If the Shamrock Run is the run that officially starts race season, there’s no doubt that the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon/Half/Quarter/5k is the race that ushers in Summer. Sure, it doesn’t come around until July 4th every year, but let’s face it – summer doesn’t always come in June around here, especially not this year.
Some years, the Foot Traffic Flat is a bit hot, as it wraps around Sauvie Island without much shade. However, this race starts early and it’s mostly flat (as the title suggests,) so it’s worth whatever heat you might find. The views are also wonderful – cow country, farmhouses and animals, and crops aplenty. And this year, the weather was a bit cloudy but also pleasantly warm, so it was the perfect race weather.
My wave start time for the half marathon was just after 6:30AM, but I felt grateful when I got out to Sauvie and saw that the marathoners were starting as early at 5:30AM. Getting out to the island takes time, especially if you have to coordinate catching the shuttle bus. I was lucky enough to carpool with friends, and we had no trouble following all the other vehicles to our designated area for parking. Though we had to wait awhile for the requisite porta potty “nervous race bladder” line, we had timed it well enough that we never had to hurry. Everyone was in great spirits and the people-watching was entertaining. Everyone seemed happy, once again, that races appear to be going back to normal after the last few years of COVID
Perhaps the Foot Traffic Flat used to be a small race, but it’s become more popular in recent years. This year’s race sold out, but we never felt like we were surrounded by wall-to-wall people. Everything operated like a well-oiled machine, and all the waves were organized and easy, especially with the friendly pacers and their signs that helped direct us where to stand.
I’ve been training for a marathon and some runs are going better than others. I didn’t sleep well the night before this race due to family in town, but I felt pretty good when it was “go time.” I decided to do what I did last year, which is grab water at every aid station and to mentally check in with myself to see how it was going. After two miles, I started to feel a bit queasy, the way I feel when I’m about to pass out, but there was an aid station right there and after a cup of water I felt normal again. I gained more energy and kept moving. There were lots of aid stations along the way.. all with water, Nuun electrolyte, and some gels. I stuck to water mostly, and it did serve me well.
At about mile 10, my friend was having some fueling issues, so I opted to stay with her thru to the finish. This day was not about the race, but about having fun with friends. Could I have zoomed ahead? Absolutely. Did I want to? No, not at all. I wasn’t there for a PR. Besides, this was better.. Chatting in the gorgeous weather and soaking in nature around us. It was also inspiring to see the other runners at the turnarounds, something I don’t take for granted anymore post-COVID.
When we finally got to the end, I felt like I’d barely run. That is an accomplishment these days!! I grabbed my Ruby Jewel ice cream which was amazing, and also sucked down some strawberry shortcake my friend had brought. We decided this race NEEDS strawberry shortcake again like the old days. The Ruby Jewel ice cream was delish but you can’t call it summer (or the Foot Traffic Flat!) without the strawberry shortcake!!
This race continues to be my friend Debbie’s summer race tradition, and it has been for the last 10 years. She nearly PR’d and came in second in her age group. I didn’t rush so didn’t even look up my results, but I sure had a lot of fun. I look forward to making this a no-miss race tradition in my future as well. I’ve been doing it since the year it was virtual and will continue on as long as they let me in!!