Carolyn Howard's Blog

Born to Run 2013 May 25, 2013


Born to Run 2013

Woo hoo!! Born to Run 2013 has come and gone. I knew it was going to be a blast and it did not disappoint! There were definitely highs and lows…which I will get to…but when it comes to great times with old and new friends, Born to Run is really really special.

With 467 people registered this year, double last year maybe I shouldn’t talk it up too much…

Yes, it is a giant party with people that love to run. You can feel it, people that love to run.


Morning started at 4:30 with gun shots and Banda music, pretty much a normal wake up for me.  At 6am, all races started, which made for a crowded and fun 1st loop. It was cool and overcast.  The course was the same as last year and we were greeted by many many cows.


Beautiful day!

The first 3 loops went along easily as I chatted with folks I had met last year. I really have to say it was about the people for me. I was inspired and teary as I crossed paths with some really amazing women running the 100. Also, I saw John Vanderpot in his 22 week of running an ultra per week! Christa Scott, who graduated the night before with her Master’s and was running her first 50k.


Yay Crista! First 50K done!

I was really successful in my nutrition for the first 60 miles and my split was 14:03  for the 100k. Chocolate milk really agrees with me!


Coming through camp every loop is a boost!

I had started to feel something in my left achilles over the last 15 miles and at mile 60 it was really starting to bother me. I have heard horror stories about achilles injuries so I paid attention. From mile 60-70 I got to enjoy the company of an amazing , experienced runner Lynette Mcdougal.


This is the closest I came to the drinking party, smiling at 60 miles!

When we came in together at mile 70, we both thought we were done.  I couldn’t put the pressure of running on my foot so I could only hike.  I went in to the tent and slept for 4 hours.  I kept waking up and hearing the people moving through camp and the music.  Finally, at 3 I sat up and thought, it’s now or never.  What to do – I didn’t want to hurt myself further but I didn’t feel too bad.  I got up and paced up and down the road trying to figure it out.  Then, I went to the aid station and tearfully (there always has to be tears somewhere) said I wasn’t sure if I would continue.  That’s when my smiling angel Bo Mavity said “why don’t you just try going to the next aid station?  You can always come back or even get a ride”.  That put a huge smile on my face and off I went.  I knew I was going to have to MOVE it to hike 30 miles by the cut off.  It was pretty quiet out there, only saw one person – going the wrong way.

I met Linda around 8 for the last loop concerned that we might not have enough time but we hiked hard and finished.  The last finisher!!  29:30.  I am so glad I finished – I did not want to wake up in the morning, pack up the tent and go home without doing what I came for.

It’s a delicate balance.  There has to be a goal that is really firmly set to even attempt 100 miles.  It’s like deciding to climb a mountain.  The entire climb is great and the scenery is beautiful, NOTHING can take from that. But,  then, there’s the top of the mountain and it’s hard to get close but not actually reach the summit.


Who’s more tired?

I was blessed to be at the race with my friend of friends, Linda Seaney. She had the courage to give it try based on my recommendation and ran her first 10 mile race! (I think she’s hooked and talked about WHEN we go back). She also had the lovely job of crew and 90 mile pacer which was a bit more than the job description.


La, la, la That’s what friends are for…

After a couple visits to my fabulous PT, Cody Jones this week I am healing and starting to think about what is next…


Backbone Beauty March 23, 2013

In Southern California we have a sweet little trail that crosses the Santa Monica mountains in 68 miles. Flat and fast…

Overlook Road looking into Sycamore canyon

Overlook Road looking into Sycamore canyon

Just kidding, actually – lots of downhill which means lots of uphill  – elevation gain 14,728.  Still, it promises to be a good time!

When I heard about the inaugural Coyote Backbone Trail Ultra put together by the Coyote Cohorts, I signed up almost immediately. Not even realizing that the race finishes on Easter Sunday, a real problem when I have certain bunny duties!

I started exploring the trail in depth over the past few months, I have fallen in love with this amazing trail and parts of it that I had never seen. I am so excited about the run and the chance to cover the entire trail.

If I could run and write at the same time, I would get a lot more blogs written. I am always seeing things I would like to describe. Here are some of the past months highlights:

I have had the joy of watching the Winter move through the mountains and Spring bloom.

I have been running lots of hills to prepare.  One of the parts of the trail I anticipate will be tough will be the climb from Tapia.  I have done it many times, never fast but at mile 25 it will be extra extra fun.


Frost on the Tapia section in December

Frost on the Tapia section in December

Coming out of the long climb from Tapia is Corral Canyon – a real gem.

Very runnable, shady and in the the middle of the canyon is a sweet surprise.

A heart in Corral!

A heart in Corral!

Then, a little further down the canyon in the middle of nowhere were the Tibetan prayer flags hung over the trail.  I think they are gone now as strangely as they appeared so I’m glad I took pictures.  Just another reminder if I needed it to appreciate the moment.


Views to the ocean near Sandstone Peak

Views to the ocean near Sandstone Peak

The trail between Sandstone Peak and Danielson Ranch is raw and rugged.  A trail worthy of a visit no matter where you are from.  However, the drive to the trailhead is guaranteed to make any passenger queasy.

Chamberlain monument

Chamberlain monument

Sunrise near Sandstone

Sunrise near Sandstone

One of the most fun was the mud run/crawl after a big rain in January.  Going from Kanan to Corral and back was a comical slide that makes me pray for a dry race day.

The deer use the trail over Kanan as theri own highway

The deer use the trail over Kanan as their own highway.  It was covered in tracks.

Smokey was often a faithful and welcome companion.  Here he is going from Mulholland to Yerba Buena on the fireroad.


Since much of what I have seen will be in the dark on race day, I’m glad I have had the chance to savor it bit by bit.

Showers of spring flowers

Showers of spring flowers

Danielson Ranch

Danielson Ranch

Hitting the trail with Tim!

Hitting the trail with Tim!

I’ll let you know how it goes…


Keeping the vision strong, ready for Javelina Jundred. October 22, 2012

Filed under: Running — Carolyn Howard @ 6:34 am
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Warning: This is not a post about hydration tips and pre-race preparation hints!

This week, I am gearing up for my 4th 100 mile race. It so happens that they have all been in 2012. My 3rd race was the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 which I finished 71 miles of. Not what I intended to do but a great adventure just the same.

Why 4 in a year? Well, honestly, in a way, it’s not as hard as it sounds.  There is a fear that is removed once the distance has been completed.  Not to say that any 100 mile is easy or predictable but that initial uncertainty of the distance is gone.

And then I started thinking about some of the underlying meaning for me. It has been a really hard year. And, I do mean spirit breaking hard. Nobody told me life was going to be honey and sunshine all the time,  but I have always managed to take the bad chunks and work around them.

I think the 100’s made me stronger. The vision has to be stronger than the hardship. The vision of whatever we really value and hold dear has to be so clear and defined that even when things get murky, we can move through. I think the race is like that, for me around mile 60-70. Before that point in the race, it’s generally a pretty good time.  Chatting with other runners, thinking about strategy, whooping it up.  But then, my mind has gotten tired – more than the body.  It gets a little hazy as to why I am actually doing this.  That is where it becomes a practice for real life.  It challenges me to be more focused, tougher and very clear about my goal.

This week, I was listening to the author Larry Levin talking about his book Oogy.  He said that Oogy, his horribly abused rescue dog showed us how we can come out the other side, no matter the hardship, and find love.  Getting caught up in the momentary ups and downs is so easy to do.  When I go out there this weekend, I plan to honor those that I know are struggling to hold their vision when daily life is threatening to batter it.  Keep the vision –  write it, shout it, pray it, don’t stop and don’t give up.

And, to my dear friend, Trent Bright who lost his struggle this past week, I will miss you and hope you have found peace and light.


Rocky Road Adventure complete! February 24, 2012

Filed under: Running — Carolyn Howard @ 9:16 pm
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This promises to be a rather long blow-by-blow account…I am so excited about the whole weekend and surprised that I remember so much of it.

It was dark when I arrived at 5.   I was getting nervous watching everyone arriving and wondering if I had a clue what I was doing. I hadn’t checked in yet and wanted to make sure that I was all set up. I had my bins well-organized with too much stuff and put them out with a chair near the start. I set up next to a minivan and introduced myself. This turned out to be so lucky. Bonnell Murphy and Jeff Stevenson are very experienced ultrarunners. Bonnell was running and her husband, Jeff said he would keep an eye out for me.

Loop 1 (miles 0-15)

Quite suddenly, someone said go and we were off.  I knew my initial goal was to start conservatively.  After a mile or two, I started running with the amazing Jean-Jacques D’Aquin.  Over the next 10 miles he told me stories and gave me valuable advice that I took with me the rest of the run.  I think the most useful was to walk on the obstacles not over them.  There were lots of sandbags along the way and it really was the safer way to go as I got tired.  Jean-Jacques has completed something like 17 – 100 milers in the last 12 years and it was an inspiration and honor to share the trail with him.

Loop 2 (miles 15 -30)

Jeff was there to see if I needed anything.  I asked him if he knew if there was going to be any FOOD.  He said he would make me a grilled cheese when I returned.  He filled my bottle with Clip2 and I changed into shorts and was off.  All the way through I was pleased  at how I didn’t lag at the aid stations.  I did eat something every station – a couple of pretzels, gel, m&ms – just consistently a little something.  I took a Succeed very hour.

I was very surprised at how interesting and beautiful the course was.  I had thought the relative convenience and ease of a loop course was going to be a trade-off for a repetitive loop and less beauty.  I never got tired of the course.  Mountains, views, trees and meadows made it varied throughout.

I did get a little down on that loop though.  I think it was just thinking about amount ahead and not feeling a significant milestone at 30.  Towards the end I saw Jeff on his bike and he said there was a chef coming at 1 pm.  When I got in at 30 miles, he had the grilled cheese and I was sooo grateful.

Loop 3 (miles 30-45)

Still not a hugely significant loop, not halfway but feeling great. The food thing was a bit of an issue for me because I had assumed (whoops) that there would be some type of food at the aid stations – potatoes or pbj or ?  The aid stations had candy, chips, cookies and banana.  The turn around also had gels.  After awhile I wanted to EAT and next time would stock up more for myself.  When I returned at the end of the loop the chef had arrived and made chili.  Delicious I’m sure but sounded hard to digest so I had another grilled cheese.  Grabbed my night gear and changed back to long tights. I saw Jeff and asked him to not let me quit.

Grilled cheese in hand!

Loop 4 (miles 45-60)

Just having a great time.  Sunset was beautiful.  Still on course for 24 hours which was a secondary goal.  I reached into my bag and took a few ibuprofen which isn’t my usual because I know the risks.  I got to the turn around and enjoyed an Ensure and Starbucks Via.  Wow, what a boost.  I felt great singing along and feeling the energy.  I started to listen to Krwing by Linkin Park.  I must have played it 100 times over the rest of the race, it just helped me to focus.  When I got to the start, AMY was there!  It was a big boost and she helped me get back out quickly.

Gorgeous views and sunset

Loop 5 (miles 60-75)

This was cool.  Uncharted territory.  I was moving really well and running a good bit.  Around 67 my stomach wasn’t feeling to well and I couldn’t think about eating food.  An angel gave me some oyster crackers but they were almost impossible to swallow.  I was still able to keep up on my nutrition with the gels and I had switched to Amino.  Didn’t feel tired at all.  I started to get a bit discouraged because my headlamp ran out of juice and so did my Garmin.  I didn’t like running with a flashlight and wondered if the bouncing light was making me queasy.  I pulled into the start a little wobbly couldn’t eat and headed back out.

Loop 6 (miles 75-90)

Jeff had said this loop is what would be the challenge and he was right.  I was a little cocky earlier, talking smack talk to myself and in my Facebook postings.  I think I must have pulled out a few more Ibuprofen which was ok because I made sure to space them 4 hours apart.  Around mile 77 was just walking, hardly running at all.  I got so discouraged I called Amy who was trying to sleep and said come pick me up at mile 80.  She said she would come out and we could talk about it.  Then, I saw Jeff out pacing Bonnell.  Tearfully and whining I said I couldn’t HIKE an entire marathon more.  He. of course, said “get going, go aid station to aid station, you will be so happy on Monday and I’ll see you at mile 90.”  So, then, even though I felt bad, I knew I wouldn’t quit.

I met Amy at mile 80.  Warmed up in the car for 10 minutes which wasn’t necessarily a good thing and said “will you come with me the next 5 miles?”  Poor Amy, what could she say?  She put on her running shoes and we hiked the next 2 hours.  She left me at mile 85 and I came back to mile 90 around 5:45.

Out and Back (miles 90-100)

At this point, it wasn’t reassuring that it was an out and back, only 10 miles.  I didn’t get a big boost from the daylight but maybe a little.  There were lots of stiff-legged people out in various stages of finishing their race.  Each mile was very long but I wasn’t thinking about quitting anymore.  I started to feel a bit sleepy but not too bad.  I finished in 27:02, 9th woman.  It wasn’t the elation I had imagined at the end but the more rested over the next day I really felt it!  So thrilled to have finished it.  It was a great race for me and a great challenge.  I feel very proud of what I did to train and prepare for this and that my hard work took me through.


I started out the race in my Kinvara’s because I was uncertain of my feet holding up and I wanted options.  I switched to my Hokas and they were PERFECT!  My feet felt great and I am sold!

This was my first extended experience with SUCCEED and Amino.  I was happy because I felt like my hydration/electrolytes stayed consistent and had no swollen hands.

This was a great race for me.  I loved the distance and challenge of digging in for an extended period of time.  I look forward to my next one which is not something I said last year after my first 50 at Leona Divide.

There are so many people to thank!  Amy and Jeff for sure.  My amazing husband and family who put up with me, the training and a lengthy weekend away from home.  Carolyn Talarico at Future Physique.  Her grueling weight training sessions and advice as a marathoner/triathlete really helped my overall endurance and strength.  Cody Jones at Advanced Physical Therapy.  Cody is also a marathoner/triathlete /cool guy who knew exactly what to do when I got injured twice and never wasted my time.



Santa Clarita Marathon – November 7, 2010 November 8, 2010

Filed under: Running — Carolyn Howard @ 2:03 am
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As I was pondering my week and how to get a long run in, I remembered the Santa Clarita marathon on Sunday.  Good day because I don’t have to teach and it is nice to not always run alone.  This idea was met some shock and resistance on several fronts which is understandable.  However, when I get an idea in my head I do like to follow through.

So after receiving final approval 🙂 the kids and I went out to Santa Clarita to register.  Let me add here that there was also a Toms’ shoe sale in Valencia where people were carrying out bags (huge bags) of shoes for 20.00 each.  Very convenient but the line to pay was an hour long so we couldn’t stay (note for future and sorry Jane).

I was surprised to find out that when I received the number 382, that was because that was how few people run the marathon.  A couple thousand for the half but it does get spread out when they leave the course.  I have to say it was a very nice marathon.  Great volunteers, aid every mile.  warm clean Hyatt bathrooms at the start, EASY parking and a beloved Chipotle at the end.  Thumbs up and would do it again.

But the real reason for going out there is the people.  I met a bunch of fine people from the Pasadena Pacers.  A 72 year old man that was running his 205th marathon and gave great advice about staying in the moment and listening to your body.  I always think I am faster than I am and it is a good serving of humble pie to see all the shapes, sizes and ages passing me by.

It was a beautiful day.  For me, running a marathon forces me to stay present.  Although it might seem the opposite, the repetitive nature of mile after mile on pavement makes me focus on that specific mile.  It is much easier physically that a 50k on trails but a completely different kind of mental challenge.  I was able to really think about technique and form, easy and effortless was my goal.  It was a blessing to be able to run this race, thanks to all who made it possible 🙂



Why BreatheSingRun? November 4, 2010

Filed under: Breathe,Running,Sing — Carolyn Howard @ 12:20 am

Hello and welcome! BreatheSingRun came to me while I was running –  as many things do (more on that later). These are 3 things that I am passionate about and am constantly fascinated by what they teach me about life and what they have in common. My goal is to have 3 separate categories so that the ideas on each can be divided. This site is also a portal for information about my voice studio. Thanks for visiting!