About a year and half ago my sister in law, Jennifer, took me on my first trail run up to Sourwood Gap in Montreat( about 6.5 miles). I guess you could sort of say it was life changing because it ignited something in me that I have not exactly been able to pinpoint. I had run my 1st half marathon a few months prior but still was not considering myself a runner. Honestly I had always said running about 3 miles was good for me, all I needed. Jennifer always told me those were the worst miles because that was like the warm-up. But still I thought a 5k was good. Then I started upping my mileage and doing 10ks. I remember my first 7 mile run, seriously I have never been sorer! Around the time that Jennifer took me on that run my best friend, Annie, was starting to train for the Black Mountain Marathon. I thought it would be fun to run more trails, and spend time with my best friend, so I started “training” with Annie, never intending to run the race. Well I am sure you see where this is going! The race was already full by the time I knew I wanted to run the marathon, so I began hounding the race director begging him to put me on the wait list. It wasn’t until a week before the marathon last year that I knew I would actually be running the race. So last year was my first marathon. Not only was my first marathon on trail but it seemed to be I picked one of the hardest marathons around. Also I need to mention the race that accompanies the The Black Mountain Marathon is the Mount Mitchell Challenge. The Challenge runs along with the marathon from the center of Black Mountain all the way through Montreat and up the trails to the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the parkway the marathoners turnaround and head back to town and the Challengers continue on to the top of Mount Mitchell. Might I add that is the highest peak east of the mississippi. Personally I think they are crazy. The marathoners gain about 3000 feet in elevation and the challengers gain about 4300. CRAZYTOWN!
Last years marathon was amazing and tough, and put me in shock that I could run a marathon up and down a mountain. It also began my crazy year of running! I ran another 1/2 marathon, then a couple of 30ks, and then another marathon! Last Saturday I did my 2nd Black Mountain marathon and my 3rd marathon in a year. I am thankful that this trail is literally in my backyard since I live in Black Mountain. I am also thankful I get to train on the trail because I feel like I know every nook and cranny of the route. I have run that trail in rain, snow, sun, wind, cold. Any condition we trained in it. This year winter has been pretty mild. My last long run before the marathon I was running in shorts and a t-shirt. The two weeks leading up to the race brought an ice storm and about 6-8 inches of snow! It made me excited because at this point in my training I was pretty sick of the trail and running in general. This brought a new challenge and adventure! The nice thing about the snow is it covered all the rocks! There are so so so many rocks! The bad thing about the snow is it felt like running in sand for miles upon miles! Thankfully I had my trusty Ice Spikes screwed into the bottom of my shoes to help with traction!
Crossing the finish line this year with my best friend by my side (who I have known since I was 10), with our friends and family cheering us on, being announced as locals and coming in as 9th and 10th female on such a grueling race in crazy conditions was one of my proudest moments! We trained with such an awesome group of women from Black Mountain! We put in a lot of miles, a lot of sweat, probably a few cuss words and some tears. We battled through sickness and injuries, and we finished…..strong! I was welling with hometown pride! This is such a well known race. People from all over the country come to run this race! The amount of support and volunteers is mind blowing. I loved seeing all the fire and rescue guys head up the mountain on Friday afternoon to prepare their aid stations and to camp out. I loved seeing our friends working at aid stations. Knowing there would be a welcome yell and shake of the cow bell motivated us to go further. Such an epic wonderful experience! This was my best marathon yet in terms of how I felt both mentally and physically. I never bonked which I am prone to do. I already can’t wait until next year!
Thanks for listening. I felt this needed to be documented and written down. I felt like it would help you know me more. It might even help the people who run 5ks who say they will never run a marathon change their mindset or just motivate you to move and challenge yourself.
If you are interested in reading more about the race here is a great article and pictures in The Asheville Citizen-Times.
The above photo is on top of Pinnacle looking out over all the mountains. This is up a trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway and is on the day Annie and I ran our last long run.
The warmest day of the year sitting on the parkway enjoying a break and a snack on our long run. Race day this was completely covered in snow.
Annie and I on race day almost done with the trail! I’m in the peach.
Photo Credit: Mindful Wanderer
Seconds to the finish!
Photo Credit: Jennifer Cole Images
What you aren’t seeing here is my black and blue ankle from literally kicking myself for 26 miles!
Photo credit: Jennifer Cole Images
To celebrate we had incredible Hole Doughnuts, some Veuve, and a soak in the hot tub!
Treat Yo Self!
Thanks for reading!