Kasie Enman: Not Your Average Distance Runner
If there is a stereotype for the elite female distance runner, it is not Kasie Enman. The 32-year from Huntington, VT competes at a high level, not only in the marathon, but in cross country, mountain and trail running, snow shoe racing and road racing. An All-American at Middlebury College, she helped her team to the Division III Cross Country National Championship. More recently, she has represented the B.A.A. at various regional and national championships and is always one of the teams most consistent performers. This past fall, she was a member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team at the World Championship in Tirana, Albania where she became the first American woman to win the individual title. With the World Champion trophy safely tucked away in the trophy case and the Fall cross country season concluded, she has turned her attention on the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Women’s Marathon on Saturday, January 14, 2012 in Houston, TX.
Enman qualified for the trials at the 2011 Boston Marathon. Competing in the distance for the first time since the birth of her daughter nine months earlier, she ran an impressive 2:39:55 to lead the Women’s Open Team to victory. Not long after, she resumed competition on the mountain running circuit which ended with her being crowned World Champion in September. That was followed by a cross country season that concluded with a 30th place finish at the US National Club Cross Country Championship on December 10, 2011. Her training is diverse and intentionally so: “I really like mixing things up. By the end of a season focusing on one distance or type of running, I am ready for a new challenge. In terms of training, I have grown partial to running on trails and mountains, but I would be hard pressed to walk away from any of the types of racing so I put in the work to prepare for whatever race is next. I would like to think that each type of training and racing helps make me a stronger, well-rounded athlete physically. It’s hard to know. Mentally though, I need to the variety.”
And her training doesn’t come without its challenges; as the mother of a 17-month old, Enman has to balance her training with caring for her daughter. She is also engaged in maple sugar manufacturing and coaches a high school team and some open runners. So when does she get to train? “These days, I’ve stopped counting weekly mileage as much. The most common easy day for me would be to go for a 10 mile run in the morning before the family wakes up. Then go for a 4-5 mile run pushing Acadia in the baby jogger in the afternoon. I’m putting in a marathon focused workout every 2-3 days, and a long run every week or so. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to my training. I usually finish the run and immediately need to pick up or feed or play with Acadia, so any kind of post run routine has gone out the window. At the least I try to get good food in me within the recovery window and go to PT once each week....The most challenging piece for me has been the tremendous change of perspective. I’m not the same person any more in terms of priorities. Running is no longer as important as it used to be and I have to work a lot harder at hanging on to my goals and not letting opportunities pass me by."
She credits the support that she receives from her husband and other family and friends as key to enabling her to train and she downplays the complexity of putting it all together, “I don’t think I’m doing more than most other runners who are working full time jobs and have families. You just commit to the training, the end goal, and find a way.” In addition, she draws inspiration from her teammates “It’s so impressive to me how many women from the BAA qualify, or come very close to qualifying, to compete at the Olympic Trials every 4 years. I am so proud to be a part of our group of women who have full time careers, raise families, have diverse well-rounded lives and still manage to compete at such a high level.”
With the Trials just a few weeks away, Enman has focused her training on preparing for Houston’s fast, flat course and has a course map hanging on the refrigerator. Having run the Houston Half Marathon, she is somewhat familiar with the terrain. She is running much of her current mileage on flat, paved roads and is focused on doing her workouts at a faster marathon pace than in the past. As she has observed, “the level of women’s marathoning in this country has gone up substantially over the past four years. I’ve tried to raise my own bar as well so that I can put myself in a position to be in the chase pack.”
Enman is no stranger to the Olympic Trials Marathon, having competed at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Women’s Marathon where she set her personal best of 2:37:14 and placed 11th overall. In reflecting on her performance, Enman recalls: “I definitely exceeded my goals for the ’08 Trials. It was one of those days when everything just came together. I was coming off of an injury and was just thrilled that I even made it to the starting line. I think that helped make me mentally hungry and physically fresh on race day. Also, there was no pressure on me so I was able to just run my own race. The whole experience is one I’ll carry with me for a long time. Having the Trials in Boston meant that there was tremendous support from friends and family and hometown pride, running for the BAA. The thing I remember most, that is unique to the Trials, was the rush of emotions I got during the first 400m or so when it all hit me that I was surrounded by this amazing group of female athletes who have all worked so hard toward getting to this one race. It’s hard to describe, but I had to check my adrenalin levels for sure!”
And she advises other marathoners: "In training, just stay consistent and don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say. Marathon training is its own beast. You’re probably going to feel crummy for a lot of it and wonder how you’ll ever be able to run as fast as you want for 26.2 miles, but it’s better not to think about that too much. Just be an optimist and trust in the training. In the race, be patient. Relax and conserve energy until mile 18 or 20, then let the competition begin!"
As the 2012 trials approach, she is focused on getting out there and competing: “The number one goal for a marathon is always to get to the starting line healthy. Beyond that I would love to PR. I would love to be “in” the race. I would love to improve on my performance from last time around. At the very least, I want to walk away having soaked it all in and left everything I had out there on the course.“