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October 26, 2023

“Everyone needs something”

Racing more than a hobby for Smith
Nyah Rama
CHS9 Honors Algebra II and Honors Geometry teacher Ginger Smith has competed in races for two decades. Smith completed the Ironman triathlon in 2015.

Dripping wet and sweaty from a long bike ride in the hot sun, CHS9 Honors Algebra II and Honors Geometry teacher Ginger Smith prepares for the last stretch of the unyielding IRONMAN triathlon. 

With shaky legs, Smith takes a deep breath and sets off in a sprint towards her goal: conquering the Ironman.

In 2015, Smith participated in the Ironman triathlon. The Ironman is notorious for being difficult, starting with a 2.4 mile swim, on to a 112 mile bike and 26.22 mile run. However, this was not Smith’s first race. In fact, the real number is not even close.

Smith has been competing in marathons and triathlons for more than two decades and in that time has done somewhere from 30 to 40 races.

“When I met her, I could tell she was super fit,” Coppell High School AP Calculus AB and BC teacher Dana Deloach said. “Word got out that she was a big bicycle rider and then as I got to know her, I found out every morning before school she would swim miles before she would get here and every afternoon she would ride bikes.”

Dedicating a year of training to each marathon, Smith works nonstop to push herself. Each week, she will spend mornings swimming for an hour, riding her bike three to four times a week, running three times a week and on weekends she does long runs and bike rides.

“It’s getting your body used to the idea that you don’t get to rest,” Smith said. “Once you get off your bike, you have bike legs, then you have to settle them down to get into the running, which they call a shuffle when you’re doing the Ironman because you’re so exhausted by the time you get off your bike.”

With marathons and triathlons, one of the biggest challenges is to finish. These races do not solely require physical stamina, but a mental one as well.

“After I looked back at all the medals, it wasn’t even about winning or anything,” Smith said. “It was just the thought of being able to train my body and my mind because the Ironman is physical, but it’s also mental. You get to a point on the course that you’re exhausted and you have to talk yourself into finishing it. Going into the race unless I got hurt or if I got really sick, my goal was to finish.”

Those close to Smith learn of her dedication to wellness. Through every interaction, every conversation, Smith shares her passion for fitness.

“I’m so thankful to this day that she shared that passion with me,” Deloach said. “After that half marathon, I joined Crossfit and I have done that for years. She ignited that passion for fitness and stuff with me too.”

Smith’s love of racing is much more than a hobby, though. 

In 2019, Smith was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. 

“I felt like I was really lucky because they caught it at an early stage,” Smith said. “I had to get radiation for sessions so I would come to school and I would tutor at lunch for 30 minutes and then I would rush over to Grapevine to get my radiation and then I would come back and complete the day. I would say that was more mentally draining than doing an Ironman.”

Though it was one of the hardest times in her life, her passion for fitness helped her get through it.

“I feel like everyone needs something to do for themselves to make them happy, but also accomplished,” said CHS special education aide Devin Smith, Ms. Smith’s daughter. “She inspired a lot of people to keep going with your passion and to not ever give up. Even if the doctors said ‘No, you shouldn’t do these things’ she still was like ‘No, I’m going to keep going. Thank you for your words, but I’m going to just ignore it and just keep going.’ I was pretty proud of her to keep going with her passion.”

Through competing, Ms. Smith has met people from all walks of life, some of which she is still in contact with today.

“I’ve met a lot of people through triathlon training,” Ms. Smith said. “You build a lot of friendships and it’s been long term friendships. Even though we don’t race together anymore, we still have a strong friendship. I’m glad that I’ve done it.”

Though Ms. Smith’s determination to push herself remains a mystery to many, it is representative of her mindset.

“It’s just an experience that helps me know that I can do more than what I actually think I can do,” Ginger said. “It helped me know that I could push and push until I completed the race. You meet a lot of people along the way in these races and they help each other, they support each other.”

Follow Nyah (@nyah_rama) and @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributor
Nyah Rama
Nyah Rama, CHS9 Editor
Nyah is a junior and the CHS9 editor for The Sidekick. Although she was inspired by Rory from Gilmore Girls at 9 years old, Nyah’s journey in the school newspaper and journalism started when she won Writer of the Week during a journalism summer camp. Outside of writing for The Sidekick, Nyah is also an editor for the magazine TaHB, which focuses on topics and events in the science and medical field. When not working on a story for The Sidekick, struggling through IB classes, or editing for TaHB magazine, Nyah enjoys critiquing reality TV with her friends over FaceTime, listening to female rap artists such as Cardi B, Saweetie and Latto, and keeping up with her football team, the New York Jets. As a proud New Jerseyan, born and raised for 5 years, Nyah attributes her opinionated personality to her Jersey origin. She loves everything about the American Northeast: people’s aggressive attitudes and aggression, and the busy city lifestyle. To discuss Patrick Mahomes’ football career, share opinions on reality TV characters, or discuss rap culture, you can contact Nyah by email at [email protected] or on Instagram (@nyah_rama).    

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