Anna Frost has wanted to run the Hardrock 100 ever since her first run on the course three years ago. After a couple attempts at getting in, she’ll be running the race for the first time later this week. In the following interview, Anna talks about how she fell in love with Hardrock, how her first 100 miler at The Bear went last year, how she’ll approach this race, and how she’s dealing with holding to a taper.
To learn more about the other competitors, read our 2015 Hardrock 100 preview.
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Anna Frost Pre-2015 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anna Frost at Dakota’s [Jones] mom’s house before the 2015 Hardrock 100. How are you?
Anna Frost: I’m good, thank you.
iRunFar: How long have you been wanting to run Hardrock?
Frost: Well, it was from when I first came out here to pace Joe [Grant]. That was three years ago now. I just came out here. I knew nothing really about the course or the race or the history or the place. I’d never been in those mountains. I came at them… pretty much my first run out here was up Handies. I’d asked to go for a run out on the course. We were at Handies and I was like, “Where’s the course?” “We’re on the course.” I just fell in love. I was like, wow, that a race could be somewhere so high, so big, so unmarked was quite amazing.
iRunFar: You tried for a couple years to get in. One year, when they still had an essay application option, you went for that.
Frost: Yeah, and they didn’t accept anyone that year from the essay. So I did the Bear 100 to qualify last year and then was just amazingly lucky this year to get in.
iRunFar: How did the Bear go for you last year?
Frost: It was great. I had a really good experience for my first 100. I don’t expect all of them to be as good as that. I went in super prepared. I had a really great crew with Roch Horton and Kath. I knew I had a big backing behind me to get that done. I didn’t have any pressure to do it for time. I just needed to finish it. I just had a really good day; physically and mentally I was just ready for it.
iRunFar: Do you think having that change or lack of pressure not only externally but internally, because all you needed was to finish. Did that perhaps add to you having a better race?
Frost: Yeah, I think just the whole environment there… I guess racing in general in America is a lot calmer. It’s a lot less like a circus than in Europe. For me, it automatically puts you in a better space. You’re already not buzzing around getting stressed out. I think, yeah, I went in it just prepared, relaxed, and with expectations to finish but no pressure on myself.
iRunFar: As far as races go, I don’t know which is more low key of the races that fill up. The Bear or Hardrock are both pretty…
Frost: Yeah, I guess a lot of people use the Bear as a qualifier, so a lot of people want to get into it, but also just because it’s a really great 100. It’s such a cool scene.
iRunFar: You’ve been here in Colorado on and off but mostly on for awhile now.
Frost: Yes, I arrived in the USA on the first of June. I took a little bit of a road trip and arrived into Vegas and picked up my crazy van. I drove up to Flagstaff and had a day in the Grand Canyon and then came over here. So I’ve been here for a month, yeah.
iRunFar: How’s your acclimation and training going here?
Frost: Acclimatizing was good. I guess that first week I was a little bit calm. I’d been traveling. I’d sort of been on a roller coaster for the first six months of the year with a little bit of injury still getting through that. I acclimatized pretty well, and then it was just getting in the mountains every day for a long day. I found it really good. The legs didn’t get at all battered. I seem to be recovering very well day to day. I’ve managed to get in good miles but not the entire course because there’s so much snow. So that’s put a little bit… I really like to go into a race that means so much to me knowing a lot about the race and knowing exactly where I’m going and feeling really confident with it. That’s been a little bit of a stress, but at this point I’ve just said, “Okay, well I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I can keep on track.” I’ve got three really good pacers that can take me through the dark in the last part of the course when I’m seeing flying porcupines or something going on strange. I’m sure they’ll keep me on track.
iRunFar: You’ve had one 100-mile race where you didn’t have any pressure or expectations; you just needed to finish. This one, there’s probably some external pressure. Is there any internal pressure to perform?
Frost: No, it’s always nice to have the race of your life no matter who you are or where you are or what it is. So, ideally, I’d love to do that, but at this point getting to the start line is the first goal. So far it seems like I’m going to do that. I wasn’t able to start Transvulcania this year. One of the hardest things for me is getting to the start line of a race. It’s hard. You’ve got to do a lot of preparation. You do a lot more in preparation than you do on race day. So for me, getting to the start line is a huge hurdle to overcome. So once I’ve done that, then it’s a matter of just taking the day as it comes. Yes, I’d like to have a mind-blowing, amazing day—record-breaking or whatever—beating Kilian [Jornet] even to the finish. But, I’m also open to getting in there in 47:59 if that’s what it takes.
iRunFar: You did mention you dealt with some injury earlier this year. Are you close to 100%?
Frost: Yeah, I got the MRI’s done on my back and my hips and they were perfect. It was strange because there was pain there, but knowing there was no bone damage was a huge relief for me. I think mentally I was then able to say, “Okay, let’s just sort this out whatever it is.” I think coming to these mountains helped. Doing long walking days up in the mountains—you can’t really run up here. I think that just straightened me out and twisted me up. I’ve had some good therapy while I’ve been up here, as well. I’m feeling really good.
iRunFar: You think the balance of maybe having run more earlier in the year and maybe switching to hiking just uses different muscles?
Frost: Yeah, I think it was using different muscles and maybe just giving myself a mental break being in the mountains that I really love and spending the day out there doing what I love rather than buzzing around doing all sorts of different things.
iRunFar: Being here in the San Juan Mountains which you said you love—who doesn’t?—have you found it hard now that it’s time to perhaps taper to not go out there every day and do five hours?
Frost: Yeah, it’s really, really hard to taper. It’s the worst thing in the world. I think if you’ve done a really good block of training, then you’re usually pretty tired at the time when you need to start tapering. I had the whirlwind trip to Western States to pace François [D’Haene] and that kind of coincided with being tired from training hard and needing to taper. So I just took a break and started tapering.
iRunFar: Since coming back it probably broke the string of training?
Frost: The hard thing now is that the snow is melting out so you can get over the different parts of the course that we haven’t been able to. So we did a day up Handies which was really nice mentally to get up there to that height. It was my first 14’er. It was the first part of Hardrock I’d seen. It was a good place to go and let off all my steam. Now I’m ready to race.
iRunFar: Now you’re ready to race and to rest.
Frost: And to rest, yeah.
iRunFar: It’s going to be the longest run you’ve ever done no matter what happens even on a good day. Are you going to approach the race any differently in terms of nutrition or pacing or effort?
Frost: No, I like going off at a steady pace and trying to keep it. I know that I’m definitely going to slow up on the day (days), but I’m just going to go at it with an open mind. I think with these races you have to be very flexible. I’m under no illusion that I’m not going to go into a dark, dark space, but I also know I can come back out of it and people do. Obviously if there’s a major injury going on or whatever, then you don’t come back from that. But these races you see people going to strange places and coming out and having a great day in the end. I’m prepared for that. I’m open for that. It’s going to be a long day, and I know that. I think you just have to keep fueling. If you feel like being sick, then be sick and start again. It’s not that pleasant, but it’s what people always tell me.
iRunFar: Do you do anything on the mental side to help get you out of those physical and mental lows?
Frost: Usually those come on later in the day, and I guess that’s the bonus of having pacers that can tell a really bad joke or tell you a good story or at least just be there so you can think of them or ask them a question or talk to them or hit them with your pole or something to take your anger out.
iRunFar: Who are you going to be whacking with your pole later in the race?
Frost: I’ve got Gavin McKenzie. We did Nolan’s—I crewed him for Nolan’s last year and he put on a huge effort. That was an extreme showcase of going to a really deep space and pushing through. Eric Skaggs is going to take me through the middle part and then Ron Braselton at the end. I’ve done more partying with those two than running, but it’s going to be a great time out there.
iRunFar: Maybe put that on pause for the next week and then on Saturday night…
Frost: Maybe Sunday… we might leave it until Sunday.
iRunFar: Congratulations on making this close to the start line and best of luck out there.
Frost: Thank you. You, too—good luck to you.
iRunFar: Bonus question for you, Anna. Have you had any interesting encounters with wildlife while you’ve been in the San Juans?
Frost: Yes, those flying porcupines. The bottom of my van is completely chewed apart. The dashboard is flashing with all the lights from where he’s eating the electrical wires. Right now my van is at the mechanics.
iRunFar: Hopefully you won’t have any of those sort…
Frost: If I do, I’m going to stab them with my pole for sure.