Saturday, March 31, 2001

RR Ellerbe Springs, NC

Race Report
Ellerbe Springs Marathon
Ellerbe Springs, NC

Hi y'all! How was your dream vacation? (April Fool!).

Our mini vacation was OK but it didn't start out on a good foot. There were severe thunderstorms and lots of rain last Thu & Fri (which we needed) but they caused the cancellation of our scheduled flight on Fri morning out of Sarasota. We had to scramble to Plan B which was drive to Tampa and catch a direct flight that evening to Raleigh, NC. By the time we got our rental car, had some dinner and drove 100 miles south to Rockingham, it was almost midnight when we checked into our hotel.
Then I had to get up at 6am to drive to Ellerbe to find the race location, pick up my race package, etc. The marathon started and finished at the Ellerbe Springs Inn, a 140-year old Inn that is quite rustic and charming.
Fortunately Ellerbe is a small town of only 1200 and the Inn was easy to find and I had lots of time to get ready and line up at the start line with about 200 other runners - mostly locals and in-state runners.
The locals warned me that the course was very hilly for the first 20 miles with one monster hill at 13 miles. They didn't lie!

I decided to run the course smart and easy. Yeh! Right!
Instead I foolishly ran the first 17 miles of hills hard and fast until my body started telling me that it didn't like me anymore! I wasn't surprised when I slammed smack dab into 'THE WALL' at 22 miles. It had been a long, long time since I ran into 'THE WALL' in a race and based on how ugly and painful it was on Saturday; I hope it is twice as long before I hit it again!
I was quickly humbled into walking and running (mostly walking) the next two miles before my body recovered sufficiently to let me run the final two miles.

I finished in 3:46 which was actually a reasonable time for that course and good enough for 1st place in my age group. So I hustled back to the hotel for a quick shower and to pick Nicole up to go back to the awards ceremony. They provided some Southern cooking - chicken and dumplings - for lunch and the awards were kind of neat. Instead of the standard running trophy that I usually give away (or don't stay to collect) they awarded hand-made pottery bowls for baking apples or onions.
The race organizers, volunteers and locals were very friendly and hospitable.
Even though the course is a bitch, I would consider going back to do it again - and hopefully run it smarter and faster!

After the awards Nicole and I explored Ellerbe which took about five minutes - six stores and three of them are antiques! So then it was back to Rockingham to explore that town and that took about ten minutes! If we were race car fans it could have taken longer since Rockingham is the home of the North Carolina Speedway and there was some kind of race going on?

Later we went back to the Inn for a great Southern home-cooked dinner. We asked if there was a theatre in the area and were told that there was a drive-in theatre in a neighboring town. I thought that all of those relics had been torn down? However my legs were still sore and not game for that torture so we had to make do with TV and microwave popcorn in the hotel room!

On Sunday we decided to drive back through Pinehurst to check out the golf courses, clubhouse and hotel. They are all luxurious and elegant and piqued my interest in going back for a golf vacation. Maybe next year we will go for a week - play some golf and run the marathon again. Anyone want to sign up now?

Driving north from Pinehurst to Raleigh we ran into thunderstorms with 1/2 in hail. We had to stop under an overpass to protect the windshield of the rental car! Sunday evening we visited with an old friend and work mate from Dallas who now lives in the Raleigh area.

So other than my encounter with 'THE WALL' it was a very enjoyable weekend and as usual we visited places and saw things that we would never had enjoyed except for my crazy hobby?

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