I had three things stacked up against me leading up to this race:
Injury-In the 2 weeks leading up to Mountain Mist, I had only run maybe 3 times. My right IT band was sore, and I had played it cautiously and stuck to the elliptical machine. Because of this, I'd had only one training run on the trails.
Weather-Friday had early rain, followed by 1-2 inches of snow, and then freezing temps. We were all worried that the roads leading up to the mountain would close and force the race to be cancelled. All day I was glued to my phone, checking for messages about the race. They said there would be a decision by Friday night and that it would come from the Huntsville Police Department. In all the previous 21 years, this race had never been cancelled. I was so jumpy and out-of-sorts all day as I waited. Finally, an announcement of a 24 hour postponement came! I couldn't believe they were able to pull that off!
Going it alone-Though I wanted it to be my husband Rick's 10th year too, he was injured and wouldn't be running. I decided to enjoy my experience as much as I could, but it was bittersweet to prepare for this race without him.
I was determined to make this race happen in spite of everything above!
I headed up to the mountain at around 6:15 a.m., taking Governor's instead of our usual Bankhead route (still closed due to ice). We were warned that the park would be icy, and they were right. I nervously drove 5 mph into the park and quickly found a parking spot, relieved that I hadn't wrecked Rick's car!
The race begins at 7:30, and we were able to stay warm in the Lodge until just before start time. It was around 15 degrees at the start and would warm to 40.
|Photo from We Run Huntsville Gregg Gelmis|
As the race began, I could not believe how icy the roads were and how it forced us to run so slowly! I watched people try to run on the ice and fall like dominoes. The rest of us gingerly stepped to the shoulder and ran nearly single file on the safer snow.
Once we entered the trails it got a little better but not much. I felt like I was constantly looking out for ice. It made it so hard to relax. With a time of 1:06, I made it into the Aid Station 1. This was much slower than I'd expected.
As I approached Powerline, I enjoyed talking with a guy from Atlanta running his 9th Mist and a friend, Ashley. Powerline was actually not muddy today since the mud was frozen.
My favorite part of the first half of the race was seeing the beautiful woods. It was just magical to see the snow all over the ground and branches. There were icicles hanging from every rock. I was just in awe of how beautiful it was. I was so glad to be running!
I ran the Stone Cuts section of the race with teammate Linda. You actually pick your way through some huge boulders, kind of like going through a small cave. I love this section! We enjoyed knocking down a few of the icicles and hearing them smash on the rocks.
Right before Aid Station 3, I realized I'd overdressed. Tights? Not needed today. Long sleeves either. Nor gloves, nor hat. I had tossed my sunglasses and ear warmer headband at the last aid station, and I tossed my gloves and hat at this one (though I never could find them back at the Lodge where they were supposed to be waiting when we finished--bummer). I was doing some back and forth with the 5th place girl (Anya), and she passed me here. My time was 3:10. This is Mile 16.9, but it is considered the halfway point since the back half is harder and more technical than the first. I knew my time would be well over 6 hours today.
I ran most of the back half alone, lost in my thoughts and focused on not falling (which I only did once and it was only to my knees). I took Advil at Aid Station 3 and never felt bothered by any pains, though I did notice a big blister on my big right toe. I also never felt too tired (was fueling with Mello Yellos, Gu, and Clif Bloks). Even on Waterline (huge climb near Mile 24), I felt okay. The mud started after Aid Station 5 as we descended into McKay Hollow. It was so slick that I could not run down as I usually do. By this point, I was telling myself, "You've done it!"
I ran to the finish and saw my husband and kids cheering for me! My baby was on top of Rick's shoulders. My son was shouting about looking at his snowman which I could not do! I was still so focused on the ground and on not slipping.
I finished 5th OAF (2nd local) and improved my rank as the race went on, so I am happy. Our race director, Dink, posted that the these were the worst conditions he had seen in all 22 years of the race. I picked an epic year to reach 10 finishes!
Katie MaehlmannBib 303 Overall place 69
O'Shan Point rank 83 Time 1:06:08
Fearn rank 74 Time 3:10:11
Final Rank 69 Final time 6:25:18
I received this message about the 10 time finishers:
Congratulations to our newest TEN TIME FINISHERS (in order of their tenth finish):
Welcome Class of 2016!