The frozen toe 10k is held annually in Roanoke, Virginia, put on by a group called Mountain Junkies. Every year, hundreds of runners come out to compete in this race. This year was the perfect temperature, 16 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like 3 degrees. Definitely perfect weather for a race called “Frozen Toe!” This is the first race of the year in the Rnuts non ultra series.
This was my first time running frozen toe and I was excited! I made sure to sign up in time because it always sells out. This is a shorter race for me, as I usually do half marathon and ultra distances. Since it was shorter, my pace was faster, so it was still a hard race for me. The first 4/10ths of a mile were on pavement and the race coordinators told us that you needed to jockey for position before hitting the single track. There were 240 people that raced the frozen toe this year. Telling 240 runners that they need to jockey for position led to me running a 5:50/mile pace and realizing I needed to slow down before I blew up.
Once you got onto the single track, it was very narrow and difficult to pass people. It probably took 2 miles of stop and go traffic to get around everybody. I was worried about being cold, but after settling into a fast pace I stayed warm. My best advice in a race is to try to find people to pace with that are just slightly faster than you’re comfortable with and run with them. If the person that you’re pacing starts to slow down, just slowly pass them and work your way up to the next person.
Around mile 3 to 3 ½ there was a pretty difficult climb and you could start to see when people had not been training for hills. I was prepared from my usual mountain runs, so the climbs weren’t too bad to me. My pace slowed a bit on the hills so I could conserve my energy, but I caught back up increasing my pace on the downhills and the flats. The course was pretty rolling and almost all single track. Around mile 4 I saw one of my fellow runners and as soon as he saw me he took off. Despite all my efforts, I could never catch him, and finished a few seconds after him. I placed 54th out of 240 runners. My best advice on a faster race is to make sure you control your breathing, especially on the harder climbs. Overall, I loved this race and would love to run it again next year!