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.