Anna Frost is the two-time Hardrock 100 defending champion, and after some hesitation, she’s back to run Hardrock again this year. In the following interview, Anna talks about what finally got her motivated to train for this year’s Hardrock, what that training looked like, and what she hopes to get out of this year’s race.
For more on Anna’s thoughts going into Hardrock, check out Eric Senseman’s recent long-form interview with Anna.
Anna Frost Pre-2017 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anna Frost before the 2017 Hardrock 100. How are you, Anna?
Anna Frost: Good, thanks. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. You were on the fence for Hardrock for a long time whether you were actually going to run. Even a year ago you weren’t sure and actually didn’t think you were going to be back. What finally motivated you either over that long term or short term to decide to give it a go?
Frost: Yeah, In the longer short term, I think it’s when you go for the registration. Dale [Garland] was on the phone saying was I going to do it? I couldn’t say no. That was that step. Then, it’s actually been a really big battle this year. Mentally and physically I’ve felt fatigued. I just haven’t had the mindset to get out there and plod around the mountains for hours and hours every single day. I love it. I love being out there, but it’s so different when you’re training so much for that. It’s definitely been a battle.
After Costa Rica in February, I was super fatigued for months. I feel like I’ve only just sort of in the last month maybe feel like I’ve got my legs back and got some energy back. I went out to Europe and did Zegama which was really fun. I just kind of got through it. It was an awful race, but whatever. I still got through it. I went to Madeira and it’s beautiful there and had a great time, but just mentally it wasn’t there, so I dropped out at half way. Until now, it had been pretty rough. It had been a battle.
I got back to the San Juans, and, obviously, it’s where I fell in love with. For me, Hardrock is basically what’s kept me running for the last four years. Without Hardrock to keep me dreaming and keep me moving, I think I just would have retired four years ago. For me, it’s really special for that and for every other reason. I fell in love with the San Juans. I fell in love with the Hardrock family. I fell in love with the people. I found the love of my life here. Hardrock for me is more than just loving the race. It’s a dream. It’s my livelihood now. It’s sort of what’s given me direction.
iRunFar: You’ve run it the last two years. You’ve won it the last two years. At the end of last year in the interview, you said, “I can just go be crew or a volunteer and be a part of the family that way.”
Frost: Yeah, I had to decide did I want to race it because I love the race or did I just want to be part of it because I love what it is? I came to it that I am still racing and I do still love it and I want to go out there and I want to challenge myself and push myself and give back to Hardrock what it’s given me. I feel like one more chance of that is what I want.
Over the last month, really because I really shortened my training, I’ve come back to that. I’ve come back to, yes, I do want to do Hardrock. I’m absolutely not in maybe the competitive shape I’ve been in the last two years, but I’m in good shape, I’m healthy, I’m fit, and I’m at the start line. I think that’s always the hardest part is getting to the start line. I’m going to be there, and I’m going to give all my heart and all my soul.
iRunFar: And you’re not physically burned out, and you’re not mentally burned out now?
Frost: No, exactly. I go into the taper—I took one week of taper—and I’m like, Yes, I’m going to relax and do nothing. When else do you do that in taper? You never do that in taper. You’re usually like, “Oooh, I just want to go running.” I’ve done everything I can until now. Now, it’s just getting to that start line and going.
iRunFar: What has that training looked like? What does a short, concentrated…?
Frost: It’s been a bit of a mess really. It’s been a little bit of everything. I’ve done some really big days up in the mountains on the course—long, slow plods up and jogging back down. I’ve done some high intensity stuff, so one-minute hill repeats. I’ve done kick boxing, which is an hour of beating the what’s-its out of a bag. Spin bike in the gym when it’s too hot outside for an hour… yoga… swimming… Basically it’s been a mix of short, high intensity because my motivation has been good for that. I’ve enjoyed going out and charging up a mountain.
iRunFar: And you come from that. You did that for a long time.
Frost: That’s what I did. So it takes you back to your roots when you’re training like you used to. It was enjoyable. You’d go out and train for an hour and get it done, and, then, do another training session later. It wasn’t going out for eight hours which is what I’ve usually done.
iRunFar: Which is what you did for the last two years.
Frost: So it’s just been a little bit of a change. Who knows if it works, and who knows if it doesn’t? I’m ready to give it a try.
iRunFar: You gained some fitness over the…?
Frost: Yeah, I’m fit. I’m healthy. I’ve got 100 miles in me. It’s just that it’s not going to be pretty. I mean, they’re not. It’s going to be a sufferfest, but when is it not? It’s just how you get through that?
iRunFar: What are you hoping to get out of the weekend or out of the race?
Frost: A lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a huge challenge. I always come back to this race, and it’s absolutely not an individual sport. You go out and there are all the organizers and all the crew and all the people out on that course making that dream come true for us all. Then, there’s our crew and our pacers and the people around us that are all making it all what it is. For me, it’s having that community of trail running that is pure, that’s got a real essence to it, and all those people that are out there have that. It’s a beautiful part to be associated with for a whole weekend.
iRunFar: So it’s really the experiential part of it.
Frost: Absolutely. Like you say, I’ve been here before. I know what it’s like. I’ve put it on the line. Really now, it’s just to go and know that I’m ready, not as ready as I have been, but I’m ready to go out there and experience it.
iRunFar: You could be in 30-hour or better shape. You’re in reasonably good fitness.
Frost: Yeah, and even when I was in top shape and even when I came here the first year and I really wanted to win, I had written down the splits for a 27 hour if by chance I was on for a record. I also had a split for 48 hours or whatever the cut-off is. I’m under no… not like I’m going to do 27 hours or nothing. No, I’m going to get Hardrock finished, and if it takes me 47+ hours…
iRunFar: You really think you can have that mindset because… you’ve run so well for so long?
Frost: You have to have that mindset. Even when I had the mindset when I’m prepared and want to do the fastest time I can, who knows what can happen out there? For me, not finishing Hardrock is not an option.
iRunFar: Okay, so it’s different than other races. You could drop out of Madeira Sky Race.
Frost: Exactly. That was an option. It’s not an option here. You have to look at the longest splits. Am I going to make it if it all turns to cat poop? Can I lay down and sleep for an hour or two hours or three hours, can I get to the finish in that time? I’m prepared for that. I’m prepared for anything.
iRunFar: Chances are, if mid-race you needed to take a night’s sleep, you could take a night’s sleep.
Frost: Yeah, anything can happen. You can be puking on the side, and all the sudden an hour is gone or three hours is gone. I’m open to that. That’s part of 100 miles. Part of that is getting it done. It’s not just about going as fast as you can. Once that’s out of the picture, for me, I want to complete it.
iRunFar: What about the moments when you’re going as fast as you can and all the sudden it goes dark for 15 minutes or a half hour? Are you going to have that fire to push through? Two years ago, you were coming out of Telluride and you’re not going as fast as you were and Darcy [Piceu] catches you, and then you turn it on. Do you think you’ll have that…?
Frost: Yeah, I think at that point it was really like… at the point when Darcy passed me, it was never like, Oh, now I’m getting second. No, it was like, Darcy is awesome. She’s such a tough chick. Look at her just fly up there. I need to manage myself. I need to get through this dark place and get out the other side. There was nothing in my mind about, Oh, now I’m second. I wonder if I can get first. It was none of that. It was like, Okay, I’m in a dark place here. I need to get myself out of here. So, for me, at any point in the race, even if it’s an hour of being in the dark place, I know that probably everyone else is going to do that, too. With 100 miles, you can just never give up.
iRunFar: This race is a race you went out pretty hard two years ago, and last year, you were much more even. Do you think you’ve moved more in that direction race-wise? Caroline [Chaverot] is probably going to go out hard.
Frost: Yeah, those girls are going to be really fast off the start I think. That’s how they race, the French girls, they go out hard. For sure I’m not doing that. I don’t race like that at all even in short distance races. I never go out hard. I don’t have that speed. It’s a long time to be out there. I’ll definitely be more calm and consistent. Hopefully, I’ll share some miles with some really good people of the Hardrock family.
iRunFar: Who have you spent time with the past couple years?
Frost: Scott Jaime, I spent some time on the trail with him with yourself.
iRunFar: I forgot about that.
Frost: We had the whole first part. Darcy, we had a little bit, but I’d love to spend more time with her out there. Apart from that, it was Brendan Trimboli and Brandon Stepanowich, we had a sort of yo-yo going on there for much of it… and Jason Koop. Anyone that’s out there, it’s good to have company.
iRunFar: Do you think there’s any less pressure on you this year with a couple other big-name women coming into this race?
Frost: Oh, I don’t really mind what people thing if they have high expectations or who is going to do this or that. For myself, I don’t have pressure on myself. I have expectations of myself to do the very best I can, to put all my heart, all my soul, and that little bit more into it. That’s important to me. It’s important to me that I have those expectations of myself, but it’s not pressure. I’m not going to be completely distraught if I don’t get the record. That sort of pressure, to me, is ridiculous. What this is about is knowing and being proud of myself for getting myself through the battle I was in and getting the training done, getting to the start line, and getting to kiss the rock.
iRunFar: It sounds like you’re ready for a good journey, Anna.
Frost: Yeah, I can’t wait for it.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there and enjoy.
Frost: Thank you so much.