Despite relative success in her one run at CCC and two runs of UTMB, Katie Schide reminds us that there are often “stories” behind apparent success. In the following interview, Katie talks about how challenging her two runs at UTMB were, how she transitioned to becoming a competitive skier this past winter and what that’s meant for her 2022 running season, and why she’s raced less this running season.
For more on who’s running this year’s UTMB, check out our women’s and men’s previews before following our UTMB live coverage starting on Friday.
Katie Schide Pre-2022 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here, with Katie Schide before the 2022 UTMB. How are you, Katie?
Katie Schide: I’m doing okay, Bryon. Good to see you again.
iRunFar: Likewise. How are you doing before this year’s race?
Schide: I feel pretty good this year. It feels nice to actually be doing races consecutively, one year after another without the long break.
iRunFar: Yeah, so you’ve had a break in there but, what have you run, three different races at the UTMB festival?
Schide: I’ve done UTMB twice and CCC [100k].
iRunFar: Yeah. And you’ve had consistent success. You were second at CCC, two top 10s at UTMB. It’s such a high-profile, huge race; how do you find that consistency?
Schide: Yeah, I think on paper it looks pretty consistent and good, I think there’s a lot of stories behind all of those results of course. CCC was definitely a really memorable race in my mind, was kind of one of my first big results. And then after that, unfortunately, my last two UTMBs, the stories behind those numbers on paper, they were not that great. And so I’m hoping to find a little bit more fun on the course on Friday.
iRunFar: Regardless of result?
Schide: Yeah. Regardless of placing, result. I have, of course, would love to improve my time. I did not improve my time from 2019 to 2021. And I feel like it doesn’t do justice to the amount of training and preparation I had done in those two years. Hopefully, this year will show a little bit more.
iRunFar: So you are looking to have that day that you know you are proud of and you got everything you could, out of it?
iRunFar: Yeah. So one thing I noticed, I don’t know if it was just this past year but have you started doing more skiing during the winter and really focusing on that more?
Schide: I’ve always skied quite a bit in the winter. In the past, I haven’t focused on as much the performance, the racing side of skiing. And this year with my partner, Germain [Grangier], we said it would be really cool to just try to do more racing and really actually put the focus on skiing instead of running.
In the past, skiing was the kind of background sport, and it was still running was still the main focus. So this year we said, “OK, let’s put the focus on skiing, see if it is something we like because it is something that we love to do.” And yeah, where we live it just makes more sense than running in the winter, honestly.
iRunFar: And did you end up joining the … making it a competitive portion of your schedule?
Schide: Yeah. I really enjoyed approaching it with a more focused mindset this year than in the past where it was sort of, we are going to do a race, cool. And kind of planning the week before. And now it’s like, “OK, I want to do these races and have it a bit more planned out.” And yeah, I had a really great winter and I’m really happy with all the things I learned from the skimo race season, and trying to bring a little of that to running.
iRunFar: And how was that transition from ski season since it was more focused on the competitive side, into the running season?
Schide: Yeah, it gives you a bit more of a bump to get over to get into running, especially the downhills. I definitely put on muscle in different places in my legs and kind of getting the body to maybe get rid of the less useful muscles, and get the more useful muscles. Yeah, you feel a little bit awkward for a few weeks but after that, it came back pretty quickly.
iRunFar: And that fitness transfers pretty well?
Schide: Yeah, I think so. And also, as everyone says, I think it’s a nice mental break to come back to running and just be really excited to go running and not like, “OK, I have to go running.”
iRunFar: Yeah. How does that transition work for you, anybody who lives high in the mountains with great access to skiing, there tends to be mud season. So how does that transition work? In reality.
Schide: I’m going to tell you a secret. We don’t have mud season where we live.
iRunFar: No mud season?
Schide: This is a hot tip, come visit us. No, we live in a really dry, sunny place so once the snow melts it’s generally dry straightaway, once the snow is gone because we have so much sun.
iRunFar: How dreamy. So on paper, easily accessible databases, it doesn’t look like you have raced much at all this year. But you tend to race pretty consistently, how has your 2022 season gone?
Schide: Yeah, so I’ve done two races so far this year. I did the MaXi-Race Marathon [38k], it was a little less than a marathon, actually. And then I did the Val d’Aran [by UTMB] 100k. And yes, it’s true normally I would do a few more, especially smaller races, like shorter in distance. But this year we actually were supposed to do the MIUT [Madeira Island Ultra-Trail] in April but we got COVID-19 just two weeks before, so we had to make the decision not to go. So that kind of pushed our whole race season back quite a bit. And then the other big race that I finished this year was I finish my Ph.D. thesis in June. So that kind of blocked off a few weeks where I wasn’t going to be doing …
iRunFar: You focused on another ultramarathon.
Schide: It was another big performance, yeah. In that way, I have done three races this year.
iRunFar: How long was that ultramarathon of a Ph.D.?
Schide: It was an ultra-ultra. I cut it down to, I almost didn’t make the time barrier. So it was just under six years total.
iRunFar: How do you balance that? Education and work? And running.
Schide: I get the, how do you balance it question a lot and I think the answer is that I didn’t balance it, I just prioritized running most of the time, honestly. And of course, something has to suffer when you do that but towards the end actually, getting COVID-19 gave me a week or two where I really cracked down on writing a lot because I just couldn’t do anything else.
iRunFar: And what was the exciting thesis of your dissertation?
Schide: So I was studying landslides caused by earthquakes in Nepal. That was my project.
iRunFar: Your big focus, yeah. Cool. And we talked a little bit about it, but what do you hope comes out of this weekend?
Schide: I just hope to leave Chamonix with positive feelings. Like I did the best I could, I actually was in the race mentally and physically, from start to finish. Of course, you are going to like, there are going to be some really crappy moments but to still feel bad, of course, that’s going to happen. But still be in the race, I think I’ve let myself kind of exit the race before, yeah. Just want to feel satisfied with my performance.
iRunFar: All right. Well, best of luck with that, enjoy.