Nick Clark (Pearl Izumi) knows how to claw his way through 100 milers. Early in this year’s Western States 100, I honestly thought he was done… and he finished third there… for the second time in two years and became the first person to go under 16 hours twice at States. In the following interview, he talks about dealing with running at altitude and a sour stomach, how his training involves road running and speed work, what drew him to run the Leadville 100 this year, and what we can expect out of Zeke Tiernan.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Nick Clark Pre-2012 Leadville 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nick Clark before the 2012 Leadville 100. How are you doing, Nick?
Nick Clark: Good.
iRF: How long have you been up here in Leadville?
Clark: We’ve been here since Tuesday. It’s Friday today, so three or four days.
iRF: You live at a moderate elevation, right?
Clark: We live at 6,000 feet near Ft. Collins which is 5,000 feet; we’re about 1,000 feet above town. So it’s an extra 4,000 feet up here.
iRF: You’ve raced at altitude before. We’re at 10,200 feet here in Leadville and 12,600 feet out at Hope. But you’ve run Hardrock . How did you find the elevation affected you when you did Hardrock last year?
Clark: Obviously you move slower. I got some headaches going over Handies Peak as I remember–those mild, low-grade altitude headaches. I deal with it pretty well, so I’m confident I won’t have too much problem with it.
iRF: You don’t have extra problems with your stomach or anything like that?
Clark: I always seem to have… My stomach degrades as the race goes on. I don’t know whether that was altitude or just running for extended periods.
iRF: Do you do anything, it’s kind of useful information for everybody, do you do anything when your stomach goes sour?
Clark: Drink Coke. I just get down whatever I can. It never gets to the point where I can’t get anything down, but gels and Gu, normally by 50 or 60 miles, I can’t get those down anymore. So I’ll just do Coke in my water bottle and that tends to get me through.
iRF: You’ve raced really well at the 100-mile distance. I noticed when I was researching that you’ve gone under 16 hours twice at Western. Two weeks later last year you were third at Hardrock. You’ve got the 100-mile distance pretty well down. There are always variables. I’m guessing this is the flattest, fastest, or the flattest I guess?
Clark: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. You come up here to the mountains and you go run a flat road race. So yeah, this will be an interesting little test. I think it’s a good course for me. I run a fair amount of road. I’m not opposed to running roads, so that will be good. We’ll see. It will be an interesting race, I think.
iRF: Did you do any specific preparation between Western and Leadville for the running aspect of the race?
Clark: Not really. I took a couple of down weeks off after Western and then just started ramping the mileage up. I had plans of doing some tempo stuff on the roads, but I just kind of went back to my same old routine. I’ve been getting some good, high altitude peak-bagging stuff in, so that’s probably going to help. Like I said, I run a fair amount of roads anyway.
iRF: I know you sort of write on your blog about your peak-bagging expeditions, but you do quite a lot of flatter stuff, too.
Clark: Yeah, I mean I do a track work out once a week, or I try to get a track work out in. I’ll try to get a tempo work out in on the roads or a rolling kind of course.
iRF: That’s interesting because a lot of the perception in the sport right now is that you and Tony [Krupicka] and Kilian [Jornet] and Dakota [Jones]… everyone is just going up to the high peaks.
Clark: Oh, I wish. No, no, no, no, no. Unlike those guys I have a full-time job and a family, so I can get out on the weekends if I’m lucky, but otherwise it’s local running.
iRF: You’re in the Joe Blow category with the kids and the wife and a real job.
Clark: Yeah, yeah. Me and Zeke, who’s running tomorrow, we’re both in that category, so…
iRF: Tell us a little about Zeke. Everyone knows Thomas Lorblanchet and Tony Kruipcka and you. People are talking about Mike Aish a lot, but Zeke?
Clark: Zeke’s a great guy. He’s down on the Western Slope just down from Aspen. I’ve run with him a few times in training, and we ran some miles together at Western States. He’s been podium here the two times he’s run. He’s a former CU Buff Cross Country. He’s obviously got good leg speed—not the leg speed he used to have.
iRF: Plenty for a 100 miler.
Clark: Yes. He’s been running a lot of miles this summer, so he is… I told him, I saw him yesterday and I expect him to be racing for the win.
iRF: Awesome. What drew you to Leadville this year? There are usually one, two, three top guys, but there’s more this year.
Clark: Well, yeah. Pearl [Izumi] wanted to do some marketing stuff around the race, so that was part of it. The other part of it, you know, it’s a classic Colorado race that I’ve never run. It’s the 100-mile distance which, like you said earlier, I tend to do best at. So it’s a mix of that, and then the Steamboat [Run Rabbit Run 100] thing was going on. So I thought I could sneak in here and cherry pick one, but it didn’t turn out that way. So it turns out there’s some pretty good competition this year, which is great, you know, it will be a fun race. So I’m pretty excited.
iRF: Looking ahead, is this sort of the last race of this part of your season or do you have another lined or queued up?
Clark: I’m going to run UROC [100K] out on the East Coast, and then that will be it for the season.
iRF: So you’re going to go lower and faster.
Clark: Yes, although as I understand it, there’s a good amount of time on that course. There are some fast guys who are running that race, so I don’t have any great expectations there. So, we’ll see. I’ll give it a go.
iRF: I’m asking everyone this. This is a mixed course with a lot of double track, road, and a real climb and descent on Hope twice. What shoes are you wearing?
Clark: What shoes am I wearing? I’m wearing my old trusty Fuels [Pearl Izumi]. It’s the original Fuel XC’s the Pearl Izumi no longer makes. They’re coming out with a new line in 2013—the E-Motion line. So those—I have the 9’s, which is the sample size that I’m testing right now, and they’re just a little bit tight. I’m a 9.5.
iRF: Not good for 100 miles.
Clark: No. So I would be wearing the E-Motion M2 if I had the 9.5, but I’m going to go with the old trusty 100-mile shoes.
iRF: Cool. Best of luck this weekend.
Clark: Thanks. Good seeing you.
* * * * *
iRF: Now for the bonus question. Have you ever encountered a mountain tiger in the wild?
Clark: Only in the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada and that is where they reside. That’s all I’ll say.
iRF: So you’re not worried about them this weekend?
Clark: Not this weekend, no.