Stephanie Howe stepped up to the 50-mile distance for the first time in April 2012. Less than eight months later, she placed second at the 2012 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In the following interview, find out how her race played out, what she’s learned in racing her first four 50 milers this year, and what she’s hoping to do next year.
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Stephanie Howe Post-2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Stephanie Howe after the 2012 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Race. Congratulations on a great run.
Stephanie Howe: Thank you.
iRF: You have jumped fully into the deep end on the ultra thing this year — first four 50 milers in the past seven months.
Howe: Yeah, I kind of just started and kept doing them.
iRF: We chatted back in April after your first — you did Lake Sonoma. You did solidly there, but you crushed it here today.
Howe: Yeah, that felt really good. I kind of nailed it today. Everything kind of fell into place for me.
iRF: Walk us through your race. Maud Gobert went out ahead of everybody for quite awhile.
Howe: Yeah, it was really hard to see because it was so foggy and it was raining sideways. So I was just running my own race for most of it. I thought I was doing well—I was passing people—but I really had no idea how I was doing until I got almost through the first loop. I think I was in second at that point. “Oh, that’s really cool. We’ll see how long I can hold that.” Then the three of us, the top three women, we could see each other.
iRF: You, Maud, and Emelie [Forsberg]?
Howe: Yeah, we could see each other the whole third lap. So we just kept switching back and forth. So it was really exciting, probably, to watch. It was a little frustrating at times to race because I was like, “Oh, I can’t lose her.”
iRF: So did you pass Emelie at any point?
Howe: I did. Yeah, I passed Emelie on the…
iRF: Were you in the lead then?
Howe: No, because Maud was still leading at that point. I was in the lead for maybe a step; I was next to Emelie but I never fully took the lead. It was still really cool.
iRF: That’s awesome. We chatted a little bit earlier and you didn’t really have any down periods in the race.
Howe: No, it was… usually I have a really rough patch for about 10 miles, but this time I didn’t have that. I think I kind of figured out the nutrition a little bit more, and that’s made a huge difference.
iRF: What have you learned? This is your fourth in a pretty short span. What have you learned about running 50 miles?
Howe: I’ve learned that you need to run your own race to start. You can’t get caught up in people going out hard. That doesn’t work for me. I’ve learned you need to fuel early, and you can’t fuel enough. Today, I was trying to figure out how any Gus I took, and I think I had at least 20 which is a disgusting amount.
iRF: That’s impressive — almost as impressive as the run.
Howe: I just kept putting them down.
iRF: Wow. What’s even more impressive is that late in the summer, you got hit by a car.
Howe: Yeah, that was a really big bummer. I had some fun races planned. I was going to do UROC; then I was going to go to Chile with The North Face. I was riding my bike and got hit by a car and fractured my hip. So it was kind of game over. This one I wasn’t sure I was going to be ready for. My doctor was like, “Don’t do it.” I was like, “Well, I think it will be okay.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to cross the finish line and finish that well but to just be able to run the whole race and feel like myself again. It’s been awhile.
iRF: Yeah, it’s been exciting a couple of times over the past couple of weeks to have Ian Sharman tweeting out photos and tweeting about you guys on runs.
Howe: Yeah, we got out for some runs. Yeah, that’s been good. I’ve been trying to get myself back into shape.
iRF: And now it’s winter.
Howe: Now it’s winter. It’s time for skiing. There’s snow in Bend, Oregon. I’m excited to do some of that.
iRF: That’s your background—Nordic skiing.
Howe: Yeah, Nordic skiing. I’m excited to alpine though, too.
iRF: Are you still doing that competitively?
Howe: You know, I love running. Skiing is really cool, but I’m not as good at it. So I’ll jump in a few races, but my focus is going to be running.
iRF: I hate to ask this question after such a great race, but what’s on your calendar for next year? Nothing’s probably firm right now, but…
Howe: I was going to see how this went just with the hip thing. Then what I was going to do next—I want to step it up a little bit. I did put in the lottery for Western States 100. So we’ll see if I get in, or if I can race my way in. It will be something like [Lake] Sonoma, Bandera, or Leona Divide probably. Those three are kind of in the mix. Then I’d love to go internationally.
iRF: Anything there that you’re dreaming of?
Howe: I’d love to do UTMB, but I think the CCC would be a better jump for me. So I might do that and just check it out.
iRF: Congratulations on a great 2012, and good luck next year!
Howe: Thank you!