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.

By Josh

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