The Frozen Toe 10K almost didn’t happen. The race usually takes place on the Chestnut Ridge Loop, which is entirely on National Park Service land. Due to the government shutdown, the NPS isn’t currently honoring special use permits. I’d guess a lot of races would have thrown in the towel. But that’s not how Josh and Gina of Mountain Junkies operate. They were able to scramble and work with Hollins University and Roanoke City Parks & Rec to pull something together. And the Frozen Toe 2.0 was born.
The race would now be an out and back on the Tinker Creek Greenway to the Carvins Cove boat dock. It was a tough course that took us up over a mountain (and then back), but it was gorgeous!
There was a big winter storm on the way, but Saturday morning was crisp and clear. I made the quick drive up to Hollins University in Roanoke, found parking and headed to the gym to pick up my race bib. This year we got sweet zip up hoodies with the race!
I mingled in the gym, caught up with a few friends, and waited for the pre-race briefing. From there it was time to head over to the trail head for the start of the race.
I always love that feeling of pent up energy in the crowd at the start line before a race. Standing there waiting to run, I was so excited to finally be kicking off the 2019 RNUTS series and to be healthy and ready to tackle this year.
A little after 9 AM, we were off and running. We started out down a wide dirt and gravel path, went through a tunnel under the interstate, and then ran some small rolling hills through a field. It gave the race field a chance to spread out a bit before we hit the single track in the woods. I felt strong through this early section and I was happy the gradual uphill didn’t seem to be wearing me down.
After the first mile, we started our climb up the mountain, which lasted about 7 tenths of a mile. I mostly hiked, but also threw in some running when I could.
When I got to the top I was rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Cove and a steep downhill. On my way down, the race leaders started coming back. Handling the two way traffic on the narrow single track that was cut into the side of the mountain was challenging, but I made sure to yield to the faster runners.
I love the trail running community. As a whole, it’s a very friendly and supportive place. So despite the challenge of handling two way traffic on a narrow trail, all of the runners were yelling “good job” and “keep it up” and “way to go [enter friend’s name here]” as they passed each other. I cruised down the trail and before I knew it, I arrived at the halfway point at the boat dock. There was a water stop here, so I drank some water and a cup of some funny tasting Scratch (I honestly have NO clue what flavor it was). And then it was time to climb back up the mountain. Again, I hiked a lot of it. But I found that this climb wasn’t quite as challenging as the first, so I was able to run a bunch, too. I feel like I’m getting stronger and more confident on trails.
Once at the top, it was time to run down the steep and somewhat technical downhill on the other side. I stayed on my feet and made it down unscathed.
From there we only had about a mile to go and I started picking up the pace. I was tired, but the last mile was very runnable and I wasn’t going to stop. I kind of wish I had at least acknowledged the photographer, though. 😛
I finished in 1:09:57, which was faster than I expected. I wasn’t sure how I would handle the two climbs, since I haven’t been running hillier terrain lately, other than last week’s Pandapas run.
With the course change, the race ended up being about 5.7 miles, aka the “Frozen Toe 9K.” The joke was made that although the government didn’t shut down our race, they did steal a K from it, ha! But I think everyone was just really grateful to Josh and Gina and all those who put in some hard work to make this race happen.
It started to snow on my way home, and just two hours after I finished the race, it looked like this outside:
I couldn’t resist heading out for a second run to play in the snow, so I snuck in a few more miles.
Next up: Explore Your Limits 10K in early March!