TRAVERSE CITY — Caitlin Smith set a personal best in the half marathon last May when she won the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California.
The Traverse City West grad ran the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 18 minutes and 49 seconds.
That mark could fall Saturday in the Bayshore Marathon.
“I would like to go for a personal best. I would like to do better than a 1:18.49,” Smith said. “I feel with my training that I’m capable of doing that, so that’s what I’m going to aim for.”
Smith won the marathon here a year ago, finishing in 2:48.33.
Since that day, the 32-year-old has maintained an ambitious running schedule. In the last 12 months, Smith’s finished a 50-miler, a marathon, a 35K, a 30K, a 25K and 10 half marathons.
“It is ambitious in that it is a lot (of races) in a short period of time,” Smith said. “I look at it as challenging. But I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling strong, really good at the moment.”
Cool, dry temperatures are expected Saturday morning, which should make for ideal running conditions.
Smith hoped to break the marathon record here last May, and was on pace at the halfway mark, but she admitted she went out too aggressively.
And the humidity didn’t help, either.
“That’s something I’m not really used to anymore, having been away from Michigan for a number of years,” the California resident said.
“But I went out a little fast. I was excited to be back in my hometown, and have family and friends there cheering for me. My hope (Saturday) is to go out a little more conservatively and then pick it up and finish really strong. The (projected) weather conditions seem ideal for a good race.”
Ironically, Smith wore bib number 1992 last year, which was the year she ran her first race on the Central High School track. It was then that her sixth-grade track coach told her, ‘You’re a distance runner.’”
Well, Smith was also a dancer. But eventually she made the commitment to running.
“I wasn’t really convinced I was a distance runner until I got to high school,” she said. “But that encouragement (from her coach) changed what I ended up doing.”