Upon arriving at Gabriel Park in the morning of the final Portland Parks & Rec 5k of the year, I immediately realized something: this was going to be a hilly course.
And it was! A total elevation gain of 384ft according to Garmin. This was the most difficult of the four P&R courses I’ve run, but it also happened to be the most beautiful. The start sloped downhill for about 3/4ths of a mile before cutting right into the forest. Seriously, it felt like I went from civilization into a wooded area. Turns out the entire center section of Gabriel Park is split by what I believe one could call a copse of trees. We ran through it fairly quickly but on the loop back (aka the uphill part) again we ran into the forest. It was lovely. I really appreciated the juxtaposition of the park with its sports centers and playgrounds and the peaceful serene trail in the woods.
Ultimately, I was shooting for a 33 minute 5k today but the hills got me good. I’ll settle for my time though, considering I’m still running on tired legs as I train for the Portland (Half) Marathon.
As far as a park goes, boy this one has everything. It’s got baseball diamonds, it’s got basketball courts, it’s got tennis courts, it’s got a friggen skatepark and volleyball it’s got two very interesting and fun looking playgrounds. It’s got a dog park. It’s got a community garden and an apple orchard. And cutting through it all is the aforementioned copse. Of the four parks I’ve ran this series, I think this one is the best. Which makes sense because it’s in the rich part of town. I can see why they saved this one for last.
Aesthetics: Gorgeous. Just gorgeous all around. Lots of levels and trees. 10/10
Function: Probably the most functional park I’ve ever seen. Sports AND little wooded trails AND a community garden? It’s got everything! 10/10
Sketchiness: The only sketchy thing I saw was an older lady fainted or something just before the run started and the EMTs came to check up on her. This place is pristine. 10/10
I fuckin’ did it. Plus a PR on 1k (5:37) and 1 mi (9:07).
Okay let’s talk about the day. I did the 5k race and then parkrun almost immediately after, because it’s Rock Creek parkrun’s 4th anniversary and there was cupcakes. Was this a good idea? Read on.
Not too much on this one. I drove out to the Beav’ on Friday afternoon to grab my bib and t-shirt. It was at Portland Running Company, which sponsors or is Run with Paula Events, I’m not sure. The two seem in cahoots. (RWP is the … host? of this event? The producer?) The store was nice and chill and outside there were clearance racks with “old model” clothes and shoes, plus you got a 15% discount on top of that for running the race. So, long story short, I have three new pairs of legitimate running shorts.
Unfortunately I did not wear any of my new shorts to the race itself because Nothing New On Race Day.
The only free stuff was a Clif bar and a coupon for a free garlic bread from the Old Spaghetti Factory. Yippee.
Next morning I’m up at 6am as usual, taking my morning PRP1Pre race poop., getting myself ready by prepping an extra shirt and socks for parkrun, and then I’m out the door.
First of all, the parking for this event was probably the best I’ve ever witnessed. Plenty of parking spots across the street and lots of volunteers directing us exactly where we need to go. Seamless, it was.
The atmosphere for this event was pretty chill. All of the different races (5k, 10k and half) started at 8am, which meant that we were all together getting ready. I liked this; it felt like better camaraderie than staggered times.
There were some sponsor kiosks and I visited none of them. In fact, one of them was Geico, which seemed to have a lot of swag, but I switched from Geico to Progressive because Geico was gouging me on my car insurance, so … I’m sure it would’ve been awkward for them to see me.
Another welcome aspect of this race was the streets were well-cordoned off, meaning warmup runs could be done for longer stretches rather than going back and forth. It really was nice, felt big and open compared to the Garlic Fest pre-race, which was more constrained.
I came into this race thinking I would break 30 minutes. I had gotten close enough with parkrun to know that if I ran on a flatter course, I wouldn’t tire out as much and I’d be able to press on more overall. And that pretty much came true!
My mile paces were 9:08, 9:23, and 9:59. That third mile drop was because I ended up walking about :24 seconds. Really didn’t want to but my heart rate had hit 179bpm slightly before and I just felt like I needed to rest for a bit. Up until that point, my 2 mi time was around 18:31 (another PR), meaning that I would’ve been around 28 minutes if I hadn’t slowed down. But I didn’t come to this race to run 28 minutes, I came to break 30 minutes, and I did that plus 32 extra seconds.
I actually had my Garmin watch set for a 9:00 pace, just to go a bit above and beyond, mainly because I tend to go out fast and I figured if I was going to do that, I might as well go out really fast (for me) and bank some time for the back end.
But really, even during that walking bit my pace only dropped down to around 14 minutes, which is good, as it means even when walking I was walking briskly. My HR never got to 180, which I cannot believe. Also my cadence was good! Average of 173, or about 20 spm more than usual. I guess that makes sense considering I was running faster than usual. Even my stride length is getting longer–hovered around .97m but was at 1 or above several times.
And then, of course, that last tenth of a mile. Perfect little bit for a sprint. People who run in kms don’t get to hear their watch been for mile 3 and then get into sprint mode. It’s too bad, really.
I’m really proud of the effort I put into this race. There’s always room for improvement but the fact that I had a goal in mind and crushed it is awesome. My body and mind were synced up this go around, and it made for an excellent outing.
My post-race time consisted of me catching my breath, getting my medal and some snacks, and then trying to find my car. Then, once I found my car, I had to figure out how to leave without disrupting the entire event. Once I did that, then I drove as fast as legally allowed to Rock Creek Trail for parkrun!
I arrived 6 minutes late and they let me run anyway–a couple of them were mostly shocked that I came from a run and was going on a run again. I started my watch from my car because I knew I would be hustling to the start line, and was already late so my official time wouldn’t really matter. I figured as long as I beat the tail walker, I’d be fine.
Ended up doing a little better than I thought I would. Honestly, I thought I’d be walking this entire thing. Instead, I ran with my pace all over the place until my heart rate got up to the high 160s, then stopped and walked and cooled down. No need to have 170s for this run. It honestly was over before I realized it. Sort of went on autopilot there.
Maybe there was a bigger hullabaloo prior to the start about how it’s RCT’s 4th anniversary. All I know is that at the end there were snacks and I grabbed one and then left. Not really sure why I didn’t stick around. After runs I think my brain is a tired and affects my decision making. But it was nice to see everyone!
And that’s that. Big run day for me. Some PRs and proof that this is all paying off. I don’t think there will be another 5k PR anytime soon, as I have to get my mind into half marathon focus. But who knows?
After this is parkrun 25! followed by the last Parks & Rec 5k at Gabriel Park. Until then.
Official time was 30:09. This is a great PR but also 10 seconds away from a sub-30 5k is wild. The last two parkruns (#21 and #22) I didn’t write about because they weren’t very interesting. I ran slow on 21 and even slower on 22, mostly to prevent my watch from restructuring my future suggested runs–22 specifically was slow because I had a long run that Sunday that I wanted to be at least somewhat healthy for.
This week I was like, let’s go for it. At this point I know a sub-30 5k is in me. Even when my time was around 31 minutes, I knew, because the first half of Rock Creek Trail is uphill, in kind of a gnarly way, especially right before the turnaround to come back. As long as you can keep pace up those hills, the second half of the run is downhill except for one small uphill which I will talk about in a second. So you can expect a downhill second half, which is very helpful!
My downfall this week was that slight incline before the gradual downhill section called Deepak’s Torture Hill on Strava. It’s funny how that’s just a segment on an app, but like 100 years ago it probably would’ve officially been named that, after some guy named Deepak who keeps running up that hill. But I decided to take a short walk break there. According to Garmin it was only :18 seconds, but it could’ve been the difference between 30:09 and, say, 30:01, or even 29:59.
It ultimately doesn’t bother me that much, as 30:09 is more than a minute faster than my previous parkrun PR of 31:17. I’ll take it. But I know there’s a sub-30 time in me. Maybe we’ll find out … next Saturday, when I run the Beaverton 5k! It starts at 8am so my goal is to run it and then get in my car and try to get to parkrun after, because it’s Rock Creek Trail parkrun’s 4th anniversary! There’ll be cupcakes!
Sadly, I missed the July P&R 5k due to the stomach flu. That was in Columbia Park, which is in the smaller Portsmouth neighborhood adjacent to St. Johns, making it the most northern of the 5 5k races Parks & Rec put together. Westmoreland, meanwhile, despite being more west land, is actually in most southwestern part of southeast Portland, right across the street from Eastmoreland, a neighborhood that is, of course, east of Westmoreland and is about 20% golf course.
These are both named after Julius C. Moreland, a lawyer and then judge in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A realty company of which he was an executive wanted to make four neighborhoods in his name, for–you guessed it–the four compass points. But I guess only West- and Eastmoreland made it to final print.
Imagine if I had four neighborhoods like that. Northbelville, Southbelville, Eastbelville, and Westbelville. How annoying!
Westmoreland Park is one of the best parks in Portland, no doubt about it. It’s huge, has about half a dozen baseball and softball diamonds, tennis courts, a lawn bowling green, and the somewhat iconic duck pond, called Hall Pond, which was originally built as a fly-casting pond (and is still used for that purpose). Crystal Springs Creek, which runs nearby through the park as well, apparently has salmon in it during the appropriate seasons. According to the P&R page, the pond is supposed to be removed at some point and returned to a wetland, which I think is a great idea. Apparently the pond gets hot in the summer which isn’t good for the salmon or the ducks.
The 5k itself was fine; I ran slower this morning due to the heat and wanting to take it easy after the Garlic Fest 5k yesterday, but still managed an 11:08/mi pace, which is faster than I had anticipated. My heart rate was higher than I would’ve liked, but I was in the zone, baby. Plus it was roughly 10-15 degrees warmer than my usual summer run temperatures so I’m not sure my heart rate would’ve lowered enough to be worth slowing down.
One thing that was kind of funny is that near the start of the run was a very comically narrow bridge that we all piled up at because you could only run it single file. But then we got to run around the duck pond twice (which needed more shade for sure) and ran on lots of wood chips. I kind of hate running on wood chips, but they were good for my knees, I guess.
I’m also pretty sure there is a running group for, like, ex-convicts or something that participates in these 5ks, which is very cool. They were being filmed this time, probably PR for their program. The whole event is very much worth the $5 price.
Aesthetics: Big huge gorgeous park. The only drawback is that it’s right next to a busy boulevard and MAX light rail. Thankfully the way the park is set up you don’t see the street and cars and all that too much. 7/10
Function: If you want to Do A Thing, this is the park for you. Baseball, softball, basketball, just most anything with balls, plus tennis and fly-casting for some weird reason. Lots to do here with your family and friends. 10/10
Sketchiness: Not too bad. There were a couple of homeless people parked near an apartment complex, but nothing felt like anyone was in danger. To be fair, this was a public event, so I might have a skewed vision. 7/10
The last 5k run is in Gabriel Park, the only run on the west side because East Side is the Best Side. See you then.
North Plains is a cute little town situated right off US-26. Every year they have a Garlic Festival which, for some reason, also has a race attached to it. The event is hosted by the Oregon Road Runners Club (ORRC) and is a very no frills type of scene.
In general, my 5k times have been decreasing a lot over the last month. My last six parkruns have all been PRs, my time going from 34:54 to 31:17. How did this happen? I … don’t know. I’m just running a lot? I guess?
Point is, a sub-30 5k time is within sight and I have made it my mission to attempt it whenever I run a race, starting with this one. For the record, a 29:59 5k time requires a 9:39/mi pace, which I have discovered, I cannot sustain. But we’ll get into that later.
Lately I’ve been feeling really blah about running in general. My motivation is low and despite my faster times, I get out of bed in the morning usually not wanting to go out. But I do it, because that’s what you gotta do.
This morning felt a little different. Races are like that; instead of a solitary morning slowly drenching myself in sweat, I get to slowly drench myself in sweat among other sweaty people! Hooray. My races earlier this year made me anxious and prevented a good night’s sleep; this one I got up like I was on week 8 out of a 12 week run of a play. I know all the ins and outs by thie point, which is a lot nicer than fretting.
I left home with just a few essentials: towel, snot rag, regular water bottle, handheld water bottle, sunglasses. My handheld bottle was empty because I didn’t think I would need water during the race itself. I was wrong.
Funnily enough, North Plains is just a few miles from Rock Creek Trail parkrun on US-26. Farther away from Portland, but it’s a nice little drive.
ORRC was founded in 1970 and touts itself as the second oldest and largest running club in Oregon. I’m not sure what the oldest is but based on a cursory google search I presume it is Eugene’s Oregon Track Club, which has been around since 1958. Wouldn’t this mean that ORRC is the oldest road running club? Who knows.
Anyway, because it’s one of these old timey clubs, the atmosphere for this run felt very chill in an old time way. Like, some races are flashy and “exciting” and this felt like you were going on a run with a bunch of old timers. Which wasn’t true at all, there were all ages there, but it just felt less like a “look at my cute running kit!” group and more of a “the bush halfway between mile 7 and 8 is a perfect spot to take a shit” group.
Everyone was mingled together more or less; the 5k began right as the fastest half marathoners were ending. It just seemed super chill, is what I’m saying. I like a chill race!
The swag was very simple: a pair of socks and, afterward, a head of elephant garlic. It is the Garlic Festival after all!
So, like many runners, I went out way too fast in the beginning.
Or, rather, I went out at a pace I thought I would need to sustain to get below 30 minutes. But as you can see, my pace dropped pretty much the entire time, with two walking points which came about due to me trying to catch my breath after some inclines. (I won’t call them hills–it was only an 89ft total ascent but each ascent felt like 5,000ft.)
Having an average pace of 10:09/mi is great though. And my first mile was 9:28, which is a new PR for me. Being able to sustain that pace for a mile is just an indication that I could sustain it for two miles, and then three, eventually. My body is still adjusting to this runner lifestyle.
My feet went crazy numb over the run though. I’m going to have to see a doc about it at this point, to at least get some ideas of what I can do to alleviate it. I’m going to have to stop a lot during my half if my feet keep going numb.
The course was pretty plain, just running alongside a road for the majority. Wasn’t very exciting or pretty. Again, the ORRC is like “Okay it’s run time” and they measure out the distance and it’s not like near a beautiful waterfall or anything. It’s just miles, dag nabbit.
The 5k had 171 participants. I placed 59th overall. The guy who placed 55th was 78 years old; 57th was 71 years old. That’s … humbling.
I was 4 out of 10 in my age group (only 10 40-44 year old runners?) and 42 out of 88 men. So pretty average, as always, but just sliiiiiightly above average. Story of my life!
(There were 200 10k runners and 137 half marathon runners. I’m not counting the people who signed up just to walk.)
I was so fucking exhausted after the race ended, I can’t remember the majority of it. A lady gave me a medal and a head of elephant garlic, just like the prophecy said, and then I sat down in the dirt and caught my breath. There wasn’t any good place to sit in the shade except the dirt, and I’m not above sitting in the dirt. I’m a great dirt-sitter.
When I was rested, I grabbed snacks and a Sprite and a very tasty breakfast burrito. I wish I knew who made the burritos, like if it was a company or just a nice family or something (or both!). They were good. Then I sat down on a mat thing they laid out for people, ate my burrito, kind of stared into the middle distance for a bit, and then headed back to my car and left. I did change shirts, too. This is a new summertime routine, bringing an extra shirt to change out of. Born out of driving home from one parkrun and then going to my car a couple of days later, opening the door, and feeling like I stepped into a steam room. The sweat embedded in my car seat with my car just sitting out in the hot sun for days can’t be good, right? Like, that’s just mold waiting to happen.
Hence, shirt change.
And that was it! I Drove, I Ran, I Ate a Burrito. (Apparently that’s eieci, cucurri, edi, burrito in Latin, in case you were wondering.)
Tomorrow is the 4th Portland Parks & Rec 5k fun run, this one in Westmoreland Park. I plan to run it very easy, but you know how I get. There will be a blog about it, don’t you worry.
Next timed race is the Beaverton Half 5k, part of the Run with Paula set of events. I think it’s my first one of these!
Then, dun dun dunnnn … the Portland (Half) Marathon.
Another PR in the books! This one was a :37 PR; 31:54 last week, 31:17 this week. The last few weeks of parkruns have been wild. And this morning was HUMID. Wildly humid, felt like running in a steam room at points.
I know my jumps in speed are from training and running more, but the amount that I’ve increased is staggering to me. Since my first parkrun in January, my 5k time has decreased by 11:41. An over ten minute difference in eight months! I feel like if I hadn’t been injured those couple of times, I could’ve made this in six months, but whatever.
A lot of what cause this jump was just the knowledge that I could do it. There was a part of me that thought I either couldn’t do it, or that if I did it I would puke my guts out or something. But regular training and interval sessions have shown me that I can keep up a faster pace for longer. My easy run speed is now around 12:15/mi and I’m hoping to get that faster too over the next year.
And this time is with three pretty decent uphill bits! It looks like the Garlic Festival 5k on the 12th is flatter so I can try to push for closer to a 30 minute 5k time.
This is a lot of me putting my mind to it, knowing what I’m capable of and getting a great chance to show it at a community event. I’m thankful that parkrun exists (even if I do wish it was a little closer) and now I’m only 5 away from my first milestone!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.)
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.
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!
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.