Then she'd get on a plane and fly to the next destination to do it all over again. Smith was born in Vietnam in 1947 during the First Indochina War, known in Vietnam as the French War. Her father, a teacher turned Viet Minh resistance fighter, was arrested and killed five months before she was born. During the war, Smith immigrated to the U.S., settling in Independence, Missouri, with her husband at the time.
After the couple divorced, Smith worked two jobs, in a factory and a restaurant to provide for her two girls as a single parent.
At a Christmas party in 1982, she met Michael Smith, who teased her for repeatedly returning to the buffet table for extra helpings. They married six months later. Michael Smith was a runner, and she had watched him run races.
But, at the time, she never thought running was for her. In 1995, at 48 years old, she ran her first race a 5Km in Kansas City. She was suffering from hay fever and taking antibiotics for a sinus infection. She recalls the race being difficult for her, and says she nearly passed out.
Smith estimates that she's run close to 70 marathons across the globe now. She was also at the Boston Marathon in 2013, and was about a quarter mile from the finish line when police stopped her because of the bombing.