How to run up a mountain

Let me begin by saying, I live in the mountains. We have hills in the mountains. Lots of hills. Sometimes I feel like a turtle inching my way up, and other times, I feel like a gazelle bounding to the top.

Said hills

Last weekend I ran the Biltmore Classic 15k. During this race, I was in turtle mode. This is not to say I was not happy with my 1:27:06 finish time, which placed me 5th in my age group. Not too shabby. But I hurt. By the final miles of the race my legs were shaking and in more pain than I’ve ever felt. 

After I run a race I find it helps me to analyze mile by mile what I did right and what I could have done better. So here it goes:

Miles 1-2: Mile 1 is always the worst! I was stiff and sluggish and didn’t get in my “groove” until the end of the first mile. As luck would have it (or not!) the beginning of mile 2 was a slow, brutal climb. And I mean, brutal. I slowed my pace a bit so as not to “burn out.” I think I probably could have slowed just a little bit more to save my legs.

Miles 3-5: Mile 3 was pretty much down hill, so I flew. Once again, I definitely should have taken it a little bit easier, I think my quads would have thanked me. Mile 4-5 was up a windy road full of switch backs. I am pretty happy with my performance through this section. I stay focused and really used my legs to push up the hills. I also took some water at mile 4. I always try to walk a bit as I take my water or Gatorade. Partly so I can take a breather, but mostly because I don’t want to spill sticky liquid all over myself.

Mile 6: Yuck. Mile 6 was one more big push to get to the House. The final hill was tough and I almost walked, but pushed through. I maybe should have walked. But I didn’t and I slowed way down from that point on. But it was awesome to actually run right in front of the house! There was a fog lingering all around it and it was sort of eerie, but beautiful at the same time. I took some water and two GU Chomps here as well.

Mile 7-9: Boring. The run got pretty flat and uneventful during the final miles. I really had some self talk going on at this point. I spotted two girls in pink that seemed to be running a pretty decent pace and decided to let them pace me for the remainder of the race – which leads to mile 9-9.3…

Mile 9-9.3: Pink girls started sprinting!! And I mean SPRINTING! I had made  the committment that I would stick with them no matter what, so I sprinted too. It was painful and awful, but I ended up out kicking them at the very end! My final kick is actually one of my strengths. I seem to always be able to pull that final burst out of nowhere at the very end of a race, no matter how painful the run has been up to that point.

Overall thoughts? Well I am still sore two days later, but my legs are feeling better. I also beat my first year time of 1:31 and some change, by almost 5 minutes. I’m pretty happy with that. But I was hoping to finish just under 1:25. I didn’t make it. So what? I ran. I ran hard and I feel I did my best that day and that’s all I can ask for. I have a strong, healthy body that carried me 9.3 miles!! Amazing.


This is an official race photo proof, so it’s pretty blury.

9.3 miles later...

 What’s next? The Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon June 5. Report to follow!


3 responses to “How to run up a mountain

  1. You make me proud in so many ways!

  2. That’s what mama’s are for!

  3. Congratulations on the five minute improvement. And good luck at the Downhill at Dawn.

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