When is comes to track, Mitchell is professionally minded

It’s been a whirlwind year for track standout Kate Mitchell, a graduate of Lynnfield High School.

She graduated from Boston College in 2022 and landed a job at TJX Companies in Framingham. But her love of running beckoned back to BC for a fifth year to study for a master’s degree, thereby setting the stage for what turned out to be an unprecedented year of athletic achievement. It ended with a record-breaking season at BC, one that is continuing as Mitchell makes her mark on the professional circuit.

“I knew I had one more year of eligibility at Boston College, but I also had the job, so it was a matter of hoping that TJX would allow me to defer for a year,” she said. “Once they agreed, I decided to give it one more year and see what I could do.”

The record shows that Mitchell did it all and more, both in and out of the classroom. She doubled up on classes, condensing the two-year masters program into one.

Indoors, she won the ACC 800-meter championship in a record time of 2:03.00. She finished second all-time in school history in the mile (4:35.43). She advanced to the NCAA D1 Championships in the 800, just missing qualifying for the final and earning All-American honors.  Mitchell was also a part of the 4×400-meter relay team that set a school record at the ACC’s.

She picked up where she left off in the spring outdoor season, setting school records in the 800 (2:02.66) and 1500 (4:14.85) and winning the 800 at the ACC Championship meet.

Mitchell wrapped up her college career in June at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Women’s Division 1 Championship at the University of Texas. She easily qualified for the final with a second-place effort in the semifinals, running in 2:02.18, becoming the second BC runner to advance to the outdoor final. Unfortunately, Mitchell’s biggest battle that day wasn’t against the other women in the race; it was against herself.

The night before, Mitchell was sick with a stomach bug. By the time of the race, she was extremely dehydrated, yet she gave it the old college try, hoping for a boost of adrenaline to feel like herself again. She knew the minute the race started she was up against it. She crossed the finish line in 2:05.66.

“Instead of running conservatively, I just went for it hoping the pieces would come together,” Mitchell said. “It was obviously pretty hard to get ninth in a final when the top eight get First Team All-American, but as hard as it was not placing high, I was happy I went for it, knowing I left it all out there. Had I been fifth or sixth I’m not sure I would be at peace with that. So it’s hard to fail, but at least I know that I put it all on the table.”

Mitchell’s name is all over the BC records, holding five in all. Indoor, she set new records in the 800, 1000, and 4×400 relay. She set new outdoor marks in the 800 and 1500.

A two-time All-ACC Academic Team honoree, she was selected to the United States Track and Field U20 Championships 2022 All-Academic team.  In February, Mitchell received a Thacker Award – a postgraduate scholarship awarded to ACC athletes who have performed with excellence in the classroom and in athletics while demonstrating exemplary commitment to community. Mitchell was also recognized by the BC Athletic Department as the 2022-23 Female Eagle of the Year.

She started her new job at TJX shortly after returning from the NCAA meet. 

At the same time, she started training with Team New Balance Boston.

In July, Mitchell ran her first race representing the New Balance team at the USTFCCCA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. She clocked 2:03.22 in the 800 in the preliminary round.

“It was super cool,” she said.

Mitchell said she is still working out the kinks on how she plans to train with New Balance while working a full-time job. 

“I have been able to train on my own because New Balance training is pretty much the same time as my job,” she said. “I get up at 5 in the morning and get it done before work, but I’m trying to figure out how I am going to do it for next year. BC has a partnership with New Balance so the track team gets to work out at the New Balance track in Allston and they are going to have really early practices next year, so I’ll be able to have some people to train with. It also may be a bit of shadow boxing when I have to be by myself and it will be me versus the clock.”

Mitchell is qualified to run in the 800 at the Olympic trials in Eugene next summer, but her goal is to also qualify for the 1,500. 

“In the 1,500, there’s a higher ceiling for me, more so than for the 800,” she said. “I don’t have a ton of experience running the 1,500, but New Balance Boston is the best 1,500 training group in the world. They just posted a statistic; there have only been 12 American women to break (four minutes), but three of them are on New Balance Boston. In terms of putting the most people under four, it’s New Balance Boston that has the most. I know I have a lot more in the tank. My focus is on the 1,500. It will be nice having two options.”

With a full-time job and hours of training nearly every day, time is a precious commodity for Mitchell. But when the Falmouth Road Race organizers reached out to her to ask her to be one of the pacers at the Aug. 18 Elite Mile, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“It’s fun because my dad ran on the same track at Falmouth High when he was in high school, so it feels like my home track. They will have some of the best milers in the world coming,” she said. “I will run whatever pace the field agrees upon depending on what the time is. Everyone knows I’m the pacer. I just kind of help them get off, doing the dirty work. It makes it a lot easier for the runners who can shut down their brain until the last couple of laps when you have to wake up.”

Mitchell said she has learned a lot along the way, but running professionally is definitely different and more demanding than anything she has experienced to date.

“At the pro level, there is no room for error so it was a great learning experience for me at the Eugene meet,” she said. “I wasn’t thrilled with my result, but when you’re in high school you have so much room for error. In college, you have a little bit of room for error, but in pro championship racing you have to run a perfect race. That’s my goal to be able to run those perfect races.”