In taking second at the 2014 Speedgoat 50k, Kasie Enman also scored her first ultramarathon finish. In the following interview, Kasie talks about how she felt throughout the race, the terrain that suited her the best, how she and Anna Frost crossed paths during the race, and whether she has plans to race other ultras in the future.
For more on how the race played out, read our 2014 Speedgoat 50k results article.
[Ps. We know the audio in this interview is not up to our standards. We shot it with a second camera for which we don’t have an external mic. You can help upgrade our interviews by making a donation in support of an equipment upgrade. Thanks!]
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Kasie Enman Post-2014 Speedgoat 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar and I’m here with Kasie Enman. She’s the second-place finisher at today’s 2014 Speedgoat 50k. Your first ultramarathon—congratulations.
Kasie Enman: Thank you. Although, I don’t know if 50k really counts?
iRunFar: What? 31.2 miles?
Enman: Does it really count?
iRunFar: Totally counts. I mean, ask your legs.
Enman: Because I don’t consider myself an ultramarathoner yet.
iRunFar: Not yet? What do your legs tell you?
Enman: My legs are feeling it.
iRunFar: Your legs tell you maybe you became an ultramarathoner today?
Enman: My feet, my legs, everything—I’m feeling it.
iRunFar: Tell us about your day. Tell us how things started out. You went out pretty hard up that hill.
Enman: No. My whole goal was to not go out hard and not to go for the prime. I let Anna [Frost] go for the prime.
iRunFar: Yes, you were a couple minutes back at the top of that, so you must have…
Enman: I just ran what felt like a sustainable, comfortable pace at first that was an efficient way to run for me. I was just focused on efficiency at that point. Sometimes when you slow it too much down then you’re just running in a way that’s not natural for you.
iRunFar: Because you have extra energy?
Enman: You kind of are. I was finding early on that running just short steps or quick running steps was a lot less energy intensive than trying to speed hike. Every time I switched over to speed hiking, my heart rate would go up and my muscles would start really hurting. Every time I’d run just short, quick steps, I’d feel much more under control. I tried to do what felt better.
iRunFar: So you come from the lowlands of New England.
Enman: Yes, I live at about 1,100 feet.
iRunFar: You spent a whole lot of time above 10,000 feet today. How did that feel altitude-wise?
Enman: Yeah, I had some issues all of which could be related to altitude. I had some tummy issues. I had some breathing issues. I had some muscles seizing up possibly due to not getting enough oxygen. I don’t know. All of those things could have been related to other things, but they could have been related to altitude. I definitely was not at an advantage against my competitors.
iRunFar: You seemed to take advantage of that first long downhill. You came over Hidden Peak at about mile eight a couple minutes behind Anna, but then the next thing we knew at the check-in about mile 15, you were ahead of her by a minute or two. What happened on that downhill?
Enman: I consider myself better at the downhills than the climbing. I just tried on the downhills to run in a way that was relaxed and not braking and just fluid and just kind of what went naturally for me. I tried to keep it… realizing how much I had to go. I had this tattoo on my arm…
Enman: And I looked at it often. Okay, how much more… I need to conserve my energy. Basically that first half of the first downhill is when I had to stop and visit the bushes for a moment. So I did not catch Anna at that point. The second half of that downhill, I felt a lot better and could run. That’s when I caught up to Anna. We ran together for a bit and we chatted. I said, “Let me take the lead and I’ll just run and I’ll take a turn.” Then I just ran and then I didn’t see her again until the turnaround at which point I was a little ahead.
iRunFar: Then you opened up quite a gap on her during that climb.
Enman: Yeah, people are saying that.
iRunFar: You probably didn’t know that.
Enman: I didn’t know that.
iRunFar: There was a world going on behind you. You must have been feeling pretty decent on that climb?
Enman: Yeah, that second climb, because I had paced myself well in the first half. I’m like, Sweet! I’m in the second half! The second half is good! And I was still able to do my little short running steps. So I was just doing okay at that point. That was the end of feeling okay.
iRunFar: Because you came into Mineral Basin which is about mile 20, and after that it’s kind of a gnarly, digger climb up to the top of Mount Baldy, right?
Enman: Yeah, with the open field. Yeah, I knew that was coming. I was expecting that. That’s when the muscles in my legs started getting really fatigued. But everyone else was moving really slowly, too, so it wasn’t too bad. I had a feeling that if any of the women behind me, being like longer distance ultrarunners who were used to running these longer distances, I had a feeling that somebody was going to be gaining on me at that point because I was not moving as quickly anymore.
iRunFar: And there was somebody gaining on you.
Enman: And there was!
iRunFar: There was Anna Frost behind you.
Enman: I had seen at the turnaround five other women that were not very far behind. I saw them all at the turnaround. I was like, Man, there could be a pack of women that go by me. But I was like, It’s too early, you cannot at this altitude push it. I had to just keep bringing my thoughts back to, What do I need to do to keep moving forward in the way that I can keep moving forward. I just kept doing that. Unfortunately I got slower and slower. I was really waiting for finally getting to the top of the last climb, but then, of course, Karl [Meltzer] had thrown in some more climbs on the final descent.
iRunFar: What a nasty man.
Enman: That was a little rough.
iRunFar: So take us to the point where you were passed by Anna maybe a mile or two left to go in the last climb?
Enman: Yeah, she had caught up. I had seen through the switchbacks that she was coming. She was running and moving faster than me. She caught me and we just talked and we tried to run together. She tried to just move into my pace and just carry each other up the hill, but I was slowly walking at that point.
iRunFar: You were doing the best you could with what you had.
Enman: Then she was making sure that she didn’t get caught by anybody else. She just got ahead. I thought maybe there was a slight chance of catching her on the downhill, but the way my legs were seizing up I went into finish mode. I was worried if I pushed it I’d be debilitated and stuck with a completely seized up body and not be able to finish.
iRunFar: Here’s the thing, though. I saw you at the top of the last climb, mile 26, Hidden Peak. You looked a little fried.
Enman: I was looking bad.
iRunFar: You were exactly two minutes behind Anna then. She’d passed you and put two minutes on you. But then you ended up finishing just under two minutes behind. So obviously you weren’t cooked. You were cooked for the uphills.
Enman: I was cooked for the uphills. I was a little bit less nimble on the downhills. So I wasn’t able to make up time. But once I got to the downhills, I could run again.
iRunFar: How did that last downhill feel? You passed the longest distance that you’d run after going over Hidden Peak, 26 miles, and you’d entered into ultramarathon territory whether you define it as that or not. Were you pretty stoked that you’re coming to the end of your first ultra? What was going through your head?
Enman: At that point, my heels were in searing pain and I was just thinking about how ironic it was that this exact scenario played out exactly two years ago on this exact weekend at Canazei. I was thinking about that because it was excruciatingly painful. I was thinking about just each step and trying to keep moving without falling down or completely bonking entirely.
iRunFar: So you were just focused on getting through it.
Enman: I was not thinking about distance or anything.
iRunFar: The full-spectrum experience was not going through your mind.
Enman: I was living in the moment.
iRunFar: You lived in the moment. You lived through the moment. You survived your first ultra. Does this make you want to go back and run 12-mile races or do you think there are more experiments in ultras for you?
Enman: Yeah, I like to mix it up. I get to a point where when I’ve done a bunch of mountain races in mountains, and I want to get on the road and to a fast and flat (fast) race. I’m starting to get that itch. I have plans to do some more road racing coming up. I also have plans for more mountain races. I’ve signed up for [Trofeo] Kima. So I will be doing another 50k.
iRunFar: Okay. In August?
Enman: Yes. My family and I will be in Italy all month. Kima will be at the end of that. We’ll have been there all month. I’ll be a little more acclimated than I was today.
iRunFar: Acclimated to altitude, acclimated to…
Enman: Kima is even harder than this one, I hear. This was a good training step toward preparing for that.
iRunFar: Congratulations to you on your second-place finish today. You’re taking home some nice cash.
Enman: Yeah, I’m psyched I held onto second. I’ve been trying to get in the top three in these races.
iRunFar: You did today.
iRunFar: Good luck to you in the racing the rest of your summer.
Enman: Thank you.
iRunFar: Bonus question—you are a momma of two. You’re a young momma of two.
Enman: Yes. My children are young.
iRunFar: You’re here solo, free-flying this weekend. Are you missing your family? Are you kind of enjoying a sleep-in? What’s going on?
Enman: Yeah! I am that mom who pines for my alone time and being away, but as soon as I’m away, I miss them the entire time. Every time I see someone else with their young child I’m jealous. I miss them, but I’ll be back home tomorrow afternoon.
iRunFar: Momma’s coming home!