Nicole Fitzpatrick, 31 Does smoking affect your athletic performance? "I've never felt it running. If I'm pushing for speed, that's when I think it would be beneficial to stop or cut down. I can run a 10:30 pace for days. When I do track workouts or speed intervals or hills, when I'm really pushing myself, I don't know if it's the cigarettes, but I'm dying." Do your athletic friends know you're a smoker? "We'll go out after big runs and everybody has a beer. I'll smoke around them. It's nothing, they just laugh. I'm definitely not the only one. My boyfriend had a cigarette when we were in Aspen [Colo.] after a 40-mile bike ride. Everyone is looking at us like, 'What are you doing?' " Have you tried to quit or cut down? "Nothing huge. I'm usually busy, or sometimes I've done it during training. I'm never going to smoke a pack of cigarettes and then go for a 10-mile run tomorrow. I do think about my body, I try to hydrate well, it's just everything in moderation. I didn't notice any difference when I quit, except my voice. If I'm running and smoking too much, it affects my voice. Sometimes I don't even want one. If I'm deep in training, I'll have one puff and say, 'Get this out of here.' It's totally random. You have to listen to your body." And in the future? "I think it gets to a point where it grosses you out anyway. If I had kids, I'd want to be healthy for my kids. But I feel pretty good. And that's my thing if I don't feel good, I'll reassess."
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times