Q. When/why did you decide to train for these events?
Kasey: Back in 2005 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail. When I finished that I felt so (excuse my language) BAD ASS that I wanted more challenges. So, I told my husband I would start with Pikes Peak Marathon for 2006 and then Leadville 100 in 2007. Looking back I probably should have done those the other way around. On the Appalachian Trail, I felt like a superstar because people were in such awe of what I was doing as a solo female. It makes me want to do more as a woman athlete to show that we are just as good if not better than boys in some events even if we are not in other events.
Q. What does training and completing these events mean to you both?
Kasey: Hmmm! Training is something I am not the best at doing despite having coached runners to completion of marathons and half marathons. I make up my own schedules now and depending on my level of determination I pursue my goals with strength and aggression. Having the goal of a race certainly forces either one of us to get out and keep active. Unfortunately, I must confess that life has drained a little with his cancer diagnosis. We have to struggle a little harder now to overcome those fears and depressed states to go out and train or to compete in these events we continue to pursue. I guess the bottom line answer to what it means to me...it means celebrity status in my mind. I like the wow factor I get from telling people what I have accomplished. I guess along with that is a sense of accomplishment. Mike is always striving for perfection and is very competitive and thus he would probably have a similar thought of accomplishment and pride.
Q. How does your attitude and state of mind affect your training?
Kasey: I think I kind of touched on this one above. Fighting Mike's cancer is a tough one. Never knowing whether what in the past were just considered normal pains of physical activity are truly pains of the cancer or maybe something worse kills the spirit a little. Each of us has to have a little spirit in us to keep us motivated. Uncertainty can drain that pretty quickly. Mike has not trained near as much this year for his ironman as he did 2 yrs ago before he was diagnosed with cancer. At the same time, I worried about being away from my husband for too long should something happen. So, neither of us have had the right mind set for training. This carried over to my races this year and I worry it will affect Mike's Ironman in Cozumel. We will see what happens. Mindset plays a major factor in training and competing. Sometimes it powers you and sometimes it zaps every ounce of your power!
Q.When you are on mile 90 of a 100 mile run what gets you through? How do you stay focused and motivated?
Kasey: Well, when I get to mile 90 of a 100 mile run, I will let you know. I have only made it to 50+ miles. For that, I am powered by the scenery. I choose courses that give me inspiration. Leadville is an amazing location that seriously takes my breath away and yet fills me with such life at the same time! The other thing that always powers me is the people out there...from the volunteers at the aide stations to the other runners. During ultras we have plenty of time to chat with each other when you are not competitive. As for staying focused and motivated, I tend to give myself no other option. Quitting is not an option for me...my husband would be disappointed in me, not to mention being disappointed in myself. I do not believe anything can defeat me and thus will not let it happen. That is why I need to keep going back to Leadville and conquer this crazy 100mile run! Argh!!! The motivation comes from the image that plays in my head of finishing and everyone cheering! I love the sound of applause!
Q. What does strength mean to you?
Kasey: Strength to me is knowing your limits and then pushing them a little. Enduring great agony with a smile on your face and asking for me. The power of the mind to overcome the fatigue of the body and push just a little harder to do something others think unobtainable!
Q. What wisdom and words of advice can you give others who want to accomplish something like you have?
Kasey: Never give excuses why you cannot do something. Too often I hear people say they are too old or too fat or too something! Everything in life is a choice and thus it is all in your head! With the right mind set you can accomplish all your dreams. So, stop dreaming and make life happen. I get so agitated by people who constantly say they wish they could do something. I had a friend who would apologize for not meeting me and state how he wanted to get together but...It frustrated me to the point of realizing that life is not going to happen unless we each make it happen! Don't wish it be it!
Q. What are your accomplishments- how many marathons, ironmans, etc?
Kasey: Mike has been Trailrunner Magazines Trail Runner Trophey Series 2nd place winner 2004 & 2005. He has done numerous marathons, half marathons, 10k, 5k, 30k, etc. In 2007, he moved in to the triathlon realm (although he had done a small tri when he was younger) and was training for an ironman distance when he went in to the hospital and received his cancer diagnosis. That is why we are working so hard to get that feat off his chart so he can feel good about himself despite the cancer.
As for me, I have done about 3-4 half marathons, 4-5marathons, a variety of 10k & 5k races, attempted Leadville 100 twice and made only 50miles each time, finished my first 50miler this past summer with the Silver Rush in Leadville. I am not much of a runner as I am an endurance athlete. I like to tax my body. Thus my passion for long distance backpacking...the Appalachian Trail 2005!
Q. What is a typical day- work and training?
Kasey: Since April 2008, Mike and I have not had a motorized form of transportation, so as of late, that figures in to our training. I either run to work and back home, run to work & bus home, or bike to and from work. Mike, bikes to work, will do yoga on his lunch break, get there early enough sometimes to put in some time in the pool or do that on his lunch break. Sometimes, he will take off on his bike and climb Lookout to clear his head at work. Often, Mike also runs with the Denver Trail Runners and will bike to meet them for a run. If we get a weekend off together or a day on the weekend together, then we go out and push out 50miles on the morgal bismark loop or some other crazy bike route Mike is interested in showing me. Our house is a disaster zone as we are never there to clean it. Playing definitely takes precedent over chores! That is what makes me love my husband even more!
Q. What made Mike want to continue training/competing even through the cancer?
Kasey: Mainly, I would like to think it was me putting my foot in his rear on not letting him sit down and die. I won't lie, the first year was horrible. For his birthday, he bought a big screen tv and told me all about the new tv shows he was watching. I could not get him out with friends or just to hang out. He basically curled up and disappeared that year! I thought I was going to die under the pressure of trying to bring him joy and the fight to live, so I had my friend help me convince Mike to sign up for the ironman in Cozumel.
At the same time, Mike knows being active is good for his mental health. The problem was and still is uncertainty of his body and what the cancer is doing inside that he cannot see and the doctors may be missing. He continues to worry about taxing his body too much and making the cancer worse, but at the same time he is a man who likes a challenge...I guess that is part of the reason he married me!
Q. Do you/Mike have any words of encouragement/advice for those looking to accomplish similar feats?
Kasey: My motto this year was: "If you can't do something good, then look good doing something." At the same time, for the endurance aspects of my life, I just look at it and think of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer song: "Put one foot in front of the other." Nothing in life is easy. We have to work at everything we do...sometimes more than others, but without the work is it really worth the prize?