Liza Howard

Liza Howard

Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100 mile trail races.

August 2014
« Jul   Sep »


Coffee in Leadville this morning and photo shoot


I’m sitting in the coffee shop in Leadville this morning sipping an extra hot latte (double shot) out of my new City On A Hill travel mug.  This is, in fact, the second City On A Hill travel mug that I’ve purchased in the last four days.  My friend B. came through town and I sent him on his way to Denver with a strong cup of coffee in my first travel mug.  I do have a Texas Lottery travel mug in the car that Asa won at a soccer game, but there are certain $16 treats that merit the splurge.  Holding it, and remembering sitting here this morning — with time to write and get work done while my parents watch Ruby, and Asa and his cousins run around by the river behind the cabin we’re staying — will make me smile through the rest of San Antonio’s August heat and humidity.  September too.  (I’ll be grumpy about any heat and humidity in November — cool travel mug or not.)

I’m sitting by the window facing the tables and couches in the coffee shop, so I can watch the early morning crowd. There is group of Outward Bound folks here planning or debriefing.  I almost ran up to them when I spotted them and told them how I used to be them.  I worked here too!  I looked just like you — except for the Carharts.  I could never find Carharts that fit.  Now it’s rumpled cotton and trail shoes for me.  And I’m getting ready to run an out and back, instead of carrying a heavy pack and helping students live in the backcountry for a while.

There’s wealthy-looking older couple sitting next to me reading the morning paper. Pressed ExOfficio gear and Keens. Not many runners yet.  It’s early on a Tuesday, so the folks who have made it town might still be heading out for a short morning run.  I’m going to make my way around a bit of Turquoise Lake later today.  My legs feel stiff after a seven hour hike up Hope Pass yesterday.  Yes, seven hours.  It was Asa’s belated “Summits of My Birthday” installment (or practice for a my wheels-fell-off-death-march during Saturday’s race).  I took him and his cousin up to the pass.


I talked to them a bit about actually summiting Mount Hope when we set off, but I figured we’d only make it to the pass.  Mount Hope is pretty impressive from the pass and both Asa and Aaron were entirely happy to head back to the car after singing “Happy Birthday,” blowing out four of the seven candles that I managed to light, and eating a nice chunk of cake.



We discovered along the way that Asa’s sneakers have absolutely no tread on them anymore.  Oops.  They were more like ice skates than shoes on certain sections of the trail.  Poor kid.  He held onto a hiking stick for dear life and plugged along — asking for Life Saver candies every ten minutes “for energy.”  I was happy to dole them out.  I was pretty well prepared for any weather system or low blood sugar emergency we encountered up there, and the pack I was carrying had to weigh a good 20 pounds.  (Maybe 30 before the Lifesaver supply dwindled.)  My legs are a bit sore this morning — but they’ll be fine by Saturday.  And just think about all that time I got up at elevation.  (That’s what I kept reminding myself five hours into the hike.)

That night, when Asa, Ruby and I were all snuggled together in a queen-sized bed, I asked Asa if he’d had a good day.  I guess I expected a “yes.”  I mean it was long and hard work, but Hope Pass is pretty spectacular for a San Antonio kid — and there was a chocolate cake with candles.  He told me: “It was medium.”  I’m afraid I laid into him a bit at that point.  I mean, Ruby had only granted me about four hours of sleep the night before, and I’d spent seven hours of my tapering day moving like molasses up and down a trail I was going to spend a lot of hard time on in another five days.  Asa said he was sorry, and I said something idiotic like, “I don’t want you to be sorry.  I want you to have had a good day!”  He was asleep before I could follow-up with something wise and kind.  Thankfully, Ruby was peaceful most of the night and I feel about 70% today.  (Plenty of time to get to 100% by 4am Saturday morning.)

So the internet in the cabin we’re staying at in Twin Lakes ranges from mercurial to unreliable to non-existant.  That, recovering from the drive up here, and the New Balance photo shoot, has kept me from blogging.

Ah, the photo shoot!

So this happened:


I ended up with more makeup on my face than I’ve had on it since my seventh grade Mary Kay birthday party.  And my eyelashes were curled with one of those eyelash curling torture devices.  I managed not to scream as she clamped my eyelashes down.  (PS.  Ladies, what’s the deal with curled eyelashes?  I don’t get it.  I wanted to ask the stylist, but I was afraid of being ridiculed.)

The results Day 1:


Best I’ve ever looked heading out for a run.

And Day 2:


I think the base and powder do a good job hiding the fact that Ruby had a complete meltdown at the end of Day 1 and then did a great impression of the Whomping Willow tree in Harry Potter through the night.  Powerful chubby thighs that girl has.  Powerful.

The caffeine is wearing off a bit, so I’ll save the full meltdown details for another day.  Suffice it to say, the photographers and videographers and the crew helping with the event went above and beyond holding a bawling baby.  I owe many beers — which I was not able to make good on after the shoot because Ruby was still bawling.


(Here she is pre-meltdown in a restaurant in Buena Vista with her buddy Asher Erholz, Brandi’s little boy — my pregnancy blog buddy.)

Super speedy Zeke Tiernan and I had a few pictures taken together on the Leadville course the second day.  Zeke would run in front of me down the trail and then I’d run in front of him — back and forth in front of the photographer.  After a while, the caffeine and lack of sleep kicked in and I told him if we were this close during the race, it’d mean he was having a really bad day.

Zeke in front.  “Hey, Zeke, it’s  like you’re having a bad day, I’m getting close.”

Me in front.  “Hey, Zeke, now it’s like you’re having a really bad day.  Try and catch up.”

I’m not sure how amused Zeke was, but I got a kick out of it for at least seven passes by the photographer.

(PS.  Everyone, including the New Balance fellows, were improved upon by the stylist.  Keep that in mind, if you ever come across the pictures.  Anton, Zeke and Dominic are much shinier in person.)

And so that’s about it.  Today I’m going to get my emails and coaching in order and work on a few straps on my pack — and show my folks how to get to some of the aid stations on the course.

Cliffhanger:  Leadville plan and strategery tomorrow.  😉

Almost forgot!  Two important take-aways from the photo shoot ladies:

1.  Pony tails must be set at the crown of your head.

2.  This is the lip gloss you must have:

lipglossApparently it magically brings out your natural lip color.


Comments 3
  • Anna
    Posted on

    Anna Anna

    Reply Author

    Haha Mary Kay parties!!! And I’m going to adjust my pony tail accordingly. Good luck this weekend I can’t wait to hear about the adventure.

  • trailrunningyogi
    Posted on

    trailrunningyogi trailrunningyogi

    Reply Author

    Love reading your posts– you have such an honest, down-to-earth voice in your writing. Good luck at Leadville, Liza! (I did the Leadville 1/2 marathon years ago, and the thought that people run 100 miles at that elevation still blows me away)

  • UltraPom44 .
    Posted on

    UltraPom44 . UltraPom44 .

    Reply Author

    Very best of luck Liza – Sounds like you’re having a ball at twin lakes, and I’ll be drinking a coffee from my ‘City-On-A-Hill’ mug tomorrow in support! Taking Asa up to the top of Hope Pass for birthday cake is just the coolest thing to do!