Name: Kent Smith
Family: Married to Yvonne with two sons, Kent Jr. and Alex, and one daughter, Bianca
Hobby: Smith completed his seventh Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C., a few months ago. He finished the run in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 50 seconds and 12 hundredths of a second.
How was the experience? “It seems like every year it gets a little rougher up those hills, but other than that, it’s good,” Smith said of the three trademark hills after the race’s seven-mile mark. “When you run the course at first, it’s a surprise, but now you know.”
The remaining home stretch includes people cheering the runners.
“My goal is to beat my time the previous year,” he said, mentioning a three-minute knock-off from last year.
What is the longest distance you’ve ever run? Smith ran 26.2-mile marathon in Killeen, Texas, in 1984.
“I’d always see the marathons on TV and I had this saying ‘Before I get too old, I wanted to do at least one marathon,’” he said.
How did you get involved in distance running? “I was raised on a farm and when the cows get away or the hogs get away, you have to go and run to try to get them back,” said the Swansea, S.C., native. “So that’s where it started.”
Smith ran track and cross country in high school and college.
Since joining the Army 26 years ago, he also likes to challenge himself on the Army Physical Fitness Test, which includes a two-mile run.
Smith, a few weeks shy of 50, can still pass the required time for soldiers in the 17-21 age bracket.
What do you least enjoy about running? “I love running,” Smith said, downplaying cool weather. “We just put on more clothing and just go and run.”
What do you most enjoy about running? “You get the chance to think about a lot of things,” said Smith, who also enjoys the benefits from exercise. “It’s just like an adult time-out…things just start coming in your head, like your mind gets clear.”
Smith's regimen includes daily five mile runs during the week and longer distances on the weekend.
When prepping for the Ten-Miler in June or July, he does a 12-mile course along Highway 84.
“For the next ten years I’m going to try to go to the Army Ten-Miler and compete,” Smith said.
Any advice for those starting out in exercise? “Like my grandmother always used to say, ‘You have to crawl, before you can walk,’” Smith said.
He suggested starting out with a brisk walk, then stepping it up to a jog, gradually increasing to a challenging pace.
“It’s a de-motivator if you try to do too much at one time, but just do a little and build yourself up from that,” he said. “At first you’re going to think you’re not really advancing but you’ll know you feel better and it’s just like a rejuvenation.”
And to get through the exercise, it helps to focus on anything besides running.
What is a little-known fact about long-distance running? “Once you get yourself conditioned, you’ll get something called a ‘second-wind,’” Smith explained. “When that second-wind kicks in, it’s just like your body is refreshed and you can keep going on and on.”
Do you ever get tired? “I don’t think about getting tired. When you’re running, you just focus on a thing and you just go…what I do is, I set a goal for myself…you just motivate yourself.”
He goes through encouraging songs and often keeps his family on his mind during runs.