Top of Her Game - Kathy Hoover
Owner of RunnersWorld Tulsa
When did you start running? Formally when I was 9. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t run, though.
Why did you start running? I had a teacher/principal (local runner Andy Hogan) who was heavy into sports. He made everybody take P.E. Running track was part of our program. We competed against other rural schools starting in the third grade. I discovered I was pretty competitive at an early age and just naturally grew a love for the sport.
How many marathons have you completed? Thirty-six or so.
50-mile races? Four.
100-mile? Four. To my knowledge, I’m currently the fastest female 100-miler in Oklahoma. My time was 22:48:55 in the Mother Road 100-miler last year, which also ranked me as the 49th-fastest 100-miler female in the United States last year. I know of a couple of my buddies that are chomping at the bit to do their first 100. They may not realize that they both have the potential to blow my time out of the water, and so that record may not stand for very long. I am enjoying inspiring other women to step up to do longer runs.
Other races? I have competed in so many races in my lifetime, it is hard to remember all that I have done. I’ve participated in tons of road races of all distances — 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, marathons, trail ultras, triathlons. I think I have pretty much done it all.
What is your diet? It’s funny. I have nutrition clinics for my runners all the time and I know all the eating guidelines, but I have the worst diet. I eat pretty much whatever I want. Peanut butter is one of my favorite food groups.
Guilty indulgences? If you are talking guilty food indulgences, I don’t really feel guilty about anything I eat. If you are talking other guilty indulgences, I will keep those a secret.
Pre-run rituals? My pre-race ritual is pretty funny, according to my husband, Brian. If we are traveling, I like to eat at McDonalds the night before. Then, I like to sleep until the very last minute, moaning and groaning about having to get up so early and complaining the whole time about how I hate to race and questioning my sanity until I get on the starting line, where all those negative thoughts just seem to dissolve.
Post-run rituals? Eat and sleep!
Three adjectives that describe how you feel when running? Euphoric, empowered, satiated.
What is your motivation? For running? There are so many. Mainly, I think it keeps the world a safer place. I have been running for so long that when I can’t, I get really keyed up and cranky.
Toughest run/race? Arkansas Traveller 100. It was in the upper 90s and approximately 64 percent of the participants dropped out of the race. Compound the heat by the fact that you run in the Ouachita Mountains (literally over the mountain tops), it made for a very hard event to keep going. I was so dehydrated that the skin on my feet became loose and blistered over almost every part of my feet. It was a fight to finish, but I did and I am very proud.
Why do you continue to run? I love it! I love it! I love it!
Favorite run/race? Turkey and Taturs 50K, here in our hometown of Tulsa. (It’s) put on by my fabulous husband, Brian.
Self-taught or coached? Both. I have learned a lot just by studying and watching what other runners do. I have had a lot of opportunity to observe a lot of runners over the past 40 years. I see what works for people and what doesn’t, and then I try to apply those winning principles.
Athletic role model or inspiration? Not the elite runner, although I admire them. My inspiration comes from the everyday runner. I believe the average person has to work at it a lot harder than the gifted athletes. I see how hard so many people work at running, and to see the sense of satisfaction they get when they achieve their goals is exhilarating.
Favorite moment from your athletic career? There are two lately that really stand out in my mind. As I grow older, I always think, “Well, my running career is sure to come to a screeching halt soon.” But not so. After finishing my first 100-mile race at the age of 47 and almost breaking 24 hours (that’s kind of the magic number for 100-miler runs), and then qualifying for Boston by one second at the age of 48, it gives me hope that I can run well for the rest of my life.
Biggest obstacle? Fear!
What is the best piece of advice (or most important) you would give other runners? Make running a lifestyle, and pace yourself accordingly.
Any final remarks? I have been truly blessed with the gift of running and it has opened up a lot of doors for me in my life, taught me some great lessons and helped me make a lot of extraordinary friends.
Join in the running fun
Kathy and Brian Hoover, owners of RunnersWorld, offer free training programs for runners of all levels. Here, they answer a few questions about the running groups.
How does one join a RunnersWorld training group? All they have to do is go to RunnersWorld and fill out a short registration form about their running history and we will get them going.
When do the groups run? Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Turkey Mountain parking lot on the east side of the river. Thursdays we meet at RunnersWorld at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays we can travel around a bit, but typically we meet at Veterans Park (East 21st Street and South Boulder Avenue). Marathoners and half-marathoners meet at 5:45 a.m. Saturdays, and the Tulsa Run group and Couch to 5Kers meet at 6:45 a.m.
Do you have to be experienced? No experience is required. We have all levels of participants, from the very beginner person just fresh up off the couch to the advanced marathoner and ultra-runners.
Are there groups for walkers? We do have walkers.
Are there any fees? RunnersWorld does not charge for our training. It is a service we are honored to provide the community.
Why did you start the training programs? We love running and want the whole world to have the opportunity to love it, too.