Only 26 years old, world-ranked amateur triathlete Kearci Jobe Smith is an inspiration to many, both in her profession and in the sports scene. As an Exercise Physiologist in Cardiopulmonary Rehab at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, Kearci coaches patients with heart and chronic lung disease back to health. Outside of work, her tenacious spirit to tackle three sports—swimming, cycling and running—has set her on a path to become Olympic-bound.

Kearci received her certification to be an Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in Cardiac Rehab at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano for two years. “With the exercise, we monitor a patient’s EKG, blood pressure, glucose and heart rates to increase stamina and endurance after a heart surgery or vascular intervention. We also provide a vast amount of education to patients on how to live a healthier lifestyle, such as nutrition info, managing risk factors, and understanding their diagnosis or disease.”

Kearci also works in pulmonary rehab with patients suffering from chronic lung disease, such as COPD or emphysema. “We try to help them work with their current lung capacity and increase endurance and stamina with cardio exercise. Our goal is to educate them about their disease but ultimately, give them a better quality of life.”

Collaborating with 12 to 14 multidisciplinary team members, she admits, “We have to practice what we preach. I inspire my patients to do better as they regain confidence to exercise and, in turn, they inspire me.”

The making of a triathlete

A high school track star at Central High School in Keller, Kearci competed and excelled in the sport all the way through college at Texas Tech University, where she received a BA in Science. After college, she began running half marathons, and met her husband Lewis at her second half marathon, the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon.

Her first triathlon was in 2012 where she placed 3rd in her age group. Top age group finishes in 2013 qualified her to participate in Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 2014. A top 25 placing at Age Group Nationals, qualified her for the World Championships in Chicago in 2015.

The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, hosted by USA Triathlon, was September 15–19, 2015 in Chicago. Around 6,500 triathletes competed for a world championship title. Kearci ranked the #21 best female in her age group (25–29 years old). The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano streamed the four-day event in a conference room so that colleagues and patients could cheer her on.

She will be competing in the ITU World Triathlon Grand final in her age group at Cozumel this September. The course will consist of a 1-mile swim, a 25-mile cycle and a 6-miles run.

With an uncompromising desire to be the best, Kearci trains 15–20 hours a week. In Plano, she’s part of Team Cambridge, a group of 150-plus other athletes, and says, ““Being part of a team helps you step up your own game.”

Her dream is to become a professional triathlete and qualify for the 2020 or 2024 Olympics. Family, friends, Baylor Plano staff and patients, and all of us at Plano Profile are rooting her on.

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A heart-to-heart with Kearci Jobe Smith

February is heart health month! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. Kearci gave us some advice on keeping your heart healthy and on training to be a triathlete.

Keeping your heart healthy

  • Exercise five days a week, 30 minutes a day, and aim to break a sweat. Exercise is different than being on your feet all day at work.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat a variety of healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Pack your lunch instead of going out.
  • Get enough sleep. Unplug. Learn to turn everything off and shut down.
  • Get yearly physicals.

Training to be a triathlete:

  • Use interval training starting out (speed walk/slow walk to walk/jog)
  • Get the right equipment.
  • Accountability is important.
  • Focus on the part that is most fun for you.
  • Work on finishing.

Fast Fact: Triathlon made its debut on the Olympic program at the Sydney Games in 2000 over the Olympic Distance. Swim: 1,500 m. (1,650 yd.) – Bike: 40 km. (24.9 mi.) – Run: 10 km. (6.2 mi.)