In 7th grade, nerves almost stopped her from reaching her first starting line, but with the encouragement of her mom and coach, young Katie Howery had a great first race and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. An accountant by day, an elite runner by the crack of dawn, Katie, now Katie Scheimann, will toe the line at her first Olympic Trials this Saturday.
A collegiate runner for the University of Minnesota, Katie began to dabble in half marathons after her eligibility ended. Like most runners, she found the need for a new goal. She ran a 2:52 and won her debut, the 2009 Fox Cities Marathon. With this strong showing, Katie knew with a little more marathoning experience, an Olympic Trials Qualifier was within her grasp.
“After my first marathon my then-boyfriend clued me in that I could even qualify for the marathon trials and what the standard was. It certainly became my mission after that point!” Katie said. It took a few tries, she even thought it wasn’t meant to be at one point, but eventually Katie did just that; she qualified for the 2016 Marathon Trials on the last day of the two-and-a-half-year qualifying window and did it with her husband Christopher by her side.
After her first marathon, Katie refocused her training to be more marathon specific and set her sights on the 2:46 she’d need to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. She went for it at the 2011 Green Bay Marathon. Despite a huge effort and a PR, she missed her goal on a day marked by 40+ mile-per-hour winds and a mis-marked course. The race adjusted everyone’s times but, even with the adjustment, Katie fell 15 seconds short of the standard. After 2012, Katie made several more attempts to qualify and, although she continued to PR, she fell short of the 2016 Olympic Trials Standard, which was tightened to 2:43, from the 2:46 it was for the 2012 Trials.
Frustrated, Katie resigned herself that she wouldn’t be lining up in L.A. That is until December when the USATF announced it was loosening the 2016 standard to 2:45. But Houston, there was a problem! There were only seven weeks left in the 2016 Trials qualifying window and Katie had no marathon on her schedule. The last possible date to qualify was January 17, which was also the date of the Chevron Houston Marathon … which had long since sold out. Undeterred, Katie placed her fate in the hands of the Houston elite coordinator. Fate was on her side: on January 17, 2016 in Houston, Katie Schiemann nailed the qualifier, running 2:43:45.
When I asked her what her secret to success is, Katie credits her support network of family and friends who have helped her reach her goal. Her biggest supporter is her husband Christopher who also happens to be a runner. In fact, they first met when she out-kicked him at a 5k race. She began training with Christopher occasionally during her build-up to the Green Bay Marathon, but once they were married, they fell into a natural pattern of training together.
Like any married couple who runs together, they’ve had their mid-run spats. There is one hill in particular that drives Christopher crazy because Katie always tries to hold a conversation while running up it. Their competitiveness isn’t reserved for the race course; the biggest challenge they have is comparing workouts. While some days are better than others in this regard, Katie has found a way to channel this positive energy to work for her.
I think the biggest challenge is when one of us doesn’t have a good workout and the other one does. There’s kind of silence for awhile on the cool down on those kind of days, with one of us not wanting to acknowledge we had a great workout while knowing the other felt terrible and isn’t in a good mood.
Katie is a talented runner, with a strong support network. But, she’s also had to work hard for her success. As she’s moved up in distance and gotten more competitive she’s also advanced in her accounting career. She said about it, “It was definitely a balance I had to strike between work, running, having ‘adult’ responsibilities and having a social life.” She works out at 4:15 in the morning and trains through the Wisconsin winters, doing what she needs to do to make it happen. Although it’s work, Katie enjoys the process.
Katie’s philosophy is to always remember the three H’s: Healthy, Hungry and Humble. To stay healthy she’s learned to pay more attention to the little things like stretching, foam rolling, and strength training to address her weaker areas. By hungry, she means maintaining the drive to be successful. Lastly, it’s important to her to remain humble in both victories and defeats. She works to be grateful for the opportunities she has and to make the most of them. She makes an effort to learn from what doesn’t go well in training and races and to use those “failures” as the springboard to her next successes.
As for the Trials, Katie is looking forward to it as an opportunity to show herself and others what she’s been working so hard for and she’s going to relish this experience!
I’m most excited about the overall opportunity and experience. To be on the same starting line as women I’ve idolized in running is just something that’s so cool and memorable. This race is something that only happens every four years, so for everyone there, it is a culmination of a lot of hard work, sweat, and ups and downs. To be surrounded by all those people will be exciting in and of itself. I think I’m most nervous about wanting to run a respectable race. I know I’m not going to make the top 3, but there is still that sense of pride of wanting to give and do your very best on that day. I want to show that I belong racing with all these other women, and it isn’t just some fluke that I’m out there.
It’s been a long haul for Katie Schiemann to get to the Trials and we’re so glad she got that last chance. Join us this Saturday in cheering for her! Go Katie!