Liza Howard

Liza Howard

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

July 2018
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Pacing Western States 196/365

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Cinda picked Carolyn up at Foresthill, mile 62. It was around midnight. Carolyn’s dad asked me excitedly, “What are we going to do next?”

I turned to him, having arrived in California at 1am that morning (3am Texas-time), and said, “We are going to sleep.”

I almost felt bad watching him deflate. But I was going to be picking Carolyn up in about 4 hours, and I figured she wanted something more than a zombie dragging along behind her.

We drove to a parking lot in Cool and set our alarms for 3am.  I think her dad sat up and counted the minutes. I did not.

We figured the very earliest Carolyn would get to Green Gate was 4am. It was unlikely given her pacing all day, but it was possible.  We had more than a mile to hike down to the aid station from where we’d park the car, so we figured we’d give ourselves some cushion.

We’d almost reached that parking area when we hit a patch of cell reception and a message from Cinda came through.

“Leaving the river. About a mile to Green Gate.” She’d sent it 4 minutes ago.

Please imagine me running downhill in the dark with a very large, very heavy, Ikea shopping bag.  I flew past other runners’ crews who were slowly making their way uphill. I did math in my head. If Carolyn was running, the fastest she could reasonably be moving was 10 minutes/mile. If she was hiking, 15 minutes/mile. If she was doing something in between, I would just make it to the aid station when she did.  The 90-pound Ikea bag banged against my side with each step. I concentrated on not tripping. Please don’t trip. Please don’t trip. I checked the time and redid the math. I picked up my pace.

I ended up bursting into the aid station area like a bear out of the brush. I scanned the area. No Carolyn. I rescanned it. Nope, she wasn’t there.

I set up a space for her and began to unload the Ikea bag. A stranger brought a chair over.

“Oh. thank you!”

“It’s not mine. I was just sitting in it.”

And then Carolyn arrived. I’d beaten her by exactly two minutes. It was 4:02am. All this is to say, if you want a pacer who will light a fire under you, give Cinda a call.

What’s making me happy:

Running: Pacing the last 20 miles of Western States.