Race Recap: Portland’s Foot Traffic Flat + Angie Qualifies for the Boston Marathon

Trev and I at the Pumpkin Patch, Sauvie Island, OR.

Trev and I at the Pumpkin Patch, Sauvie Island, OR.

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On our recent trip to the Washington coast to visit Trevor’s parents we had the opportunity to run a marathon in the State of Oregon.

Since I’m always looking for ways to knock off a new state I started researching races a few months ago. We considered around four marathons during the summer and settled on the Foot Traffic Flat near Portland.

My in-laws and Trevor’s brother all came down to Portland with us and we rented a house in the Hollywood district and made a fun weekend out of it.

There were just over 422 registered for the full marathon and a total of 346 finished: 181 males and 165 females. The half marathon was obviously the most popular option with around 1,800 runners and 240 participated in the 5k.

My Recap of Portland’s Foot Traffic Flat Marathon

Race Morning

We got up at 4am and our goal was to leave the house at 4:30 am. We’d heard reports that traffic could get very backed up and to allow plenty of time to get on the island. We ended up leaving the house around 4:45 after having a bit of difficulty with Trevor’s brother’s car. The race was located on Sauvie Island- about 15 minutes north of Portland and it took us approximately 30 minutes to get there. We got there before most of the half marathoners arrived so traffic wasn’t bad. The race also offered shuttles to and from Portland to cut down on traffic and congestion. The parking was well organized with volunteers showing you exactly where to park.

My Mantra
As we were driving to the race I was thinking about what my race mantra was going to be. Since I don’t run with music I like to have something positive to meditate on, especially during challenging moments. I remembered the song “Try” by P!nk and listened to it on my phone a couple times. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the chorus goes like this,

Where there is desire there is gonna be a flame. Where there is a flame someone’s bound to get burned. But just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna die. You’ve got to get up and try, try, try. Gotta get up and try, try, try. You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try.

This really resonated with me and I sang the chorus in my head during the race, especially when I was feeling tired or needed some extra motivation.

My Goal
My goal was to use this race to test my fitness as I train for a PR at the Chicago Marathon in October. My fastest marathon so far this year had been 3:53 in Myrtle Beach so I honestly just wanted to get in the 3:40’s during this race.

My Fuel
The starting and finish line area was at the Pumpkin Patch- a family farm with a fresh produce market, petting barn, café, and gift shop. We were able to use the port-a pots and then go back to the car for a while, get our gear together and drink our UCAN.


I started out with 2 scoops of the unflavored UCAN mixed with a Nuun tablet. Then I carried 2 servings of UCAN in an 8oz bottle to fuel during the race- using approximately 2 ounces at miles 7, 12, 16 and 20. I had plenty of energy and no stomach issues. 🙂

The Course

On the full marathon course we ran out from miles 3-10 and then back from 11-16. The course wasn’t totally closed to local traffic but the roads were pretty quiet and there were volunteers to direct people at any turns or intersections. The course was clearly marked every mile.

A Beautiful Place!
We ran by the Williamette River and saw people out in boats, various house boats and lots of birds around the water. There were also many fields and farmland growing lavender, fruit, flowers and other produce. I enjoyed the views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Adams.

There were a few trees along the course but it was mostly exposed to the sun and it started to get warm as the morning passed. It was sunny with temperatures starting in the mid 50’s and got up to the 70’s by later morning.

Flat and Fast!
There was another half mile out and back and some small hills around the 15-19 mile marks for a total of 131 feet of elevation gain. Then the full marathon course joined the half marathon course around mile 20 and I passed many half marathoners heading toward finish line. The aid stations along the course were approximately every 2 miles and were stocked with water, gels, and Nuun electrolytes.

My only complaint about the aid stations is that at some there weren’t enough volunteers and you had to grab your own cup. The cups were also tiny—probably holding around 4 ounces of fluid. When I finished the UCAN I started refilling my bottle with water from the aid stations because I was getting so warm and thirsty.

This was a small rural marathon (which I happen to like) but there were probably a total of ten spectators along the whole course, and most of them weren’t that enthusiastic. It’s definitely not a race to do if you have trouble staying motivated without spectators or many other people to run with. Fortunately I felt strong and there was never a point where I started to get mentally or physically depleted.

I ran with a man named Martin from China (who was doing his 2nd marathon) for a few miles early in race, I also saw Tom a Maniac from HI who I met last year at the Missoula Marathon. Then a guy yelled “MTA” at me midway through the race and I later found out that it was Kris (who we read the shout-out to). During most of the race I was by myself, but could always see other runners.

Qualifying for Boston

IMG_20140704_054337_566My pace was staying very steady and a couple times I looked down and saw I was running sub-8:00 miles (fastest mile 7:52, slowest mile 8:29) so I would try to rein myself in. At around mile 16 the thought crossed my mind that I was on pace for a good time but I didn’t want to get too excited because so much can happen in the later miles.

Finally around mile 20 I realized that I’d finish in less than 3:40 and qualify for Boston if I ran sub 9:00 miles the rest of the way. I knew I could do that barring a disaster but part of me didn’t want to get too excited about that thought. I guess when you’ve missed qualifying by a few seconds you don’t want to get excited too early. I focused on passing as many runners as possible after mile 20 and lost count at 150. That kept my mind busy.

Then I saw Trevor a few yards from the finish line and high fived him. He called out “you’re going to BQ” and then it suddenly seemed more real. I allowed myself to fully believe the fact that I would qualify for Boston.

At the finish line they said your name and hometown. I was just so excited to look down and see the time on my watch. My official time was 3:36:12 (4th AG, 20th woman, 75th overall).

It was one of those races where everything just came together perfectly, my fueling was spot on and the effort never felt overly hard. I am very grateful for a strong body and the ability to reach this goal. Trevor had a good race experience running the half marathon. He ran the first several miles with a MTA listener named Tim who came down from Victoria, British Columbia. Trevor’s finishing time was 1:53.

Post Race

The top male finisher was Rudy Gilman of Silverton, OR with a time of 2:22:35. The top female was Emma Chaput, age 41 of Bend, OR with a time of 2:59:27. It was cool because we ended up parked right next to her.

At the finish line they served water (in small cups) and you could get a hot dog and strawberry shortcake. The medal was very nice with a heron on it (at least that’s my guess with my limited bird knowledge). We bought some fresh fruit at the farm stand and enjoyed Rainier cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and apricots on the way back to the house. It was so much better than candy!

Our post race snack -Sauvie Island berries.

Our post race snack -Sauvie Island berries.


Spencer Family in Portland 2014

Spencer Family in Portland 2014

12 Responses to Race Recap: Portland’s Foot Traffic Flat + Angie Qualifies for the Boston Marathon

  1. Bridget July 27, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Congratulations Angie on your BQ! You’ve definitely earned it, that’s a crazy fast time! I hope that course was BQ certified, I “accidentally” (I don’t wear a gps watch) BQ’d in a small marathon that wasn’t certified :-/

    I’m interested in trying Generation UCAN in my training. How many calories did you consume of it during the whole marathon (or per hour)? Also how long did it take you to get used to it in training before using it on race day? One last question, have you tried Vitargo as well, I’ve heard it’s similiar to UCAN but better suited for use during a run.

    • Angie Spencer July 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      Hi Bridget. Thanks so much for your kind words. I think there’s only been one marathon that I’ve run so far that wasn’t a Boston certified course (fortunately not the Foot Traffic Flat). I’m sure it was exciting and disappointing at the same time for you to BQ on the non-certified course.

      I consumed just under 400 calories of UCAN for the whole marathon. I had two servings 30 minutes before the race and then 2 servings during the race. The first time I tried it was during a marathon (shh, don’t tell anyone) about 8 months ago and it worked well from the start. However it’s best to use it during at least a couple long runs prior to a marathon. I haven’t heard of Vitargo before. Now I’ll have to go research it a bit 🙂 Happy running!

  2. Greg July 31, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Congratulations! It is so exciting that you were able to qualify for Boston. I have only been listening to your podcasts since Feb, but it must feel so good to reach that goal. Good luck on your preparations for the big race next April (fingers are crossed that your time will be accepted).

    I have been using UCAN for about a year as a pre-long run and a pre-race fuel. In my March marathon (my first), I ate a Gu gel every 3 miles starting at mile 6. By mile 18 I couldn’t stomach eating any more and by the last 5k I was spent and hit the wall. I will practice with UCAN to see if I can handle it as a fuel during my runs. I think I remember that this didn’t work so well for Trevor when he tried this in a race… I would love for this to work for me though. It is a great product.

    2 servings of UCAN in 8 oz of water – was it kind of thick, almost like a gel? I think the package says one package for 16 oz of water. Also, did you add a Nuun tablet to that mix? If not, did you take any other electrolytes during the race?

    Congrats again!

    – Run with joy!

    • Angie Spencer July 31, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      Thank you Greg. I’m glad that you’ve been enjoying the podcast. It does take a while to figure out a fueling technique that works well for marathons. I’ve read that mixing the UCAN with other more simple sugar products can cause some GI distress.

      Pre-race I usually take 2 servings of UCAN in 12 oz of water. Then I mix the 2 scoops with 8 oz of water to carry with me. It is a little thicker than normal but is still a liquid (more like syrup consistency). I typically don’t need extra electrolytes during marathons (unlike Trevor who deals with cramping) but since I was using the plain UCAN I used the Nuun tablet mostly for flavor. I dissolved the tablet in the 8oz of water before adding the UCAN to the mix. Hope that helps!

      Happy Running!

  3. Lee Bennett August 1, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Hi Angie and Trevor,

    Congratulations Angie on your BQ!! I have been a listener since the early days and know that this accomplishment is something very special to you and something that you have worked very hard towards. I just recently listened to your “Portland’s Foot Traffic Flat Marathon” podcast and was very inspired both by your BQ success story and your mantra, “Try” by P!NK. The day after I listened to your podcast I ran the 87th annual Tely 10, 10mile road race in Historic St. John’s, NL, Canada. Despite the high temps and humidity levels when I needed to dig deeper at about the 6 mile mark I was reminded of you and your mantra. I repeated the words of the song and it helped me push through my physical discomfort and mental block. As a result, I finished the race with a new PR in a time of 61:18.

    Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the great work at the academy. Also, congratulations on deciding to make this a full time commitment, I am really happy for you both. Doing what you love is what life is all about.

    Take Care,

    • Angie Spencer August 1, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Thank you Lee! It was very exciting to reach the goal of running a Boston qualifying time. We appreciate how you’ve been a supportive listener for several years and we are excited about making MTA a full-time commitment.

      Congratulations on your recent 10 mile race PR. That’s a smoking fast time! I’m so glad you were able to dig deep and “TRY.” Keep up the great work!

  4. John August 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Proud of you Angie and congratulations on such a wonderful achievement. Looking forward to seeing you in Boston next year (As long as I shave 2 minutes off my next BQ race of course).

    Great race recap, and very inspirational for runners across the globe!

      Australian Marathon Reviews

    • Angie Spencer August 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Thank you John. Best of luck with your upcoming BQ attempt! I’d love to see you in Boston next year.

      • John September 2, 2014 at 12:02 am #

        Thanks Angie, thanks to your ongoing support, encouragement and coaching I ran a 3:17 marathon last weekend and qualified for Boston.

        As you know I was so disappointed what I missed my goal by 2 minutes last year, and for a long time I doubted that I had another two minutes in me.

        But I stuck with it, trained hard, worked even harder on my strength training and further refined my high fat, low carb diet and after reading your BQ story had all the motivation I needed to find a 10 minute marathon PB.

        Thanks Angie & Treavor, you guys are wonderful!


        • Angie Spencer September 2, 2014 at 7:17 am #

          John- Congratulations on your recent PB and Boston Qualifying marathon time. Hearing about your success really made my day. Hard work and perseverance does pay off. Looking forward to seeing you in Boston 2015!

  5. Ruby Cropper September 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Yay Angie!!!
    You rock! I’ve been listening since day one!
    So excited for you!

    • Angie Spencer September 10, 2014 at 7:14 am #

      Thank you Ruby. We appreciate you being a loyal podcast listener!

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