Pushing Through: Kim Smith
After raising a family and building a career and despite health setbacks, Kim Smith of White Rock, B.C., has never lost her competitive drive
Kim Smith grew up in a competitive family. “I was always very competitive in school, achieving outstanding academic and athletic awards,” Smith says. “It’s just something that is part of my being.” Smith’s running journey began in elementary school, where she ran track and field, and continued in junior high, where she ran cross-country. Smith says she was drawn to running because it was a sport that everyone could participate in – even tall, awkward kids like herself. She consistently performed well at races.
When she reached high school, Smith’s focus shifted to competitive swimming, and for the next few years, running went on the back burner. She got married and had four children, and at 32, she got back into running. “I wanted to do something for me, and get back into some sort of shape,” she says. “Running was the easiest thing to fit into a busy family and work schedule.” And she brought the same competitive spirit to running that had been there in her younger years.
By this time Smith was a registered nurse in surgical daycare, juggling running with a family.
Signing up for a 12-week Learn to Run clinic with Vancouver’s
Fall Classic 10k as the goal race, she was the fastest in the group. She also began running with a former 2:30 marathoner
(a man in his 60s at the time), who helped train her for her first few marathons.
Smith quickly went from running local 5k and 10k races to running half- and full marathons in Canada and in the U.S., qualifying for Boston after her first marathon in Portland, Ore.
She ran Boston for the first time in 2000, at age 36, with a time of
3:33, and went on to run several marathons under 3:30.
However, her running journey came to another temporary stop when she was 40. While training for an Ironman, Smith injured her back, eventually requiring surgery for a herniated disc. “It pretty much ended my running journey as I had known it,” she says. “I was quite down and feeling sorry for myself.” But she was very motivated to get back on her feet. “Improving feels good, and doing anything physical as I get older makes me feel better,” she says. Initially, swimming and walking were the only activities allowed, but eventually she started running local races with her kids and became more involved in their track and field events at school.
Over the years, Smith has found it challenging to adjust her expectations of herself, but running still gives her a feeling of accomplishment and stress relief. These days, her attention has shifted to trail running, which she finds easier on her body than road running. After accompanying her son and his fiancée on some trail runs and crewing for them at races, she got the bug. “I see other older athletes out there, and I think, I can do that,” she says. The 57-year-old runner hopes to get back to her cross-country roots in 2021 by tackling her first trail race. Smith definitely hasn’t lost her love of competition – just adapted it to new terrain.