personal running

Heart to Start

Another month, another 5k. This was the Providence Heart to Start, part of the Hood to Coast … family? of events? Collective of jaunts? I don’t know. It took place at Cook Park in Tigard, Oregon, about 20 miles southwest of Portland. It was a lovely day for running, overcast, temperature in the mid 40s, the tiniest sprinkle of rain at times.

Getting here was easy, so I don’t have to belabor you with any commute issues. Cook Park is lovely and has lots of trails that I would like to walk on someday, but today is not that day! Today we race!

Atmosphere was chill, not a lot of people for this race. Sometimes races feel like a Big Deal (Shamrock Run) and others feel like a group of folks getting together for a thing (Tar n Trail). This one was kind of in the middle. There was a kids run before the 5 and 10ks, so lots of little warblers running around.

When I got my bib a couple days before, there was no swag. I think there were free passes to one of the big athletic stores, but neither of the women at the station were like “Here these are free things,” so I just left with my bib. At the event though, they had a few bits of free stuff, which included:

  • Protein bars. Lots of different kinds of protein bars,
  • A stress ball in the shape of a heart (remember, this race is for heart health),
  • A pin that read, “Think With Your ❤️”, which, I’ll be honest, I personally think is a bad idea,
  • A beer or seltzer after the run (10 Barrel Brewing IPAs or Michelob Ultra Seltzer, to be precise). Probably could’ve had a lot of beers/seltzers if you wanted to, I dunno,
  • Bottle openers (there were no bottled beers or seltzers, only cans).

I think that was it. Not too shabby, but not my favorite group of swag. Again, I really do think you should think with your 🧠, not your ❤️. Lots of bad decisions have been made thinking with your ❤️.

Anyway, the Big Discrepancy! I started Strava right at the start line and I had this corroborated with two friends of mine who were at the race: the race was likely only 3 miles [but probably was actually a full 5k]. I know, I know. Please sit down. We’ll get through this, together.

When I passed the finish line, Strava showed 3 miles, so I stopped briefly to grab my medal and then started running again, to pick up the other .11 of a mile, but was flagged down by a guy who needed the chip tag thing on the bottom of my bib, so I gave that to him and then proceeded to run the additional .11 of a mile. Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that I think my time would’ve been slightly faster if I didn’t have to stop. I’m not mad at the event for short changing us a 5k, but it is frustrating to get your results and see that they are 38:01, only to discover that that’s your 3 mile result.

Although … if you reverse calculate a 12:15/mi pace (which is on my official results) into a pace calculator, for a 5k, the result is 38:04. So … maybe Strava fucked up on this one. WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME. I wonder if Strava gets nervous out in the woods or something? I mean, chip time is literally just the time between when you cross the start line and when you cross the finish line. I can’t imagine it being out of whack, especially since it’s a company that has set it all up and whose job is to set up chip timers. I think Strava’s GPS just screwed up somewhere.

Either way, I’m taking the chip time. 38:01! A very good run!

Running-wise, I think I did pretty good. Obviously we can’t completely rely on the damn Strava app for this, but we’ll use it anyway.

I really hoofed it out the gate, mainly to get around all the slow people walkers. The “track” was a thin concrete trail, maybe 5ft wide at most, and was a nightmare to deal with for the first 8th of a mile. A lot of us ended up running around in the grass, and I think I ran on some parts where plants usually grow, which probably was a bad idea. The start of the race is always a clusterfuck like this, but this one seemed especially annoying. I appreciate the Shamrock Run, which organizes runners based on their pace, with slower runners towards the back.

I only stopped three times, with the longest gap being a suddenly sharp hill that I absolutely did not want to run up or down. You can also see that dip at the end of mile 3, where the race ended [which was probably actually 3.11 miles, maybe]. Annoying. Meanwhile, when I run my pace is all over the place, which is something I’d like to work on, but I’m glad that the difference between the first mile and the third mile is only little more than a minute. That’s progress; my first mile pace at Race for Warmth was 11:53, while the 3rd mile was 14:13, a 2:20 difference. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say.

The weirdest part was at the end: when I decided to run the extra .11 of a mile, I felt like I could keep going. That’s dangerous territory, folks. That’s long run territory. Maybe we’ll talk about that some other time.

A very good idea I did before the race was massage my feet, specifically my left foot. Doing this virtually eliminated the numb foot I’ve been getting around mile 2. Plus it just felt good! I also moisturized my feet a couple days ago. This was nice, but I think it also made my feet slightly slippery this morning. Could be my imagination though. My feet were happier with me overall though, which was good!

After the race and the little extra run I chatted with a friend and commiserated over Strava, and then I went to the taqueria truck that was making burritos and ordered a big and delicious chorizo burrito with the works and a champurrado. I always forget how weird champurrado is. It’s good, just different. Could’ve gotten a horchata, but a warm drink felt like a better option.

And then I drove home! The end. See you at the Shamrock Run!

betterment personal running

Race for Warmth

*sports announcer voice* “And oh what a race for warmth it is today, Todd!”

“That’s right, Jerry, it’s colder than a witch’s tit out here.”

“It’s colder than the balls on a brass monkey.”

“It’s cold as fuck Jerry!”

This morning I left my apartment at around 8:15 am. The Portland air was crisp and cold. I drove to Vancouver, Washington, which took about 15 minutes. I then parked at a high school parking lot. Upon exiting the vehicle, I discovered that Vancouver was WINDY AS HELL.

And that was my opening impression of the Race for Warmth, a 5/10k out in the Couv, put on by Clark (County) Public Utilities to benefit Operation Warm Heart which helps low-income families pay their heating bills during the cold months (or just in general, I guess). The race began and ended at the Clark Public Utilities building, which is right off the I-5 bridge, making for an easy trek. The packet pickup the day before was a drive through event, which reminded me a lot of when I got the covid vaccine, except this time I got the vaccine of … future exercise. How about that.

The “swag bag” (remember when swag was a thing the youths would say?) consisted of some free and discount coupons, two tickets to see a Ridgefield Raptors baseball game in June (hell yeah, why not), and one of those emergency blankets and a hand warmer, which I think people used during or before the race but seems to be more intended for an emergency kit for your car.

The atmosphere of the event was great. It wasn’t too crowded, everyone was fucking freezing, and there were a couple of tents with free stuff. Relevant Coffee provided the morning bean juice, which was very good. They also gave away a $5 gift card in the swag bag, which I fully intend to use in the future. Meanwhile, a tent for Why Racing Events gave away some stuff, including my favorite free thing, some old PDX carpet sunglasses. They had some other stuff too that I totally forgot to grab.

“I make this look good.” Remember Men in Black?

They seem to do a lot of triathlon races but also noticed I was wearing my Shamrock Run hoodie and suggested I run sign up for their version, the Couve Clover Run, which happens a week after the Shamrock Run. Maybe I will, Why Racing Events … maybe I will.

(Side note: I always thought it was “Couv,” not “Couve.” Both are colloqualisms, so who cares, but maybe I ought to trust the Washingtonians.)

The tent next to theirs was for NW Personal Training, also based in Vancouver. They gave out INCREDIBLY HELPFUL drawstring bags so I could carry all of my free shit. This was very good. Also, some sunglasses and the Weirdest Free Thing, a license plate frame.

Lastly, there were Franz cookies, which of course were delicious.

As for the race itself: I did good! I managed to run the entire first mile without stopping, which was one of my two goals for the race. According to Strava, my first mile was 11:44 and I was a 25:33 for two miles, both of which are current PRs. I knew running the first mile like I did would cause me to lose energy toward the end. My pace dropped pretty significantly during miles two and three, which is not really what I want, but I wanted to go faster overall and I guess I made that sacrifice.

My other goal was a sub 40 min 5k, which I didn’t hit, but I think I was only about a minute over. My Strava time was 40:54, but that was for 3.07 miles because Strava does that sometimes. I thought I started the app with ample time to hit 3.1 but I guess not! Regardless, I think that’ll be about my chip time. If there was a gun time, it will be about a minute or so slower, because the start was a goddamn choke point, and also because there were a surprising amount of people walking. It was a walk/run event but it seemed like most people around my area were walkers. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, except it was like running through a minefield trying to dodge walkers left and right.

UPDATE: My chip time was 40:44, 10 sec faster than Strava, which is weird. Gun time was as expected, 42:24.

There were some slight uphills along the way, which I tried to run every time. You won’t get better at running inclines unless you actually run them. My grandaddy told me that once. (This is untrue.) Also a nice stretch along the Columbia River and this Vancouver Waterfront section that I think is fairly new. I don’t remember the drive into Vancouver being so nice. Is Vancouver nicer than Portland now? That would be wild.

So, for next time, I think the goal is to actually slow down my first mile pace so that my second and third miles are steadier. Like, if they’re all 13 minutes, that would be great, plus I’d get under 40 minutes. I think the adrenaline of running a race with people made me start out a lot faster. But who knows? Maybe in a month or two from now, 11:44 will be my 5k pace. Here’s hoping.

After the race there was an after party with a live band (god bless you musicians for playing in the cold), some turkey stew which was alright, cans of Michael Bubly, and more cookies. I had a sit and ate my stew and then promptly left. One of these days I’ll make some runner friends, but today is not that day!

Overall, a nice race that I would absolutely run again next year.

See you in a couple weeks for the Providence Heart to Start!