race reports running


Distance: 5k
Chip Time: 35:41
Pace: 11:30/mi

Oh, Gresham, Oregon. We meet again. Another weekend, another 5k, and boys, girls, and non-binary pearls, this one was pretty great. Felt good, pushed hard, came through with another PR, no, I’m calling it a PB because I watch way too many British running channels on YouTube. It’s a PB!

This was the Lilac Run, and I found out after I got home that the 5k and 10k races had around three times as many women runners as men, while the half had twice as many. I find this very funny. Men, were you scared away by the name of the race? Did you think attending a “lilac” run would turn you to an effeminate mush? You poor, poor babies.


A lot of my pre-race information is going to revolve around eating and shitting, so if you’re not into that, skip ahead.

Basically, I’ve become, to the detriment of my sanity, a bit obsessed with runner’s trots. If you’re unaware (and you will be aware if you keep running), runner’s trots are basically stomach problems during runs, sometimes making you need to shit ASAP. The causes are varied but break down to blood being diverted from the digestive system to your muscles, causing unprocessed food to pass quickly through your intestines and right outcha butt. The constantly jostling from running doesn’t help, and neither does the type of food you eat before you run.

Strangely, I haven’t had this happen during runs, probably because I don’t run very far (it’s more of a problem for longer distance), but I have had it while walking. I thought it was kind of embarrassing but then I did some YouTube searching and after listening to a few people tell stories about their Random Acts of Pooping, I realized it’s surprisingly common. Probably doesn’t help that the American diet is kind of terrible to begin with. But the longer the race, the more the racers are used to the trots. Hence the placement of porta potties throughout the race.

Anyway, to combat il trotto (I didn’t think this would be the Italian translation but it basically is, the singular at least. I trotti is plural. Language is fun.) it’s recommended to eat easily digestible carbs and sugars before you run, and stay away from fiber and things that might already upset your stomach, like dairy and fats. Also, stay hydrated!

I woke up needing to poop, which is a great start because I can get that all out of my system first thing in the morning. Afterwards I ate instant oatmeal (cinnamon & spice, tasty) and some almonds, which is kind of my go-to breakfast for run mornings. I have learned the hard way that cereal and milk is NOT my go-to for run mornings. I would’ve done toast and PB but I had oatmeal in my head so oatmeal it was. If I could go back and change anything I might’ve just had regular oatmeal with a scoop of PB, as I think the sugar content of the oatmeal didn’t quite sit right.

I also woke up with DOMS from a lower body workout I did on Thursday. For some fucked up reason I usually run faster when I have DOMS, and this of course was no exception. Why this is I’ll never know. I think the repetitive movement feels good, like dynamic stretching, but when I’m done and especially after I get out of the car my hips feel like two rusted levers.

So I drive out to Gresham and on the way I feel like I gotta go again. Nothing drastic, just one of those “I should do this before the race starts” sort of things. Once I get to the venue I avail myself of the porta potties for a quick flushing out, so to speak. That one was nerves. My anxiety around shitting my pants, ironically, makes me feel like I’m going to shit my pants. For all our evolution, homo sapiens still has a lot of work to do. Still felt a little iffy stomach-wise after, but it ended up being not an issue at all. I forget that theatre trained me how to do lots of high energy work for several hours without disrupting my stomach too much.


There wasn’t a ton of bib pickup swag for this event. Coupons for things, a can of Tatu protein water which was pretty good, and one of the sponsors, a dentists office, gave us a koozie and lip balm. Wooooo. Oh and it all came in a tote bag which I guess is swag too.

There was a little canal next to the venue.

The actual race had pancakes and sausage and coffee/beer afterward though. Very good! Give me more food please. I opted for the coffee, which was a “small” Americano but was actually in a 12oz cup, so it was watered down too much. Look, I don’t want to hyper-judge the post-race coffee. It was good. The pancakes and sausage though? Delightful. WAY better than the pancakes they were serving up at the Shamrock Shakeout a month ago. Like, these ones were actually cooked all the way through, and there was actually syrup and butter available.

There was also the usual cheap kitschy stuff at the event itself–cheap sunglasses, more of those god damn bells, and I think one booth had fidget spinners–but I didn’t take anything. I almost took a fidget spinner. What am I gonna do with this stuff? Throw it away, eventually. Don’t put that on me, booths.

The Race

The route was a simple out and back along the Springwater Corridor, which is just a long paved trail throughout the eastern Portland Metro area. A couple of street crossings, which is always annoying, but one was at the refueling station, which made sense because oftentimes people stop or walk through refueling stations, so to have a street crossing there too wasn’t as bad.

By now we all know my strategy: run as far as I can without walking and then just do run/walk splits until I’m done. I had two training settings on Garmin: Estimated Finish Time, which I intentionally set, and a 90 second run/30 second walk alert, which I forgot to turn off before the race. Sorry to everyone around me who kept hearing my watch beep. I think it ended up saving my ass though because if I didn’t have my watch go off after 30 seconds I probably would’ve walked a lot more.

My A goal was under 35 minutes, while my B goal (and the one I set on the event page on Garmin) was 36:15, or an 11:40/mi pace. My B goal was simply to run faster than my fastest pace of 11:44/mi, which I did! And for a really long time, at least two miles of the race, I was set to get under 35 minutes. But, despite refueling twice, my legs just wouldn’t give me more than about 60-90 seconds of running. This is kind of a con of run/walk methods; for me at least they get settled into my mind and body, where my legs run for 90 seconds and then are like “Okay we did it, where’s our 30 seconds of walking now?”

Speaking of refueling, they had a stop with Gatorade and Haribo gummy bears a mile in (and thus two miles on the loop back). I decided I would refuel even though this was just a 5k. My reasoning is that I am eventually doing a half marathon and I need to learn how to refuel during the run. I know, I know, no new things on race day, but here’s the thing: technically nothing was new. Have I drank Gatorade before? Yes. Have I eaten gummy bears before? Yes, many times, maybe too many times. Have I done both of these while in the act of running? No, technically, but … it was fine, okay? It’s not like I ate a footlong hoagie halfway through.

On the first stop I grabbed a Gatorade cup, which was fine, but on the second stop I grabbed a cup of gummy bears as well. There were three bears in there and long story short they were hard as fuck to chew and swallow while running. I ended up having to stop and walk for a bit just to swallow the damn things. But I learned something! I learned that if you want to bring something like gummy bears to refuel you (and I absolutely want to do that), then you should pack them in such a fashion where perhaps they can warm up against your skin or something, thus making them easier to chew and swallow. Or just take a gel or something, I don’t know. There’s no way I’m buying refueling stuff in gel form or whatever, I’m just going to eat food that already exists, like gummy bears. A lady on YT recommended dried pineapple because it also has digestive enzymes. Yes, please!

So, did it help? Probably! I’m not at a point as a runner where I can really feel much difference in terms of a boost of energy, with one exception: the sprint to the finish line. The gummy bears might’ve helped with that, but it’s more likely that I finished the race before any of the refueling kicked in. In fact, if anything I feel the drain of running more clearly now than I did before. Specifically, that damn VO2 max, which refuses to rise above a terrible 39. It’s going to be a while before I can understand that dynamic between breathing and the oxygen fueling my muscles, but I can certainly feel that my breathing doesn’t seem to be doing enough, despite my pretty good cadenced breaths.

My only real regret during the race was leaving my sweatshirt on. I really wish I had left my sweatshirt in the car. It wasn’t devastating but I just think I would’ve been cooler overall if I had just a t-shirt and shorts, which would’ve helped with energy transfer, maybe. Fortunately this will likely be the last race I run for a while where I feel the need for an extra layer.

Another funny aspect of this race is that I was literally middle of the road in my gender and age group placing. 25 out of 51 for gender and 4 out of 8 for age. Not a lot of 35-39 year olds coming out to these things! 66th out of 210 finishers though, so better than average there. (These aren’t that helpful because there were a lot of walkers too.) My sort of inside (my head) joke is that I’m a very average runner, and these results keep proving it.


Pancakes! Sausage! Coffee! The pancake station had TANG. Remember Tang? It was actually very good. The medal is wood! REMEMBER how I was like “It would be cool to have a wooden medal”?! Eat shit Shamrock Run! (Just kidding Shamrock Run, but maybe look into wood medals next year.) It’s actually even more like the Shamrock medal because it’s layers of wood glued together. It’s neat! Probably would’ve looked a little sharper if it was metal, but whatever! We’re trying new things people!

I met a lady from Florida in line for coffee who was just ahead of me in the race towards the end. She is here with her husband and their kiddo visiting her brother. She and her hubby were the only two people in the 5k race who weren’t from Oregon or Washington. For some reason there were more random state people in the half marathon. Also, one of the half runners is from Corbett, Oregon, and another half runner who finished two spots below her is named Corbett. What are the fuckin’ odds, people.

Note to self: I really need to ask people what their names are. I never do this because I assume I’ll forget it, but asking is part of the introduction process!

Anyway then on my way out I noticed that there was a little Japanese garden called Tsuru Island next to the venue! Here are pictures of that.

Important note: the porta potties in the background are NOT part of the Japanese garden. They are part of the American garden, next to the fried Oreos.

Next 5k is the Cinco de Mayo on … Seis de Mayo?! ¿Qué chingados? Hasta la vista, baby.

race reports running

Five Fifty Fifty

Distance: 5k
Chip Time: 36:39

The GPS shortchanged me on miles, likely due to cloud cover and tree cover.

This was an interesting run and an interesting push on my running fitness. I was not expecting it to be timed at all. In fact, I was expecting it to be way more of a clusterfuck, if I’m being honest, if only because the emails prior to the race didn’t offer a lot of helpful information, like where exactly the race started.1The emails listed the event taking place at Laurelhurst, sure, but the address listed the cross streets of Cesar Chavez and Stark, which, technically, are the Laurelhurst annex across Oak St, which was nowhere near where the actual start was. The route map listed on the email had a dot where I presumed the start was, and ended up being true (and if you know Laurelhurst the start is where you would think it would be), but it would’ve been nice to have more concrete directions. But it wasn’t a clusterfuck at all. Instead, it was a very small group that took part and despite the egregious rain and Laurelhurst Park’s hills, it was a pretty good run.

The Swag

There was no swag other than the t-shirt, which, hooray, I have another green t-shirt.

I didn’t get shirt until the morning of the event, so here I am wearing it after the race, in all my … glory.

At the event itself there were a couple of sponsors that I did not check out whatsoever because there were only two of them and that felt weird, as well as that weird-ass Red Bull Mini Cooper you see parked at universities during finals. They were handing out Red Bulls (obviously) but I didn’t get one. I’m not sure why other than I am trying to deduce my proper nutrition intake prior to races. My stomach has been feeling weird prior and during exercise lately and then I get nervous about it being weird, which makes it more weird, etc etc diarrhea. Fortunately I took a shit before I left my apartment because that what I do now, I’m a runner and runners shit before a race.

I don’t drink energy drinks in general anymore, but I almost never pass up a free Red Bull. Not sure why. Probably because it’s free. They remind me of stocking at 6am at Hastings when I was in my early 20s, except those were Monsters I drank and I drank way too many of them. I also stole candy bars in the morning because I was broke. I don’t mind telling you this because Hastings closed down in 2016 and they sucked anyway.

The Atmosphere

According to the results, there were 50 runners. Total. Plus staff that puts us at around 60 people, which means this was the smallest timed race I’ve ever run, smaller even than the Tar ‘n Trail last October, which had around 150 runners in total.

That made the whole event feel kind of strange. Not in a bad way, it just felt like another parkrun, except a parkrun where nobody knows each other. So it was kind of chill, and kind of chilly, with all of us huddling under trees trying not to get too rained on while we waited for the start.

Adel “AB” Korkor, the guy who made the foundation who made this race happen, was there and gave a little opening speech before we started, which was nice. He seems like a cool guy who’s just trying to get this thing to become a Thing, you know? He also had to basically shoo people into stepping up to the starting line. It was very strange, normally the start has all the elite runners ready to go, but I think none of us were elite runners and had no idea who should be at the start. This was maybe the only time I was near the starting line of a race? It was a funny moment watching him corral us anxious people to the start.

I hope they get more runners next year. I only learned about this through a random Instagram sponsored post, which is very rare for me. Would be nice to see more people!

The Race

There were 50 participants mostly from the Portland metro area and Salem, plus a few from Spokane, Washington, but the guy who won is from Prole, Iowa. He has such a unique name that it was easy to find him on social media–basically, he’s running 5ks in every state. Not in any real time frame, just when he can, it seems. But why this one? Lots of other great (and locally run!) 5ks in Oregon, my dude.

(He also had a Washington State t-shirt on so maybe he went to college there. Go Cougs.)

Also, he showed up like 5 minutes before the race started and the CAR he came showed up in had like a fuckin’ Delorean style back door that lifted upward. I think it was a Tesla because apparently some Tesla SUVs do that. ANYWAY I’m pretty sure it was his dad’s ANYWAY.

Laurelhurst is hilly. Much like Lacamas, the start of the race was uphill, but it was a much longer uphill. We did two laps around the course, up and down hills, while it rained constantly on us. It rained so goddamn much that I had to take my earbuds out about midway through lap 2 because the rain was getting into my ear canal and making the earbud thingy slippery. Ain’t no way I’m losing my Pixel Buds! Or my hearing to an ear infection from rainwater being stuck in my ear canal!

I managed to eke out 11 minutes of straight running, including uphill, before I fell into my normal run/walk pattern. At one point I had to tie both of my shoes, costing me precious time. Also a lady I was running close to got confused about the turnaround point so a couple of us kind of slowed down to help her/get confused ourselves.

I’m not sure how I ran this. My thought was not to run it at all, until I saw the familiar big balloon arch signifying that it would, in fact, be a timed race. Once I knew it was timed I knew I had to run the damn thing. Also, prior to the race I had to do my Garmin 10k training plan workout with Grandpa Jeff Galloway, which I did the bare minimum for and treated like a warmup. It actually probably helped a lot and I should do more warmups before races.

I’m just kind of surprised I made it out relatively unscathed. Yes, my hamstrings hurt, and my knees hurt a little bit, but overall, once I was done, I felt okay. I walked home with little issue besides the usual aches and pains from running quickly. That plus my time, which is only 11 seconds slower than the parkun I ran yesterday, leaves me feeling pretty proud of my accomplishment. I ran a 5k parkrun and then ran a 5k race the next day! And my legs aren’t dying! That’s good news.

And the best part of the whole thing was that I didn’t even need to drive anywhere.

Is this a race I will do next year? I don’t know. Probably not. I’m definitely scaling back next year and by the end of this year will have a better sense of how I feel doing longer races. If I do more longer ones I will absolutely do fewer 5ks because the long races are expensive as hell. So we’ll see. But I’m glad it exists and I am grateful for Mr. Korkor and his desire to ease mental health issues through regular exercises. I hope the rest of his 5ks go as smoothly as this one seemed to.

Next week I am back with another 5k with the Lilac Run in Gresham. Time to head back to my old stomping grounds … East Portland… *insert ominous music here*

  • 1
    The emails listed the event taking place at Laurelhurst, sure, but the address listed the cross streets of Cesar Chavez and Stark, which, technically, are the Laurelhurst annex across Oak St, which was nowhere near where the actual start was. The route map listed on the email had a dot where I presumed the start was, and ended up being true (and if you know Laurelhurst the start is where you would think it would be), but it would’ve been nice to have more concrete directions.
race reports running

Lacamas Hop Hop

Distance: 5k
Chip Time: 36:57

The Hop Hop had a petting zoo. That’s all you need to know.

This marks the beginning of my “race season,” in which I run … far too many 5k races than I should. This morning I drove out to Camas, Washington, my nemesis, to partake in the Lacamas Hop Hop, hosted by Foot Traffic, a local running store. The name annoys me but god damn was it not the cutest race so far. Petting zoo! Cute artwork! Old men playing golf! Yes, the 5k took us around the Camas Meadows golf course, while those running farther went … farther. I don’t know this area very well.

My morning began with me waking up at 5:30 am, realizing that if I got up when my actual alarm went off, 6:30am, I probably wouldn’t get to the venue in time to secure a parking spot. There wasn’t a lot of parking and Foot Traffic was basically pleading with us to carpool. But as we all know, I have no running friends so I wanted to get there early, so I compromised with my brain and slept in until 6am. Then, I got up, got ready, took a shit (taking a shit before a run is VERY IMPORTANT okay), and was off by 6:30am, reaching Camas by 7. Drive was fine except when I took a wrong exit and went the complete opposite direction, towards Vancouver instead of Camas. It wouldn’t be me driving if there wasn’t a wrong turn somewhere!

Fun fact: the place where we parked had two buildings: Logitech, and Oregon Ice Cream. Those two must have a fun parties together.

The Swag

Honestly there wasn’t that much swag for this one. My bib pickup was just the bib and my t-shirt. After the race there were little things to pickup, like treats, a free mimosa (this was a bougie event, see Atmosphere), and some baubles and doodads like those annoying bells, cups, etc. There was a booth for what I think was window painting service? Not the window itself, but the trim and all that. Very strange, nobody went to that booth. Why would you? Are people thinking about their windows before a race? I think every race has one sponsor who gets bamboozled into sponsoring, and this race was the window painting place.

I didn’t snag much (aside from the food of course) because it wasn’t that appealing to me. I did keep the mimosa flute, and I can’t tell if I was supposed to or not. The flutes had the Hop Hop artwork on it, I presume we were meant to keep it. I also grabbed a snood/headband thing from the Why Racing Events booth (they did the Clover Run) which, now that I’ve taken it our of the packaging and looked at it, is from their Reflection Run, which honors military for Memorial Day. Now, I’m not here to slag on military personnel1Except those who are bad and have done bad things, fuck those military personnel. Fuck you Andrew Jackson!, but wearing a thing that says “sacrifice,” “freedom,” and “bravery” all over it is … not my style. No offense!

The Atmosphere

Camas is bougie as hell. We’re running a 5k at a golf course. The porta potties were well kept. (I took another shit at the actual event.) There was a big event tent that wasn’t a blustery, cold, muddy mess like the Shamrock Run. The drive to Camas was an exercise in the nuance between “rich” and “kinda rich.” Big, expensive houses on one street, then expensive looking duplexes and triplexes nestled in a walled off complex on another. And then you’ll drive by and see some shitty houses with people who refused to take a payout to move. Good for them. Houses in this city can get into the millions of dollars range, especially around Lake Lacamas. (The highest I’ve found is $8 million, which is a 3 bed, 3 bath sitting on 18 acres of land.)

So there were mimosas because of course there were. Runners are alcoholics. It was a pretty great post-race recovery drink though, I gotta say.

The Race

I feel kind of on the fence about this race, honestly. On the one hand, I did good! I ran fast! I believe this is my fastest 5k to date, and is about 13 seconds faster than my parkrun last Saturday. I’m also 30 seconds away from my absolute fastest time (based on my 8k pace of 11:44/mi). When I am running, I am running pretty fast.

On the other hand, I’m walking a lot more than I’d like. The most frustrating thing about it is that if I had run a steady 12:00/mi pace the entire time, I would’ve been a minute faster overall. But I don’t want to be a 12 minute miler, especially now that I know I can run a 10:33 mile according to Strava. Let’s go to the tape, Ted.

The cool thing is that when I do run, my cadence is unfaltering. I don’t think I dropped below 150spm the entire time I ran. My upper limit was around 165spm–lower than the recommended 180, but the difference in speed is something. 150 is around an 11:30/mi for me, while 165 is about a minute and a half faster. My average stride length was .93 meters, or slightly over 3 feet. I suspect that’s the upper limit to my stride; any longer and I might be overstriding. In fact, I think once I am able to sustain 180spm my stride length might go down a bit. We’ll see.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’ll be a lot longer before I can fully run a 5k at a pace that I feel good about. (Faster than 12 min/mi.) It’s not that I’m distraught about it or anything, it’s more a reminder that progress is not linear, nor is it always what you are expecting. I am running faster, and better, than I was even six weeks ago, and my new shoes are killing it and besides some knee fatigue, the IT band issues I was dealing with recently are all but gone. That’s progress! It just doesn’t feel like it during the race, when I’m constantly walking, and now where I can see that if I continued running, I would shave minutes off my 5k time. Ah well.

The course itself was interesting. Mostly road with a bit of gravelly trail (and I suspect trail runners wouldn’t call it a trail). Some brief but sharp inclines, and the starting point itself was on an incline, which was a first for me. It meant that the finish was on a decline though, so you could really speed through to the end. Some of the race was on the shoulder of a road, which was weird, but thankfully there weren’t a lot of cars coming through so it wasn’t a big deal. It was also a bit narrow at points, which made it hard to pass people. Again, nitpicky kind of stuff.

Overall, this was a fun race with a chill atmosphere and mimosas and goats. What else do you need?

Next week is an impromptu 5k I picked up that benefits mental health services. See you then.

  • 1
    Except those who are bad and have done bad things, fuck those military personnel. Fuck you Andrew Jackson!
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.
race reports running


Alright, bear with me, this is a long one. The Shamrock Run was the first race I ever ran back in 2012 (I know, I keep saying this, deal with it). For a few years it was the only race I ran. I, and a lot of runners in Portland, judging by the crowd size, feel like I have a special kinship with it. So I’m going to dive right in to the whole day.

For those who want a TL;DR, it goes like this: I ran well despite my leg issues, I’m glad I got under 40 min, and I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t beat my original 2012 time of 38:28.

A classic finish line pose I call “Josh Thanks God He is Done Running.”

So, I woke up as I always do at 6:30 am and was like, “Why is it still so dark outside?” before remembering that Daylight Saving Time happened. I hate DST but it’s even worse when you have to run that day. I lost an hour of precious sleep!

Got up, got dressed, debated how many layers to wear (answer: more than I should’ve), got all my stuff together and then proceeded to walk to Waterfront Park. It was a surprisingly warmer morning than I was expecting. The path to the Morrison Bridge was confusing to find and also puts you under the bridge very early in the morning, which just feels sketchy overall, but nothing sketchy was going on anywhere. I saw one guy who looked like a panhandler and genuinely wondered if we was getting any money this early in the morning.

I’m not sure if this is true or not but Shamrock has always been the first “destroying Waterfront Park” event of the year to me. The park has a long beautiful stretch of green grass that absolutely gets mutilated into a muddy shithole every year as tons of people show up to do stuff by the river.

Not my photo, as I am not 50ft tall.

Like, Portland Parks & Rec is there every week come springtime through the fall seeding the absolute shit out of that lawn with quick growing grass. The grass farmers in the Willamette Valley must make bank off of them.

I got there with about 15 minutes before start time. Now, you’ll notice in my race results image above — the 5k race had over 4,000 runners. Thankfully, this race has been going on for 45 years and thus they run a tight ship. (Side note: I was trying to find old photos of me at prior runs and realized that back in the day there could be up to 35,000 runners, so our measly 15,000 this year was not that great in comparison!) The setup was clean and precise and they had huge signs for everything like gear check and whatnot. The atmosphere is great too. It’s the first “real” race for Portland, or a big corporate one at least, and people love dressing up like stereotypes, and it does have a bit of a big party vibe to it, which certainly helps with getting amped up to actually do the run itself.

The sky threatened rain and drizzled a bit throughout which fumbled my run up a bit, so I guess I’ll just talk about the run itself now.

In order to get 4,000 people running, you have to do it in waves, which is why my chip time was 39 min but my gun time was 55 min. A 16 minute difference between the race starting and me actually running. It’s one of the most frustrating parts of Shamrock for me, because 15 minutes standing in line crushes my warmup, and also by the time I started running, the elite runners were not only finished, but were like standing around with their medals, probably ready to run a marathon. It’s just not super great to be a slow-ass runner and run past people that could beat you twice in a 5k. Oh well.

Also the lady announcing the event at one point between waves just randomly said she was born in South Africa, which was weird. She wasn’t and isn’t from Portland. Got it.

First race thing: I set up a PacePro split thing in my Forerunner before I started. It was a 5k split with a negative pace increase per 1k? Something like that. I don’t know the terminology. It sort of helped. The damn thing alerted me constantly, whether I was ahead, behind, or on pace, which meant I was checking my watch a lot. Ultimately a good thing, I think, but I probably need more practice with it.

My goal time was 38:00, and I could’ve split these by miles but ended up not doing so because my Shamrock Run splits thing didn’t sync for tedious reasons1I have two splits so far: one for parkrun and one for Shamrock Run. The parkrun splits are the one in the image above. Originally, I had the Shamrock Run splits set for 1k increases but for a goal time of 37 minutes; when I hurt my knee I decided to switch it 38 minutes and to mile splits, rather than kilometers. But I forgot to sync that with my watch, so I had to use the parkrun splits instead. Tedious! and it seemed better to ease into what would be around a 10:30min/mi split at the end. Ultimately I think it was helpful to be reminded where I was, pace-wise, but I also found the interface confusing because it was my first time using it.

The first mile was fine, other than I knew my leg would hate it from the start. I started slow because my watch told me to (thank you, watch) but I could tell that the walk to the venue was a good warmup for everything but it. The second mile is when things started to get wonky. First, it had threatened to rain but didn’t rain as much. I gambled on wearing a rain jacket and decided to take it off, so I did and tied the arms around my waist, like you do. Except every time I do this, especially when I’m doing it while running, I don’t tie it tight enough and it starts to slip past my butt. Tripping on my own rain jacket would be embarrassing and would likely injure me. So I had to slow and walk to try to undo the knot, which, of course, was too tight and wouldn’t come undone. So in a moment of panic I ended up lifting my jacket up as if to take it off like a t-shirt, but then found that the the arms rested nicely around my belly. A gentle reminder that I could lose a few pounds.

During this time is when “Naatu Naatu” started up on my Spotify playlist and let me tell you, if you need a song to get you hyped and running, this is the song. The moment it popped up I was like, “I am going to fix my rain jacket and then restart this song and then it’s go time.”

Second, after my rain jacket nonsense the race looped back and at some point soon after that, we literally had to stop so that two buses could drive across the perpendicular lane ahead of us. In my mind this took at least 30 seconds if not an eternity, but it was probably more like ten. Still, ten seconds is a lot for me, plus after they let us run again I felt like I needed to rush to get back to my goal time, which ended up winding me quicker towards the end. It was a frustrating moment but would probably be more frustrating for a 5min/mi type of runner, where every second truly counts.

After that was just a rush back to the finish line. A gradual downhill that likely exacerbated my knee and leg issues more than the uphill. I can control the impact of my step going uphill, but downhill feels like I’m lurching and slamming my feet into the ground with each step. Did not like. Once it leveled out you could see the finish line from very far away. Some might say too far, as in, Don’t start sprinting yet, wait an extra block or two.

I was really hoofing it at the end there. Everyone was, of course, but when I crossed the finish line I was probably the most exhausted I’ve been with a race for a while. According to Garmin my heart rate was in the 180s at the end. I’m nearing 40 — that’s, like, the ceiling of my heart rate now. Any faster any my heart would explode like that guy’s head in Scanners. Wild stuff.

Pace chart with my graded pace in gray behind, from Garmin.

Looking at my actual pace versus what I was supposed to be running is also wild. I never thought I’d be interested in this shit but here we are. The part that fascinates me the most is the 4th kilometer, where I was behind pace but the most steadily paced out of all kilometers. Why then? Did my body just fall into a groove? The first kilometer is nuts, and you can clearly see that I was running faster or slower depending on what the watch told me to do. Kilometer 2 is when I started walking, and that bouncing pace in kilometer 3 is when I took off my jacket, then started running to “Naatu Naatu” (that above 10min/mi pace peak), and then walked to keep my jacket from falling off my ass. See, there’s a story in the data, people.

What I am gleaning from this chart is that the graded pace I set for myself wasn’t the best option. In fact I probably should’ve just set a straight pace for the entire thing. It seems clear to me that my pace wants to be more of a 12-12:30min/mi overall, for now at least. Obviously I would like it to be about 2-3 minutes faster, but for now it looks like my body wants to keep around that pace, but I tend to run faster at the start because I am not that good of a runner.

Our medals are … not metal. I think this is the first year the Shamrock is giving out medals beyond just half marathon and top 3 finishers. Because of this and the fact that there were, again, 4,000 5k finishers, my medal is like three thick pieces of poster board glued together. Professionally!

Not complaining, though when I first got the medal I thought it was wood and thought it was very cool to get a wooden medal. Also, I’m wondering what Shamrock does with the exuberant amounts of money it makes from this event. Not that I want 4,000 metal medals in circulation! We probably need all that metal for … the war effort, or something.

Speaking of money, I haven’t talked about the Swag for this event because there really wasn’t that much. The bib pickup at the expo had virtually nothing other than what I ordered — t-shirt and bib. I bought a new beanie and St. Patrick’s Day themed socks when I was there. I do have free entry into the Adidas employee store (and maybe Nike and Columbia too), so I guess that’s something.

At the actual event there was food at the end of the run which included Bob’s Red Mill protein bars (good), lil bags of your favorite Frito-Lay brand chips (good), and a banana (bad). I don’t know what it is about post-race bananas. I think they’re not ripe enough. They taste bad. Then you kept walking and there was a big tent where you got the piece de resistance: Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal.

Now here’s the thing: one of the best parts about the Shamrock Run post-race is that you get a free beer and you get a free hot meal. Well, a lil meal. A mealette. When I started running these back in 2012, a higher-end restaurant in the area called Stanford’s sponsored the run and provided a cup of hot salmon chowder at the end, ladled lovingly out of warming cauldrons. (They might have had a veggie/vegan option too, I don’t recall.) That stuff was de-lic-ious. So hearty and savory and good.

Then, a couple years later, it was corn chowder from Stanford’s. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a good corn chowder, and it was pretty good, but it weren’t no salmon chowder. It felt like a downgrade.

Five years gone from the game and when I get back, Bob’s Red Mill is the big food sponsor now (Stanford’s doesn’t even have a restaurant in Portland anymore, unless you count the one in Jantzen Beach, which I don’t. Might as well be Vancouver!), and they’ve got hot oatmeal, the same little cartons of oatmeal that you buy at the store.

These little fuckers.

I got the brown sugar and maple flavor and it was bad. It wasn’t gross, just … it didn’t taste like brown sugar or maple. Big letdown in my book. In fact after I got home from the race I ate some instant oatmeal and it was delicious! I’m sure Bob’s a great guy and all, but I don’t want your gluten free oatmeal after a race, I want a piping hot cup of salmon and/or corn chowder.

They also didn’t provide any standing tables in the oatmeal tent2Oatmeal Tent is my new band name, by the way., which was not a good idea. A bunch of sweaty and cold people standing around, eating oatmeal. Just imagine it. It’s exactly what you think.

Then I went to the beer garden and drank two beers.

I got two because they gave me a beer ticket for signing up for the half marathon next year. Michelob was a sponsor for this race which means 10 Barrel Brewing was there. It was a delight to see everyone eschewing the Michelob Ultra seltzer fucking whatever they were doling out, grabbing the 14oz pints of 10 Barrel instead. We’re still not happy that you sold out to Anheuser-Busch, 10 Barrel, but damn it if we won’t drink your beer.

(Side note: that purchase happened almost a decade ago … maybe I should let that go. Also they own Widmer too?! Hells bells.)

The beer garden is my favorite place of the run because I’m always doing these things by myself and there is nothing more fun than drinking beer alone surrounded by people who are with other people. At least the Irish music was fun. I also literally get to do an Irish Goodbye.

That was about it. I walked home in the rain. Stairs were … an obstacle. My legs feel okay now but I can feel my IT bands on both sides screaming for mercy. I wish I could’ve beaten my 2012 time, but out of my 5 prior races, that one was #3. Middle of the road, never a bad thing.

Now, the real question is: Am I going to run the Couve Clover Run next week, or just walk it? I guess you’ll find out, or my emergency contact will find out a little bit earlier than you.

Until next time.

  • 1
    I have two splits so far: one for parkrun and one for Shamrock Run. The parkrun splits are the one in the image above. Originally, I had the Shamrock Run splits set for 1k increases but for a goal time of 37 minutes; when I hurt my knee I decided to switch it 38 minutes and to mile splits, rather than kilometers. But I forgot to sync that with my watch, so I had to use the parkrun splits instead. Tedious!
  • 2
    Oatmeal Tent is my new band name, by the way.