Mt. Mitchell Challenge, 2018

Where: Black Mountain/Mount Mitchell State Park, NC

When: February 24, 2018

Stats: 37.4 miles, 5,220 ft elevation gain

Bottom Line: an epic, well-organized mountain race

The Mount Mitchell challenge was a total blast! It was an epic day on the mountain for me for many reasons. This was a run I had been wanting to do for a long time. I had run the marathon (aka “fun run”) twice. But I knew one day I wanted to actually go all the way and summit Mt Mitchell–the tallest peak in the east. To my delight, I got in the lottery this year and was so stoked but completely nervous. The first cut off for challengers is the turnaround point for the marathoners. You have to get about 14.5 miles up the mountain in exactly 3 hours and 15 minutes to be allowed to continue on to the summit.

Since I had run the marathon the past two years, I knew the course and terrain very well… I knew exactly what I had to do. But I am a back-of-the-packer for sure, so I had mentally prepared myself for possibly missing the cut off. Long story short, I made the cut off with two minutes to spare! I had one of my best buddies running with me to keep me on target and I also had a lot of inspiration to help me up the mountain. (See my previous post for all the details.) It felt really good to be running for something bigger than myself. No doubt it played a large role in this race being successful (and meaningful!!) for me.

All chipper at the beginning

The race begins in downtown Black Mountain. From the start, you run about 2.5 miles on the road before you head through Montreat and begin your journey up the mountain. You follow some lovely single track for a couple of miles before hitting a wider but very rocky off-road trail. You run this up to the Blue Ridge Parkway – which serves as the turnaround point for marathoners and the cut off point for challengers. From the parkway you have a few more miles of pavement. The theme here is up, up, up! Closer to the summit, we were able to take an awesome singletrack trail up to the top (the Old Mitchell Trail.) It was described by the race director as “burley.” And lemme tell ya, this trail did not disappoint! We were creeping and crawling over wet, slick boulders and shuffling through a gorgeous forest until we finally reached the clearing at the top.

There had been rain off and on throughout the day so the views were hidden in a cloud at the summit. But man did it feel good to pause and take it all in!

I know this will not be my last Mount Mitchell run. I think I may even go for the summit again next year. 😉

Who I Run For

A few days ago I took to social media with a favor to ask of my fellow special needs mamas… and I was overwhelmed by the response! These amazing people are going to help push me up the mountain on Saturday as I attempt the Mount Mitchell challenge. 40 miles of mountain running of the tallest peak in the east.

I am running for those who can’t. One of those names is my son. Each one will be sharpied onto my body… and each one will have a mile dedicated solely just for them!! I’m excited to run for something bigger than myself. Here’s to hoping Saturday is a success.


Last weekend was a fun 50K. Next weekend is the Mount Mitchell challenge – 40 miles of mountain running up the tallest peak in the east! This is what I’m doing in the meantime…

Psst…. use code ALB20 for 20% your purchase of a Range Roller!

Cloudland Canyon 50K, February 2018

Where: Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA

When: February 10, 2018

Stats: 32.5 miles, ~4,000 ft elevation gain

Bottom Line: a scenic, fun and beginner-friendly 50K

Recapping my epic day on the trails this past Saturday!! As a kid, I grew up visiting Cloudland Canyon and playing in the waterfalls. I love this place and I love running it even more. The 50K this past Saturday was epic in many ways. This was my fourth 50K and I think I enjoyed it the most. Mild weather, downpours beginning at mile 18 and a new PR for me. Grand totals: 32.5 miles, around 4000 feet of elevation gain and I finished in 8 hours 4 minutes. I was pretty happy with that.

The first 13 miles of the race are incredibly scenic as you run around the canyon rim, down inside, then up past the waterfalls. There are something like 400 steps you have to climb up… but the views are magnificent. The next part of the race is pretty runnable through some back country trails as well as mountain bike trails.

I had run the first part of the race (~13 miles) twice before and I’d run the remaining trails while doing the Chattanooga 100 relay this past December. So I knew exactly what was in store. That probably helped a lot for finishing with a new PR. Glad to have my hubby and running buddies there at the aid stations. A great day in a great place!


Hi. I’m Lauren…a mom to 3 special needs kiddos (one home grown and two through adoption,) a biochemist, trail runner, outdoor junkie, personal trainer, nutrition coach and all around nerd.

I’m running two 100 milers this year. This is my journey. But why a blog? I’ve had so many people message me to ask for advice, tips and info about what my training looks like for my chaotic and crazy life. Time is limited for me, so sometimes I have to get creative. Why would anyone care about me, a middle-aged, back of the pack, mother runner?

1. Because I’m not an athlete but I play one on this blog

2. I never ran until I was in my 30’s and never dreamed I’d be running ultras after 3 kiddos

3. I want you to know that it’s ok to be a back of the packer (it’s where the party is at)

4. Maybe you’ll find the inspiration to run 100 miles, too.

Welcome to my world!