weekend I pulled out of my run due to my hernia. I decided to push myself out of bed and leave. We met up with 3 other guys from the Roanoke Valley. One ran in the Iron Mountain 50 in Damascus and placed top 10. I’m learning more about ranking in races. I never thought too much about  top 10, top 5, or top anything related to ranking. When I competed on the ESA surfing series, I was always shooting for top 3 in all competitions. I miss that feeling of real competing. Having just starting running in March, placing was a longshot.  Now, we started off with a fairly good climb. Right away,I could tell I was under trained, and two these guys knew how to run. I was falling back, and falling back more. After a few climbs and closing in on 15 miles, my hernia was burning and felt like a flame was put up to my groin. I’d decided it was in my best interest to pull out. I wanted an adventure if I was going to pull out. I checked my GPS  which was unreliable. At this point, I didn’t have a map  which I always carry as a backup. My plan was to just barrel straight down the mountain. I edged some private property hoping some WV hillbilly didn’t feel like zeroing his rifle before opening deer season the following day. Now, one side of the mountain was VA and opening deer season already started. West Virginia was opening deer season in the morning. It was pretty easy deciding which side of the ridge I planned to go down. Now I made it to the local store where a couple of guys gave me a ride close to where we parked. West Virginia has probably the most backwoods, hillbilly folks in the nation.  The driver was drinking a bottle of whiskey. This skinny little boy holding an i-pod didn’t even look at me. I told them to just drop me off in town anywhere. I got out and crossed the street to look up to a guy on a Harley with a large, white, stuffed bear in the back of him.  I was not having some flashback or bad trip. This was actually my first time time in WV in many years. In 1995, I went rock climbing in WV. Joe and Jason picked me up and we headed back to Roanoke.

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After cancelling two different surgery appointments for races, I finally was wheeled into the OR Thursday and was patched up. It was a six-hour ordeal.  It’s going to feel great to run without that truss hugging my crotch. I’m on day 3 and feeling much better. Yesterday I pushed myself outside too much. I had to support Donna and Brogan on their 3rd 5k in 3 months. Afterall Brogan made 7th with a 7:45 pace in the Drumstick Dash. Like my Mom would say, “it’s in the genes”! I’m looking forward to working with him. He asked his mommy last night if she thought he would ever get a medal. I really thrive on setting goals! He will get a medal his next race. We also drove by  Hellgate 100k which was wrapping up.  I’m glad we stopped by. I was able to congratulate Joe in his 8th place finish.

before surgery

before surgery

after surgery

after surgery

In March I will run the GA Death March 60 miler. This is over 30,000 ft. elevation gain and loss. The Race Director, Sean has good energy and sounds like he is amped on having an EPIC race. I’ve learned the Race Directors really play a major role in the success of a race. I’m looking forward to meeting up with Mike, a local that is running the GA Death March too. I’m excited to run with Erin on her longest run. This will be a great way to kick off the 2013 season. On Wednesday, I will find out if I made the lottery for the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100. I’m crossing my fingers as this will be a qualifier for Western States next year. I will also be running the first year of the C & O Canal 100 in MD in April. The schedule thereafter is still in the planning. The Rio Del Lago 100 in October is without question on. The RDL was my first 100 and I will return every year. I have been working out a plan to raise money for my cause in 2013. I’m very excited to announce the first of the year my “Epic new adventure!”  This is almost to far out for me to fathom. I have already put my foot in and sunk in. It will also involve the 31 Heroes Project and The Navy SEAL Foundation.

Today we mourn the loss of Petty Officer 1st Class SO Nicolas D. Checque of Monroeville, PA. If anyone out there is reading my blog for the first time, I enjoy running for many reasons. Running ultras, and training is a big part of my life. I never loose focus on directing people to my cause. If you catch me on a long training run or a race,you will never hear me complain of anything, because I’m consumed with the deepest feelings for our many losses and reflecting on my past service in the Navy. There isn’t a 100 miler out there that could deliver pain equal to that of our many tragic loses. Fellow American’s we are still in war! When a warrior is killed  fighting for our freedom…we can’t look at welcoming him back home. We need to focus our energy on taking care of the family he has left behind.  Put quite simple that is my mission. If you can’t donate to my cause help me  spread the word of The Navy SEAL Foundation and 31 Heroes Project. If you can make a donation, please do so. Thank you to those who have donated this year. From The Navy SEAL Foundation, 31 Heroes Project, the families and myself we thank you for your kindness and support.  Start your day standing tall, chin up, smiling and be proud to be an American and live in the best country in the world!en_1210_martin_620x349

Posted by: Clint Nelson | October 14, 2012

Rio Del Lago 100 Race Report

     I called Molly Sheridan in May 2012, excited to catch up after 2 years and tell her that on May 5th I plan to run in my first ultra marathon.  If you haven’t read any of my past blogs. Molly and I met while I was thru-hiking the PCT  in 2010.  She basically introduced me to the sport of ultra running, while she was supporting the runners at the Leona Divide 50.  I had many miles ahead hiking, and a couple of years afterwards to ponder on running.  I have always been a strong swimmer.  In BUD/s,SEAL Training I couldn’t even run a 32 minute 4 miles.  I was always in the goon squad.  Basically I hated running.  Molly is the owner of Desert Sky Adventures, and Race Director (RD) for the Rio Del Lago half, 50k, 100k, and 100 miles.  In May without even ever completing an ultra. I proposed to Molly that I wanted to run the RDL.  I thought what a trip to run my first 100 miles, at the RDL, the race of the person that turned me on to the sport of ultra running.  After all I just started running in March.  My plan was after 8 weeks I would do my first ultra.  Now it has been a long road and many lessons learned.  Seven months of training and 90 percent of it in Florida.  This called for me getting up several weeks at 2-3 a.m. and running through the night, due to heat and thunderstorms. The people of Florida having little knowledge of extreme running, they probably thought he is just on some good prescription medications.  Whatever the excuse is, running with a goal really made my life complete.  I’ve never been able to stay in one place to long.  Now I had the perfect cure, just go run, and run long! 

     My sister had crewed me on a couple of races.  She has throughly enjoyed watching my progress, learning about the body and sport.  We have both enjoyed meeting the extremely different breed of people out there running ultras.  We both now like to say our ultra family.  She understands the need for a good crew and family support.  We both our entire lives have equally stood by each other.  She has never left my side and never will.  She is the loudest one at the aid stations, “that one”!  In August I started really talking RDL and tickets.  She jumped on board right away.  Who wouldnt’ want a trip to SF?  She had never been to Northern California.

     It took us close to a miracle to get out of VA.  Having 2 kids, 2 houses, and husband she was tied up.  After we got out of VA things started getting really fun for us.  We stayed the night with some friends in NC the night before our flight.  We left out at 6:10 a.m. for SF.  This was a 9 hour flight and in LA we had lunch at Ruby’s Diner.  Guess what our number was, that’s right 100!  Could the puzzle come together this easy?  We landed at the most busiest weekends of the year in San Francisco.  The line was an hour-long to get a rent a car.  Over the weekend there was Fleet Week, Bluegrass Festival, Giants playoff game, 49’s and many smaller parties.  Best of all we didn’t even have a room for the night.  A good friend had something come up and couldn’t accommodate us.  We later found a killer room at the Fisherman’s Wharf which we used for Sunday night. 

We headed out Friday afternoon towards the race.  The race meeting was at 5:30 and the New Balance Store in Roseville.  It was very cool to see Molly after 2 years.  While hiking I was unshaven and more  likely smelling pretty awful. She introduced me to Dr. Bill A. which is an accomplished runner and credible scientist. Catra was there and I greeted her with a great big hug.  After meeting Molly on the trail.  I was at the Trail Angels, Saufley’s and read about Catra hiking the PCT in a magazine.  I also read about her running.  Which this was now twice in a very short period hiking the trail, stumbling upon “ultra running”, synchronicity?   Catra has really made me think twice about the way I live my life.  Before running, I partied a lot and made bad decisions. The worst decisions have been the people I associate with.  I think I have always had a drinking problem.  I personally just like to think of it, as having a good time.  Catra is such a strong person and I must say the most beautiful. Her few words stayed with me through the trail, “take it easy and just go slow”.  That was great for me to hear because I love to go fast, in due time this will happen!  Jimmy Dean Freeman was the guest speaker and he did an amazing job.  I have been an avid listener to Trail Runner Nation. Jimmy comes on the show quite frequently. My sister couldn’t break away from this guy she was talking to.  He was a real brag heart.  I told him my race history, which is very short.  He looked at me and said, “and your running the 100”!  He mentioned just dropping out of Headlands 100 a few weeks ago at the 60 mile mark. He was telling me what to do, and not to do.  I had to walk away as ego-tripping and me don’t make a good match.  After saying good-bye and thanks for everything we headed back to the hotel.  My pacer Julie was going to meet us at the hotel.  Julie showed up at a point I was a bit frantic.  After all, I had a package overnighted with my socks and boxers.  That right I forgot my socks and underwear.  I thought for sure I would need them.  Julie and I had some time to talk and get acquainted before meeting on the trail.  She also was a friend of Jimmy’s and was looking forward to seeing him. 

    I do belive that I sleep for 2-3 hours the whole night.  Not because I was anxious but I was on east coast time.  Donna and I set off for the race while Julie kicked back for a couple more hours.  It was crazy that all this time I was more nervous about running a 50 miler than a 100.  The race got off without delay.  It traveled down some roads before entering the trail.  I was peeing every 15 minutes.  I didn’t even know what to think, or what the other runners were thinking.  This is my first 100 and know there must be some etiquette.  I will soon learn the answer to that.  The morning went very well.  I met up with Donna and Julie at the 23 mile mark.  I’ve made a goal to chow down at every aid station.  The trail around Folsom Lake had already been amazing.  I remember Jimmy Dean saying No Hands Bridge was his favorite.  That was coming up very soon.  The views of the bridge running up to it are breathtaking.  You have to be there to have the experience.  I approached the aid station and mixed apple sauce with potato chips, and M&M’s.  Food was now really looked at as energy not food for taste.  I fueled up because they said this was quite a climb ahead.  I’m now on the same trails that Western States 100 use.  This was very exciting.  It was like the feeling I got paddling out in 20 ft. North Shore Hawaii having surfing 1 ft. Florida waves my entire life.  You find your edge real fast because there is now nowhere else to go.  My next stop after a very steep climb was Cool Aid Station.  Here is where I like to call HQ.  It is the same spot I will see 2 more times during the race.  I was feeling a little stomach pains after the climb, but was going to think positive no matter what I encounter.  With a 15 minute stop to eat, relax, and discuss the plan.  I set out for the 20 mile loop.  This started very flat and then crossed my first unmanned aid station.  What do you know if it isn’t the guy with the big ego.  We chatted until he started in on how great his crew was driving around in his “Land Rover”.  I prefer to hike/run solo anyways.  Somehow as crazy as this might sound I though this was going to be mostly flat.  I was very wrong as there were a couple of climbs.  I started feeling my stomach turning south at the top.  I don’t use gels anymore but decided that if it will help then I will pop it.  Not a good idea, 2 seconds afterwards I got sick.  In the past after getting sick the cramps kick in.  Surprisingly enough, I didn’t get cramps and felt rather relieved.  The weather was a bit warm but sure bet Florida heat.  I made it back around the loop to Knickerbocker where Molly was stationed.  The guy with the super big ego was turning in his bib,and quitting.  I never like to see people quit.  While going through Hell Week we had a phrase “it pays to be a winner”.  That really meant you should strive to be first. As hard as you try you may not get that.  You will get beat up for not being first.  More importantly was to relax. No matter where you come in, you never quit!  Ultra running is a sport that will humble you.  You have to be ready for the punches, they will come.  At first I wanted to go out there and win them all.  Now I see a long ladder that I have to climb to reach that goal.

     I returned to Cool at the 50 mile mark on the course.  I decided that I was going to sit and rest after having some stomach issues earlier.  Julie had talked to Jimmy Dean Freeman about available pacers for me from 50-70 miles.  She greeted me with a big smile, and said she has someone.  She introduced me to Zanne.  Zanne was a short, sweet and innocent looking female.  She was standing beside me looking like she was anxiously waiting to get on the trail.  I looked at her and told her to relax a minute I was going to recoup.  She still had that aggressive face like she was ready to hit the trail.  We set off and Zanne asked me what I wanted in a pacer.  I’ve done a lot of reading on pacers and the rules of a pacer.  She was my first pacer.  She said, Clint, I can tell you stories and talk, or I can just shut the fuck up”! I’m your Bitch for the night.   The image of a sweet innocent looking chick had already started to diminish.  Very quickly I jumped right out there saying, “I would love to talk, just watch the trail markings”.  I don’t think we stoped talking the entire 7 hours.  Zanne said this was her first time pacing.  But, Jimmy her coach on the Coyotes Running Club gave her the run down.  Whatever he said to her must have stuck like glue.  She went above and beyond the duties. I don’t belive she complained about one thing. There were some crazy climbs.  She mark me every 45 minutes to eat and take a S-cap.  This was also her longest time running on trails.  She told me her longest time out was 4-4 1/2 hours.  Tonight she would pull off twice that with the ease.  If you don’t belive people are placed in your life for a reason.  Please ask me to tell you the many stories in proving this is fact.  Zanne was a person that is true to her inner being and served as an excellent reminder as we can accomplish any task assigned.  I’m very excited to find a race someday where I can give back and pace someone.

     After getting lost 3 times and adding on at least 2 hours.  We were back at Cool and just in time to experience, “The Chicken Soup”.  I’m not very fond of chicken soup.  I have heard so many stories of runners that love it.  Well it’s really true the chicken soup is the best.  After 3 cups and very stoked to be at the 70 mile mark.  This was all undiscovered territory because I had never been over 50 miles.  Julie said she was going to pick me up at No Hands Bridge which was another 3 miles.  A very cool fellow at the aid station helped me find a few runners heading out.  I thought that would be great as some mild hallucinations and started.   Hallucinations living life drug-free.  This is really turning out to be more than I anticipated.  I met Marissa and Theresa, her pacer.  Marissa a very accomplished runner, had some very bad blisters and was very depressed at Cool. She was very adamant about what she wanted. I guess you could say, she was a bit bossy.   We connected in seconds and were laughing and having a great time.  Marissa answered many questions and it was great to finally talk to a fellow runner.  After all, the entire time in Florida I trained and ran solo.  Theresa had enough energy flowing to pace 10 runners.  She was amazing and loved nature and the outdoors.  This was our sanctuary and we were worshiping! 

     I picked up Julie at No Hands Bridge she was smiling and that made me smile.  Julie was going to pace my last leg.  Julie actually let me go off into my own zone.  I used my music which lasted 15 minutes.  There were periods where I would have a burst of energy, probably the chicken soup kicking in!  I also would see people at aid stations from a distance.  They disappeared the closer I came to them.  We did finally make it to Rattlesnake Aid Station.  I was telling Julie what I wouldn’t do for a big fat California style burritos.  At Rattlesnake I was asked if I wanted a pancake.  I’m sure for those who have completed a 100 mile already know.  The people working at these aid stations really make the race.  Both of them had smiles and stories and were experienced runners.  It really does feel like your extended family.  The pancakes taste so good.  I wanted to stay longer but I was so close and could feel the end.  We made it to the final aid station after the “Meat Grinder”.  I was feeling an injury but just ignored it.  Molly’s daughter was there and gave me a soda and sandwich. I didn’t drink Coke until now.  She also said we were close to the cutoff.  We could make a 20 minute mile walk and pull it off.  I looked at Julie and asked if she was ready to run!  She said I am here for you and you go, I go.  I thought to those 5k’s in Ocala.  This was a little more than a 5k.  I felt pretty good so we started off running a 9 minute mile.  My Garmin had been down but I still left it on for looks I guess.  I know my pace without the device.  She was awesome as we made our last few final approaches.  I wanted to sprint at my fastest at the end.  She pulled away as I went at it mustering the energy to cross the finish strong.  It feels so long with so many ups and downs.  Many times during the day and night I would pay thought to many of the warriors past and present fighting so I can be at peace and run with nature.  This race was dedicated to those who lost their freedom and lives on August 6, 2011.  Thanks, you will be missed, RIP brothers.

Posted by: Clint Nelson | September 11, 2012

Iron Mountain Trail 50 race report.

I must start by saying you never think of the DNF (Did Not Finish).  At least I might have pondered the thought.  It really hit me hard when I recall a certain Trail Runner Nation’s Podcast with Jimmy Dean.  He mentioned some of his races and wasn’t hesitating to recall a couple of DNF’s.

My sister and I set off from Roanoke 2 hours southwest to Damascus, better known as “Trail Town USA”.  Damascus hosts the east coast AT Trail Days every year which brings close to 30,000 people. When you see this town, you would think it couldn’t hold 10,000.  It actually reminded me a little of Colorado Springs surrounded by mountains.  We stopped in a local pizza restaurant for dinner.  We had a very nice and polite server.  Then we headed off to pick up my race packet and bib.  Finally, we headed out to Ruby’s Rest where I made reservations.  It was only 1/2 a mile away. I think everything was 1/2 a mile away.  We cruised up a hill to a sign that had Ruby’s Rest.  Then we just parked in front of the house.  My sister said “Clint, Is that the cottage”?  It was a very small structure in front  of the truck.  I didn’t know what to say.  We talked back and forth a minute.  She said I would rather camp out if that’s it.  Confused with the situation, I called Niki and Jeff to just bluntly ask.  The whole time Jeff is walking back and forth out front.  Niki answered and I asked is the cottage in front of us?  She laughed and said, No, that’s our garage.  Oh, OK, my sister was worried.  As for me coming off a trail hiking,  I will take anything that has a roof over it.  We met Jeff and he showed us to the cottage.  He was the kindest and peaceful person.  Above the door was a sign that said, “Come as strangers, leave as friends”!  Now we are in this sweet cottage and Donna is raving about how nice it is.

I woke up and started eating at 4 a.m. I’m feeling pretty good about my nutrition other than the occasional milkshake.  The race started off at 7 a.m. without a delay.  The first 3 miles was a very comfortable flat road.  Then we crossed into the trails.  The race has over 200 people running in 3 distances, 16, 30, and 50 miles.  This distributed people all over until everyone found a comfortable pace.  There was a gradual climb which slowly became very intense.  The IMTR has a reputation and it’s quite evident.  My sister was at the first aid station, and I ate a few pieces of fruit and a PBJ sandwich.  Then I set out to climb another section.  This was by far the steepest yet.  I can paint a vivid and clear picture right now.  After completing this climb, the trail leveled out.  My body was so exhausted even going downhill felt funny.  I approached the aid station at mile 21 with some slight nausea.  I had been talking to another runner for the past 5 minutes.  She rolled in with me.  After some refreshing Sprite and oranges, I set out for a 10 mile loop.  The runner I was talking to was right behind me, so I let her catch up.  We carried on talking while a descent to a forest service road. We pushed  into a 9 minute pace to store some time for the final climb.  At the bottom of the hill the road dead ended into a campground.  This is where the story takes a unique turn.  Obviously, we missed the turn back to the trail.  I’m already getting heated.  I had 30 minutes plus up and gained more on the 4 miles downhill.  After 15 minutes talking to a Park Ranger, who was no help, because he didn’t even know of a race going on!  I just winged it and started back uphill!  After a steep 2 mile climb I found the ribbon and made the turn.  I’m totally out of water and in need of an aid station.  I should already be at the next aid station on my clock.  My calculations are putting me way behind the next cut-off.  I’ve been feeling a little sick from not eating.   As I made my last turn up to the next aid station, I saw another runner.  I asked was he alright even though I was the one completely baffled.  He said,  “This is my 4th time running the Iron Mountain Trail 50, and I finished all 3 times before today”.  Now I was feeling for him. In my mind this was just a training run for me.  At the aid station I met Jennifer N.  She was telling me how she DNF’ed just last weekend.  The guy with me  had a consecutive bib number to me.  Was this all staged?  If so the joke is over.  It was very cool to meet some East Coast mountain runners.  I’ve gained a whole new respect for the trails here on the East.  Even better in a few weeks when I move to VA, then I can call them my home trails!  Now I look back as this being  another humbling experience.  I can’t help but to look at my splits and elevation after downloading my Garmin.  I had already close to 8,000 ft elevation complete and didn’t even get to enjoy the downhill.  Next up is the Rio Del Lago 100!

Posted by: Clint Nelson | August 20, 2012

Bonking killed my bravado! Was ultrarunning just a coincidence?

     This past week I put in three- 24 mile runs.  My runs start at 2:45-3 a.m. and end at 7 or a little thereafter. This has been to beat the heat and afternoon thunderstorms.   I have been thoroughly dedicating time to eating during my runs.  I’ve stopped buying gels and taking 2 S-caps an hour.  My training runs are also much longer than ever before.  This has given me chance to pay more attention to my body’s needs.  The period I fell to stomach aches and cramps has now been replaced  with an exuberant amount of energy. I have also slowed my pace down quite a bit.  It’s  just a great way to start your day.

     I have also put a lot of thought to my first post.  It was posted as “How Ultrarunning found me?”  I really need to elaborate more.  Before I ran into Molly and George at  the Leona Divide 50,  I was held up at Hiker Haven in Agua Dulce for 2 nights. The Trail Angels set me up in a trailer for the night.  I also was introduced to the famous hiker Billygoat.  Later that night I came across a PCT magazine with this article on ultra runner/hiker, Catra Corbett.  This was a very interesting story.  She has a very inspiring history and unbelievable amount of hours on the trails.   At the time,  I didn’t even know what ultrarunnning was.  Running to me was just running.  Now we skip ahead to the final state Washington where I hiked with the most extraordinary father and his son.  This amazing  mission of theirs was to hike the entire state of WA along the PCT.  This was his youngest child and finally third hike with each of his kids.  He called it “The Death March”. When each of his kids turned 16, they took their summer and hiked from Bridge of Gods to Manning Park with their Dad, and shared the love of  hiking and nature together.   He was avid trail runner and completed the Boston Marathon. We talked a lot of trail running.  This was around the 2,159th mile.  I was gaining confidence enough to talk trail running, maybe running a marathon. His stories of trail running were very fascinating and adventurous.  My next encounter was 2 female trail runners.  The absolutely most ridiculous part of this was where they were.  I caught these chicks just past Packwood Glacier peaking Knifes Edge and Elks Pass.  If you are reading this and have hiked this, you know what I mean.  We put the first feet in traversing Old Snowy Mt. that year.  Both of  these runners had a great smile and probably thought we were crazy too. My final encounter was an English guy.  After all 2,300 miles I had been the first thru-hiker in 2010  until now.  His story was to hike the PCT start to finish is 99 marathons.  He was a very experienced trail runner and his home turf was the Alps.  We spent a week together, and I gathered a world of knowledge of running through trails. 

     The past two years I have been wondering why I came across these situations “out of the blue”.  One coincidence after another, or is there really such a thing?  While this technological preoccupation was an important step, our awakening to life’s coincidences is opening us up to the real purpose of human life on this planet, and the real nature of our universe.  My experience outside of the material world brought about a dynamic energy.  I believe that living my life sober and projecting my energy into positive things and helping others will increase the pace of these coincidences.

Last week before Iron Mountain 50. Then we talk belt buckles and Wrangler jeans.

Posted by: Clint Nelson | August 10, 2012

The After Hours Party

     I’ve started an early morning routine this week.  I took some time off after my return from VA.  I had my first long run last Saturday.  This was going to be a series of 31 miles for my charity.  It wound up as a Saturday and Monday run each 31 miles long which was nothing more than a great start at longer distances.  I also want to get my body acclimated to late night and early mornings for my upcoming race.  This week I have been leaving around 2-3 a.m which gives me just enough time to get to work.  It has been real nice to get out of those extremely hot afternoons which I do not miss in the least bit.  The fact is it feels like my party days.  I have found the release of the endorphins like a drug.  I am still out with the wild and crazy people up in the middle of the night.  My trance and electro beats keep my feelings euphoric.  I have crazy night lights and glow sticks on me.  I can howl at the moon when I please.  There are no cars or people moving, it’s my party!  I have been able to moniter my eating habits more.  This has been quite the relief for me.  This issue with bonking is real old.  I’m ready to get a race in and enjoy it.  Every 30 minutes I am consuming 150 calories.  I’m not taking as many S-caps as before.  I’m trying to reach out and feel my body more.  I had an early morning run today which puts me at 84 miles this week.  This is the most weekly mileage I have put down.  It was also nice to see a few runners this morning.  This was really rare when I was running in the hottest part of the day.  One runner was dressed out like a distance runner.  I’m assuming she probably wouldn’t have ever guessed I was at 19 miles when I passed her.  I am going to go for a nice comfortable walk in the morning.  I’m very excited about giving it a little more next week.  I really need to hit this 100 mile weekly mark.

Posted by: Clint Nelson | July 31, 2012

Cremator 50 Race Report

      

    The few days before the race had been unbelievably difficult.  When I started talking about my first 50 miler, it seemed fun and exciting and possible!  Now going 4 miles a few days before racing led me to thoughts of even if I can make 20 miles much less 50. At other times I will have a period where I am feeling great about my training so far, weird…  I left to Orlando then to Sanford on the 18th of July.  I stayed with Nalini before my flight.  My sister picked me up from the airport with my little niece and nephew.  She had just bought a new home and had tons of things to do.  It really gave us little time to talk about her job as a crew chief.  The following morning we woke up early and made the 7 hour drive south to Beaufort, SC.  I played a few Trail Runner Nation podcasts.  This was very interesting to her as she has no knowledge of ultras.  Beaufort was a very small quaint town with many Marines just graduating from Paris Island nearby.  We had dinner and went to the starting line for packet pickup.  A few smiling faces but overall a quiet crowd.  We later dipped in the hot tub and discussed a little about the race.  We called it an early night due to the 4 a.m. wakeup call.  I had my usual yogurt and banana for breakfast.  We arrived 45 minutes early and I weighed in.  I greeted my friend Ash H. from Tampa and another guy I met at the hotel.  I had been putting a lot of mind to my strategy having little to no knowledge as to how to pace.  I was going to go hard in the beginning and let up later as the heat kicks in.  This was the plan, and as the ready, set, go sounded off, I set out like I was running a 5k.  My pace for the first 12.5 was in the sub 8.  I had the opportunity to meet the winner of  last years race.  I’ve heard this guy has the world record for most miles on a tred mill.  Now, he didn’t tell me that, nor did I expect him too.  I actually heard that first from the owner of Palmetto Running.  I met my sister at the 12.5 as I directed her.  I was into moving out of that aid station fast.  She had a very funny story meeting the bikers (drinking beers at 8:30 a.m.) that let us use their Bike Club parking lot.  There was a fairly large bridge we had to go up and over.  This was now at the 24 mile range.  A mile left till my weigh in.  That was the half way point and aid station.  I changed shirts and took a minute to talk to Donna my crew chief.  I felt a little nauseous after stopping there.  About a half a mile out,  I starting to vomit.  This was enough for me to realize that something  just might go wrong.  Dehydration and cramps are soon to follow.  I made it a little further and had to stop again to stretch… the cramps kicked in that fast. This was on a very busy road.  I was swaying into traffic and the road.  My balance was completely off due to my cramps in my calves and quads.  I remember from my last ultra that walking just helps out.  Although running can sometimes be out of the question,  my only thoughts were making the cutoff times even if I had to walk the majority of the way.  I was able to make a very slow run, but at least I was running.  The more the cramps came on the slower I became.  Then I started realizing people are really passing me up more and more.  My entire mindset was taking a complete 180.  Now I am just set on moving and not taking long breaks.  My sister was worried at first until I let her know what she needed to do.  I wanted her at every 2 miles.  At this point, I couldn’t take much food in… just fluids.  She was doing an amazing  job making out my feelings.  Of course, after all she was going to have the final say.  It is by this time scorching hot.  I didn’t care to know the temperature.  Mainly because just being out in it was enough.  I also had decided that music wasn’t cutting it for me either.  This was a strange thought because all of my training runs I was so reliant on good tunes.  My peace was coming from something other than music now. Approaching the 38 mile aid station, I was thinking of trying to put down some food.  A lady there handed my sister a piece of pizza.  Now the thought of pizza made my stomach turn.  Then after a bite, it was the best pizza in my life.  She also pulled a fan over to me.  That breeze felt so good.  My sister sponged some ice water over me.  Then it was off to finish the final 12 miles.  This was in waves, the cramps would turn on and off.  I tried a few times to run.  That just made the cramps worse.  I was also getting to where I couldn’t take in water or any fluids.  At the 40 my Garmin went dead.  I guess this watch was only meant for marathoners.  That was the least of my concerns.  As I approached the bridge, a car load of chicks were really getting a good laugh at me.  I was pucking and walking fast at the same time.  My sister was now meeting me every mile.  She also met me at the top of the bridge to walk down with me.  I’m sure she had no clue what she got herself into.  At our meetup, I could not stop.  So she grabbed my bottles and ran to the truck, then ran them back to me.  Sometimes I would get too far in front and she would have to drive in front of me a little.  A guy stopped me and mentioned that there was an accident in back of me.  Some of the crew chiefs were stuck and couldn’t provide their runners’ aid.  I stressed I was fine to go help the others. The most memorable moment was the only time I asked my sister how long I have left.  She said “.07”, I said “point what?”!  Well at the time it was funny.  Overall my attitude was right where I wanted.  My body was not though.  I has a light jog into the finish line where Tim Waz put the medal around my neck.  I told my sister to have a glass of Sprite waiting and she did.  Donna not even a hour later was asking about crewing my next race.  The ride home was interesting to say the least.  We were both sleepy.  We made it to Charlotte, NC.  My sister, Donna was the most amazing crew chief.  Without her, I would have been lost.  We also had a great time with each other.  Thanks to all who supported me with kind words and encouragement.  I also could not have done any of this without my proud sponsers Salomon, Feetures, and Jake with American Hero.

Posted by: Clint Nelson | July 11, 2012

Riding out Florida’s heat wave!

     My week started with a lazy Sunday.  This week was organized into afternoon runs.  This was to acclimate my body to heat.  I was weighing myself before and after runs.  It came out that my average weight loss was 8-9 lbs. on 2 hour runs in 93 degrees without food intake.  This week I plan to run afternoons with eating and comparing the difference.  The good news is the heat wave we have been under should be easing up this week.  I wanted to race an annual 4 miler in town.  This was not really planned.  The news of over 400 runners drew my attention.  I don’t even really know what kind of runner I consider myself, long distance or a sprinter.  I know a few weeks ago I raced a 5k.  It was totally different from a distance race.  In so many ways, I really liked it.  It gave me a chance to see different styles, younger people, and experienced 5k runners.  The race was on the 4th of July.  They called it 4 miler on the 4th.  I saw a crew of runners that were in the front of the 5k race.  I made second in my age group in the 5k.  The race turned out to be very fun.  I pulled off a 6:31 pace, 1st place in my age group, and 15th overall. After the race I ran another 10 miles for training.  There is so much to learn about excessive heat.  The more I eat right and watch my body under heat the closer I can feel what I need.  Taking care of your body after a hot run in also crucial.  You could take away energy for the following day by ignoring your body the night before.  All week I have been trying to slow my pace down.  This week I am going to concentrate more on relaxed pacing.  Yesterday my running partner met me at the Hyatt Grand Cypress for a 5 mile loop.  We started at 9 a.m. which was a little late.  It was very humid, and felt like 120 degrees she said.  Now I think that was pushing it a little.  We pulled out after 2 laps and jumped in the pool, and later kayaked.  This morning I started the week off with a 10 mile run around the lake.  I woke up at 5 a.m. and made it out at 5:30.  This is the final hard training week.  Next week will be a gradual taper down.  Next Thursday I will be in Roanoke, and will be very close to the Appalachian Trail.  I’m not sure I can hold the temptation of hiking the AT!

Posted by: Clint Nelson | July 1, 2012

Beginning of a new week and month,July.

     All my goals have been met this week.  I started my week with some serious thunderstorms caused from  Tropical Storm Debby.  My running partner cancelled on our run.  The weather man called 80 percent chance of showers.  It turned out to be a nasty rainy day.  My training started on Monday.  I’ve started to run on roads instead of trails which has turned my pace around drastically.  I’m running my mile in a sub-8 time.  The feeling is funny because I can feel my turns approaching faster.  The transition has been fairly good.  I like to be off-road and wander more.  The Cremator 50 is going to be all road.  I couldn’t help recalling hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  After climbing to 11,000 feet,  I realized that I had to resupply.  The closest town was down, way down, to Lone Pine.  It is the same road that the Badwater takes up, way up.  It was 25 miles down to the town.  I didn’t count the switchbacks that day.  Put it this way, it was a paved road with nothing but switchbacks.  The pain of being on a paved road, versus trail was incomprehensible.  My week ended with a group run in Orlando.  I met up with a group, who call themselves “FUR”, Florida Ultra Runners.  I met a few very nice people throughout the day.  The course was a 2 1/2 mile loop around Lake Baldwin.  Integrating loops into my training took some adjusting.  I prefer to get lost in the wild on trails.  Lots of people and plenty of breaks.  Susan A.  organized this special event for those runners.  The week closed with a total of 65.42 miles.  There will be no excuses in not pulling 70 miles off this week.  I plan to get started earlier in the mornings.  We are in the teens on the Cremator 50 countdown (19 days)!  I’m thinking that the Cremator is time for me to open it up all the way.  I can’t say it’s my first Ultra, or do I have any other excuses!

Posted by: Clint Nelson | June 23, 2012

29 days to the Cremator 50 in SC.

    I must say this has been a roller coaster of a week.  On Wednesday, a general surgeon had a consult with me.  This is in regards to a inguinal (groin ) hernia.  At around 5-7 miles it has been giving me some issues.  It feels like someone sticking a lighter directly on my side.  The hernia doesn’t hurt on every run.  The doctor has given the “OK”  to operate.  I kindly asked him to work around my race schedule.  He provided me with a truss which is more like a girdle.  I’m going to have to run my first 50 miler with the hernia.  On the lighter side of things,  I have logged over 52 miles this week.  That is taking off a day to go to the hospital.  Today, I will do some speed work- low miles and fast.  Tomorrow I will wrap the week up with a long walk.  This will give me enough rest needed  for my long distance run Sunday.  I’m looking forward to next week.  I will project to log in 65 miles.  Going up 10 miles every week till I hit 100.

My new route 13 mile loop

My scenic and secluded 13 mile loop.

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