Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mt. Mitchell Challenge

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.

When I reached the parkway, the sun shone directly on me, and I could see the summit, and commissary ridge in clear view.  I remembered last years nastiness, and the year prior when over a dozen were shuttled down via ambulance due to hypothermia.  I remembered how much fun I had to splash in the mud and run my tail off of the finish both of those years.  I also knew that had I not gotten sick 3 years ago and turned around at the parkway in 2008 this would be my fifth finish at Mitchell running the 40 miles.  I reached the parkway in 2:49 minutes, faster than what I expected.

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. 


mkirk said...


I think you and I had the same bug this week. Unbelievable that you went for it. I had to take Thursday off work and definitely not feeling close to 100% yet.

Sultan said...

Dude, it was hard to run in that state....hope you feel better soon.

0e763718-4087-11e0-b70b-000bcdcb471e said...

Way to tough it out Sultan.
I now have the sick bug, Mitchell must have weakened my defenses.
- Stan

Audra said...

Way to finish! It feels good to finish a tough run instead of turning back. Way to push through! Hope you're feeling better now!