poetry writing

cold shower

went for cold shower this
morning, one knob twisted
until i could bear it; so
you seek the lurch in your
throat, the one that cripples
armies bound for moscow.

think of mason jars,
perched under the eaves
& filled with every last
thought you're waiting to
ferment into something useful.

i would've crossed the alps
for you, on elephantback,
were it not for the condition
of my shoes.

& then i wrenched my spirit
out of permafrost & set
in front of the hearth, &
waited, & waited, until it
bloomed again.

still see frostbite along the
petal edges, reminders of cold
showers & cold winters.
films reviews

Best Picture Winners, 2022-2011

I’ve been trying to catch up on Oscar Best Picture winners over the years for a while now, and thought I’d do a lil blog with brief reviews and thoughts, organized by decade. I review movies I watch on Letterboxd if you want to follow me there.

There will be spoilers in this! You’ve been warned. It also won’t be every 11 years, I’m just getting to 2011 on this installment so the next one will be 10 years, 2010-2000. Capiche?

2022 – Everything Everywhere All at Once

This is what I wrote before EEAAO won:

I’ve watched all the nominees except for Avatar 2. I will not be watching Avatar 2.

Out of all the nominees I think it’ll be a close race between Everything Everywhere All at Once and Banshees of Inisherin. Which is fun because they are very different films. I would be happy if either one won. The other films were all pretty good, except for The Fabelmans, which was kind of a disappointment.

What I’m writing now: GLAD EEAAO WON. Great film, great performances. 4.5/5

2021 – CODA

I think this film suffers a bit by being released on AppleTV, only because it feels like a Hallmark movie at many points. But in the end I really enjoyed it, and while it’s certainly formulaic, sometimes formula is good because it creates a frame from which you can explore character, and I think this film does a great job of giving us interesting characters who must fend for themselves in the unique world of being deaf. I may not be deaf, but I understand what it feels like to be alone in a crowded room. Lots of great scenes, especially in the 2nd and 3rd acts, even if the ending part is a little contrived and probably shouldn’t have ended the way it did. 4/5

2020 – Nomadland

I had no idea what this film was going be about, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a type of people I’ve seen and talked to numerous times in my life growing up in southwest Idaho: poor, destitute, forgotten by middle-class America. People who hate the government and shit in buckets. Another film about being alone among people. Excellent performance by Francis McDormand and all the supporting cast, many of whom are actual van living nomads. I’ll always have a place in my heart for these folks, even if I spent much of my adulthood trying desperately to get away from that life.

Also, the fact that Chloe Zhao made this AND the Eternals is very weird. 4.5/5

2019 – Parasite

I honestly don’t have much to say about this film other than I enjoyed it very much. Such an interesting premise with some wild twists and turns. I watched the black and white version which was cool, and one day I’ll watch it in color to see if it feels any different. Seeing the entire family immediately go in on the con in the beginning was great too. I love films where the characters are gung ho for anything, even if it means their own downfall. Great film. 4.5/5

2018 – Green Book

A lot of controversy around this film due to a variety of things that you can google on your own. That said, I liked it. Yes it has problems and is a little tropey, but Viggo and Mahershala give such great and opposing performances that it feels like an alternate version of The Odd Couple. Juxtaposing that with the utter lunacy of the Jim Crow south made for a film with some obvious plot points and characterizations, but one that I still liked sitting through. Plus, Tony folds an entire pizza in half to eat it at one point and that’s what I aspire my life to be like from now on. 3.5/5

2017 – The Shape of Water

This was also enjoyable to watch. I liked the spin on the classic monster movies of the 50s. I don’t really think it was Best Picture worthy though, it honestly felt a little hollow to me. Like a fable that didn’t really have a moral at the end besides it’s okay to fuck fish people. But the fish guy was cool looking and the leading lady is like Amelie if Amelie jerked off every morning in the bathtub. You go, girl. 3.5/5

2016 – Moonlight

This is probably the best film I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, touching, kind, this film has it all AND is beautifully shot and lit. I appreciate so much about this film. It is a film about so many things, but most of all it’s a film about men supporting men. You think about the Chiron/Kevin stuff, but Juan from the start was so supportive of Chiron. And then to find out almost in passing in the second act that he’s dead is just such a brilliant movement in the film. That relationship could’ve been its own film!

Ah I could talk about this film for hours. I had already seen it before writing this but I’m glad I watched it again, I think I found new things in it that I hadn’t before. 5/5

2015 – Spotlight

Another movie I knew nothing about going into it. A very important story to be told, for sure, and some good, subdued acting, except for John Slattery, who was basically playing Roger Sterling with a hint of a Boston dialect. Again, not sure if it was Best Picture worthy, but I appreciated the “just the facts” style of storytelling on these types of movies, where the plot is just getting the thing done with bits and pieces of character development thrown in. 3.5/5

2014 – Birdman

I’m still trying to decide if I liked this film. I think I did. It was a little hard to watch as someone who used to do theatre (not Broadway-level, but still). I think Michael Keaton did a great job and everyone else did well, but I also kind of felt afterward that I was taken for a ride. Which is what movies do, but I’m looking back and wondering what it was I watched. Slightly bamboozled, if you will.

That said, there were some truly enjoyable moments, like the above framed clip plus almost everything Zach Galifianakis did. 3.5/5

2013 – 12 Years a Slave

I couldn’t watch this film. I started it but the brutality was too much and I don’t think I can sit and watch a Black man get whipped and tortured and be enslaved for two whole hours. (I was also honestly kind of confused by the opening, which didn’t help.) I want to watch more films with Black people now, in modern times, experiencing life now, with all the trials and tribulations that follow. We shouldn’t forget slavery, of course, but we don’t need to keep visualizing it like this. Let’s celebrate Black people and not watch them get whipped all the time!

I’ll come back to it some other time.

2012 – Argo

In a lot of ways, I think this film is pitch perfect. Great cast, a LOT of tension throughout the film, from start to finish. Everything that happens on screen is serving the plot and there were numerous times when I felt actually nervous about what was going to happen, or not happen. That’s not a common thing for me. Most of the criticism I see about the film is how it doesn’t explore the deeper issues of the Iran hostage crisis, which is a salient point, but also, I don’t think this film is as much a political thriller as it is an “escape from prison” type film. Which is reductive, sure, but it has to be to serve its point. I’m sure there are plenty of other films and media that explore the complexity of the Iran hostage crisis with sufficient depth and nuance. Argo is a movie about getting people out of Iran. 4/5

2011 – The Artist

This film was a delight to watch. I truly had a blast watching it. I’m not a big “silent era” movie fan but I think they did a great service to the genre and time. Lots of great cinematography, shots you just don’t see anymore because they’re out of style (I guess). I think Uggie the dog deserved an Oscar nomination. Berenice Bejo is … the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen? In my life? Jean Dujardin did some excellent mugging and even though the plot was thin, it was supplanted by a certain joie de vivre (France!) that other films lack. 4/5

If I had to pick a “winner” of these winners, I’d probably pick Moonlight, with EEAAO second and Argo third.

I’ll be back soon with 2012-2002, yeah? A lot of those films I’ve already seen but some of them I think I need to or want to see again. No Country for Old Men? Don’t mind if I do!


A Running Update on Running #3

I was lucky enough to get asked to do a survey for Google last Friday, where they showed me all of the new features they are looking to add to Fitbit. It, honestly, was very promising, and if they implement it, may cause me to start using my Pixel Watch again. Can’t go into too much detail because I basically signed an NDA, but I probably can say that they are trying to get Fitbit to compete with Garmin in terms of the amount you can do with the app and your smartwatch in relation to specifics, like running. Everything they showed me was very cool and even a little surprising, so we’ll see if it works or not. If it does, my Forerunner might become the paperweight.

That said, Fitbit’s premium stuff costs money while Garmin Connect doesn’t, so in the end, cost may be the limiting factor. We’ll see.

This past week has been interesting. New PB! The fastest I’ve run since 2013! New shoes that rule! My only running mileage this week was parkrun, as part of my knees and IT band recovery. Overall my IT band feels better but my knees themselves feel a little weary. I think I’m getting Runner’s Knee. Just a little ache behind the patella, nothing more. I’m hoping some regular walks and strength training will help offset it.

My nutrition has been better as well. Not great, but leaning more into that 80/20 mindset than before. Meal prep has helped a lot. I thought I would get sick of that Lime & Pepper Chicken but I really didn’t, even cold. I never eat cold chicken but it was good! And this week I’ve got more sitting in a marinade as I type this as well as some ground beef and preferred veggies for burritos.

So now this week is for upping my mileage again, slowly. If I run 5k on Saturday (parkrun 10!) then I want to hit 6 miles overall, for starters. One mile on Tuesday, two miles on Thursday, 3 miles on Saturday. A gentle ramping up for the sake of my legs.

The week after this one is the Lacamas Hop Hop, the start of four 5k races in six weeks, including my first real traveling race, where I drive up to Long Beach, WA over my birthday weekend for the Pacific Coast Running Festival’s 5k there. I really went all in, folks and I desperately need to increase my mileage so that I can finish the Foot Traffic Flat 10k in July. Thankfully, all of those races except for the Pacific Coast one are on Saturday mornings, which mean I can judge whether or not I can run an additional long run on Sundays. Probably not, at this point, if I’m doing a “30% of your weekly mileage” type of long run.

This week will definitely be the one that shows me how well I’ll be able to run for the next few weeks. Judging by my recovery from last Saturday’s parkrun, I think I’ll be alright.


parkrun #9

Parkrun time: 37:30
Pace: 12:04/mi

The last gasp of winter stretched across the Willamette Valley these past couple of days, and my drive from Portland to the Rock Creek Trail parkrun was like driving from a reasonably cold early Spring morning to Hades clawing for Persephone as she returns to the overworld. Thankfully, it wasn’t freezing or too windy and ended up being pretty good weather for a run.

So let’s get this out of the way: this was the best 5k I’ve run since 2013, timewise. I might argue that it’s the best 5k I’ve ever run, because back in 2012/2013, Runkeeper’s GPS was very erratic and would often screw up for me. That said, I think the first half of 2013 was probably my best in terms of running, as I was doing a lot of heavy lifting too, which added necessary core and leg strength. Plus, if you extrapolate my 11:44/mi pace from the 8k Shamrock I ran back then, it comes out to 36:27 for a 5k, which you could argue would be faster since it would be a 5k rather than an 8k, blah blah blah, I was faster back then. But not by much!

I attribute 75% of my faster pace to my new shoes. Whenever I watched videos of people reviewing new running shoes, I would scoff because aside from some basics, like weight, how can a shoe on its own make you faster? Well, the answer is: I don’t know, but these Nike Winflos did it. The pep and push I felt from these shoes were undeniable. The cushioning is great; just enough to let me feel the road beneath me but not too little to hurt. The balls of my feet did NOT go numb this run, which is a big win. My footfalls felt neutral and not too turned out. My instincts were right–the stability shoes were hindering me, not helping me.

At the start of the run I noticed I was behind many people who usually disappear away from me early on. When I checked my watch, I discovered that I was running a 9:35/mi pace, and I did not feel like I was doing that! A lot of this run became me trying to figure out how to run with these shoes, in a manner that wouldn’t leave me exhausted early on. That turned out to be a lot more walk breaks than I would’ve liked, but my pace never dropped below 13 minutes, which is a good thing.

A bonus pic of me at the finish line!

I attribute the other 25% of my success to eating better and exercise. You know, the basics. I had a lot of protein thanks to those lime & pepper chicken breasts I cooked up earlier in the week, plus I’ve been trying to count my calories so I don’t stuff my face and can lose some weight. That plus some lower body strengthening exercises and stretches have helped me all around. I’ve become one of those people who stretches while watching TV.

My IT band continues to give me trouble but during the run itself it wasn’t bad. The stretches and strength workouts are helping and I know it is getting better over time.

Good parkrun! Next week is #10, which would be my first milestone if I was a kid. Unfortunately, I only act like a kid.

See you next week.

food & cooking

Josh Makes: Lime & Pepper Chicken

So, I just made the best chicken of my life. And I think it could’ve been even better, if I had a couple more ingredients.

The chicken in choice is taken from this site, with some modifications. I’m going to post everything now because that site has like 50 paragraphs before you even get to the recipe.

First, the marinade, from their site:

  • ¼ cup (60ml) freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp powdered red pepper flakes (you could also use cayenne pepper or chili pepper flakes)
  • grated zest of 2 limes

My modifications were that the lime juice was from a bottle (thus, no zest), I used about 1/4th a tsp of garlic powder instead of cloves, and I used chili powder instead of flakes. Out of all of those, I probably missed the zest the most.

I did do the pan sear and I will swear by that until the day I die. The only other real change was that I don’t have a Dutch oven so I just baked them in a dish without a lid. Didn’t seem to matter at all, the chicken was still moist and delicious. Again, the zest probably would’ve kicked the lime flavor up a notch, but I’m very satisfied with what I made.

I also made some lime & cilantro rice. I’m one of those freaks who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, so I didn’t have any. It doesn’t taste like soap in a rice dish like this, or at least it doesn’t at Chipotle, but regardless, I don’t keep cilantro around.

For the rice I used this recipe, which I kind of screwed up.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, or other long-grain white rice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one lime
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup lightly packed chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems only)

Modifications: I used enriched long grain rice instead of basmati, sesame oil instead of olive, garlic pepper, and no zest or cilantro. The sesame oil gave the whole thing a toasted sesame flavor and smell that was nice.

It says to brown the rice first, which was fine, but then when it came time to add the water I poured a bit in and forgot that the pot was hot, thus the water boiled immediately and I freaked out a bit and just poured water into the pot without measuring. I’m pretty sure I put too little in, and thus the rice was a little chewier than I would prefer. But it wasn’t bad! I also only used lime juice for this and it worked well.

For the veggies, I just steamed ’em and added pepper and some chipotle Tabasco, which I kind of regret doing. Wasn’t terrible, but the flavor was distinctly not what this dish was. Oh well.

The best part is that I have lots of leftovers, plus some extra raw chicken in the marinade still that I plan to just cook on the stove top. Apparently I meal prepped today. How about that. Reminds me of when I would cook chicken years ago when I was weight lifting … except much, much better. Back then it was frozen chicken with salt and pepper. Sometimes olive oil, if I felt special. This Spartan recipe wasn’t because I was watching calories, but because I couldn’t cook for shit. I’m getting better!


Statistics are Depressing

Today I looked at my Spotify artist profile. I discovered that my most streamed song is “You Don’t Really Care,” the first song from my first album, Kittens & Puppies.

I think I’ve had my music on Spotify/other sites for about two years now? You want to know how many streams my most streamed song has?


What’s weird is that my song with the most listeners is Noelle, from my Songs for Autumn EP. Spotify shows it as #1 in my Most Popular column.

You want to know how many listeners it has? 22, and 27 streams.

“Attaquin Beach,” a song from Going to Boise, has 35 streams but only 4 listeners. Why? I guess four people really like that song.

Overall, K&P is my most streamed album on Spotify, with a whopping 314 streams as of this writing. I genuinely don’t know why this is. Nostalgia? People who heard it almost 20 years ago still like it?

Amazon Streaming shows my demo CD, How I Remember You, has the most streams, at 163. “Henry Meloy” is the most streamed son, with 94 streams. (I don’t know how to embed songs from Amazon, sorry.) Why is that one so popular here but not on Spotify, where it only has 10 streams?

Last Night in America, one of my two “rock”/”distorted guitar” albums, has 90 streams on Amazon, and 83 of those are “Row You Row Your Boat,” which … why THAT song?

It’s surreal how some of my songs do better on one site than another. I wish the Amazon people and the Spotify people could meet up and exchange notes. What’s strange is that “Henry Meloy” and “Row You Row Your Boat” are my two most popular songs on Amazon but a wide margin — the third most popular song, “Here, I Found Your Stupid Bike,” only has 32 streams.

YouTube isn’t much better. There’s not much there to be honest. We won’t go into it.

All of this is really depressing. And it has been for years. I remember burning CDs of Kittens & Puppies and then playing a coffee shop to my family and selling no CDs. That was in 2007. But at least I made the CDs, and some people did buy them, and that felt like some type of progress. Putting music on DistroKid and only making $18, nearly two years later, is almost worthy of despair.

A lot of it is my fault, honestly. I could’ve been more proactive. I could’ve marketed myself more. Could’ve played more open mics and coffee shops and all that. But there truly was, and still is, if I’m being honest, a part of me that hates my music. Hates the stuff that I’ve written. Thinks it’s sloppy, lo-fi garbage. I know that sounds weird, considering I have a bazillion albums, but it’s true. I feel lazy, like I make something and then run away from it, like a cat taking a shit in the litter box. It’s embarrassing. I assume people don’t like my stuff because I can kind of prove that they don’t because of the statistics. The stats on my latest albums that I really actually do like and am proud of are abysmal. But a bunch of people like a parody song I wrote about The Decemberists 17 years ago. Oh well.

39 views on YouTube, by the way.

And then there’s stuff like this:

Somebody from some point in my life uploaded a song of mine on YouTube back in 2016. Who? I replied in the comments, got nothing back. But this is nice. A nice little acknowledgment. I appreciate that.

I’ve said before that I don’t create because I want to, I create because I have to. I make music or write poetry or design worlds for D&D because I need a creative outlet. That’s still true, to a certain extent. But I’m learning that just because I made something doesn’t mean everyone needs to see it. But, on the other hand, if you write a song and nobody hears it (or wants to hear it), what’s the fucking point?

As you can tell, it’s been one of Those Days.

There’s a 50/50 chance I will release one more album before I’m done. I’m trying to finalize a track list and decide if I want to make a demos/unreleased album as well. It doesn’t really matter–no one will listen to either. But it will have been something I made. And that’s something.

I guess I just wish the statistics didn’t exist. There was a time when you’d make things and have no idea how they did, and that was okay. How many people went to your website last month? No idea. But now, everything is statistics, and it really goes to show you how terrible statistics look. Reminds me of a thing I heard a while back, about how a large percentage of people who publish books sell less than two dozen, ever. What a life.

Anyway, I’m not done creating. I’m just going to be a little more thoughtful about it. I think. And of course, thank you to everyone who has ever streamed a song of mine or bought an album. I am grateful for you, I mean it.

coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Skaut

Skaut Coffee Roasters, Portland, OR
Hawk’s Nest – Medium Roast, Guatemala Single Origin
Tasting Notes: Smooth, Balanced, Nutty
Method: Pour over

The Look

My first impressions of Skaut is the blurb on the back. For a moment I thought, Is this a New York roasting company? But no, of course not, it’s local. The story is just about Hawk’s Nest, New York, which is fine, I suppose. It means almost nothing to me, as it is little more than a blurb about a place and not indicative of the coffee itself. It’s fine!

I wasn’t super impressed with the roast date, being nearly a month ago. That indicates to me that people aren’t buying these as much as other brands. Doesn’t mean too much though, as there are a lot of different brands to purchase from.

The thing that got me, though, was the glaringly obvious error or wrong label on the front of the package. You’ll notice that it says this is a 3lb bag. It’s not. It’s a 12oz bag. I weighed the beans myself because I thought I was going crazy. (To be fair, it is a perfect 340g, so good work on that weight.) I do think the fact that it said 3lbs influenced my decision to buy it, for a excellent price-to-pound ratio. What can I say, it was early, and my frontal lobe hadn’t fully activated.

I just now noticed that the edge of the label is camouflage, which is really not my thing, but whatever.

The Info

The Skaut website kind of annoys me. I want to learn more about the people making the coffee and their About page says “Meet the Makers,” but then you don’t actually meet the makers. They just talk about the coffee story. There’s just little blurbs at the bottom. Again with the blurbs!

But then! I did a little digging and found that you can pick up the beans at Pips & Bounce. Pips & Bounce? Why would you pick up coffee beans at a ping pong place featured on Shark Tank?

That’s when it clicked: the founder of Skaut is Eugene Jung, aka one-half of the duo that started Pips & Bounce. So, perhaps the lack of bios on the Skaut About page is because Eugene doesn’t want to draw too much attention to himself and his Shark Tank fame.

That said, I would still like to know a LOT more about the whole setup. Where do they roast? Inside Pips & Bounce? How do they get their beans? “Guatemala Single Origin” could mean so many things. Are they part of a coop? What’s the deal, bro?

I was able to find a bit of information about the coffee cultivation process, which is nice, but I want to know about the people growing it. I want to make sure that the coffee is ethically obtained. Just add some more blurbs, dude, about the people growing your coffee for you.

I did also find that Skaut has only been around for around three years, in its current incarnation at least. So they’re pushing and fighting their way for a stake in the wide variety of very excellent roasters in Portland. Good luck!

The Taste

Taste-wise, it has the nutty and smooth profile it says it does. It’s easy to drink and not trying anything bold or fruity or tangy. It’s veering slightly into ash tastes for me, but thankfully not enough to be put off by it. I suspect future cups won’t feature that as much. I might try brewing with the French press next time, as I bet this will lend itself better to an immersion brew, though that might also release more of the ashy taste.

Overall, a pleasant cup with some warm nutty notes, if a little ashy. I wish it was a 3lb bag for the same price. Oh well. 6/10

race reports running

Couve Clover

Distance: 3 miles
Chip Time: 38:26

They say that running is a mental game as much as physical, and nothing will test your mental capabilities like running on an injury.

Long time readers (my mom? Maybe?) will remember a significant portion of this course from the Race for Warmth, my first 2023 5k from January. I am grateful to say that this race was much, much warmer. It’s also only 3 miles, instead of a 5k. I’m not sure why that is and I can find no information on their website as to why they chose not to make this the most popular race distance in the world. But it really is 3 miles; I just checked via a pace calculator. Why? Why 3 miles? Do hate the metric system? This whole thing reeks of people who are like “Why do we even do 3.11 miles bro? Why not just 3?” The other distances are 7 and 10 miles. Again, no metric here, this is AMERICA.

To be honest, this race had the slightest tinge of “fuck the libs” atmosphere to it. A LaCroix level, nothing more. I don’t mean for these posts to be political, I’m just saying what I see. It was the first race I’ve done where they sang the Pledge of Allegiance beforehand. (In contrast, at the Shamrock they sang America the Beautiful.) They apparently have not one, but two shirts from prior years which feature stylized American flags on them. They love America across the Columbia.

Nobody was like “Let’s Go Brandon” or anything like that.1Though, when I went to get my bib the day before the run, at the Foot Traffic in eastern Vancouver, there was a guy in a truck playing what sounded like a very cool rap song, until I learned the chorus was “Let’s Go Brandon” repeated over and over. I don’t think he was part of the run though, just some guy driving through the strip mall. News alert to conservatives: liberals hate Joe Biden too! It’s the centrists who love him. Again, I’m just writing down what I saw–I’ve admittedly got a narrow view of race swag, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen race shirts with prominent American flags on them. Maybe the 3/6/10 miles really is a big Fuck You to the metric system! Maybe it’s more of an “anti-Portland” sentiment, that would make sense. Maybe it’s none of these and I’m making up something that truly does not exist. There have to be tons of races in this country which use American flags in their design, and not just on Independence Day. I’m just stuck in the Portland Bubble.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Swag

This was the physical contents of the Swag Bag. There were also a few flyers in there, as well as a copy of Vancouver Family magazine, which of course I needed in my life. That is my second pair of Clover Run gloves; I received my first pair at the Race for Warmth and thankfully, these ones actually fit. My favorite item is the soap. I can’t wait to use goat’s milk soap. Thank you, Bend, Oregon. I’ve taken the Turmeric pills and they work? Sure. They work. Haven’t taken the Sportea yet but I’ve heard good things.

The t-shirt fits fine but is long sleeve and the sleeves are looooong. Longest gaddamn sleeves I ever had on a t-shirt! Eyyyyy.

A pretty decent haul overall.

The Atmosphere

The Vancouver Waterfront continues to up-and-come,2hahahahahahaha, I crack myself up with construction ongoing. As you can see, it is pretty impressive looking, though it also feels kind of like the Las Vegas version of “New York City,” like a facsimile of a waterfront. It genuinely looks better than Portland’s waterfront, though, and setting up for a race on solid asphalt and concrete next to buildings, rather than in a series of tents on muddy ground, was a welcome relief.

This morning the entire area smelled like sewage, though. I’m not sure why; there were large black pipes just sitting on top of the sidewalks nearby, but they were disconnected from each other at points and couldn’t possibly be holding sewage. I think they’re in the process of installing sewage pipes to new buildings and had laid them down prior to burying them, but that doesn’t explain why it smelled like sewage now, unless they’re, like, putting sewage in an enormous holding tank until they get the pipes installed. That would be hilarious if it were true. I’m imagining the sewage sitting in a giant inflatable pool.

The smell eventually went away.

I parked a few blocks away and headed toward the waterfront, past a gaggle of people setting up for the Vancouver outdoor market, which honestly looked very cool and hip when I passed it later on, walking back to my car. Downtown Vancouver seems hellbent on pulling people away from Portland, and I think it’s working.

Then, I was in the throng of people. Much fewer people than the Shamrock, which is a blessing. There were tents with lots of different vendors and a coffee truck and I think shaved ice? Shaved ice is at every event it feels like. The whole thing felt kind of crowded. What the Shamrock lacks in form it certainly makes up in function; Waterfront Park is more then large enough to house 15,000 runners, and even more in prior years. If 15,000 people showed up to the Clover Run, it would be a mess.

The Race

The few minutes prior to the race starting were a bit of a clusterfuck, but it wasn’t too bad. The first to go were Ainsley’s Angels, which seems to be a run for people with disabilities (particularly those who can’t run on their own). Fucking cool as hell. I didn’t realize what it was until it was too late, otherwise I would’ve been cheering like crazy. I’ll have to remember to look out for them at future races.

The 7 and 10 milers went next, along with a 1 mile walk (the Lucky Leap) which was heading in the opposite direction. It didn’t start at the same spot as the runners; that would be very dumb. Then after the distance runners went, the rest of us had about 2 minutes to funnel into the start. This was a marked difference from the Shamrock, with its 5k waves, and one of the things I wish was done a little better. There didn’t seem to be the same cohesiveness of instructions here, and most of us were having to push through people and around tents and fences to get to the race line. Not a huge deal, it’s not like we’re going off gun time, but still a little annoying. They should’ve made the 3 milers start at 9:05, rather than 9:02, to give us a little more time to get into place.

This was a desperate pic I took while we were all actively heading toward the start line, which says Finish Line because it’s the finish line. Get it?

I’m pretty pleased with my results overall. I only walked five times total, with each walk being about a minute. I ran the first full mile and I ran every uphill. My average pace for the first mile was 12:10, with a GAP3Grade Adjusted Pace, basically some fancy formula for altering your pace based on when you run uphill. of 11:51. Moreover, my average pace overall did not fall below 13 minutes, even with my bouts of walking.

This was not without sacrifice, however — my knees and legs were killing me after the race. I very rarely run through pain, and if this was any more severe, I would’ve stopped. Thankfully, my body held on and I remembered to slow down on downhills, which are terror for my knees. There is a VERY tender spot on the right side of my knee which is likely my IT band telling me to quit it. But even after the agonizing walk back to my car, and the agonizing climb up four flights of stairs to my apartment, once I got home, rested, did some RICE, and took some ibuprofen, my legs don’t feel that bad. Not great, but at a point where I think in a couple of weeks I’ll be good enough for the next 5k.

The course was nice, especially the part that winds through the Fort Vancouver Historic Site. Probably the best part is being able to run from a downtown city street to a historic site with a lovely field, and then into a brand new waterfront with fancy buildings. The variety was nice!

According to Garmin, my stride length is .87 m, or about 2 1/2 feet. I just thought that was an interesting statistic. My VO2 Max continues to be 39, which is bad. I feel like my breathing is one of the best things I do, personally, but Garmin thinks otherwise. Could be damage from smoke inhalation/covid, though.


At the end of the race we got these big honkin’ medals. Seriously, they’re huge, and heavy, and like all medals nowadays, you can open a beer bottle with them. Runners must be alcoholics; you get a medal with a bottle opener AND you get a post-race beer at like 9:30am.

At the finish line were turkey half-sandwiches from Big Town Hero (good, if plain), a tomato bisque soup that didn’t come with a spoon so you had to slurp it down like an animal (good and you could dunk the sandwich in it), and some orange/banana slices (good; I had orange slices because we all know how I feel about post-race bananas).

I also got a Clover Run pint glass and waited in line a bit for a beer, but decided to not get one, mainly because I wanted to leave but also because the beers they were pouring were like half head, which was disappointing.

I sat down, ate my food, then got up and hobbled back to my car. I think there was more stuff that you could do, like go in a hotel with a bar or something, but I was done. My legs were like, “Let’s sit down please.”

Then I proceeded to drive to McDonalds. I wanted a Big Mac but they weren’t selling lunch yet. I still want that Big Mac.

Final Thoughts

I know I said all that stuff about there being a “tinge” of anti-lib sentiment at the Clover Run. I still think that existed but it was not a huge thing and, moreover, was not a detriment to this run. This run had a better atmosphere, better swag, and a better medal than the Shamrock did. The course was nice and at some points lovely, whereas the Shamrock just goes up and down a road. If anything, the Clover Run is trying to remind people of how good the Shamrock used to be, which is important. Gotta remind people that the Shamrock’s not the only big run in the Portland-Vancouver area.

My only sincere gripe is that it should be in kilometers, not miles, but only because I can’t use this race to compare to prior ones because it’s missing that .11 of a mile. I will definitely be signing up for next year’s race.

See you next time at the Lacamas Hop Hop, in my nemesis of a city, Camas, WA.

  • 1
    Though, when I went to get my bib the day before the run, at the Foot Traffic in eastern Vancouver, there was a guy in a truck playing what sounded like a very cool rap song, until I learned the chorus was “Let’s Go Brandon” repeated over and over. I don’t think he was part of the run though, just some guy driving through the strip mall. News alert to conservatives: liberals hate Joe Biden too! It’s the centrists who love him.
  • 2
    hahahahahahaha, I crack myself up
  • 3
    Grade Adjusted Pace, basically some fancy formula for altering your pace based on when you run uphill.

parkrun #8

My first sunny parkrun! Rock Creek Trail is fuckin’ gorgeous, bro.

Today I opted to run with my compression sleeve on for the ol’ knee’s sake. It’s doing pretty well overall; I ran about half of the 5k today and walked the other half, and while it was giving me trouble nearly the entire time, it wasn’t enough to stop me. In fact, I used it as an opportunity to work on my running form, trying to run in a way that would mitigate bouncing up and down while also taking more steps. It kind of worked at the end.

There were cupcakes and like fudge brownie things at the end. Both very good. I’m still trying to figure out how to be social again. I’m pretty bad at it. I might have always been bad at it.

Afterwards I went to Vancouver to get my bib and swag for the Couve Clover Run, which is tomorrow. The event looks cool as hell on paper. After it’s done we get to drink on a hotel balcony? I will report back for sure.

Then back home, hobbled up some stairs, and my knee/leg started feeling better pretty quickly. I ended up taking a walk a couple hours later and was shocked at how normal it felt. I’m hoping I’ll be back to around 100% in a couple of weeks.

That’s about it. Good parkrun! A++ would parkrun again.


Running Update on Running #2

#1 is here, if you’re wondering. I’m trying to make this a regular thing.

I bought new running shoes. They haven’t arrived yet. I bought them yesterday after the type of internal mental waffling that could make a person go insane. These are what I chose:

The “Best Budget Shoe” according to Runner’s World. They retail at $100 but are 40% off right now; I guess $100 is “budget” for the running world. I know, I know, you should never cheap out on shoes. The ones I bought before, the Saucony Glide 14s, were $80 but I think they were on sale on Amazon too. Before that, my Brooks Whatever-They-Were-Called were $120; that was 2011, today they would be worth about $164. Proper running shoe prices!

Anyway, Nike. I’m buying them because I have made the Head and Heart decision that my current shoes are the cause of my knee and leg pain. My hypothesis is this: in 2011, my Brooks shoes offered stability on the inside to offset overpronation. This is what the salesperson at Fit Right NW suggested I buy. I didn’t know what overpronation was but I was like, fine, whatever. I bought them and wore them and ran in them for many years, more years than I should’ve! I wore the outside of the shoe out, so much so that in the later years I felt like I was running with my feet at opposing 45° angles. But I never felt any significant pain with them, probably because I was strength training a lot back then, doing lots of heavy squats and deadlifts, which is good for your knees overall (if you do them with correct form, of course).

Cut to: now. A decade later. I am a big slob of a man, sedentary To The Max and still picking up the pieces of my mental health post-the-first-two-years-of-the-pandemic.1Tangent: I wish we had a name for 2020/2021 covid times. The argument over whether covid is still a pandemic or if it’s now endemic is one for 2022 onwards, I think, so “post-pandemic” makes sense to me, but I don’t want to alienate people for whom covid is still very much a danger to them presently. And I think we can all agree except for weird MAGA people that 2020 and 2021 were the worst years of the pandemic. I’d say “lockdown” but that sadly only describes a few months in the U.S. Let’s get a name going, people. I started walking again and decided it would be a good idea to walk in my Converse; that is, to walk flat footed and build my foot strength. I think this was a good idea? It never really hurt, other than the general aches of walking long distances. I’m not turning into a Vibrams guy or anything, I promise.

Eventually I thought it would be good to walk fast enough that it would become a run, and I knew I needed shoes for that. Since my first shoes had stability in them, I decided that I needed stability shoes now, because to me, overpronation was a thing that I just had, like one has wisdom teeth or an extra finger on each hand. So I bought these Saucony shoes, which have been nice, but the more I run in them the more I see the signs of my Brooks shoes; namely, the extra wear on the outside of the shoe. That, plus the stiffness of the stability on the inside of the shoe, made me realize that overpronation is a thing that can be fixed, and that those years of running with the Brooks shoes likely helped my overpronation (if I ever really had it to begin with!) to the point where, now, ten years later, I don’t need them.

What I’m saying is that I’m pretty sure that my Saucony shoes are directly responsible for my knee and leg pain. Because if the IT band rubbing up against your thigh bone is what causes IT band pain, wearing shoes that make your feet roll outward too much probably causes your knee to also move outward, making it easier for your IT band to rub up against your thigh bone. This is my overarching theory that may be total bullshit. We’re going to find out!

The moreover problem isn’t the running so much as the walking. I think the walking is what is causing this issue, because perhaps the stability helps me when I’m running, but when I have to walk around the stability and do that for a few miles, it adds up. I want my shoes to be versatile, for now at least, until I can afford to buy a nice pair of walking shoes. Walking shoes, daily trainers, race shoes, and trail shoes. One of these days, I’ll own all of them, plus some Crocs, I’m sure.

Today I’m going for a walk and a bit of a run to test out the legs. Probably just a mile of running, nothing more. Slow and steady. If it feels good I’ll probably run/walk parkrun on Saturday. The Couve Clover Run is on Sunday and I’m going to do it as best as I can. Then, the new shoes arrive next week, which is good because it’ll give me enough time to break them in before the Lacamas Hop Hop (god I hate that name). April is going to be my wildest month as I have a 5k every other week for three weeks (Lacamas, Lilac Run, and Cinco de Mayo, which is killing me because it’s on the 6th, not the 5th), before about a month off before the Starlight Run. That is a fun run at night, but THEN a month after THAT is my first 10k, which I desperately need to start train for without hurting myself.

It’s going to be a wild spring and summer, folks.

  • 1
    Tangent: I wish we had a name for 2020/2021 covid times. The argument over whether covid is still a pandemic or if it’s now endemic is one for 2022 onwards, I think, so “post-pandemic” makes sense to me, but I don’t want to alienate people for whom covid is still very much a danger to them presently. And I think we can all agree except for weird MAGA people that 2020 and 2021 were the worst years of the pandemic. I’d say “lockdown” but that sadly only describes a few months in the U.S. Let’s get a name going, people.