Being sick all week, I decided to put off the Mitchell Challenge, despite having run it 4 times prior. By Thursday I convinced myself to go out and run it, then that night a hacking cough and voiceless I thought to myself what a bad idea it would be to run up Mitchell in this state. The weather up there is unpredictable. I left the decision alone until 3:30am Saturday morning. I felt great, and the meds I was on were working. I sprang out of bed, pulled my shizzle together and hit the road.
I had been in bed in and out of work all week, so I was fine on sleep. I charged my shuffle all the way to Caminos where I met with Jay and picked up my packet. I knew I wasn't 100%, but I felt healthy enough to get out an run. I saw Savage and Jeramey at Camions and wished them an awesome adventure. Later I parked my car at the lake, and walked to the start where I saw many of my mountain running peeps. I was excited to be out on what turned out to be the best weather I have seen on Mitchell in February.
We took off at 7am, and I struggled to run at a decent pace, but pushed myself early on. Sickness coupled with poor conditioning forced me to slow my role. I ran walked up the toll road to the parkway convincing myself that I would turn around, then re-convincing myself I would push on several times. It was like a ping poing match going on in my head, all while the hacking cough came back. I was feeling miserable.
Without hesitation my body propelled itself past the parkway aid station and I kept running until I turned right on hwy 128 when I began hiking up that steep road. The horse trail was muddy, and I moved at a slow pace, but felt the sun give more strength. I busted a left on commissary ridge when Ashley Funderburk was on my tail, a fellow Sultana. I speed hiked up to the summit where slabs of ice appeared and I hop-scotched on dry rock riskily away and took off. I want to say I was at the summit in 4:45, then took for the downhill. At first I sped down hill, but then resulted to the same slower shuffle-speed hike pace. The hacking cough never stopped.
As I made my way down 128 I ran with Liz who then passed me on the parkway not to be seen again until the finish. She mentioned she was struggling. I pushed on to my favorite section, the downhilll toll road, of the Challenge. Usually, if I'm feeling good, this is the spot I blast it. Not happening this time, but made my way down to Appalachian Way. It was 7:15 minutes into the run when I hit the asphalt. I started doing all this math in my head to see if I could break 8 hours. After running hard for a while I convinced myself it would be 8:01 or longer, so I slowed my role and listened to the thumping of my heart beat. As I turned right onto a side street, and finally seeing the late I picked up my pace as I usually do, getting really pumped at the finish. I had two minutes to circle the lake to break 8 hours, and I was determined. I wanted to finish this run sub 8, albeit stick hacking out a cough. Running that last 100 yards I remembered the past finishes and how those runs went. As I veered to the right and crossed the bridge I saw the clock disappointingly read 8:09 and crossed the line in 8:14. Still happy to have finished in the condition I was in. Next year will be the penitential finish, and a hammer will need to drop.