Hills? We Have Hills In Florida?

I have a few road race traditions I follow, and one of them is a race on Memorial Day. Except this year, the race was moved to a new venue. A new, pain-inducing venue.

For almost 30 years, this 5K was a nice, mostly flat, fast course through a small, wealthy bedroom community north of here. Lots of shade, some waterfront views, and one small elevation change. And a collection of weird food selections at the end. Think cold pizza, yogurt, and fresh fruit. You know, a typical breakfast of champions, and let’s be honest, not what most of us were eating for Memorial Day barbecues. No chance of eating the same thing twice in a day.

I guess that nice little community got tired of us.

The race got kicked out. But it found a new home. The start/finish area is in a beautiful park setting along the Intracoastal, with a long dock, real restrooms, and plenty of parking. And it was only about two miles from the previous venue.

Sounds good? It was — until the the start/finish line was revealed. Both were uphill. And it did not get better from there. Four additional hills featured in this race. I had no idea the course would look like this. I was fortunate that my workouts include bridge running, but after the uphill start and the next climb (about 3/4 mile from the start) it was obvious that not everyone was prepared for the upward slog. And going downhill hurts, by the way. Sure, gravity does some of the work for you, but it’s still a shin-killer.

And those of you who actually live in mountain country, or places with real hills, can stop rolling your eyes and referring to our hills as old asphalt-covered sand dunes. For the record, that is likely what these were. We get you don’t take them seriously. Just humor the flat-land runners for now.

I am proud of that last race of the season (I know a few of you are shocked, but here in Florida June, July, and August are just painful months for road-racing). Seventeen runners in my age group and I was ninth. No water stations due to pandemic rules, but I carried my own. The local Boy Scout troop did an admirable job cooking a pancake breakfast, though I think they underestimated just how much some hungry runners can scarf down when they aren’t handing over money for the meal.

I assume this race has been moved to this venue for good. I won’t dread it the next time. Just add a few more bridge runs beforehand.

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