So there’s this place called Ellerbe, NC. Population 1,027 where a group 1/10 of their population shows up to participate in my favorite marathon. At one point, Andre the Giant and Bennie Parsons (NASCAR) were a part of this town’s population (god rest their souls). 100 or so runners mixed with as many first timers as it has people running this event as a part of their long training run that day or people who ran a marathon the weekend before or plan to the next day. That’s the type of draw it has. Needless to say, you don’t show up in your marathon shirt from your prior marathon and expect to stand out. These people have tattoos of their hundredth marathon on their calves so you can see it as either you or they run by. Some tattoo their favorite running club on their body. Dedication to their sport. 8 aid stations, a super-courteous race director named Mark and a race reporter who both takes pictures and captures quotes for his story in what can only be presumed as the Ellerbe paper’s (maybe the Richmond Times?).
John, Jason and I ran our 8th, 7th and 4th Ellerbe Marathons respectively this year. Much to Cindy’s chagrin we actually trained for it. We all agreed this training paid off for the event. We did Yasso’s and hill training. We all agreed the late race heat and potentially a quick pace early made the last 4-5 miles hurt more than they should have. At mile 13 I did some math with Jason and thought a 3:20 time would be do-able and at minimum a race PR was well within reach. I kept the pace up until mile 20/21 when I was told otherwise by my body. My legs were fine, a little tired in the calves, but my stomach wasn’t great. I was eating and drinking but a stiff “gurgle or slosh belly” kept me from feeling great. I’ve been here before – it feels like you could throw up but you can’t. If you could, or at minimum have the belch of a lifetime then things would get back to good quickly. Unfortunately, that belch came about 5 minutes after the end of the race…though, it did feel great. I suffered up what is a bear of a last 4 miles and yes, “up” was a deliberate word choice. Even with a late race breakdown, I love this race. Finished 3:35 (pace: 8:15, Garmin Data is here) which was my 3rd best Ellerbe I think. Won 2nd in my age group and finished 8th overall. My 7th place finish went up in smoke where the only person who passed me in the race came steaming by me at mile 25. I loved thinking about pacing in with him but all I could do was think about it. Nonetheless, dumplings, iced tea, slaw and a 2nd place finisher’s mug awaited.
Good times. Next race? Not sure.