Our running community in Oklahoma is small, but it is ours. We would like to highlight some of our runners and give them a platform to tell their story. Our first will be Anna Kinder:

Thank you for taking some time out of your day to talk with us, Anna. First off, what is your history with running?

I remember enjoying running even as a child. In elementary school, we did a one mile run in P.E. class every year and I always got 2nd place, right behind this really athletic football player.. It came very naturally to me. I wasn’t a sprinter by any means, but I had endurance.

I ran track in junior high and early high school, competing in the 800 and the mile, but I didn’t really find my niche until I started running longer distances. Truthfully, I am not a fan of 5Ks. I prefer half marathons and beyond. After high school, I became really lazy and didn’t do much running until 2011 when I trained for my first half marathon. I was also training for a coast to coast bike trip at the time, so I think it was excellent cross training for that experience. I followed my training plan pretty meticulously and had a great race.

A month later, I left on my bike trip. So, I stopped running again and focused on bicycling for a while. In 2012, I began training for a full marathon but suffered a hip injury, so I deferred my registration to 2013 and ran my first (and only) full marathon. My training was rather shabby, and I hit a wall pretty hard around mile 21. I swore off marathons forever at the time, but I am currently training for another one.

The next two years, I did absolutely nothing physically active. I was dealing with a pretty dark spell of depression, devastating life events, and work stress.. I started self-medicating in harmful ways to cope. I was miserable.

It’s cliche, but in January, I decided to regain control of my life and to start running again. I had gained some weight and had not been taking care of myself at all, so it was quite difficult at first. I signed myself up for the Little Rock Half Marathon in March. I knew I would have to train consistently in order to survive it. That motivated me to stay consistent. Once I had climbed the initial training hump, I was addicted once again. I ran another half in March, the Go Girl Half Marathon, the OKC Memorial Half Marathon in April (and PRed with a 1:50:21), then The Scorcher Half Marathon in June (and finally broke 1:50 with a 1:48:41). At this point, I decided I wanted to try another full marathon. I wanted to see what I could do if I trained properly. Frankly, I wanted to redeem myself. I spent the summer maintaining half marathon shape and began training for the Route 66 in late July.  

What’s a normal week of training for you?

A normal week of training for me currently looks like this:

  • Monday: cross training (usually swimming a mile)
  • Tuesday: 4-6 miles
  • Wednesday: 8-10 miles
  • Thursday: 4-6 miles
  • Friday: 4-6 miles
  • Saturday: a long run (tomorrow I am doing 19 miles)
  • Sunday: rest

Being an English Teacher and training must be a real challenge. How do you juggle your weekly running schedule and your teaching schedule?

Juggling my work schedule and my training is definitely a challenge, but it’s manageable. I used to say I didn’t have the time or energy to work out after a long day of teaching, but I would just come home from work and immediately pour myself a glass of wine and start binge watching shows on Netflix. Now, I get home from work and lace up my shoes for a run. Running relieves my stress better than anything else I have ever tried (and I have tried A LOT). I’ve learned that I am the kind of person that
needs to binge on something to feel sane, and running is the healthiest option for me. Running inspires me to take better care of myself so that I can meet my goals and perform the way I want to in my races and on my training runs. Running helps me appreciate my body for what it is and what it can accomplish. It’s extremely therapeutic. Quite honestly, it has saved my life.

Finding passion for training it’s something everyone has trouble with. What keeps you involved in running?

What keeps me involved/passionate: Setting goals and signing up for races keeps me motivated. If I ever feel like skipping a run, I try to imagine myself in my marathon, around mile 22, completely bonking and hitting a wall… I know how terrible that feels (most of us do), so it puts a fire under my ass every time. I have gotten to a point where I really look forward to my runs, though, especially the long weekend runs. I honestly kind of hate taking days off. I only do it so I won’t get hurt.

I know your father is the race organizer for the Pistol Pete 5K. Is this a special race for you?

Yes, my dad is the race coordinator for the Pistol Pete 5K, and it takes place in my hometown, Perkins; it’s a special race for me for this reason. While I was racing, I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to receive the trophy from my dad. He is an avid marathoner, and our mutual passion for running has brought us a lot closer in the past year. We’ve always gotten along, but now we talk running several times a week. We even get in some training runs together when we can (we ran 17 miles together the day after the 5K). He is going to help pace me in my upcoming marathon, and he ran my other full marathon with me in 2013. Seeing him at the finish line inspired me to really push through the pain at the end. I know it was really special for him, too. He loves to see his kids running, and really just anybody running. He’s like Perkins’ maniacal running evangelist. Every town needs one!

Anna and her father at the Pistol Pete 5k.

How shocked were you to hear you had won first overall women’s?

Honestly, winning the women’s division
was my goal, but I didn’t know if it would actually happen so I didn’t tell very many people about it. I knew I could probably run in the low 22s and that it would definitely be a competitive time, but I still had my doubts. I asked my little brother Kyle to run it with me, and he is faster than me, so I knew if it was close he could help push me to go faster. It was really nice having him beside me during the race even though we didn’t say a word to each other!

Are you training for any big races in the near future?

I am training for the Route 66 full in November, and before that I have the Spirit of Survival half marathon in Lawton on October 2nd and the Tulsa Run on October 29th. I am hoping to get close to or break 1:45 in the half marathon, and at the very least, PR again. For Route 66, I would like to finish in under 4 hours, first and foremost, but ideally in under 3:50. I am hoping to qualify for Boston in the next five years so I can run it with my dad. He has run it 6 times, and it’s definitely my dream. After Rt. 66, I will probably keep my mileage high and do a little trail running to prepare for the Land Run 50K in March. I will probably also run the Memorial full marathon in April, along with some smaller half marathons.

My main goal is just to keep running. It’s so good for my mental health. Boston and a few ultras are definitely goals as well, though. I love pushing myself past what I thought was possible for me; it’s the most empowering feeling I have ever experienced.

Wow, that got really long and wordy. I love talking about running. Thanks for interviewing me; I’m honored!