parkrun #19

My last four parkruns have all been PRs. Despite what Strava says, my actual official time was 31:54, which means I am now sub-32 minutes for my 5k. Last week my PR was almost 2 minutes faster than the one prior, and this week is 27 seconds faster than last week.

I don’t know what’s happened. I mean, I kind of do: I’m running more, longer distances, and different kinds of runs. But the difference between January through May and June-July is astounding. I feel like all of this running and exercise is finally starting to kick in. Like, lately I’ve noticed my HR is lower than usual and my stress levels are also lower. My heart is returning to a resting HR faster too. Why now? Why not two months ago? I’m not sure, other than my mileage kicking up. My heart is just getting better at its job, which is awesome.

I only walked once this entire run, for 22 seconds according to Garmin (I’m pretty sure it was 30 seconds, but whatever). Otherwise, I was running, averaging 10:18/mi! That’s wild for me. Moreover, my HR was way more stable overall this week than last week. Last week, when I was done, Garmin suggested a 61 hour recovery period. This week, it suggested 41 hours. Wild stuff.

I also ran my fastest mile, which was under 10 minutes (9:59 to be exact). Just great work. I’m very pleased with myself and my progress.

After parkrun I even drove to IKEA (after I had gone home, showered, and relaxed for a bit, of course) and bought four heavy furniture things, and lugged them all up to my fourth floor apartment, by myself, one at a time, with barely any issues, except when I dropped the heaviest bit on one of its corners onto the hard concrete. I haven’t built that one yet and god I hope it’s not too broken.

I said I would likely break 30 minutes by the end of the year, but at this rate, I’ll break it by the end of the summer. We’ll see. I wonder if I could do it on a flatter course… track run 5k incoming.


parkrun #18

Well, this happened. What’s this, you ask? Only a nearly two minute PR from my last parkrun, three weeks ago. What happened, you may ask?

I mean, a lot of things happened, so let’s unpack it all.

First, I’ve just been running more. More volume to to have a steady mileage foundation for the Portland (half) Marathon in October. It’s like 9 weeks away. Nine weeks is October! Auuuggghhh.

And these runs have a lot of variety to them. Mainly base runs for mileage, but some speed work, threshold work, and long runs thrown in there as well. All good stuff.

Second, I bought new shoes. I have three new pairs of running shoes, specifically, all Saucony: The Ride 16 as a daily trainer, the Triumph 20 for my long runs, and the Kinvara 14 for speed work and races. So I wore the Kinvara 14s to parkrun. And they worked pretty dang well if I do say so myself. They are about 3oz lighter than my Nike Winflo 9s, have a lighter mesh top for breathability, and the new cushioning had a nice bounce to it that ended up helping propel me forward better, I suppose, than my Carl Winflos. I may have tied them a little too loose though; they felt a little slippery during the run, but thankfully not enough to be an issue.

These shoes are (to me, the novice runner at least) like driving a Lamborghini, in the sense that any little pressure on the gas pedal sends me hurtling forward. 0-60 in 3 seconds sort of thing. So while my idea was to hit 11:00/mi pacing, I ended up starting much, much faster, around 9:45/mi. And felt fine! I walked a few times but whenever I ran again, I was practically bounding.

Third, and perhaps most important: my mentality. I just felt like I could do it. Basically, Garmin was suggesting threshold workouts where I’d run at threshold (10:10/mi) for 17 minutes. And I would get through that no problem. So this morning I thought, “Well, if I can run 17 minutes at threshold, surely I can run 30 minutes at threshold, right?”

The answer is … kinda! I ended up walking a few times because my HR was at around 175bpm and I wanted to get it lower (the 160s) so I wouldn’t run out of energy. But at no point did my heart rate ever feel like it was out of control, which is a great thing. It reminds me of cars: cars are designed to drive fast. Cars like being at around 55mph. Your heart is an engine, and it likes beating fast if that is helping to run the machine, you know?

Anyway, a couple of other things that I did that probably helped are: I ate a bagel with peanut butter and honey about an hour and a half before the run. Just had some fuel in the ol’ belly. And I left my phone in my car and ran only with my car key, my parkrun card, and my trusty Snot Rag (which I ended up not needing). I think staying light overall helped.

This all bodes well for a sub-30 5k by the end of the year. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if I hit sub-30 by the end of the summer. We’ll see if I can sustain 32-33 minute 5ks in the future. (I probably won’t, and shouldn’t expect to.)

The Garlic Festival 5k is my next race and I’m hoping I can take my parkrun times and do that during a race. I haven’t gotten sub-35 in a 5k race yet. I think that will change soon.


Sickness & Health

I’m not getting married. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

I had the stomach flu for the first time in a long time. Like, fever and everything. It was a pretty wild 48 hours. My stomach was being kind of weird on Friday but I thought it was just a bug, so I went and got drinks with friends. Ended up staying up way too late, drinking too much, eating too many nachos, etc. I remember being chilly when I went to bed, and then when my alarm woke me up at 6am the next day (or, really, the same day), I felt like a furnace and my heart beat was steady and high.

Fun TMI fact: I had a dream before waking up that I had to take a shit and was in some kind of cabin or cabin-esque house, with people, including a woman who I knew was my sister but I don’t have a sister in real life. Anyway, the door to the bathroom was basically a ramshackle tavern-style door which didn’t close but I couldn’t hold it so I went in and did my business, and then my sister came in and berated me for making a horrible, smell that everyone could smell in the entire house.

Then I woke up and realized that my brain was trying to tell me that I had to take a very terrible, no good shit. But I did that and felt okay enough to go buy groceries. Went home, unloaded everything, was like, “Man I feel kind of sleepy,” then proceeded to lie down and take a three hour nap. Woke up feeling furnace-y again, so I finally took my temperature. 100.9°F, plus the body aches that tend to accompany a fever. I promptly took a covid test, my last box with two tests left. Tested negative. Didn’t re-test because none of my symptoms were respiratory; now that I’ve had covid, I know what to expect.

So I took it easy. I think my body’s overall recovery level was lower than I realized due to lots of running. Apparently you can get sick after running because of cortisol levels or something like that. I think I would’ve been fine, though, if I hadn’t gone out with friends. Oh well.

I feel alright finally and went for a run this morning. Attempted Garmin’s suggested workout, which was it basically delaying my Sunday long run of 1:09:00 to today. Made it 30 minutes before my gut was like, “Hey bro! Remember how you had the flu?!”

But I feel better. Then I watched this reel that Brian Jordan Alvarez made:

For context: I took dance classes the last year and a half of undergrad. I was a Theatre Arts major and didn’t feel very “in tune” with my body; where it was in space, how it interacted on stage and with other actors. Stuff like that. So I took dance classes: ballet, jazz, modern, and a repertory dance class where we choreography stuff. During that time, movement and dance were just aspects of life. You’d go to class and do some form of movement. And it would sit with you, in your body.

Brian’s video just sort of hit me because it is so full of joy and expression and that’s not somewhere I’ve been in a long time. And I miss it. I miss just fucking dancing, you know? Not “Going to a dance class.” Hearing a good song on your playlist and going for it. I haven’t felt like that in probably 20 years. I feel like Peter before he becomes Peter Pan in Hook. I used to go out dancing occasionally once I moved to Portland, and of course the “white guy indie band head bob” I’d do at concerts doesn’t count.

It feels like as you get older, individual expression just gets beat out of you. This world has no need for it. Capitalism needs you to make car doors and sell needless things. I miss the exploration of college theatre and art classes. Nobody really tells you how quickly that goes away once you’ve left. I got it again for a bit in grad school but it wasn’t exactly the same as being in my 20s and experiencing all of these new and exciting things for the first time. I’ll never experience them for the first time, unless I lose my memory somehow, and I really hope that doesn’t happen.

This is the “health” portion of the title. The health of self-expression, of finding joy in the world. Dancing in the kitchen, laughing loudly and openly. Sneezing loudly! Stop holding your sneezes in, people. Looking up when you’re outside. Finding compassion in people and for people. Stuff you lose track of over time because life is hard and things are tough.

I’m gonna try to find it again.

race reports running

Foot Traffic Flat

Location: Portland, Oregon (Sauvie Island)
Distance: 1/4th Marathon (10.55k)
Chip Time: 1:17:43
Pace: 11:31/mi (or 11:51/mi, more on that later)

I feel like I have a lot to talk about on this one so let’s get into it.

The Foot Traffic Flat takes place on Sauvie Island, nestled between the Willamette and Columbia Rivers and the Multnomah Channel. It’s one of those islands like Manhattan: technically an island but when I think of islands, I think of Hawaii and Guam and shit like that, not something surrounded by rivers. They need a different name for landmasses like that.

Sauvie Island, rotated for blogging purposes. Right is north.

If you’re a worldbuilding nerd like me, you can use the Multnomah Channel as an example of a river that splits instead of merges. Congrats, you dork.

Anyway, this race was at 6:30am! That’s early! But necessary as it’s supposed to be a hot one in Portland today, and I’m sure Foot Traffic takes account of the temperature when they schedule this thing.


So Sauvie Island is interesting because for the entire island there is only one bridge to enter or exit from. Because of this, the event organizers were telling people to buy shuttle tickets to reduce the amount of traffic. I ended up buying one, which meant rather than just driving to the event and getting there 45min early, I drove to a parking lot and took a shuttle. Was this a good idea? Well, yes. And no. It was good because I didn’t have to drive. Also, the full marathon started at 5:30am, so driving to the event meant waiting for marathoners to pass by. Traffic to the bridge was virtually non-existent, which I would chalk up to the amount of people who used a shuttle instead.

But this meant getting to the parking lot earlier, which meant waking up earlier. I set my alarm for 4:45am; because of my brain, I woke up at 4:30am. Gathered up my stuff, including the race shirt which was basically a singlet, my headphones, my water bottle.

I decided to make my own electrolyte drink for this run. I sweat like my body despises water and I knew I would need to hydrate. For longer runs in the past I’ve been adding a couple of teaspoons of sugar to water. It’s not tasty at all, but it gets the job done. For this run I opted to include, in addition to the sugar, about 1/4th of a teaspoon of salt. This was … it worked, okay? At least it felt like it did. Did it taste terrible? Yes. Should I have made it the night before and put it in the fridge so it would be at least somewhat cold during my run? Yes, absolutely, yes. I probably could’ve mixed it with my Crystal Light drink, to be honest. But it got the job done, okay. I’m not expecting a tasty drink while I run, I’m expecting carbs and salt.

I also grabbed my pre-race breakfast: a slice of bread, a bit of peanut butter, and some honey. Nothing too dense, plenty of easily digestible carbs.

So I mixed that up and drove to the shuttle and took the shuttle. The shuttle was a school bus, which makes perfect sense; who else wakes up this early to drive people from Point A to Point B? This was bad for my legs however as I am not a 10 year old child.

The shuttle took around 30 minutes or so to get to the destination. Part of the reason why it took so long is because the shuttle literally took the long way around the island, I think mainly to not interfere with the marathoners but also, everyone was running on the road anyway so it’s not like people weren’t aware of cars. I’m not sure what the reasoning was here, but at least Sauvie Island is gorgeous.

We get to the Pumpkin Patch, where the event starts, around 6:10ish. The race itself (my wave at least) starts at 6:38. My goal was this: to take my patented Pre-Race Poop (PRP) and then to do a quick warmup run. What actually happened was this: stand in line for the toilets for TWENTY GODDAMN MINUTES. The lines were so long. I can’t stress this enough. But I wait, because I know my bowel history. I get to a toilet at around 6:35, push like I’m having a baby1This is a joke, I didn’t really push this hard, please don’t push this hard when you poop. If you’re pushing this hard, you need some fiber or something., and then get out and into the crowd, doing some jogging in place and nonsense like that because I didn’t have time for a proper warmup.

“But Josh, why didn’t you poop before you left the house?” What am I, an amateur? Of course I pooped before I left the house. Obviously you don’t understand. There is a morning poop, and there is the PRP. And everything is out of whack because my regular morning poop is around 6:30. The PRP only happens on race day. It is my body understanding the assignment, you know what I mean? It must happen. I must … release the bowels.

Then I ran!

This was taken mere minutes after I pooped. Now you’re thinking about me pooping, aren’t you?


This wasn’t a “swag-heavy” race. The only big thing was a free ticket to the corn maze. Yeehaw. I’m not sure why all the tchotchkes have dwindles over the months–probably the economy or some shit. It’s kind of nice though, a lot of that stuff is cheap garbage.

The atmosphere for this race was very weird, in a good way. It felt like this strange juxtaposition of well-kitted out runners and the rustic lifestyle of living on Sauvie Island, a place full of farm fields and pumpkin patches and corn mazes. The Flat’s marathon course is a Boston qualifier, but it felt more like a bunch of rich hippies going out for a jog.

Also, I don’t know where to put this so I’ll just put it here, but: just a lot of great butts on this run. I saw a YouTube clip once of a weightlifter guy talking about how if guys want to get better glutes, they need to adopt women’s training plans, because women are the experts on butt training. It’s funny because years ago it was almost a joke to riff on women on the stairmaster all the time, but … it’s working, ladies. The moral of the story is: don’t stop doing something just because people doubt or laugh at you.

(I don’t run to look at butts, but it is a nice bonus.)

The Race

They don’t call it the Flat for nothing. It was primarily flat, with a couple of short inclines, which meant for steady pacing for the most part.

Speaking of pace, Garmin says my general pace was 11:35, while the chip timing says it was 11:51. The latter is more correct, so I’m not sure where the 11:35 is coming from, other than grade adjusted pace.

I posted goal times (for the 10k) on my Instagram:

And my 10k time according to my watch was 1:11:29, so I would call that my S Goal achieved.

I kept a steady pace for the first three miles or so.

My splits are kind of garbage after mile three though. This makes perfect sense if you factor in that I do parkrun every Saturday and that most of my runs are in the 3-4 mile range lately. I intentionally walked at the aid stations, though I didn’t get any water because I had my bottle. But later on in the run I walked more because my body wasn’t used to the distance at that pace. And I honestly was probably underfueled as well. If anything, this race was a great indicator of my lack of fueling methods. Like I said earlier, right now it’s just sugar water (+salt this time). That plus a slice of bread and PB and honey in the morning likely isn’t enough to sustain me, especially considering that Garmin estimates that I burned 1,300 calories on this run. I’m a big guy, I gotta get more calories in before I head off. Time to invest in gels or M&Ms or something.

What I’ve learned here is: fuel at the start of the run, and fuel every 5k or thereabouts. For now at least. Maybe when I get more efficient (i.e., lose weight) I can fuel every hour. We’ll see. I could’ve also kept my pace a bit lower at the start–11:30 instead of ~11:00.

At one point there was a big inflatable unicorn with a hose spraying water in someone’s front yard, which meant a free cool shower on the way. I didn’t take a picture of this but I wish I had.

The only other thing was that since I was convinced that this was 10k, after I hit 10k and my watch was like “Congrats you did a 10k,” I looked around and there clearly was no finish line. I figured my watch had some GPS misstep or something, but usually the finish line is relatively near where my watch distance is. But there was nothing in sight. So I ended up stopping and walking more after 6.22 miles because I was looking back at the other runners to see if any other 10k runners were behind me, or if I had some how inadvertently joined the half-marathoners. For a moment I thought, “Well, I guess I’m running a half-marathon now?” I even saw a woman with my bib color walking in the other direction at one point, making me wonder if she screwed up too and was walking back to the start, defeated.

But I pressed on and after turning a corner I saw that finish line for the quarter marathon, which was just in some farmer’s front yard. I ran into (pun intended) my friend Lisa as I was running and discovered that she was also running the quarter, because she was there, and she was the one who reminded me that a quarter marathon is more than 10k. So, thank you, Lisa.

Thanks Lisa, sorry you look kind of like a terminal cancer victim in this photo.

All the other routes looped back to the start except ours; we had to wait in a farmer’s front yard until the shuttle arrived to pick us up. Us few, the privileged quarter marathoners. But while I was there, I saw a chicken.


I can’t stress to you enough just how sweaty I was at the end. It felt like I was like one of those frogs who has a constant sheen of mucus on them at all times, except the mucus was sweat. I am SO THANKFUL that I remembered to put anti-chafing stuff on my nipples before I left. Truly a godsend.


The shuttle took us back to the event and I got some snacks and a very, very delicious ice cream sandwich from Ruby Jewel. Foot Traffic hyped up the ice cream sandwich a lot in their emails, which you wouldn’t do unless it was delicious. It was so good I want to eat another one right now.

And that was it, basically. Lisa was nice enough to give me a ride back to my car and then I drove home and now I’m here writing this thing right now!

Next up is another Parks & Rec 5k. Meanwhile the Portland (half) Marathon is 12 weeks away. I’ve got far fewer 5ks in the books for the second half of 2023. While I’m grateful for them for helping me build a running foundation, I’m also thankful that now that I have a foundation, I don’t need to keep signing up for every 5k that I see.

Until next time!

  • 1
    This is a joke, I didn’t really push this hard, please don’t push this hard when you poop. If you’re pushing this hard, you need some fiber or something.

parkrun #17

Another PR in the books! A lovely sunny morning at Rock Creek Trail. This morning I decided to do my Garmin suggested run within parkrun, which was a 10 minute warmup and cooldown, with 17 minutes of running at threshold, 10:10/mi, in between. It made sense to adapt this into my parkrun at the time, and in the end it was great for my pace in general, but boy was it tough.

I ran .5 miles as a warmup beforehand, and then went off too fast because that’s just what I do. I was going to slow down when another runner came up beside me and asked me about my bone-conduction headphones. He was going fast too so I kept pace for a bit to talk and then just said “I gotta slow down” and let him go ahead. But even then I was running a little faster than my warmup pace (which is around 13:00/mi). However, this has become a thing now; I’m getting better at running which means 13:00/mi is a little slow, and I’m really going about 12:30/mi.

Anyway, then my warmup was over, and as you might suspect, my threshold run began uphill. There are two hills at my parkrun: the first is called “Deepak’s Torture Hill” on Strava and I have to agree with that assessment. This is where I started my threshold, and I hadn’t really factored hills into the whole thing. The second hill is at the turnaround point and has a boring name on Strava so I’m going to call it “Deepak’s Torture Hill 2: The Reckoning.”

The red circle is DTH, the yellow circle is DTH2:TR.

So I started my threshold going uphill, which was hard. But I made it, and my pacing wasn’t … terrible. But I knew what was coming, so I made a decision to walk a couple of times in between DTH and DTH2 so I could bank a little bit of energy for my pacing overall. This is the legacy of Jeff Galloway, the man who told me that I could walk during my run and it would be okay.

The second uphill was hard, but thankfully, the rest of the course is mostly downhill, since you’re coming back the way you came. And so, when my threshold run ended and Garmin put me back on my warmup pace, a weird thing happened: I couldn’t go slower. I just couldn’t. I tried! I even stopped at one point briefly to wiggle out my numbing foot, but when I started up again, I went faster than I expected. My watch kept beeping at me to slow down but I didn’t, and at the last minute was me running even faster to reach the finish line.

I ended up 34:18 official parkrun time, which is a mind-boggling difference of 36 seconds. That’s a lot in running! It really opened up my mind and my body in terms of what I am capable of doing on a 5k race. I could feel the months of running and walking and exercise finally starting to click into place.

And that was that. I bought McDonalds afterward.

Next up is my first ever 10k race! The Foot Traffic Flat on Sauvie Island on the 4th of July. See you then.