EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSASHLEY SMITH TRAINING
from Eyewitness News Online
Eyewitness News Meteorologist In It For The Long Run
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: Courtesy Charleston Daily Mail
Reported: Aug. 10, 2012 1:50 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 10, 2012 2:08 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
By Monica Orosz
Charleston Daily Mail Staff
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Meteorologist Ashley Smith sure wishes she could have changed the forecast for last year's Charleston Distance Run, which was her first.
In layman's terms, it was miserably hot with an extra dose of humidity.
Unofficially speaking, Smith says this year's race, set for Sept. 1, just has to have better weather conditions. Tune in closer to the 15-mile race for her professional opinion.
Still, with that hot, sticky experience under her belt, Smith approaches this year's Distance Run confidently. Though her time came in about 2 hours and 22 minutes last year rather than the 2 hour, 15-minute goal she had set, Smith finished the race, never walked and even passed runners in the last 4 miles.
"That's how I knew I ran smart," she said.
The 26-year-old weather anchor for WCHS-TV, is looking forward to continued improvement in her running and says she has only to look around at fellow runners for inspiration. She's noticed that most of the better runners in races tend to be in their 30s and 40s.
A native of Chester, Smith ran track in high school, including two years of cross country her junior and senior years. She was a mid- to longer-distance runner, competing in 800-meter and longer races.
But in college at Pennsylvania State University, running was a hobby as she studied meteorology. Smith said she knew she wanted to be a meteorologist from the time she was in sixth grade and had a scary experience driving through a terrible storm with her family on the way back from a beach vacation.
"I was so frightened. I was crying and cowering on the floor of our van and I decided I would rather know what is going on in a severe storm than be afraid," she said.
Her first job out of college in 2008 was at a television station in Missouri, where Smith took up competitive running, starting with 5K distances.
But she's always preferred distance and Smith soon was working her way up to 10K and longer races. She has three marathons under her belt.
Since last year's Distance Run, Smith has made several changes to her training program. For one thing, she's not a slave to a pre-determined program from a running magazine or website.
She doesn't listen to music anymore when experienced runners advised her it was just another variable of something that could go wrong: get used to running to music and it might throw you off if your device malfunctions.
"I don't think I've run with music since last fall," she said.
She still uses her heart rate monitor and she still religiously tracks her mileage on The Daily Mile website.
"I've really increased my mileage," she said, to about 50 miles a week.
Smith's work schedule varies from morning to evening shifts and she's accustomed to adjusting her run times to fit them in.
"I do speed work or hill work once a week and I do a long run on the weekends," she said. "Sometimes I do two-a-days."
Earlier this year, she learned a valuable lesson on caring for her feet when she developed a blister during a race. It became infected and by the time Smith finally went to the doctor five days later, she had developed cellulites, a serious complication.
Fortunately, antibiotics did their job and she was back in her running shoes in no time.
To help round out her conditioning and improve her speed, Smith cross trains.
She strength trains three times a week at the Charleston YMCA, using high-intensity Crossfit-type workouts.
"I love that it combines weights and cardio to get in a full body workout," she said.
"I think this helps with endurance in running and also putting up with the pain when it comes on during a long or hard run."
Smith is hoping to run the Columbus Marathon in the fall and continue to improve her times. She has her sights set on some big-city marathons.
"Right now I'm not even close to being able to qualify for the Boston Marathon in my age group. I would have to shave 30 minutes from my time," she said.
Smith's fiance is an avid outdoorsman who hunts and fishes, but does not run. He's a supportive cheerleader during her races.
She laughingly recalled calling him from her cell phone during last year's Distance Run, wondering why he was not at a designated spot near the Capitol to cheer her on.
"I told him to meet me with water and ibuprofen," she said. "That's how I knew I was miserable."
"At least I can say that was the worst year - I hope it was the worst," she said. "That was unusual weather."
** This story is published courtesy of the Charleston Daily Mail. The photo was taken by Daily Mail Photographer Brad Davis.
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