Lori Howe was one of the best athletes ever during her days as a distance runner at Craig County High School, and she’s still running. Lori competed in the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, and finished with a time of 3:30.01.
Howe, whose maiden name was Lori Crotts, competed on a cold and windy New England day. That kept the times down for most runners, but those won successfully covered the 26.2 miles in near-freezing temperatures were all considered winners.
“My goal was to run the race in around three hours, but I realized early on that it was not going to be a fast day,” said Howe. “The weather was a terrible combination of 39 degrees, rainy and windy. This made the race challenging as it was impossible to stay dry or warm. My clothes were soaked through very early in the race, and I started getting cold shortly after the halfway point. I knew that I had to keep moving or I would just get colder, so I made it my goal to make it to the finish no matter how much I had to slow down.”
Those who knew Lori in high school realize what kind of a competitor she is. Lori was the first Craig County runner to win a state championship, finishing first in the state Group A cross country meet her senior year, the fall of 2005. She not only won Group A but finished third among all the girls in the state from any division with a time of 18:15.
“There were girls from schools of over 2,000 students, and Lori was third fastest of them all,” said her former coach at Craig County, Kim Kneisley. “It was phenomenal. That was my favorite day out of all the years I coached. She was just amazing.”
Lori went on to earn her Bachelors Degree from Radford University, where she was part of the Cross Country and Track & Field Teams for four years. She then went on receive her Master’s Degree from Appalachian State University. After graduating from Appalachian State, she relocated to Vermont where she now lives with her husband and continues to run. She’s a member of two local running clubs, the Green Mountain Athletic Association and Central Vermont Runners, and competes in several races each year.
Last week’s Boston Marathon was the fourth Marathon Howe has completed. She’s run in the Vermont City Marathon twice, in 2016 and 2017, and the Hartford Marathon once.
“My best marathon time was this past October (2017) where I ran under 3 hours (2:56:15),” said Howe. “In 2017, I placed fifth overall for the women at the Vermont City Marathon and was the seventh woman overall at the Hartford Marathon.”
She’s also completed in nine half marathons with the most recent being the New Bedford, MA Half Marathon where she ran 1:24:27. Of course, the Boston Marathon is one of the most famous, if not THE most famous, races of all time. Held annually on a Monday in April, it’s a major event that attracts runners from all over the world.
“I was amazed at all the logistics that went into putting on such a large scale event,” said Howe. “The day started out at around 6 am where my training partner and I rode the T (subway) to get into Boston. We dropped off our checked bags at the finish line, so there were dry clothes waiting for us. Then we rode school buses out to the starting line, which was about a 45-minute ride. We were then dropped off at the Athletes’ Village where we waited until the race began at 10 am.”
When Lori waited for the race to start, she knew it was going to be a long day.
“The Athletes’ Village was very wet and muddy, and it was hard to find a place to hide from the weather,” she said. “We managed as best as we could by wearing ponchos, old shoes and clothes, and sitting on trash bags to stay dry. Trash bags were used to hold dry shoes and clothes to put on shortly before starting the race. Since checked bags must be left at the finish line, anything that you leave behind in the Athletes’ Village does not get transported back to the start but instead gets donated to local charities. We put on our dry shoes and clothes as close to the start as possible to stay warm as long as we could.”
Once the race began, she ran through the hub city and observed some of the famous landmarks of the area.
“The course had many interesting points, from the funny signs throughout the course to the landmarks to watch for,” she said, noting the famous Citgo Sign at Fenway Park on Boylston Street where the finish line is located. “And the spectators were out supporting the runners. My favorite was a guy dressed in winter clothes and goggles, holding a sign that said North Pole. It gave me a good laugh as I was pretty cold at that point in the race.”
This was the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon that was disrupted by a bombing that claimed lives and injured many. That was on April 15, 2013, five years and a day before Lori competed. As expected, it was on the minds of all.
“The bombings were on my mind both before and during the race,” said Howe. “The day before the race we walked by the finish line, and there was a memorial set up in honor of the victims of that day. This was very sad to see and hard to think about something like this happening at a sporting event. All aspects of the course were well policed, and many security measures were in place to make sure everyone was safe. I thought about the bombings as I was passing through the two points on the course and it was so hard to believe that something like that happened five years ago.”
Finishing the race was the culmination of months of training for this event. Lori had been training for the marathon since December.
“Since I had just run the Hartford Marathon in October, I already had a base level of fitness,” she said. “I worked to increase my mileage focusing on getting in my long run each week. I believe building up the long run is key to successfully completing a marathon.
“As part of my training, I completed a half marathon race about five weeks before the Boston Marathon. This race went well, and I finished out the peak of my training a couple of weeks later with a 24-mile long run. Afterward, I tapered my training to rest up before the race. After the race, I usually take about ten days completely off to rest and recover and then gradually build back up for whatever race may be next.”
Lori will be continuing to run both half marathons and marathons and already has her next race picked out. She’ll be running in the Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day Weekend and is hoping to run around three hours or under for this race. And, she’d like to go back to Boston to run again.
“I am so happy that I kept pushing myself and was able to finish the race,” she said. “This race was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. It was challenging both mentally and physically. This will definitely be a race to remember, and I can’t wait to go back and do it again on a nicer day.”