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!

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    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.
betterment running

Running in March

My last 5k, the Heart to Start, was on February 18th. I finished with a 38:01 time, which, to this day, I still don’t believe. This is 18 seconds slower than my all time fastest 5k race, the 2016 Shamrock Run, where I finished at 37:43. A 12:08 pace then, but my best pace was in 2013, another Shamrock Run, this time an 8k where I had an 11:44 pace.

I know it’s not the best idea to compare myself to me ten years ago. After all, these aren’t stupendous times; they’re the times of a big tall guy who prioritized heavy weightlifting over running (and then fell off the wagon, so to speak). But it is very fascinating to see progress in action. I started running again in October 2022; my first 5k race was waaay out of my league and my time was 51:28. I almost don’t want to compare it to now, but that’s where I started. So my time difference between that race and my last race is 13 minutes and 27 seconds. In four months.

The reason for stating this, I suppose, is to formally state that it is possible to get better at the thing you’re doing.

So now it’s March, and it’s cold as hell in Portland. We just survived the Snowpocalypse, which was a blessing for me; I have gotten to the point where not going for a run nags at me, and I desperately needed the three days of rest.

I upgraded my 5k in July, the Foot Traffic Flat, to a 10k. A 10.55k specifically, because it’s a quarter marathon. That’s about 6.5 miles for you apple pie and hot dog eatin’ sons of bitches out there. It’s taking place on Sauvie Island outside Portland and should be a beautiful run. But it also means I need to train. Like, now. I need to up my mileage methodically but gradually, so that I can run past 6 miles, up to maybe 8 or 9, which will make running 6.5 miles feel a little easier.

I ended up grabbing this 8-week training program from the Runner’s World website, which incorporated training 3 runs 3/week. Originally, I had the 5/week running plan, but it seemed a little daunting, and literally as I was writing this blog decided to downgrade. Right now I’m trying for 4 runs per week, and with the 3/week program I can just add an extra day, which will probably be parkrun.

That program won’t start until May, which means I have March and April to use for increasing my mileage safely. Enter: March.

The plan is simple: increase mileage by 10% every week for 4 weeks, and then the 5th week is for deloading, or running a reduced mileage (basically back to week 1). I get two cycles of this before my 10k training begins. The first week is this week, with the goal being 10 miles.

There largely (as of now) is no real other goal with the particular runs, other than to run them. I’m focusing more on mileage now so that I can have a basis for the 8-week plan, and thus, the 10k race. Last week I ended up running 12 miles total, which is insane, but the week before that was only 9, and before that only 7, and I think about 5-7 miles/week each week before then. So my mileage was creeping up a little faster than 10%, so I want to step back and make sure I do this correctly so I don’t hurt myself.

I’ve got a few staples in mind though: Mondays are Hard Runs, Thursdays are Easy Runs, Saturdays are Whatever Parkrun Feels Like and/or Race Pace (for when I actually run races), and Sundays are Long (Easy) Runs.

Monday Hard Runs will be a mix of interval training and tempo/threshold runs. I suspect a lot of intervals on the track, to be honest. It’s kind of fun to run intervals on the track. (Yes, 7th grade me, you heard that right.) Currently my intervals include 1 mile of running at a steady warmup pace, and then half-lap run/walk sessions for the other mile. But instead I’m going to run that first mile and then run for more like 30 seconds, then rest for a bit, and run again, etc, until I just can’t hack it anymore. Then, when I get better at it, I can increase the run time until I’m pushing myself for a minute.

Thursdays I hope to be dominated by Zone 2 runs. Apparently these are very good for you, as they help keep your heart rate low for longer runs. (And other benefits, I think — look, I’m still a beginner runner, alright?) Zone 2 runs are weird because I’m running slow. Like, real slow. For me, that’s around 13:30-14/mi. Slow enough that even old ladies are passing me by, and babies, and turtles, etc. And since I’m still getting in shape, I’m religiously checking my smartwatch to make sure my heart rate is staying below Zone 3. It’s hard!

I also think Thursdays will be some hill training, which basically means just running east, away from the river. It’ll be nearly impossible to keep me in Z2 for those, though.

Saturdays are parkrun and a couple of races. I’m just going to play these by ear. No need to go all out for all of them, especially those in which I have a race the next day. I may use them as a way to keep a steady 5k pace, including keeping my pace lower at the start, because I, like most people, like to start faster than I should. If I can even out my pace over the whole 5k, that would be awesome.

Sundays are the proverbial Long Run days for most people. I think most of my races are on Sundays so we’ll see if I just keep running once the race is over, or what. I might have to split my runs on race days, and then commit to longer runs on non-race days. We’ll see. But yes, long runs.

So, two cycles of this and then an 8-week plan to get me ready for a 10k by July. I totally think I can do it. In fact I’m eager to do it. In fact fact, my brain is a little more eager than my body; it feels like Captain Kirk to my legs’ Scotty. But it’ll work. And in 4 months you’ll see me with a 10k medal around my neck, come hell or highwater.