Join 'In Clean Air'

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fletcher Frostbite 10k: Race Report

I stood on the crowded starting line literally squeezing myself between a 9 year old girl and a 13 year old boy... my goal, sub-38 minutes for 10k. Having just run 38:51 last month I was about to see what my solid return to training had brought out for me.

The Frostbite 10k in Fletcher, NC is run simultaneously with the 5k event.This resulted in 600 people running two different races all trying to get off to a great start together. We know what generally occurs though, 85% of those with toes on the actual starting line dash out for 50 meters of sprinting before creating a human blockade for the others. So on Sunday this is how the event began...

After the initial rush to the front and several near crashes involving inexperienced runners of all ages... the field of the 2 distances was off. We began with a loop on a fitness trail which found the first nine runners spread out in single file order in front of me, sitting in 10th. Once we reached the road we split into our own races, 5k right and 10k left.

"Great" strategic starting position (L. in blue w/ shades)

Simmer Down Now...
At mile 1 (5:47) I was in 4th place in the now segregated 10k race and still in sight of the leaders.

Aaron Saft was way off the front with already a 30 second gap and the 2nd and 3rd runners both leading me by about 5 seconds. We reached a long, long downhill which swept left and crossed over the interstate at one point before we leveled out. We then ran an out and back finger on a secluded dirt road. There were no mile markers in this section (mile 2 and 3) but steadily the gap increased between myself and the front runners.

At this point the goal was to stay patient but move forward with economy, which I felt like I did well despite the temporary set back in position relative to others. I was running my best and that ain't bad.

What is she laughing at??

"Lookin' Good!!" (???)
It is often difficult to tell by the comments of the oncoming field (in out and back situations) whether you are gaining or falling back or looking good or dying or whatever... these comments come from a wide range of runners. But I kept hearing positive feedback from folks in this section of the run. Again and again these upbeat comments gleefully spouted from people who seemed genuinely excited about the kind of running I was doing. So I guess it confirmed how I was feeling in this early section... great!

Grind it up
This positive reinforcement brought me to the base of the first (and only significant) hill which was going to be a grind. Let me point out that once we reached the top of this hill (still out and back section) we would head into the unknown for me, I was running this course blind. For all I knew the final 2 miles could be all up, all down or anything in between. What this allowed me to do was simple... I was free to run.

I ran up the hill with what felt like 90% effort. I was gaining on the number 3 runner, who had gapped me significantly, maybe 45 seconds at this point. I was gaining very slightly every so often and I chalked this up to variables in conditions. It was windy and hilly so there would be an ebb and flow in this portion of the course.  He was still off the front enough that I just focused on what I could control: my effort, my relaxation and my focus to move swiftly and of course economically. If I was feeling this well at mile 4 I could begin extending myself a little more toward my physical limits. So far my sub-38 minute goal was right on track.

10k winner Aaron Saft #1296, me #1123, & girl still laughing
Top o' the Hill to Ya
At the peak of the hill we ran into mile 4. We were back near the starting area and there was a good crowd presence which always serves up some energy. At the same time, the course grade gave way and we swooped downhill near the finish area and the track where the finish line waited. Here we also ran into more traffic on our 10k course rejoining the 5k. It was a bit of an obstacle course in sections with runners coming and going at a lot of different speeds and people not always aware of others around them. It is best to go with the flow in these situations, but some people were being very... bossy, about who should be running where.

This machine kills fascists
There was one lady who was participating in the 5k who had just stopped in the middle of the path and was yelling at everyone coming and going... "STAY LEFT!!! STAY LEFT!!!", but nobody listened, and why would we? We each stayed right or ducked and weaved between people, whatever worked. It was hilarious and sad to see her so helpless to fight the tide. I hope she eventually completed her 5k and gave up on race marshal fascism...

The crux
We continued onward and were back on a road on the final out and back section of the course. I could almost touch the 3rd place runner I had gained so much in the previous section. Honestly, I could have been being caught myself by this point... no clue, but it is a rule of mine to NEVER look back.

The correct mixture of paranoia and relaxation and do amazing things for fighting fatigue and breaking down barriers- but if you look back, you might as well stand still and wait to be passed. Keep your focus on moving forward, there is no defense anyway, it doesn't matter what is behind you!

Some get last minute timing chips 
Next time you hear the beep
At mile 5 (indicated by the 3rd place runner's Garmin-beep) I had pulled even for 3rd place and we were about 300yards from the turn around which would bring us to our home stretch, where were had just/were already running. I still held back a little bit out of respect for this runner, not knowing his abilities etc... A mile is a long way out to make a decisive move. But gradually I felt the gap widening until I was running by myself again.

Drifting apart
There is a moment when the synergy between two runners/ competitors is disconnected and you can sense the snap in the air as an emptiness. I used the void to my benefit and now put the hammer down, driving up a slight incline and back onto the dirt path where the "traffic police" had been "directing" us earlier. People were still running on the right... A short time later I was on the track and running the 200m turn to the finish line, chasing my sub-38 goal I broke the tape surprised to see that I had just run 36:40... 2:10 faster than January!

What stays with you
By no means a PR for me, but hands down the best race I have run since January of 2010. I was decisive, patient, relaxed and ran from within, what they call "organic running". I was able to enjoy a sense of satisfaction and joy from this running experience. The freedom allowed the run to happen as if an exploration.

I stopped by the expo for a bit afterward, grabbed my Age Group medal (3rd overall got me left off the podium... but top of the 30-34s... so I had that going for me, which was nice) and headed home to see Lovely Lynnea and baby Sylas:) Next month 2 races and then that race in Massachusetts. 


  1. You are wicked fast. Sounds like a great race and cheers to you for not being the crazy person trying to direct everyone "to the left". Ha!

  2. Awesome race and loved your race report! You are setting yourself up for a great day at "that race in Massachusetts."

  3. Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know...

    "There will not be any money, but there will be a PR"

  4. It's easy to grin / When your ship comes in / And you've got the stock market beat. / But the man worthwhile, / Is the man who can smile, / When his shorts are too tight in the seat.

  5. I have to laugh, because I've outsmarted even myself. My enemy, my foe, is an animal. In order to conquer the animal, I have to learn to think like an animal. And, whenever possible, to look like one. I've gotta get inside this guy's pelt and crawl around for a few days.

  6. wow, what a great, suspenseful, write up and race! always tough to decifir the motives and actions from other runners/cheerers in the race...looking forward to the next one...and yeah, that Massachusetts one sounds like it could be interesting too ;)

  7. Thanks for finding me!

    And yes indeed! What is that girl laughing at?!?


  8. Great race report, engrossing & entertaining. Congrats on the AG win!

  9. That's not a PR for you?! Damn, great time! Even better when you know you ran a smart, well-paced race.

  10. AMAZING!!!!!! Such a great run. Your conditioning is really where it needs to be for Boston. Sub 250?
    I really love how you are able to take us into your head and remember what you were thinking during each moment. My thoughts are normally "don't die...don't die...don't die.........whew, I didn't die" :)

    Seriously? That lady was trying to direct traffic DURING the race? nice.

  11. The woman laughing in that picture made me laugh.

    You are fast!!!


Want to Clean the Air? Post a Comment!