I ran “The South’s Toughest 15k” for the 3rd time this morning – the Ellis Porch Statue to Statue race in Birmingham Alabama. I gotta figure it’s not all that tough to be the South’s toughest 15k. It’s a pretty uncommon distance. To wit, I did a quick search on Active.com to find “races near me” and it came up with 25 half marathons but only six 15k’s. Despite the apparent low hurdle for being the south’s toughest 15k the Statue to Statue run leaves nothing to chance and it includes between miles 6 and 8 two of the toughest hills I have ever had the distinct displeasure of ascending. I rarely walk any part of a race but I do walk part time on these hills, and so does just about everybody else. The reward for surviving the hills is the steepest downhill finishing mile or so that I have ever seen. If you’ve played your cards right you can nearly fly to the finish line. I ran my final 1.31 miles at 7:24 which included the last .31 at 6:48! Zoom
I finished second in my new old man group after finishing third in my prior old man group last year and fourth (with an asterisk) the year before that. So that seems like steady progress. Or does it? I finished the race at 1:18:39.5, a minute thirteen slower than 2016 and almost two minutes behind last year, which to me is a little disappointing. I was aiming to win a lot of races this year, figuring I would be able to run just about as fast as I did last year against a slower group. But I still haven’t been able to get back to the 8-8:15 range since all those NYC marathon training miles last summer/autumn.
In baseball there’s an expression meant to help you appreciate your cheap hits – “they all look like line drives in the record book”. Years from now I’ll have the medal that says I finished in second place and no one will question the time. But I think I’d still rather have the pace than the place.
Oh and the asterisk from 2016 – I finished 4th but I ran faster than the third place finisher. Places based on gun time, not chip time. I make sure I start at the front of this race now!