For someone who quit her college cross-country team because she didn’t enjoy competition, Leah Frost has come a long way. After only three years of running marathons she qualified to take part in the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in mid February, 2016. Frost didn’t have her best race but she loved having the opportunity to compete with some of the country’s top runners. This May, Frost was the first female finisher from Vermont.
Name: Leah Frost
Lives in: Glover
Family: Partner, Katherine Nook; cat, Mr. Maggio
Occupation: Vermont Migrant Farm Worker Advocate
Primary sport: Running
VS: How did you train for the Olympic Trials?
LF: I qualified in early December and I trained my butt off to prepare. I worked too hard and got injured and had a crappy race. I had developed a foot injury that is either a tendon problem or a stress fracture. The weather was quite a contrast from Vermont because I had been training in the cold after work and it was miserably hot there. It was also an ugly, exposed course although the fact that it was out and back meant you could see the front runners coming back which was cool. I would love to be invited again but I hope it would be in a different city.
VS: How exciting was it to take part in the Olympic Trials?
LF: It was very exciting. Making it had been a goal of mine for a few years. When I won the Maine Marathon [Frost has won that race three times] I realized that if I turned on the heat I might be able to make it. I went into the race knowing I’d be nowhere near the front but I felt like I was rubbing elbows with the big kids. It was very cool to be able to go to the race but I never felt I was in their league.
VS: When did you start running marathons?
LF: My first marathon was three years ago when I was 30. I had run the distance but never entered a race. I started running when I was 11 or 12 but I was just running for fun. In college at Wesleyan in Connecticut I was a walk-on on the cross-country team but I didn’t like competing so I quit. I had a lot of other interests and it was too time-consuming. Four years ago I was living in Mexico and another ex-pat convinced me to enter some local 5K and 10Ks. I met a lot of people through that and it became fun. I got into racing because I really liked the community of it and it got to be fun to try to improve my time.
VS: What is your favorite marathon?
LF: My favorite race is the Mount Desert Island Marathon which I’ve done three times. It’s gorgeous and really well organized and it’s a fun group of people.
VS: You were the top Vermont woman at the Boston Marathon this year. Were you happy with your time there?
LF: I did have big goals for Boston before the Olympic Trials but because of my injury I had to take a break from running. I was able to finish in 2:56:28 with some real consistency over the 5K stretches. I ended up 45th among women and 39th in my age group. I’ve been running so many races that although I love running I didn’t mind taking a break from that intensive training. I might try to do even better at the Vermont City Marathon.
VS: Tell us about your work with migrant education.
LF: I’m the Northeast Kingdom Recruiter/Mentor for the Vermont Migrant Education Program and also a Health Promoter for the Bridges to Health Program, both of which are under the auspices of UVM Extension Services. We provide educational support services to eligible children and youth who relocate to Vermont independently or with their families in order to get seasonal or temporary employment in agriculture.
VS: I’m intrigued by that since you grew up in Switzerland where they speak three languages, none of which is Spanish.
LF: My parents were teachers and they took jobs in a small town called Montagnola which is near Lugano. They did three stints there including one when I was between the ages of 11 and 18 so I went to the public schools there. I grew up speaking Italian and when I lived in Mexico I thought I could get by with that but I was wrong. That’s when I learned to speak Spanish
VS: So how did you end up in Vermont?
LF: I was familiar with Vermont because my sister lived here but I came here for the Museum of Everyday Life.
LF: Seriously. The museum is in my dear friend Clare Dolan’s barn. I’ve known Clare for a long time and a few years ago, her house tragically burned to the ground. She came to stay with me in Mexico and convinced me to come to Glover to help her out. I’m a sculptor and a carpenter so I’ve been involved with the physical museum.
VS: What exactly is the Museum of Everyday Life?
LF: There are two parts: the physical museum and the performances. Every year we have a different exhibit featuring an object of everyday life with philosophical, artistic and historical perspectives. When we featured the toothbrush, people sent in odd ones or made art out of them. Clare wrote a toothbrush meditation and someone came up with a dance which was taught to visitors. The museum has been around for six years. It definitely has its goofy side but also an element of seriousness.
VS: Speaking of goofy/serious, you’re known for a singlet you like to wear.
LF: At the museum we like to buy T-shirts and cross out whatever message is on the front and replace it with ‘Museum of Everyday Life’. On the back of my running singlet it says ‘Smash the Patriarchy’. It’s a great everyday message.
VS: What other sports do you do?
LF: I love hiking and cross-country skiing. I also like canoeing and playing badminton in the snow.
VS: How do you find time to train?
LF: I just make the time. A lot of people are in my boat. If you get that bug to try to race and improve you just have to make the time—be it before, after or in between work. I’m lucky because I help coach the cross-country team at North Country Union High School. It gets me moving and I love the kids. It helps me remember how awesome running is and the kids are inspiring.
VS: What do you enjoy about running?
LF: I like running with people but I also really like running by myself because I have my ‘alone head space’. Even when I was young I never felt like I was wasting my time when I ran. It’s sort of meditative.