As expected . . . it was hot and tough. The Ellerbe Springs Marathon is always tough.
But this years re-run was especially cool in two ways: 1) we ran what will probably be the new, Ellerbe Springs marathon course (the Ellerbe Springs Inn has now closed and race headquarters will move). 2) But the BEST thing was that the 20-30 folks running yesterday in Ellerbe, NC were joined by MTC military members serving our country in other locations: 5 Afghanistan sites plus Qatarand Kuwait!! At each location they staged their own version of the Ellerbe Springs marathon . . . complete with Ellerbe Marathon medals! I can't tell you how many times I thought about this during my day. I really felt like I was a part of something very special.
|From Camp Arifjan, Kuwait|
I drove to Ellerbe Friday afternoon, set up my hammock and then went to meet Charles West and Mike Day for pre-race dinner. Mike was running Doug "Boogieman" Dawkin's first every May Madness 50k while I was doing the marathon. Both MTC events and both withing a couple of miles of each other!
Camped the night before at the Community Center. Tim Preble and Will LeMieux were both there and we swapped lies for an hour or so before I headed to my hammock. I always sleep so good in that hammock!
This may surprise some of you but I a slow runner! And quite honestly I've recently turned more into a moderate paced walker! So, with that in mind I started my marathon just as it started getting light (about 5:45am). Brazenly, I lined up on the front line at the start!!
My plan for the day was to run some of the downs but walk the vast majority of the marathon. Turns out I probably ran about 3 miles and walked everything else.
Surprisingly, I got passed by 4 runners at about mile 4-5 I believe! Stephanie Carter, Don Dees and two folks I didn't know. Thank God they had started early too! (Race was supposed to start at 8 am!). No real chance to talk much. They stopped for water so I passed them back . . . but that didn't last long!
The new course pretty much follows the old course except missing the part to and from the Inn. To compensate they (that is Jerry Lindstrand) added a few more and bigger hills on a new road called Green Road). The things about this course is there are no flat areas - you are either going up or down. And some of the hills rival Bethel Hill in my mind . . . long and steep! Tamera Hardee suggested the race should be called HELLerbe or HILLerbe! PERFECT!! And after 9 am there was virtually no more shade! Brutal on a 90° sunny day! At Boogie it might be 95-100+° at the start but the sun goes down soon. Here the temperatures just keep climbing all day long! Both are hard.
As I recall, it was at about mile 5 when my hip started complaining. By mile 9 it was toast. The cant of the road on the turns and the heavily crowned parts just reeked havoc on my hip. So from mile 9 to 26 I just suffered . . . it never let up. I didn't run a step after mile 9. The good news is that I didn't do any damage to it! Today there are no lingering ill effects. But this was a painful experience.
The real saviors of the day were Lee Watson, Will LeMieux and his friend. These folks were our roving aid stations! Fluids, snacks and encouragement all day long. There is really something amazing about great people like these who give up a day in their life to make a day in YOUR life better! Race volunteers are just awesome! And these were some of the best! Handling 40 runners for 26 miles in hot temperatures is HARD! Thanks folks!
|Will and his friend!|
By mile 10 the sun was high and no clouds! Burning hot! No shade to speak of. Temps got into the low 90s by when I finished. Everyone suffered! It was brutal. We just haven't had much hot weather to help us adjust. This wouldn't have been so bad if it were July or August when we have had time to acclimated some.
Mark had put out fluids for folks but I was using my Nathan with a 2 liters capacity so I didn't need to re-fill until mile 20. I was almost out so I filled up to a little more than 1 liter, trying to leave plenty for runners coming up. The water was super hot by being in a clear plastic container in the direct sun! But water is water! Heck . . . once I swallowed it, my body would cool it off!! Seriously!! I thought this would be plenty to get me to the end . . . wrong!
Besides the water, I needed three more bottles of Gatoraide from Will and Lee. Without those I don't know what I would have done . . . just walked up to a house and beg water I guess! I started taking Salt Sticks at 7 am and took one every hour. Only once did I start cramping up so I took one extra when that happened. Post race I had another Gatoraide and then 2 Buds! Two huge fountain drinks driving home and then 97 oz of water before I returned to a normal colored piss!
At about mile 21-22 Jerry Lindstrand pulled up beside me and started walking. I have heard so much about Jerry, but I had never had the opportunity to actually meet him! Jerry announced the he was DONE running and ask if he could walk in with me! Hell yea! Just an awesome time getting to know Jerry. I found out that he was the one that made the course changes for the new start / finish. I cussed him awhile for that! What a great guy! The folks around Rockingham / Ellerbe all have nicknames. Jerry is "Godfather" plus a new one I gave him at about mile 24 when we were talking about what a nice course this was!! After 200 stories by each of us, we finally finished!
I found Mark Long inside the Community Center (air conditioned!) and got my medal. It's frickin' huge! Look at the picture of the Kuwait finishers to see the medal . . . they got exactly what we got! So many fun folks to spend some time with were hanging around: Charles and Blanca Akers, Rosemary Baxley, Jerry Lindstrand, Will LeMieux, Lee Watson, Mark Long, Mike Walsh and others!
Plus there was a "friend" of Charles' who ran this as his very first marathon! Can't believe he listened to Charles . . . bet he won't make that mistake ever again!! And there was a cute puppy that just sort of adopted everyone! So cute! He was Donnie Richardson's dog (Donnie lives right on the corner and must be the president of the community center we were using as headquarters.) If that pup hadn't been Donnie's dog I'm SURE he would have gone home with someone! Maybe even me!
I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had a 3 1/2 hour drive and dogs waiting on me.
I'm thinking that maybe my hip needs more time. Then, I need to re-start running. Build up slowly. And lose some of this excess weight. We'll just have to see how it all goes. But I'm glad this one is DONE! Now to decide about Boogie in two weeks.