A personal blog post about the Black Mountain Marathon

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.

Atop Pinnacle.

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!

Diane - March 6, 2015 - 7:45 pm

Sunday, thank you for sharing your experience. Jerry and I are so proud of you, placing so high in the female category and just the awesome commitment you’ve shown in your running. Impressive friend! We love you!

Annie - March 6, 2015 - 8:36 pm

Awesome documentation of a year well done! Amazing to see all this written! You really have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time! So proud of you and thankful to have been by your side for most of it:))

Jessica Carr - March 6, 2015 - 8:56 pm

So amazing! I cant believe its only been a year and a half. What an accomplishment! So proud of you both.

karen mascaro - March 7, 2015 - 3:51 pm

Well I was just blown away! Such amazing tenacity from you two although I should have known, you and Annie never shied away from challenges since you were 10 and shoving big ol’horses around and competing in horse shows. So proud of you both.

Erica - March 7, 2015 - 5:45 pm

I love this blog and I am so amazed and inspired by the journey you have been on over the last year. Love you friend. Well done!!!

Catey and Curtis’ Castle LadyHawke Wedding

Curtis and Catey got married on a GORGEOUS fall day in September at Castle LadyHawke in Tuckasegee! Seriously the weather could not have been more perfect, the whole weekend could not have been more perfect. I am constantly so thankful for having the opportunity to photograph amazing couple’s weddings. I just can’t believe how fortunate to always feel so connected to my couples! Of course Catey and Curtis were no different. The first time I met them for a consult at Dynamite Roasting Co. in Black Mountain I felt like we were good friends just having coffee together. I love that so much! I actually feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record, but I really do just love my couples so much!

I hope you enjoy Catey and Curtis’ wedding photos. Another big shout out to Abby Moore for 2nd shooting with me again. You are awesome!

Also Michelle and her team from Occasions by Emily were spectacular! They did all the floral for the rehearsal dinner and wedding day. Also planned and coordinated the wedding day. I love a well run wedding! I can’t wait for our weddings this season together!

Black-Eyed Susan Catering is one of my favorite local caterers. I am always so excited to learn they will be serving and cooking at a wedding. Delicious food! I recommend the grit bar. It is heavenly!

Catey and Curtis are in love with their little Westie, Kevin Bacon. He even had his own suit!

I love being in the room as the bride is getting ready and being with all her girls. They take such good care of the her! This sweet bridesmaid put on Catey’s shoes for her.

Oh sweet first look. How I love you!

Is Catey’s hair not stunning!? Zhenya Lazarchuk of Chestnut Hill Salon and Spa was the mastermind behind that undo.

Seriously Catey! Stop it! You are SOOOO gorgeous!

This was the sweetest moment when Catey’s little brother caught a butterfly for her and gave it to her. I can’t help but think that means something special!

Catey is also a videographer so it was fun catching her set up for the ceremony in her stunning wedding dress.

Beautifully delicious cake by Magda’s Cakes!

Nathan White of Parkway DJ kept the guests moving all night!

 Much love to Curtis and Catey!

Molly and Heath’s Biltmore Forest Country Club Wedding

Today I am excited to share with you Molly and Heath’s destination wedding at the beautiful Biltmore Forest Country Club. When I first met Molly and Heath at our consultation we hit it off immediately. We had our Atlanta connection, being we are all from there and they currently still live there, but it was more then that. I just felt like they were old friends of mine from the start. I love having that connection with my couples. I find I have that a lot! There is a part of me that is so sad when their wedding is over. I think that is so important to have a comfort with your photographer. You are letting them into such an important day of your life.

This wedding was just so lovely! Cortney with Asheville Event Company did such amazing job planning this wedding! I am a huge advocate of getting a planner for your wedding day. Especially if you are having a destination wedding, which most weddings in Asheville tend to be. A planner can change your wedding day from being chaotic and stressful to a joy filled fun memorable day. They work all the logistics out from table linens, to transportation, to all the vendors arriving on time! As a photographer they allow me to focus on doing what I do best, photograph!

Molly and Heath what a joy it was to be there on your wedding day! What an incredible party!!! When it was over I was shocked, it seemed to fly by so quickly. You are surrounded by so much love and fun with your family and friends! Thank you for having me!

Reception: Biltmore Forest Country Club

Event Planning: Asheville Event Company

Make-up: Wendy Ballance with Blush Asheville

Hair: Amanda Hughes with Hughes Hair Design

Floral: Flora Asheville

Rentals: Classic Event Rental

Food and Cake: Biltmore Forest Country Club

Ceremony and Cocktail hour music: Ron Clearfield

Band: ATL Groove Factory  This band was INCREDIBLE!!!!!! To end the wedding with Don’t Stop Believin with the whole crowd singing and dancing along, you had me at “just a small town girl”.  Even I was singing and dancing, as I was photographing of course!

Trolley: Gray Line Asheville

Departure Car: Elite Limo

As always thank you to my incredible second shooter Abby Moore!!! You are awesome!

Oh these Jimmy Choo shoes!

Loved this embroidery inside Molly’s Rivini wedding dress.

The guys had a great time getting ready at aloft hotel in downtown Asheville.

Love this shot of the guys Abby took!

The ceremony was held at Biltmore United Methodist Church.

How delicious do these signature cocktails look?! The first was a Watermelon Jalapeño Margarita and the second was prosecco with raspberry!


Oh poor dad!!! It was a great party though!

I also got the sweetest thank you note from Molly’s dad! It is not very often that dad’s send me thank you notes.

That note will be cherished and read many times!

Thank you!!


Mara and Jon’s Biltmore Estate Engagement Pictures

As I mentioned in my last blog post featuring Mara and Jon’s Biltmore Wedding, I was doing these posts a little out of order. I was just so darn excited to share their wedding photos, but now I am equally as excited to share their foggy engagement photos at Biltmore. Mara and Jon are currently on their belated honeymoon to Thailand so it is fun to go back and reminisce about their wedding weekend in late summer. I know this might be a cheesy sentiment but I LOVE photographing love! It is so romantic and intimate. Each couple is so different in how they express their love for each. With Mara and Jon there is comfort and ease between them. They are so well connected. I adored being around them! Before I even decided to photograph weddings and engagements and families I always knew I wanted to photograph people. I couldn’t be a nature photographer or a product photographer, I needed people. I needed their emotions, whatever they may be.

Thank you Mara and Jon for allowing me to capture your love and your emotions. It was so much fun being with you for your wedding weekend. I hope Thailand is amazing!

Jon and Mara’s Biltmore Estate Wedding at Lioncrest

I am so EXCITED to share with you this gorgeous Biltmore Estate wedding at Lioncrest! I had met Mara and Jon two days before their wedding and did their engagement photos around the estate, and then the following day photographed their rehearsal dinner at Antler Hill Barn. I know I am sharing the photos out of order, but I just wanted to share the wedding 1st! I started out the day at the Inn on Biltmore with Mara and her girls getting ready while, Abby, my second shooter hung out with Jon and the boys.  I love this time because there is the pre-wedding jitters and excitement as the bride and groom are surrounded by their most beloved’s. I always feel so honored to be let in to such intimate moments between friends.

Mara and Jon opted for a first look. I can’t tell you how much I love a first look. It is such a sweet time between bride and groom and it really allows them to face the day together. Also we are able to take all the group photos before the ceremony and after the ceremony Mara and Jon were able to go straight to cocktail hour in the Lioncrest Ballroom. We did their 1st look on the knoll by the Inn. It is one of my favorite places at Biltmore. We are usually the only people there and the view is outstanding! After the 1st look we went around the estate to take photos and then headed to Lioncrest for the ceremony. We were so fortunate because the weather was perfect for the 1st look and when it was time for the ceremony a storm rolled through and a torrential downpour! Perfect timing! The Lioncrest Veranda provided the perfect shelter and scenery. It felt like we were in the forest but were perfectly warm and dry! I really fell in love with this venue!

After the ceremony Biltmore and Stacey with The Bloom Room and her crew flipped the ceremony site for the reception during the cocktail hour. It was amazing and gorgeous! After everyone had a delicious plated dinner it was time to party and dance. I loved all the salsa dancing. I wish I could move like that! Some of the guests tried to teach me but I proved to be a hopeless dancer. I left the salsa dancing to the experts and continued on documenting this amazing dance party!

Mozel tov to Mara and Jon! I truly enjoyed meeting your friends and family! I can’t wait to see what your future holds. I know it will be bright and surrounded by so much love!

Also a huge thank you to Abby Moore for being awesome!