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!
- 1This 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.