Annie Frisbie’s Marathon Debut: “It’s Still Flowing”

MINNEAPOLIS – There is a saying among running trainers: Run your own race. Don’t focus on things you can’t control, including your competition’s tactics.

Last month Minnesota Distance Elite coach Chris Lundstrom saw one of his athletes, Annie Frisbie, do just that in the New York City Marathon.

Frisbie’s version of running her own race – her first marathon, at that – involved her leading the pack in the first half, ahead of Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, marathon gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, and Molly Seidel, bronze medalist of the United States.

Lundstrom, a Minnesotan through and through, might as well have responded by saying, “Oh, dammit.”

“On the one hand, you’re thinking, ‘Maybe you’re not leading,'” the coach said cautiously, recalling seeing Frisbie for the first time along the Brooklyn Marathon course. He had given her a fairly simple race plan. Stay relaxed in the first half and compete in the second half to the best of your ability.

“It was cool, but I didn’t let myself think too much either,” Frisbie, 24, said of the stacked race lead. “I mainly focused on checking myself and how I was feeling. “

When Lundstrom saw his half-marathon pull apart – 1 hour 12 minutes 43 seconds, a pace of 5 minutes 32 seconds per mile – he said he had reacted hesitantly again, thinking, “Well, alright. , it’s aggressive, a little aggressive. “

Frisbie finished with an impressive 2:26:18 – a pretty good time for seventh, and that made her the third American overall. The results continue to be felt. She ran the fourth fastest marathon for an American and became the fourth fastest American to run the New York City Marathon.

Frisbie is another American long distance runner who has forged her own path in the sport and exceeded expectations, but doesn’t want to focus on running and running alone. She’s in good company: Sarah Sellers won second place in the 2018 Boston Marathon while working as a nurse anesthetist. Keira D’Amato works as a real estate agent and finished fourth in this year’s Chicago Marathon.

Frisbie’s journey began in college in River Falls, Wisconsin, when her mother told her to try volleyball or cross country. She didn’t really like volleyball so she joined the cross country team. She hadn’t considered showing up to college until recruiters expressed interest, and she realized that the opportunity could help pay for her college education. So she ran track and field and cross country in Iowa State.

She hadn’t really considered running professionally either. Frisbie wanted to be close to home and had accepted an internship in the Twin Cities when a current teammate told her about Minnesota Distance Elite, a small group that meets three times a week to coach athletes ranging from 1,500-meter runners. to marathon runners. .

It’s a different type of team: one in which the riders – and the coach – have their occupations listed next to their personal best times. Lundstrom is on the faculty of the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota. He coaches teachers, an accountant, a data scientist and a software developer, among others.

Frisbie said it was an easy decision to join us. She accepts a position as a graphic designer in a health start-up and begins training within the group. His colleagues were shocked to see their “running colleague” on ESPN lead a major marathon.

“Having a more balanced life makes you a happier person and in turn a faster runner,” she said outside a cider in Minneapolis, a city she intends to keep as a port of. attached. And, she added, “It would stress me out if I ran and it didn’t make me money.”

Asked about the reality of training as a professional runner in Minnesota – where weeks can go by without the temperature going above freezing and thin layers of ice and several feet of snow covering the ground – Frisbie and Lundstrom said a little more than “meh.” Most of the cities that attract professional runners and teams have more temperate climates: Think Eugene, Oregon; Boulder, Colorado; or Flagstaff, Arizona.

Of course, say Frisbie and Lundstrom, some speed workouts are done indoors when it’s really cold. But long runs in the cold? Uh, no problem.

After her breakout run, Frisbie was inundated with posts from sponsors and potential agents. Suddenly the races want his name on their rosters. It would not be uncommon for an athlete in her position to quit her job, move to a more temperate and lively climate, and train with sponsorship money.

It’s also tempting to look at a female runner like Frisbie and put a tag next to her name. She could be one of the next great American long distance runners, the next Sara Hall or Des Linden – the rising athlete who could continue to break expectations.

Frisbie and Lundstrom hold back on all of the above. Frisbie is happy, healthy and comfortable in her current environment. Lundstrom does not seek to name a floor or ceiling for the young marathoner’s next stage.

“It’s not worth spending a ton of energy dreaming about what’s possible when you just have to do it all and the athlete needs to stay healthy and progress,” said Lundstrom.

Minnesota’s “work hard and be kind” mentality permeated every word of her: don’t have a big ego. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Think of each workout as a stepping stone.

Frisbie chats with agents and former pro racers about their forays into the glamorous world of sport, and she’s thrilled with whatever is to come. But at 24, she has the maturity of an athlete who has seen what can go wrong when a great race, and the pressure that comes with it, goes to your head.

“If you don’t like it right now, and just force yourself to go through training and go through life, your chances of getting burned out are pretty high,” she said. “You’re probably not going to survive a 10 or 15 year career, which I hope you will. So I think you need to take it every day in stride.

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