Pam Howe was involved in cheerleading and gymnastics growing up, but never any sports that involved running. After taking it up three years ago at age 50, however, she has now completed several marathons, including Boston last week.
“It’s the pinnacle for marathoners,” Howe said. “It’s a bucket list kind of thing.”
Howe, vice president of accounting at Bernard Williams & Co. in Savannah, began running after her dog, Rebel, got too old for their daily walks. She got bored walking alone so she began to jog, and jogging eventually turned into running.
“I had tried running years ago and thought it was too hard,” Howe said. “You have to start gradually. At first I’d do intervals where I’d run for a while and then walk for a while.”
Howe’s son Jeremy, a United States Marine, eventually urged her to try a 5k and she was happy with her performance. She worked up to 10k, 15k and half marathons before her first full marathon in the fall of 2013.
“I signed up for the half marathon for the Rock n Roll Marathon in Savannah,” she said. “Some friends who were also signed up urged me to try the full, so I upped my miles.”
Next came the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which Howe ran in honor of Jeremy who is a drill instructor at Parris Island.
“I had his picture pinned to my back with ‘Proud Mom of a U.S. Marine’ written on it,” she said.
Howe ran a 3:44, well under the four-hour qualifying time for Boston and finished fourth out of 400 in her age group. In 2015 she finished first in her age group at the Skidaway Island Marathon and also ran the New York City Marathon.
She finished the Boston Marathon in 3:47.51, about three minutes off her personal best, and already knows she wants to go back next year to try and top that. Jeremy and Howe’s husband Phillip were her support team in Boston. Daughter Tiffany, a police officer for the University of Georgia, could not attend but “she was with me in spirit,” Howe said.
Due to the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon three years ago, Howe said security was heightened.
“We received a lot of information pre-race about what we could and could not bring,” she said. “They were very strict about no backpacks.”
Howe said she took heart in seeing military and law enforcement personnel in droves along the route.
“They had someone stationed along the barricades at least every 20 yards and along the rooftops,” she said.
After returning to Richmond Hill Tuesday, Howe said she did a yoga session Wednesday to stretch her muscles and was back running Friday.
“I was training seven days a week, but now I’ll probably run about four days a week.”
She’ll get back to training in July in preparation for New York City in November. As for those who may want to take up running, Howe’s advice is to start gradually and find support.
“If you don’t start slowly, you’ll either get burned out or injured,” she said. “And the running community in Richmond Hill is hugely supportive.”