Tommy has always worked hard on his running, and later on his biking and swimming. But being plagued by injuries, he was forced to cut back on the volume of this training and concentrate on the quality. And that has made all the difference.
His all-time highest volume of training is much lower than the people he competes against. While his best week in the pool only amounted to three miles, his competition is putting in seven miles or more. While his highest weekly bike mileage is only 100, the people he’s beating are well over that, up to 250 miles. And while Tommy’s peak week of running consisted of 55 miles while training for the 2003 Boston Marathon, it is not an amount he can maintain throughout the year while including other disciplines. This one week of 50+ is consistent with those he competes against in triathlons and duathlons. But he can’t continue that volume without injury, while his competition has no problem.
In 2006 he placed second overall masters in the South Midwest Regional Duathlon rankings for the four-state region (TX, LA, AR, OK). In 2008, he won overall.
“My competitive nature drives me to train as much as I can to improve. I love the feeling of success at the races.”
This is Tommy’s current workout schedule:
- Monday: swim 30 minutes, lift weights 30 minutes, run 4-5 miles on the treadmill
- Tuesday: 30 minute criterium bike race
- Wednesday: swim 30 minutes, lift weights 30 minutes, run 4-5 miles on the treadmill
- Thursday: 35 mile bike ride with the Pop A group in Richardson
- Friday: swim 30 minutes, lift weights 30 minutes, run 4-5 miles on the treadmill
- Saturday: 40 to 70 mile group ride with Plano Bicycle Association (PBA), Richardson Bike Mart, or Lifetime Fitness
- Sunday: off
He has a bit of Horatio Alger in him. Alger was known as a prolific mid-1800’s author whose stories revolved around boys from humble beginnings, but rise through hard work, determination, courage, clean living, and honesty to reach success. “Often though, it is not the hard work itself that rescues the boy from his fate, but rather some extraordinary act of bravery or honesty.”
Though he didn’t start running until 1998 when he was only 33 yrs. old (he began cycling in 2001 to race duathlons, and started swimming in 2003 to race triathlons). “My wife influenced me. She was a runner and she got me into running races. She started racing duathlons and triathlons then I stated racing duathlons and triathlons.”
The Phast Times News met him and his wife, LESLIE SMITH, at their house August 30 for pictures. Leslie was interviewed for this paper for the March 2012 issue. They are the paper’s first husband and wife team to both make it on the cover.
Together they are like salt and pepper, chips and salsa, peas and carrots. Most times they go to the same races together to compete. When Leslie qualified for the World Championships, both long and short courses, too, make it even more special, so did her husband who also qualified at both races, one in Canada, the other in Denmark, and got to compete with her. Both have done well in duathlons, bike-run-bike events. She has been on the elite list a few times.
They finish each other’s sentences and sometimes even dress alike. They met August 1, 1993 at a singles group church service (DFW Church of Christ) and have been together ever since. They were married in 1994.
“I admire my wife. She excels in everything she does. She is a very positive person. I have improved in many areas of my life because of her. As you can see, exercising and racing are very important to me. But what you don’t know about me is that above all, I want to continually improve to be the best husband I can be to my wife, Leslie, because that’s what she deserves.
I am just so passionate about improving as a husband that I hold this up so much higher than all my other activities.”
He takes a moment and explains further, involving two men he considers to be heroes, PAT JONES and JOHN TEJADA.
“These men were my friends at DFW Church of Christ where I met Leslie. They are my heroes because of the way they loved their families, they always put their wife first and made them feel like Queens. I received years of marriage counseling from these two men. They showed me how to love my wife and deal with problems. I am so thankful for these two men because without them in my life at a certain time, I would not be married to Leslie today.”
Tommy’s birthday is September 24, 1965, born in Dallas’ Baylor Hospital. Growing up in Garland and Richardson, his father was the Director of Engineering for the Anatole Hotel. His mother was a hairdresser. He has three sisters.
“My Grandfather was my hero growing up because of the love, support, and dedication he had for our family. My Dad was also my hero because of all of his hard work and success in his career.”
He admits he was very silly, but also very shy. He played on soccer teams coached by his dad and was in gymnastics during middle school. But he also had other interests. “All I was interested in was adding new parts to my BMX bike, riding, jumping, and racing my friends.” A good kid, he never wanted to get in trouble for fear of the consequences.
He graduated from Berkner High School in Richardson, in 1983. He quickly went to electrical school and spent the next four years getting his Journeymen’s license, making him the real deal. Today, he’s a superintendent at Cummings Electric, a company with 600 employees. He’s somewhat of an anomaly in today’s day and age of skipping through jobs as if they were clothes. “I have only worked for one company.” Starting with the firm just two years out from high school, at 32 years Tommy has been employed the longest in the company.
“Swimming, biking, and running are ways I can push my body to its limits to satisfy my competitive nature.” Tommy doesn’t remember much of his first triathlon, its name, or how he placed. “I started racing duathlons first and that was my home sport. Now, I do more sprint triathlons.” His favorite du’s are the two distance races at USAT World Championships in 2006 where he got to race with Leslie in Copenhagen and in Newfoundland, Canada. It was so exciting being on Team USA and traveling outside the U.S. to race.”
Being organized and having lots of post-race replenishment matters to this dark haired 6’ 175lb, multisport athlete. He especially likes The Fast and The Furious Duathlon at Texas Motor Speedway, The Texasman Triathlon, and the TWU Pioneer sprint triathlons because, “They had plenty of food.” Besides, he goes on, “I won Grandmasters in all three, which is very exciting to me to be able to be competitive in the 50 to 54 age group.” He also went on to win the Masters title at the PrairieMan Triathlon during the writing of this story on September 13. His next race is Bronda’s Duathlon November 14. He will, no doubt, do well.
There’s a special connection for him and Leslie doing Bronda’s Duathlon. “I was friends with Bronda,” Leslie says. “Tommy and I actually went out with her and her husband, Ron, at Short Course Duathlon Nationals in New Foundland, Canada.” Bronda Starling passed away July 8, 2008 from cancer.
Tommy has a son, SCHAWN SMITH, who is 27 yr. old, lives in Dallas, and also likes to train at LA Fitness. He likes to stay in shape, his dad says.
“I’m a little fashion conscious,” he admits. “I wear Nike shirts and Mizuno shorts to running races.” But for triathlons, he wears a team tri suit, “Team Tri Girl and Cabana Boy.” For cycling races, he wears Team Dark Horse.” On his feet, Tommy prefers the Asics Gel Cumulus for training, the Spira in 5K races, and Zoot for triathlons. Not surprisingly, he shops at Plano Cycle & Fitness and Richardson Bike Mart. But for triathlon equipment, it’s Richardson Bike Mart.
“I think there needs to be more local duathlons,” in the Dallas area, he boldly says while also saying the level of competition here is good.
He trains alone most of the time. DAVID NELSON joins him on bike rides. Other times, he does one of the area group rides. As he trains, he thinks about his upcoming race.
“If I am training I am thinking about the race that I signed up for, about how hard I can push myself without getting injured. When I am racing I am thinking about all the training I have put in to do this race.”
He knows when he’s going fast and how to keep going fast. “When I am pushing the pace in a race and it starts to get hard to breathe, if a negative thought comes to mind I will replace that thought with a positive one as fast as possible so my pace don’t slow down.” He was going so fast in a 5K once, he broke his 2nd metatarsal in his right foot.
He’s had six knee surgeries for tearing his meniscus, three in each knee. Plus, he had to have the plantar fasciitis in his right foot sliced open to take care of the tightness he had in that foot.
Despite injuries and surgeries that have set him back at times, and the fact he didn’t start running until he was 33 yrs. old, Tommy has done well as his PR’s show.
Mile – 4:53
3K – 10:11
2 Mile – 11:15
5K – 17:13
8K – 29:30
5 Mile – 29:45
10K – 37:20
15K – 58:45
13.1 – 1:23
26.2 – 3:13
He claims he has no hobbies, but attends Stillwater Church in Rowlett and goes to a men’s group on Tuesdays at Hope Church in Wylie where they are reading the book, “Love Dares.” He also likes listening to both rock ‘n roll and country music. With no hobbies outside of triathlons, duathlons, and road bike racing, he wants to continue to race tri’s and du’s for as long as he can, he says. “Exercising and racing is my life style. It’s the same as eating and sleeping, which I will continue the rest of my life.”
And the rest of his life is a long time.