August will make 20 years I have lived in Birmingham, and I am ashamed to say this past weekend was the first time I have participated "fully" in the Ellis Porch Statue 2 Statue 15K! I say "fully" because back in '96 or '97, there was a 3 person relay part of the event, and The Trak Shak had a team. I was the anchor leg! I've been doing some research to find out exactly which year that occurred for a couple of reasons. First, I guess I'd like to know the actual year. Second, I need to find out if there are any photos floating around out there. You see, we picked out some matching uniforms from Pearl Izumi and let's just say, they were GROOVY! They were a prime example of why you DO NOT catalog/internet shop! What I remember of them is a lot of colors, mesh, and shorts that could only be called, and I wish I had a better term, nuthuggers! What I'm getting at is, I need to know who has photos and consequently, which homes to break into to destroy evidence! For those of you who know the course, you know the last 5K is the one you want in a 3 person relay. I had a GREAT time! I'm not sure the same can be said for Bob, our second member of the relay!
Why did I decide to run the 2013 installment of the South's Toughest 15K? About 6 weeks ago, I decided to add at least one hill workout and one long run to my routine thinking Statue 2 Statue would be a perfect race to enter. The routine went well for a while. Three days during the week, I ran 5 to 6 miles easy before work, one morning I'd get up early and do a hill workout, and another day, I'd get up early and run a long and easy. Then, Scott and I got a late invitation to the Masters! A trip to Augusta, the week before Statue 2 Statue, resulted in two days of watching the most prestigious golf tournament on the planet, very little sleep, many adult beverages, and 5 days of no running. The week leading up to the race I took pretty easy, but none the less, the legs did not feel great.
So, it's Saturday morning April 20. I met Elena, the eventual ladies overall winner, at the store, and we jog up the hill to the start. I could tell in those 10 minutes, it was going to be a LONG day. I'm going to take this moment to mention the great job of the BTC and the race organizers for their recognition of and respect paid to the Boston bombings! Each participant was given a blue and yellow ribbon to wear, proceeds from each entry fee were donated to the American Red Cross, a blood drive was held at the finish, and just before the start, there was a moment of silence and a prayer for those affected by the tragedy. Many thanks to those in charge! OK, so I mentioned my legs felt less than stellar jogging up the hill to the start. The race started, and as a few have referenced in the passing days, I "sandbagged" the first 5K. The idea was to warm up and save some energy for that treacherous second 5K. The "sandbagging" was to no avail! My ever supportive family was at the end of the first 5K and it took all I had NOT to jump in the car with them and call it a day. I forged ahead, knowing the dreaded Stone River was to come.
Now, over the past few years, I've run up Stone River. I've ridden up Stone River. Hell, I've done hill workouts on my bike up Stone River! I know Stone River! Or so I thought! I guess I'll say, I was reintroduced to Stone River in 2013. The thing I've never done is run/race 5 miles before Stone River. I hit the bottom and thought this is where the hill workouts will pay off. Well, I made it to the top, but the best description I have of my ascent is taken from a friend's quote. I did the "Stone River Shuffle", which is a combination of shuffle/walk/cursing fit to the top! Along with not remembering the year of my last Statue 2 Statue participation, I also forgot the streets directly following Stone River. Brookwood to Overhill Road ain't no picnic!
After all of that, this is my learning experience! After all the climbing, you have to descend. I LEARNED I cannot run downhill, or at least, I cannot run downhill very fast! You see a big descent in front of you and the legs say, "GO!!", but the mind, my mind, was saying, "I think I'm going to face plant"! I guess my next training routine will involve relearning some leg speed! I crossed the finish line in 1:02:20. Good enough to win my age group and ecstatic to see my family at the finish! I'm very pleased with the age group finish, very pleased I ran the race, but a little disappointed to not break an hour. I guess there's always next year!!
All in all, I have to say this. The Statue 2 Statue 15K is a staple in the Birmingham race scene! It's unique qualities of a point to point race, a 15K, starting under Vulcan, which Wikipedia lists as the 8th tallest statue in the United States, and finishing near a replica of Lady Liberty makes it a MUST DO for all runners! Yes, it is a bit of a challenge, but is that not what we all as runners seek from time to time, a challenge! I hope to see you all there next year!