‘Twas a foggy November evening at the Portland International Raceway when a gaggle of people gathered together to do a run. I was one of those people! The Turkey Trot is one of the Hood to Coast-affiliated races and despite being a bit of a pain in the ass to register for, the run itself went swimmingly. I mean, I ran, I didn’t swim, but you know what I mean.
I had signed up for this the same day that I finished the Tar’n’Trail 5k race at Mt. Tabor. I don’t have a blog post about that, but I did write about it in Ye Olde Newselettere, which you can read here, along with some other stuff about my life, including my (now failed) attempt to do a Movember fundraiser. In short: the Tar’n’Trail kicked my ass because of a variety of reasons, but mainly A) that I was in the middle of my Couch to 5k training program when I ran it, and B) IT WAS VERY MUCH UPHILL. Look at these stairs!
The race vibe itself was awesome though. A smaller group of chill people, one of the race volunteers prior to the start acknowledged the Native American land on which we were running, and afterwards I got sugar cookies and booze. A++ in that regard.
Following that race, I took a day off, and then the day after, I started Couch to 5k again, right where I had left off. I am determined to finish this Zombies, Run program, even though I honestly don’t think I need to keep doing it. But anyway: running so soon after running a mostly uphill 5k was a bad idea. My feet were seizing up in a weird way–not like they were constantly curled, but the opposite, they felt like they were seized upwards? I don’t know how to explain it. But my shins hurt a lot about five minutes into the run and so I had to stop. Thankfully, my shins felt better a few minutes after stopping, which meant that the pain was muscular and not any sort of stress fractures or things that would be More Bad.
So, I took a couple of days off (still walking though) and then tried to run again. Shin splints. I took a few more days off, tried to run: shin splints. At this point, I was a week away from the Turkey Trot, and I thought to myself, “By gum, Josh, you’re going to have to not run for a whole damn week.” So I didn’t, I just walked.
Then I had to go get my Turkey Trot bib. This was a pain in the ass. First, the bib was at a running store in Tualatin. For reference:
The southwest section of the Ross Island bridge in Portland is an absolute nightmare to navigate by car. It’s one of those places where sometimes in order to get to where you need to go, you have to merge from a far left lane into a far right lane when three other roads are bringing cars into that whole road. Plus one street has two roads right next to each other, heading the same direction, with a stop light at EACH of them which alternate I think for merging into one road. If that sounds confusing: it IS confusing. I ended up taking a wrong turn because I was trapped in my lane and had to double back over the bridge and drive over it again so I could finally get out onto I-5. The I-5 part was fine. THEN, I got to Tualatin and my exit, which was another absolute mess. It’s times like these that I honestly kind of miss Boise roads, because Boise is such a sprawling city that the roads have room to breathe. The Connector is a dream compared to the intricately and confusingly packed roads of Portland.
But, I got there, finally, and entered the building. A woman at the front of the store handed me a coupon for the store, but only for right then. Like, once I leave, the coupon ends.1I suppose if I went back into the store immediately after leaving, the coupon would still be good, but why would I do that? I get my bib; no issues there. Go to get my shirt and the guy there looked me up and down and sheepishly said, “Sorry, but the largest men’s size we have now is Medium.” I said, “Maybe I could get two and stitch them together.” He laughed politely and explained that everyone sized up when they got there for some reason. He gives me a Medium sized shirt. Great.
I grabbed a couple of free protein bars (which were as good as protein bars can be) and a free can of Celsius energy drink (which was actually pretty good). A woman next to me was lightly complaining about, I think, the shirt situation. I wasn’t really paying attention because I still get weird remnant covid anxiety in public indoor spaces.
As I’m leaving, the woman who gave me the day-of coupon said, “Good luck at the race!” I barely glanced at her and replied, “Thaaaanks” in a way that wasn’t meant to be sarcastic or mean, but feels like it in hindsight. There was a Best Buy in the shopping center area; I genuinely thought to myself, Is there anything I need from Best Buy? The closest one to me at home is in Clackamas, so, you know, it was an honest thought.2Side note: Firefox wants me to correct Clackamas to “Blackamoors,” which sounds racist and (looks it up) might actually be racist? and (looks it up some more) oh god is definitely, absolutely racist.
The traffic back to Portland was a mess because it’s always a mess, but more importantly, I left at around 4pm and so it was rush hour time. I ate a protein bar on the drive; maple donut flavored. Not too bad! Protein bars are always, at max, about 80% good. This is just how protein bars work.
The next day, work, work, work, and then after work, I drove to Portland International Raceway up at Historic Vanport for the race. I should mention that while I have GPS on my phone and all that, I don’t enable mobile data, so I oftentimes just have the list of directions from Google Maps, rather than a voice telling me when and where to turn. This, it turns out, is annoying, but whatever. The place was packed with cars trying to get in. Moreover, people were trying to park at the main lot, which was farther away. I, on the other hand, parked at the Delta Park & Ride Trimet stop, which was closer to the venue as far as I could tell. I suspect some people wanted to park farther away because they were WASPy types who were afraid of their car getting broken into by nefarious types who use public transportation.
Once parked, I chug my Celsius energy drink, hoping that the 200mg of caffeine within will help my body race while not absolutely destroying my sleep when I get home. (Spoiler: it kind of wrecked my sleep a bit.)
Every time I go to the Christmas lights display out here, it’s foggy, and this year was no different. It truly is lovely, though my camera didn’t do a great job of showcasing this.
The race is a run/walk situation, so there are food carts selling things like pizza and beer and stuff that you probably don’t want to eat right before running. There are musicians, which, props to them for playing in the cold. A keyboardist, a drummer, and then after the race I noticed there was a third guy playing drumming on buckets. I don’t know. It felt very much like a “Oh shit we should have musicians for this” type of last minute concept.
Then, I unlocked a serendipitous achievement: the 5k was supposed to start at 6:45pm, but was pushed back to 7pm due to traffic. In that fifteen minute span, my stomach began to rumble, and for the first time ever running a race, I took a shit beforehand. My stomach had been weird all day and I was joking to myself on the way to the race that I was going to get the “turkey trots” at the Turkey Trot. And then I DID. Serendipity! If the race started at 6:45, would I have pooped my joggers on the raceway? In an alternate universe, yes, probably. There is nothing like navigating a porta-potty shit in the cold, damp, foggy evening though, I gotta tell you.
And then, the race! It went well! Most importantly: my shins did not explode. I was shocked. I expected them to give out on me about five minutes into the race, but I guess the adrenaline of a race plus the 200mg of caffeine kicked my body into high gear. The track was a joy to run around (even if it was a bit slick). Lots of festive lights, including the whole gamut of “Twelve Days of Christmas,”3Brief tangent: the Genius lyrics page for this song has a representation for each verse. Are these for real? Am I to believe that “Eleven Pipers Piping” refers to the eleven apostles? What do pipers piping have to do with apostles? Why do Christian songs always have this weird-ass symbolism? where each one was a visual display of each verse of the song, except for Ten Lords a-Leaping, which for some reason they had the visual display of a lord leaping and the words “Ten Lords a-Leaping” above it, I guess so that people knew for sure that this display was Ten Lords a-Leaping. There was also some dinosaur lights on display for some reason. (That’s the Keep Portland Weird that I like.) Also, I forgot to get a photo of it but there was a display of a reindeer that looked like A) it had shapely women’s legs and B) it was giving birth. I’ll let you fill that image out in your mind’s eye.
At the start of the race I ran a solid 7 minutes straight, without stopping to walk, which is a big improvement. I also was able to get in several shorter runs in between walking. My end time was 48:56, which is a :48 second improvement from the Tar’n’Trail run. Granted, this run was completely flat and didn’t have a section with a million stairs to climb, but still. Improvement is improvement, and I’m proud of what I accomplished.
After the run I got a medal that looks like a punkin pie!
I then went home and nursed my pinky toe, which now has a big and terrible blister on it.
Lastly, the next day (today) I signed up for yet another 5k. This one’s in February so I have some time. My plan is to take the next couple of weeks off from running just to recuperate, though I will continue to walk often. And then, back into regular runs until January, when I’ll either just do my own 5ks or sign up for a virtual race, since there doesn’t appear to be any official 5ks in the Portland area that month. February will be the Providence Heart to Start, and then March is the Shamrock Run, which I will be returning to after six years away.
So that’s that. I’m a god damned runner now.
- 1I suppose if I went back into the store immediately after leaving, the coupon would still be good, but why would I do that?
- 2Side note: Firefox wants me to correct Clackamas to “Blackamoors,” which sounds racist and (looks it up) might actually be racist? and (looks it up some more) oh god is definitely, absolutely racist.
- 3Brief tangent: the Genius lyrics page for this song has a representation for each verse. Are these for real? Am I to believe that “Eleven Pipers Piping” refers to the eleven apostles? What do pipers piping have to do with apostles? Why do Christian songs always have this weird-ass symbolism?