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Our Town: Howland goes the distance

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The Sopris Sun is conducting a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before – a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week we caught up with endurance athlete Seth Howland. 

Q: Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from and why did you move here?

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A: I’m from Maine. I moved here July 2009, and it’s kind of a long story of how I got here, but I was in the Marine Corps and got kicked out due to alcoholism. My mother and stepfather live in Glenwood and asked me to move out here. I’ve been sober for a little over six years. I really feel like it was fate and a part of God’s plan for me to move here.

Q: Have you stayed connected with the Marine Corps? 

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A: You know, I didn’t really like my Marine Corps days because they were messed up with alcohol, but I have done some stuff for veterans. I ran a 50 miler last year to raise money for a veteran’s lodge in Tennessee. 

A few years ago, 25 Marines were killed in one deployment, and some of them committed suicide after. One of the mom’s decided to create Dark Horse Lodge. Each room is named after a veteran, and it’s a place where combat vets [of all branches] can go fishing, ride horses, and forget about reality for a bit.

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Q: Have you always been an athlete?

A: [Seth laughs] Not at all! I used to weigh over 300 pounds. At 19 years old, I couldn’t even run a half mile. I guess I just got tired of being fat. I started running on a treadmill, and when I joined the military I had to keep running. Four years ago I thought I could run a half marathon, and when I ran a half during a workout I thought that was easy, so I decided to run a full marathon. I ran the full, and then immediately thought, well I’m never doing that again!

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Q: What kept you going?

A: I really had no idea what I was doing during that first marathon. I didn’t train and thought I needed to run hard every workout. I took the next summer off and just did mountain biking and hiked some fourteeners. Two years ago I ran another marathon and it went way better. I did more research like heart rate training, and then I thought maybe I could run a 50 miler. Last year I ran the Silver Rush 50, and I really loved it!

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Q: What have endurance sports taught you?

A: To not over do it. I know it sounds cliche, but you have to enjoy the process. I enjoy training more than racing. 

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They’ve also taught me how to have long term goals; especially when I was getting into sobriety, I wanted instant gratification. I used to run hard every time and needed to see something better. Now I think about recovery time and it has helped me a lot more. Patience is important.

Q: Switching gears a bit, tell me about Uncle Seth’s Dog Adventures!

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A: Oh man, I love it. I don’t have my own place where I can have a dog, but I basically started by taking my friends’ dogs out for hikes and stuff. I usually go out with three to four dogs at a time, and we do fun stuff like hiking and skiing — if that’s what their parents allow. It really depends on the dog, too. I’m not going to take an older dog up Sopris or anything, but some dogs really love that. People like a tired dog when they get home. I also think I have a really strong connection with dogs. The dogs love it when I show up because they know something fun is about to happen. I love them and it makes people happy that I can take care of their dogs.

Vital statistics

Favorite trail:

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Thomas Lakes. Our home trails are awesome.

Favorite home-cooked meal:

I don’t really cook, but I really enjoy sweet potato toast with chia jam and blueberries right now. My favorite food is peanut butter.

Favorite non-athletic activity:

I meditate two times a day, once for 15-20 minutes in the morning and once for 10 minutes at night.

Favorite book:

“Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll

Words of wisdom: 

Well, considering the circumstances I immediately think, “This too shall pass.” But really, do your best and help each other get through it. People are important and we need to look after each other instead of individual interests.

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