“Sometimes people say I inspire them because of a quote, a picture I post or after reading about one of my runs – but it is the runners I meet and profile who inspire me.”
Melinda Howard is someone I noticed and connected with on Twitter – I found out her story and asked her if she wanted to share. I hope you find her as inspiring and interesting as I did.
Melinda was born in 1962 as the oldest of 2 children in Des Moines, Iowa. She went to high school, then college and got married and had 2 children – and did not run.
She says the running thing started in 2011. She wanted to lose a bit of weight and when her sister asked her to join a “couch to 5k” running program, she simply saw it as a way to lose weight faster —she never knew it would change her life.
She completed the 5k and was soon invited by friends to run a 12k race (a distance she would never have imagined possible not that long before). She finished the 12k and made running friends she says she still has to this day.
The running continued and soon Melinda was finding that 5ks and 10ks were fun but she wanted to see how far she could go. In 2012, a year after starting running she ran a half-marathon. Her first marathon came not long after and she ran the Mt. Desert Island marathon with friends and found herself head over heels in love with running.
From runner to ultramarathoner
Believe it or not, before she had even finished her first marathon she had already registered for a 50-mile race. She was hooked and had a desire to see how far she could go. Back from the marathon she was soon out training for her first ultra.
Perhaps with too much running too soon and as a new runner she had pushed too hard and soon found herself injured. She ended up limping around on crutches for the winter of 2013. But she was as determined as ever.
She got back to running, got a coach and since her injury in 2013 has 12 marathons and 4 Ultra Marathons plus lots of HM’s and shorter distance races. She says she loves to run.
Holds the 10 Mile Mississippi State Record for 53 year old women
2nd AG 50-55 Tanglefoot Half Marathon 2014
2nd AG 50-55 Pilgrimage Half Marathon 2015
1st AG 50-55 Tanglefoot Half Marathon 2015
2nd AG 50-59 Green Street Mile 2015
50M PR: Brazos Bend 50M (12:46:56) 7th
50K PR: MS50 Trail Run (7:04:15) 9th overall Female
Marathon PR: Mississippi River Marathon. (5:05:15)
Half Marathon PR: Viking Half Marathon. (2:15:00)
How do ultras differ. This made me giggle. Ultras are a totally different creature. They’re much more laid back. They’re still competitive but you don’t live and die by your time on the clock. You want to finish. You’d like to finish well but you really want to finish.
Most ultra runners I’ve met don’t ask you your finishing time. They will ask, “Did you finish?” That’s what counts! Did you have what it took to grind out the miles? There’s respect if you can do that! If somebody asks you your finishing time, I’d be willing to bet that they’re new to Ultras and are there to see what Ultra running is all about. I’d also bet you they’re a marathoner. LOL!!!
Why do I run beyond 26.2~Because nine times out of ten, I’m one of the oldest women on the course. There’s not many women my age out there running 50M or trying 100M. It makes me feel badass. Is it wrong to admit that? LOL!!! I have a great deal of respect and admiration for women my age and older who are out there on the trails pounding out the miles. It’s not easy but it’s totally awesome!!!
“Advice? Lace up those shoes and get moving!!! If I can drop 170lbs by eating smart and moving more, anybody can do it! I was on oxygen 24/7 and couldn’t tie my own shoes. I had to have one of my children or my husband do that kind of stuff for me. Walking across a room was a major ordeal. You just have to set your mind to it. Grind your teeth and get started…and stick with it! As much as I dislike this phrase, it’s true: Patience is a virtue.
Someday you’ll realize that you can see your feet again! Someday it’ll dawn on you that you just bet over and tied your own shoes! Do you know what you’ll do next? You’ll do the Happy Dance because you’re making progress! Celebrate the little victories because they eventually add up to big victories!!!”