Runner Spotlight: Alison Smith

Alison Smith

When did you begin running and why?

When my brother was born in 1991, I got kicked out of the baby jogger, and I started biking and running with my mom. I ran Hershey’s Youth Track throughout elementary and middle school, before joining the Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track teams in high school. Finally, I did a brief stint on the track team at William and Mary my freshman year before realizing I preferred pizza and beer.

How did you find out about DCRRC and when did you join?

After my freshman year of college, I went on a running hiatus (seriously, I played Ultimate Frisbee…). Around 2012, I decided to get back into it, and after a horrendous attempt at my first half marathon (more on that later), I signed up for the MCM and joined the club for the motivation to run more than 5 1/2 miles.

What are you training for right now?

Training is a strong word, but I’m running the Army Ten Miler this weekend. Then planning to consider doing some tempo runs and speed workouts while I ramp up for Boston training over the Winter.

What is the toughest run or race you’ve ever participated in?
I ran the Rock N Roll Half Marathon on St. Patrick’s Day 2012, but I didn’t train or plan for race day particularly well. I was hoping to run 8 minute/mile pace for a 1:45 and planning to tag along with a pace group to do so. Unfortunately, this was the year that metro was a disaster, so I ended up sitting in the underground for an hour, emerging from the metro tunnel just to hear the race gun go off. I sprinted to the start and for the first couple of miles in an attempt to catch the pace group (unsuccessfully), before dragging myself to the finish line in a 1:52 (I considered pretending that I was running in the relay, so that I could be done at the 10k. It was that bad). I cried. But, at least my green tutu looked good.

What’s your favorite part about being a DCRRC member?

I love all of the beautiful board members (and all of our other members as well!), but I think my favorite part about being a member is the chicken fingers at happy hour. Oh, and all the free races.

What’s your favorite route in the area?

I ♥ Arlington Triangle

What’s the most important lesson running has taught you?

Always plan my run so I don’t have to finish up Walter Reed hill.

What race day traditions do you have?

I don’t like to get to the race too early, because I hate waiting around. Getting to a big race late enough that you’re not standing around too much, but also early enough that you’re not stuck too far in the back is an art that I’ll never master.

What’s your proudest running moment?
So after my not-so-great first half marathon in March 2012, I considered that maybe long distance running wasn’t for me, but I decided to double down and signed up for the MCM. I joined the club for the Saturday Long Runs and did yasso 800s pretty much every week. 7 months later, with the lofty goal of “just qualify for Boston”, I ran my first marathon in 3:25. I came home ecstatic, but not as excited as my mom, who couldn’t believe how far technology had come since she ran Boston in like 1996, and had live-posted my entire race on my Facebook page (luckily it wasn’t a DNF). “Run Ali, run, but not too fast you have a long way to go! Update: Alison completed her first 20k in 1:36:48. More later..”

What’s your life like outside of running?

I work full-time as a Software Engineer and am getting my PhD at University of Maryland, College Park in Computer Science where my research focuses on Machine Learning and Human Computer Interaction. I’m also your membership director and volunteer coordinator. When I’m not trying to get people to publish my work or begging you guys to come hang at the MCM water stop, I’m watching football (go Panthers!) or at some DC-area live music venue.

What is one thing you wouldn’t run without?

My Strava. If my GPS isn’t working, it feels like it doesn’t even count.