Business Professor Trains for Olympic Time Trials
"The happiest I've ever been was the first time I broke three hours for a marathon. When I crossed the finish line, I was laughing," says Dr. Alice Kassens, who's currently training for the U.S. Olympic time trials while teaching at Roanoke College. In the time it takes her to teach two classes in economics, Kassens could be running and completing a marathon. For many people, running one marathon is the achievement of a lifetime. Kassens has run five and still wants to do more, including the New York Marathon.
A graduate of William and Mary, Kassens left with more than a degree - she came away with a newfound passion for the sport of running.
At first, Kassens ran cross country because her coach wanted to ensure that she remained in shape for the sport she was recruited by William and Mary to play - lacrosse. "I got hooked, so I quit lacrosse and ran all year round," she says. She found running to be an outlet for her to relieve stress. Since then, Kassens' passion for running has evolved into something of greater magnitude, and her goals have reached new heights - the U.S. Olympic trials.
Although the Olympic trials won't take place until 2008, Kassens has already begun her vigorous training routine. "My personal goal is to make [trials]," Kassens says. She'll need to run 26.2 miles in under 2 hours and 47 minutes in order to qualify for the trials alone. The top three times out of the marathon will qualify for the U.S. women's Olympic team.
Kassens trains with her coach who lives in Atlanta, Ga. They communicate via telephone and he gives her explicit advice and instructions regarding her training. On average, Kassens runs about 100 miles a week. "I run a fair amount with the women's cross country coach [at] Washington and Lee," she says.
Her dedication to training motivates Kassens to wake up and run as early as 6:30 a.m. and sometimes twice a day. She tries to maintain a healthy diet but doesn't obsess over it, saying that "if the oven's hot, everything will burn." Before a race she warms up for about an hour and tries to visualize the race, remaining as calm and relaxed as possible. "I try not to look at everyone else and psyche myself out," she says.
Kassens is from Wilmington, N.C., and began teaching courses in economics at Roanoke College last fall. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from the College of William and Mary and her doctorate in economics from N.C. State University. This semester she teaches courses in the principles of micro- and macroeconomics. Kassens is currently on the board of the Roanoke College's objectives committee, which looks at models of what Roanoke students want to gain from their college experience.