CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Less than a year after his arrival in Ravenswood, Jeff Weiss has become a familiar figure in the town's neighborhoods, a sleek 6-foot-2, 165-pounder running at a brisk pace through the streets each day, sometimes as early as 6 a.m.
The 27-year-old Weiss is not only fitting nicely into his adopted community but is training for what he hopes will be a spot as a marathoner on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
When school starts, he'll begin his second year on the faculty of Ravenswood Middle School, a 10-minute walk from his residence, making it convenient for him to nail a 40-minute run before school.
Weiss's running is a year-round thing. Even in the dark of winter, streets lights provide plenty of illumination for those early-morning runs. After school, he may go for another. He's even found some nearby ridges that offer the kind of hill training essential to every hard-core runner and Olympic aspirant.
In addition to his Olympic hopes, Weiss would like to win another Charleston Distance Run on Aug. 31. On the Saturday before Labor Day last year, shortly after taking the Ravenswood job, he saw the Capital City for the first time and won its annual 15-mile race in one hour, 21 minutes, 14 seconds.
It was the start of what has been an enjoyable stay in West Virginia. A native of Western Pennsylvania and a 2009 graduate of Slippery Rock (Pa.) University, he came to Ravenswood at the suggestion of his fiancé. He plans to be married in September and expects to work as a volunteer assistant coach in either cross country or track. He'd like to someday work as a head coach, quite possibly in Ravenswood.
He seems to have found a home.
"It's a nice active community,'' he said recently. "People are out walking and running and riding their bikes. But it's isolated enough that you don't have any issues with traffic. I'm enjoying the people here, and I like the country atmosphere.''
Not that his new life has been totally without a downside.
"My summer,'' he noted, "hasn't been as exceptional as I hoped it would be.''
Like any avid runner setting his sights on an ambitious goal, Weiss has felt inklings of mental fatigue, prompting him to cut back somewhat in his training.
"You hit those peaks and valleys,'' he said, "and I was kind of in a valley there. I just kind of lost some of that mental edge. You need to recharge the batteries every once in a while and come back stronger. I kind of went through a dead phase there for a while. I dropped some mileage and added a lot of bicycling and cross-training.''