Kasie Enman is one of the women’s favorites going into the 2014 Speedgoat 50k. In the following interview, her first with iRunFar, Kasie talks about what her running background is, what she’s been up to since the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon where she led late but finished fifth in May, and what she’s scared of and excited for in her first ultramarathon tomorrow.
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Kasie Enman Pre-2014 Speedgoat 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kasie Enman before the 2014 Speedgoat 50k. How are you, Kasie?
Kasie Enman: I’m good. I just got here. You didn’t even let me go into my room.
iRunFar: Chop chop.
Enman: Yup. Feeling great.
iRunFar: Straight from sea level to 8,000 feet?
Enman: Yup, the air is a bit thin.
iRunFar: Have you ever raced this high?
Enman: Yes, two years ago I did Pikes Peak and that was higher. That gives me hope.
iRunFar: That went well?
Enman: It was okay. I felt better on the climb than I thought I would. The altitude was okay because I was going slowly enough. I was excited for the descent because I figured the altitude wouldn’t be a factor on the descent. But then I got nauseous from the altitude, so then I couldn’t even really do what I wanted.
iRunFar: So you just decided to avoid the altitude altogether and come in at 6 p.m. the night before?
Enman: Exactly. Yup, I won’t even notice I’m at altitude until I’m back home.
iRunFar: Well, this is the first time we’ve chatted on camera. I’d love to hear a little bit about your athletic background. When did you start running or endurance sports?
Enman: I did the classic cross country, indoor track, outdoor track for 12 seasons in high school and college, and then went into road racing. I moved into marathons five or six years after college and just did a lot of classic-type running. Then just in the last five years, I started doing more of the mountain stuff.
iRunFar: What drew you to the mountains or the trails?
Enman: It’s kind of funny. Partly, living where I do, I’m surrounded by trails and Vermont-sized mountains. It’s just what’s there and what’s fun. I started doing the mountain races because I had a couple years of plantar fasciitis and it hurt to do anything but run uphill. So I started seeking uphill-only races. I did all the uphill-only races in the New England mountain-racing circuit that year. Then I learned about the U.S. Mountain Running Team and I set that as a goal. It took me a few years. Then I finally made that team. Then from there I learned about Skyrunning and Salomon, and I was offered to become part of Salomon. Since then, now I’m doing all this—a whole other level of mountain racing that I’m still very new at.
iRunFar: This is a big step up.
Enman: It’s a huge difference.
iRunFar: In 2011 you were a world champion.
Enman: That was 8k.
iRunFar: Exactly. Was that an up and down year?
Enman: It was up and down.
iRunFar: Was that the year Max [King] won?
Enman: Max and I were…
iRunFar: You both won it that year?
iRunFar: So, and up and down year, 8k though, and here you are…
Enman: Yes, this is the longest I’ve ever run ever, ever. Zegama was the longest duration, the longest amount of time I’d ever run in my life. Now this is going to be another hour or two longer than that.
iRunFar: It’s good you know this. Although as intense as Zegama is for a marathon, this is the equivalent but for 50k. So you’ve never gone over the marathon distance?
Enman: No, never.
iRunFar: Not in training or…
iRunFar: What made you decide to come out this weekend? Hey, Zegama was fun, right?
Enman: After having to miss the whole everything racing last year, and the year before I had done some Sky races but not enough to complete the series, so I thought, Let’s try to complete the series! Then I started looking at the calendar and the two U.S. races were 50k’s, and I was going to be in Europe when [Trofeo] Kima was happening, so I said, Hey, I can do that whole series if I do those three 50k’s!
iRunFar: Awesome! I’ve never run an ultra, but…
Enman: But what’s 8k more? Then after I’d already signed up I’d noticed that these were not very fast 50k’s.
iRunFar: I’ll remind you at the finish. I’ll ask you at the finish.
Enman: It was kind of too late.
iRunFar: Just 8k more, right?
Enman: Yeah. Everyone is telling me, though, to only race the last 10k. [laughs]
iRunFar: That’s probably sound advice. There’s a lot of climbing and descending in this one.
Enman: Just kind of chill out in the early part.
iRunFar: There are going to be people that go out. There’s a strong women’s field and probably a couple people that will try to be aggressive and maybe overreach—not overreach, but put it out there. Why not? But then you have Anna Frost and Ellie Greenwood—have you had the fortune of racing them?
Enman: I don’t know if there’s anyone in this women’s field that I’ve ever raced before, ever. So I really have no idea.
iRunFar: So it’s all new.
Enman: It’s all new. I feel like I’m kind of jumping off… I told my coach I felt like I was jumping into the abyss. And sometimes you surprise yourself.
iRunFar: Coming from a background of track and the road racing and the shorter world mountain running stuff, how are you going to… you maybe weren’t really holding yourself back at Zegama. You went for it.
Enman: I didn’t mean to go for it. Yeah, I thought I was just running comfortably. My fitness wasn’t quite… I hadn’t trained enough coming into Zegama and I still haven’t. I’m lacking some training right now even for what I’d normally be doing for races. I haven’t trained as much as I normally would for my usual races let alone for… I’m hoping over the next couple months, these races and some training start to kind of come together. Then, I’ll…
iRunFar: But you have had two additional months of training since…?
Enman: Of training, yes, but it’s just been racing and recovering. I haven’t really been able to get a lot of training in between these races.
iRunFar: How have things gone since Zegama. Let me rewind for a second. Zegama—you took it out hard; you were in the lead. How late were you in the lead in that race?
Enman: I was with Stevie [Kramer] through 30k probably.
iRunFar: Then what happened?
Enman: Earlier than that I was already, I couldn’t climb any more. I just didn’t have any power left. That started happening earlier, but there were enough downhills that I was kind of keeping it together because I could catch up on the downhills. But then I stopped being able to catch up on anything. I just kind of shut down.
iRunFar: Was it energy? Was it muscular? What happened?
Enman: It was muscular. I just didn’t have the training. But I was actually really excited with that race because I went into that coming from a fall and winter where I’d been just overtired and had to really shut things down and wasn’t sure I was anywhere near racing shape. So for me to go in and find myself amongst the leaders and be in the race and be a factor, I was really excited. That was a huge, huge step in the right direction for me even though I fell apart in the last 10k. That’s not typically how I like to do things. The first couple races this season, I didn’t study the course before. I just mis-estimated how many more climbs there were late into the race. I was kind of thinking the whole second half was downhill, but it’s not.
iRunFar: You can’t even say the last 8k is downhill now because they changed the course.
Enman: This course I’ve studied a lot.
iRunFar: They’ve changed the last 8k just so you’re aware of that.
Enman: I’ve heard. Yeah.
Enman: I don’t really know what it all means.
iRunFar: You’ll climb more. To give you an idea, it used to be 8k all down to the finish, but now Karl [Meltzer] has adjusted at least the men’s course record prime to be seven minutes slower. So he’s figuring it adds about five or 10 minutes onto the overall course.
iRunFar: So what have you been up to since Zegama? You said you’ve been racing a lot.
Enman: After Zegama, I was pretty tired from the travel, and then there wasn’t a lot of time. I did a little bit of training, but then I raced Mount Washington. Then I flew out and was in Chamonix and raced twice out there. Then I came back and turned right around and got in the car and drove to New Hampshire for Loon [Mountain] and raced that. Then in between Chamonix and Loon I started having some nagging injury type stuff, so I basically didn’t run much at all in the week between those or the week after Loon.
iRunFar: So how did those races go? That’s a lot of high level racing, not just jumping into…
Enman: Mount Washington—I’m not great at that because it’s just a road. Even though I come from a road-racing background, in the mountains I need trails. Chamonix was okay.
iRunFar: How did the marathon turn out?
Enman: I had to stop twice. I think the time change, my whole body was just out of whack. I had to visit the toilet a couple times during that race. That’s when I kind of lost the lead pack, the second time. I caught back up the first time and then I couldn’t catch back up and I was just in no-man’s land. I didn’t know the course, and there were no mile or kilometer markers or anything. I just didn’t know where I was. I felt really great energy-wise; that was an improvement. I finished really strong, but I would have liked to have been in the top three.
iRunFar: What were you? Were you fourth?
Enman: Fourth, a distant fourth. Then, Loon, I came back and like I said, I was hurting in between those races and the travel back from France with the two kids. Then I had to drive to New Hampshire, and so I was tired. I pulled it together and raced okay there.
iRunFar: You made the team?
Enman: I was third and the top four make the team, but I have some conflicts with whether or not I can actually accept the spot. So I might not actually be able to go.
iRunFar: Still, you have to feel good having come back from last year…
Enman: Yes, I wanted to go there and race well. So, that was good. But then I was very, very, very tired and I was having some Achilles pain, so I shut it down and did some aqua jogging and Alter-G running.
iRunFar: And now you’re here. Are you feeling alright?
Enman: And this week, I’m all better and 100% because I wanted to make sure not to come into this with anything. So I let myself heal, but the training still has not happened. So after this I will train.
iRunFar: So long as you don’t have any nagging injuries you have to rest for.
Enman: That won’t happen.
iRunFar: So here you are, your first ultra on the horizon. What are you excited about? What are you scared about?
Enman: Yes. I’m a little scared of the altitude—if I get to a climb and just can’t go. But I think it will be okay. I don’t know. I’m not really scared. I think it’s just exciting.
iRunFar: So what is exciting about it?
Enman: It’s an experiment.
iRunFar: On yourself?
Enman: On myself. Yeah. Do all these crazy races… yeah.
iRunFar: Short to long, up to the mountain…
Enman: I’m culminating my mountain season with a road marathon as part of my experiment.
iRunFar: To see if you have a little bit of speed and strength?
Enman: Just to see how much the strength and endurance can translate. So it’s a big experiment.
iRunFar: It can. Good luck this weekend. Good luck in about 12 hours.
Enman: Aliza [Lapierre] told me to do a pose.
iRunFar: Bonus question: you’re going to do a pose for Aliza. What is it going to be?
Enman: She said to do the Karate Kid. [demo pose]
iRunFar: Hold on. Step back. Aliza Lapierre, this is for you. Strike a pose, Kasie Enman.