Kirsten Stefan

Kirsten grew up in New Mexico and was one of the fastest high school athletes in the state. However, when she arrived at the University of Nebraska in 1991, she was not even fast enough to make the traveling squad on the cross country team her freshman year. In hopes of shaving off the time needed to make the team she developed an eating disorder, but she was never fast enough that year. The experience left Kirsten frequently injured, frustrated and depressed, so she stopped running after 2 years and focused on her degree in biology. She eventually moved to Houston and married. She works as a research scientist at M.D. Anderson studying cancer immunotherapy, and in 2012 her daughter was born. By this time, Kirsten still had frustration toward running and had mainly been swimming. She and her husband, who also runs, created a schedule so that they can both juggle work, exercise, and family. Then, in 2015 Kirsten was swimming at the YMCA when she met Doug Storey. They discussed her athletic background and Doug’s experience coaching some of the top runners in Houston. She was intrigued by the idea of running well again and eventually contacted Doug to ask if he would be willing to work with her. He agreed and set up a schedule that brought her back to running longer and faster workouts and gave her the confidence she needed to have pride in her achievements. In the last 3 years, Kirsten has gone from having bitter memories of the sport to being one of the top Masters runners in Houston. She says that today she does not have time to focus on both swimming and running. Her priorities are her husband and daughter, and she has to make her workouts revolve around those responsibilities. However, she also has grown to love the sport and her teammates again. Instead of feeling ashamed of her times, she celebrates each new milestone and takes pride in seeing her daughter smile and wave as she races in the kids’ events at local fun runs. Regardless of whether she is one of the top finishers, she is content with her performances and appreciates that there is more to life than athletic achievements.