Team Member Spotlight

November 2023

Takako Howell

Tako Howell, Texas Beef TeamRunning can be a source of joy, health and achievement throughout the decades and Texas Beef Team member, Takako “Tako” Howell, is an inspiring example of this enduring passion.

While it’s Tako’s first year on the Texas Beef Team, she’s definitely not a newbie when it comes to running. It’s been 32 years since she took up the sport and has finished 34 marathons and countless other race distances to date.

“I started running after my father had a stroke,” explains Tako. “The doctor told me I might be heading toward the same fate if I didn’t start exercising daily. I began going to the gym to improve my health. Then, I read an article about the New York City Marathon and, being an avid t-shirt collector, was very motivated by the idea of wearing their race swag. My new goal was ‘Run marathon and earn finisher’s t-shirt.’”

“Today I am motivated to keep running and exercising because I want to stay fit. I became a mother  a little later in life, at age 37. Because of this, I want to live longer, actually as long as possible.  I’m  aiming to be fit at 100 years old so that I can be part of my son’s life events.”

Now, 63 years old, Tako says she’s learned over the running journey the importance of workout recovery. Like most athletes facing the aging process, she confirms more time is required to bounce back after races and hard workouts. Incorporating beef into her balanced training diet has helped with muscle management and is keeping her in the game.

Tako’s two favorite cuts of beef are Brisket and Ribs, crediting Grilling 101 and Smoking 101 sessions with teaching her how to easily prepare beef with just simple seasonings, her preference.  In fact, the first time she’s ever cooked out in the backyard, something she now does frequently, has been at these Beef Team continuing education sessions.

While grilling and smoking might be new cooking methods in Tako’s cooking repertoire, her love of beef has been there since the beginning.

“I am Japanese and my husband is American,” explains Tako, “I tried to cook a whole turkey for our first Thanksgiving while we were still living in Japan, not realizing the lengthy amount of time it would take to thaw a frozen turkey. Needless to say, it didn’t thaw in time, and I happily ended up preparing beef for our first Thanksgiving dinner together.” 

Read on to learn more about this inspiring team member who is currently in training for the 2023 Austin Marathon. 

Hobbies: I enjoy sewing, arts, and listening to music. I’m also a hiker. This year I am participating in the  52 Hike Challenge. Visiting trails is not the same as road running. Being in nature gives me a peaceful mind.

Volunteer Activities: Beef Team events, of course. And I regularly volunteer at theaters around Austin including Bass Concert Hall, Long Center, Paramount Theater, Zach Theater, and Moody Amphitheater.

Beef Team Love: I am so glad I joined the team this year. The encouraging cheers from team members who volunteer at the aid station are amazing and provide so much energy. I am grateful. And, I am appreciative of all the support and friendships made over this past year.

Favorite Races: I definitely would have to say the Austin Marathon, it’s always been my favorite. This year, in 2023, I ran my 13th Austin Marathon and my first one as a Texas Beef Team member. I also really enjoy the races that For the Love of Go hosts. Race director, Jennifer Crosby, works hard for the local running community, putting on events almost every Saturday in the Kyle area.

Inspired By: My friend’s father, from Japan, decided at age 70 to cycle from Los Angeles to Austin to see his daughter. He is not a cyclist of any kind. His journey on bicycle was not to set any kind of record. Instead, he just rode his bike, stopped at the places he wanted to visit, and just enjoyed the journey. His attitude of “take it easy and enjoy” was one of the things that encouraged me to begin running again, after a five-year hiatus from age 55-60.

PRs:  My marathon best is 3:45:10 and half marathon best is 1:50:49.  Both were set in 1994, 31 years ago! My over-60 years personal records are a marathon in 4:38:17 and half marathon in 1:53:42. Not so bad! Even though I got older, I can still run!

 Life Obstacles: As mentioned earlier, I took five years away from running. I wanted to focus on family, among other reasons, which also included spending more time with my in-law parents who were diagnosed with cancer and dementia. After not running or exercising for this amount of time, my fitness took a toll and I started to have some health issues. I began again as a total beginner walker, which eventually led me to my comeback! I was able to use the pandemic time to devote myself to training. It was ideal. We couldn’t go anywhere and running around the neighborhood daily became my happiest time and led me back to fitness.

How I Reward Myself: It’s shopping, I love to buy race merchandise like hats, jackets, or shirts commemorating the event. And, yes, my closet is full of running related things!

Pre-Race Morning Meal: Bananas.

Running Advice: All runners push themselves, whether they are an elite athlete or just starting on their fitness journey.  Every runner is pushing forward with their own personal battle.  

 Favorite Running Shoe: Saucony Endorphin is my current favorite running shoe.  

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