Cheryl Smith ran the Los Angeles Marathon for the first time Sunday, and she did so under the "elite" runner qualification.
That meant she got all the perks, including a stay at the dugout club at Dodger Stadium before warming up for the race, which went from the stadium to the Santa Monica Pier.
She was on television at the start of the race "” her friends sent her the video to prove it. But even Smith, the 29-year-old Laguna Beach resident, gained some perspective.
"I felt like a snail compared to those fast women from Kenya and Russia," Smith said. "It's inspiring, for sure."
Smith did plenty well herself, too. She finished 10th among women and 45th overall in the marathon, crossing the tape in 2 hours, 45 minutes, 19 seconds. That was a good enough time to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trails in Houston in January 2012. The fastest woman at the L.A. Marathon was Kenya's Edna Kiplagat at 2:25:38.
Smith's time is a "B" standard for the Olympic trials, but she still has ample time to make the "A" standard of 2:39.
"It was a really good experience," Smith said of her first L.A. Marathon. "That was my goal, 2:45, so it was spot-on. My race as a whole, though, I didn't feel as strong as I have in the past, physically and mentally."
Smith, who has won the Orange County Marathon three times and won the Long Beach Marathon last fall, was coached by Laguna Beach resident John Loftus in the 12 weeks leading up to the L.A. Marathon. She said she is now looking toward the New York City Marathon "” the world's largest "” on Nov. 7.
"Maybe that can be my 'A' standard," said Smith, who trains with South Coast Roadrunners and is sponsored by Nike Run L.A. "I see it to be very possible."
Smith has been to the Olympic trials before. In 2008, she ran in Boston and although she didn't qualify, she said it was an amazing experience.
"I'm psyched that I'm going back to the trials, 'A' standard or not," she said.