Mt. Mitchell Marathon and Challenge:
After a long winter - this race proved to be a welcoming test of my training.
We started at the usual 7am (report at 6:45). The skies were clear; the temperature was in the 20s, and there was snow forecasted.
Because I had been reading about the adverse weather conditions, and because I was cold the weekend of the Woody Gap + Coosa adventure, I overdressed, so I was warm when I started. (I learned lessons this weekend - as I do with long races).
We started in downtown black mountain, and we progressed on pavement towards Montreat College. From there, usually we would have headed up the single track towards the toll road, which was a wide dirt road with lots of rocks, but this year, again becaues of the snow, the course went up the steep, steep paved road in Montreat College to the Toll Road.
At the first aid station, everyone quickly stopped to put on their yak traks or other traction devices. From there, the usually dirt road was covered in snow - deep snow. I was glad to have some traction devices over my shoes. The 4 wheelers had left tracks and had hardened the snow, but it was still slow going. Even with the traction devices, much of my effort was spent trying to stay vertical. The sections for feet placement were narrow, and I had to balance and keep running.
We reached the turn around point for the marathon at the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Challengers kept going while we turned around. Going downhill was a welcome reprieve from the climbing. The upper section had mostly melted, so I was able to start the trek downhill with speed. I think it was pent up frustration from the slow going and balancing act to the turn around that helped the speedy downhill. Here, again - the lesson of not wearing too many layers -
After we took the toll road downhill, we hopped back on the pavement and took the trail and road back into black mountain.
23 miles later and 3 hours and 48 minutes later - I was done and had finished 3rd overall for women. i was sooo excited!!!
It was a great race, and it provided me with confidence to race longer distances.