Kasie Enman won the World Mountain Running Championships in 2011 and has multiple top finishes at the US Mountain Running Championships (USMRC). This weekend, she’s in Bend to try to make the U.S. Mountain Running Team again. In the following interview, Kasie talks about how her previous runs at the USMRC have gone, what her current running focus is, and what kind of shape she’s in.
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Kasie Enman Pre-2015 US Mountain Running Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kasie Enman before the 2015 US Mountain Running Championships. How are you?
Kasie Enman: I’m good.
iRunFar: You’ve been running these mountain-running championships for awhile.
Enman: Yeah, kind of. I don’t know when my first one was, maybe 2009?
iRunFar: Pretty much every year since?
Enman: Yeah, I don’t know if I’ve missed a year. I might have missed one year.
iRunFar: 2011 on, you’ve been…
iRunFar: 2011, you had a pretty good go at the mountain running.
Enman: I did, yeah. Everything just came together that day to my surprise.
iRunFar: You were World Mountain Running Champion, and it was an up-and-down year, and Max King also won that race.
Enman: I did. It was. And the race was also on 9/11 which was cool. It was the anniversary.
iRunFar: Wow. Max King is the course designer here, and his strengths are probably, I would guess, similar to your strengths?
Enman: Yes, so that’s probably good. That might be the one thing to my advantage this weekend.
iRunFar: You’ve had a pretty long trip, eh?
Enman: Yes, so I got back from Italy on Monday night and then took off… we got up at 4 a.m. on Thursday and traveled until whatever… we got here maybe 9:30 a.m. this time zone.
iRunFar: Pacific Daylight Time. That’s quite the haul.
Enman: I’ve got the two kids, and my husband came along. I’m realizing I was jetlagged, and now I’m three hours further jetlagged. I was up pretty early this morning. It’s been a productive morning.
iRunFar: Maybe you need a little nap this afternoon.
Enman: Yeah, maybe.
iRunFar: In 2012 and 2014, I think you were third both years at the US Mountain Running Championships on the podium again.
Enman: 2012, I was fifth and I just missed making the team.
iRunFar: You just missed it.
Enman: I’ve just missed making the team quite a lot—2009, 2010, 2012, I just missed making the team.
iRunFar: Does that become your ultimate goal? There are multiple goals. You’ve won worlds. It would be easy for people to think all you want to do is win, but you also want to go to worlds again. How do you balance those two goals?
Enman: This race I have to think top four. That’s what I thought last year, and I was actually top four last year. Then I ended up, my season was just going on too long. I ended up not taking the spot. So this year I said, I don’t want to do that again, not taking the spot. So I want to make the team, and I want to take the spot. That’s the goal. It doesn’t much matter to me if I’m first, second, third, or fourth.
iRunFar: You want to go to Wales.
Enman: Yeah, and I have to be cognizant that the altitude definitely could be an issue. It’s not high altitude, but I’m coming from sea level and I’m racing against a lot of people who are coming down in altitude for this race. I’ve had a couple experiences in the shorter-distance races where I think I’m good, and then all of the sudden, I can’t get the oxygen anymore. I’m trying to figure out how smart I want to play it. I don’t want to blow up and not hold top four. I don’t want to go for it. If we were in New Hampshire, I think I’d be a lot more aggressive in my race plan.
iRunFar: Is that what happened two years ago? The last time it was up-and-down you were 15th or something like that well off your potential.
Enman: That was because I’d just had my second son six or seven weeks prior to the race. I wasn’t having any intention of making the team that year, I just wanted to participate.
iRunFar: It was local. It wasn’t like you were flying across the country.
Enman: It was local, exactly. I could just drive over. My parents live right near the course. I’d been out of competition for the year with the birth of my son, so I just wanted to see everybody and take part. That’s what happened that year.
iRunFar: That was just a fun year.
Enman: That’s why I was so far back that year. I’m fine with that.
iRunFar: You’re a little sharper for this one?
Enman: Yeah, I should be. Training has been going really well, but I’m kind of in my base phase of training right now, so it’s a little tricky for racing. I think that’s kind of what happened with me last weekend. My race didn’t go well, but I felt good…
iRunFar: You ran the Dolomite Sky Race?
Enman: Yes. I felt strong and good, but I just didn’t have that sharpness yet. That makes sense with where I’m at in my training. I’m only at that place in my training because I was coming off injury, and I just couldn’t get started any sooner.
iRunFar: Last time we talked out at The Rut, you were thinking of switching gears and doing a bunch of marathon training. Is that where things went wrong?
Enman: Yeah, well, I think it was the whole season of mountain running beat me up pretty badly. As soon as I got on level surfaces, some inflammation in my ankles went away and revealed an injury in my ankle that I didn’t really realized I had. I had to bail out of the rest of the fall season, and it came back again when I went to Hong Kong for the 50k in February. I just went back to square one with the injury. Then I had to come back again. So, it’s been sort of a really nagging, chronic, long-term injury. Now that I’ve finally got through the Dolomites race without any pain in that ankle, so I’m feeling pretty confident that it’s good for any terrain now. Yeah, the training is going well. I feel good, but it’s an unknown how I’ll be able to put it together in the race. I’m hoping it works out.
iRunFar: How is that going to go? Previously, you did concentrate more on the shorter distances. Last year you had a bunch of marathon or ultra-distance races. You were second at Speedgoat. You were second at The Rut. This year you won the White Face Sky Race over in New York and you were at the Dolomites. How do you keep… have you focused on keeping the speed, or where does that fit in your priorities right now?
Enman: Yeah, this year I decided not to do any of the ultra category Sky[running] races and nothing longer than the marathon distance. I have a lot of different things I’m wanting to train for right now, and probably the thing that’s taking priority is marathon training because I really want to get the Olympic [Marathon] Trials qualifier. I haven’t been able to do that yet, and I’m running out of time. That’s, right now I’m just trying to build a training base for that. Honestly, that’s where I came from. That’s where I came from in 2011 and before that. When I’m fit, I can do all the different terrains well. If the fitness isn’t there, I don’t do any of it well. I don’t do as much specific training because I do such a variety of things. For me, as long as I’m getting in some mileage, a long run, and some speed workouts, they translate pretty well for me. I just… I need some more months of training to really get to my peak. It would be great if I can pull off making the team. Then I’ll be in a good place in September to race worlds if I can get there.
iRunFar: It would be a good combination in terms of aiming for your marathon goal because you have the base now, and then you could work on some sharpness, and then bring it all together afterward.
Enman: Yeah, it’s a little tricky. With the Sky races being shorter, I’m not going to be beating myself up with the seven and eight hour races like I was last year. The Dolomites was only a 22k. That’s still a two-and-a-half hour race.
iRunFar: When you were injured, were you able to do any cross training? You live in a good spot for some Nordic skiing. Did you get out?
Enman: Yeah, I did. Just to keep myself from going stir crazy, I did do some Nordic skiing and some swimming and that kind of thing. I didn’t go overboard with cross training. The two kids had definitely left me feeling pretty drained in a lot of ways. I knew I needed to just replenish, so I didn’t do a lot. I definitely lost some fitness over the winter.
iRunFar: Speaking of Nordic skiing, there are a bunch of competitors in the women’s race who come very strongly from that background and still mix it in. I think in the ultra scene, we’ve seen a lot of people doing the skimo thing in the winter especially in Europe. Do you think Nordic skiing also is a really good base for trail running?
Enman: Definitely. I think Nordic skiers translate really well to mountain running. I always recommend to the junior team, look for some Nordic skiers because they’ll be really strong. Especially on the uphill years, I feel it’s a huge advantage. It’s a fun sport, mountain running, because you get people from all different disciplines.
We have a visitor. [To her child:] Did you fall and land on a cactus? Oh, no. Oh, no.
iRunFar: On the course this weekend, it’s two laps for you with probably about 850 feet of climb on sandy terrain.
Enman: That’s what I hear.
iRunFar: The descent is not what you’ve been running in the Dolomites.
Enman: I have not seen it yet.
iRunFar: It’s a dirt-road descent that’s pretty well groomed. There can be some sliding and, of course, little rocks embedded in it. When you’re opening up on stuff, do you take a really different approach if it’s really technical versus on a dirt road descent?
Enman: We’ll have to see. Each course is different for sure. I open up on most descents. The Dolomites are the line for me where you have loose rocks rolling out from under you and you just can’t see where to land; I do have a little more trouble with that. Single track, I feel like I can go pretty fast. I think what I’ll see on this course I’ll feel pretty confident on. I think I will be able to open it up. Hopefully it’s technical enough that… I don’t want it too fast so that it’s not feeling trail-y. Somewhere in the middle?
iRunFar: There’s you and Megan Kimmel, but there are also people in there who have insanely quick…
Enman: [Child talking] Are you going to be able to edit this video?
iRunFar: No! We love having kids on iRunFar. We can’t really see… Who do we have here?
Enman: I think she fell and got cut. [To child:] Can you go inside and ask Eli to turn on the sink or the bathtub? Child: No, you!]
iRunFar: Alright, well, good luck with your race on Saturday, and good luck now.
Enman: I’m needed.
iRunFar: Thank you, Kasie.
Enman: Interview over.