Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 Frozen Toe 10k / RNUTS 1 of 6

     Bloated, haggard and desperate, the middle aged fitness enthusiast approached the start line of the 3rd annual Frozen Toe 10k trail race. The circumstances were less than ideal and the repercussions for a sub maximal finish were extraordinarily high. This was no PR race (to the extent that such things can be discarded). No..., this race was about the very fabric of reality itself!

     Even the most casual of outside observers would inescapably notice that the weak and the infirm had yielded to the hearty and robust for participation in what could easily be considered the Roanoke Valleys premier extreme weather racing event (fate, however, would dictate that unlike in years past, extreme weather would play no role in todays event which rang in at a pleasant 55-60 degrees and clear skies.) Even among the hearty and robust, however, most were unaware of the dynamic forces at play in the Frozen Toe trail race. Perhaps less than a handful knew it was even possible for trail race results to leave the fabric of reality hanging in the balance.
Turns out 24th place does not get a medal, but in a quirk of fate it does get a 21 day supply of the HERBALIFE herbal cleansing program! Thanks HERBALIFE!

     "Reality", thought the enthusiast, "Reality is always changing anyway, so maybe its time for me to adapt to this new reality where guaranteed PR's are a thing of the past." Having failed to PR at the Drumstick Dash 6 weeks ago the enthusiast frequently found himself mulling over race goals and redefining his motivations. Sure, he had spent much of November and December focusing on strength training instead of cardiovascular fitness, so expectations of a PR at today's 10k trail race were far fetched to say the least. Still, this was a race, and mentally he had only one place to go...balls to the wall, give it all you got, don't stop, and cross the finish line on fumes with NOTHING in the tank!

     Realistic expectations could easily be a 49 to 51 minute race based on recent statistics. but realistic expectations wasn't something that the fitness enthusiast had a lot of experience with. Having ran this race every year since its inception back in 2010, the enthusiast wanted to go for a streak. The 2010 time was 58:31, still overweight back in 2010 following it up with a 47:30 in 2011 was a relatively simple task. Two consecutively faster times is nice, but it takes three to officially be a streak worth mentioning.

      With the pre race greetings, warm ups and announcements complete, the athletic field exchanged final well wishes and awaited the start horn...3...2...1...HORN BLAST.

Mile 1 included the 4/10ths mile asphalt stretch for spacing out and approximately 65' of net elevation gain, knocking it out in under 7 minutes was encouraging.
Mile 2 was rolling hills with about 80' of net elevation loss taking it out in 7:21 represented solid effort.
Mile 3 was essentially equal parts gain and loss, running that mile at a slower 7:55 was still consistent with the high end of recent training stats.
Elevation Profile as recorded by my Garmin.

Mile 4 included the most challenging hill climb of the route and around 100' of total net elevation gain...9:08 on that one tackling it with steady effort.
Mile 5 was rolling with about 60' of net elevation gain and running it in 8:08 still represented an above average effort, but the burn was starting to set in from lack of speed training at this distance.
Finally mile 6 and the sprint to the finish had over 100' of elevation loss, but with spent legs,  capitalizing on the elevation loss with faster speeds was not an option so finishing that with an 7:59 pace was not a strong finish, but still respectable given the lack of specific training.

     48:06 was the final time on the clock...36 seconds slower than last year. No PR, no 3 race progressively faster a matter of fact the only trend developing was one of failing to achieve better year over year results for two consecutive races in a row...reality as he knew it had changed!

     A weaker man, at this point, might give up or walk away from racing for good. Being enthusiastic about fitness in general though had given him insights that separated him from the "weaker man" mentality. "Actually, this was great result!" he thought, "And a great day all around. I ran hard, finished on empty, got to visit with a lot of  my race people and finished 4th in my age group, which is my best age group placement at this race yet!"

     He knew he was making a trade off to spend so much time focusing on strength training lately and he still walked away with a result that exceeded his greatest expectation of 49 minutes. Furthermore, the focus of his fitness strategy would soon be shifting back to speed which could only mean something good was in store for his next race on March Explore Park.

     Yes, reality had changed...with a VENGEANCE!

Final Results:  2012-time 48:06.59, pace: 7:49/M, Place 24/217 overall, 4/21 in my age group, 24/142 among men. Garmin Data Here


  1. I love it Phil. Exciting reading and had me running with you. Well wishes on continued success.

  2. I love your recap of the race. Great to see you again, and a very excellent performance. Hope to see you at another Mountain Junkies race soon.

  3. I'll be at most of 'em, David. Good to see you too. I look forward to following your training for Ohio.

  4. I enjoy each of your race reports with increasing enjoyment! Nice to see you there and talk some. We need to race again between now and March though! You don't have anything lined up?

  5. February is a bit of a slow month in the Roanoke area for endurance sports events. I did take note of a 3 race mountain bike series in Bedford, but I'm not commited. It would be a great month for a mud run or a tough mudder or something out of the norm. Let me know if you have any ideas!