Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Road To Houston -- A Look Back: Volte Founder Bill Dwyer's 36-Year History of CHM Support

In 1987, a then record 2,849 runners crossed the finish line of the Houston Marathon.

The official recorded low temperature was 38 degrees and it never got warmer that day than 54 degrees.

While it was only the 15th Houston Marathon, it was - to that point - the fourth coldest on record.

Susan Rouse, who we profiled earlier today, was at the start ready to improve upon her debut time of 3:48:58 from the year before.

And whose marathon was it their first?

Our founder, coach and friend Bill Dwyer.

"It was 35 degrees and very windy," he said, much like it is going to be for Sunday's 50th running.  "I was bit by a dog on my calf the day before."

Bill Dwyer running the 1987 Houston Marathon
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

It was his third marathon as his first two marathons were the original rendition of The Woodlands Marathon.

"I ran 3:11:35, which was a 13-minute PR," Bill stated.  "Ultimately this would stand as my third fastest marathon with Dallas in 1988 and Houston in 1989 would be a little faster."

In the picture above, he said he's wearing the FM1960 Roadrunner's singlet, a Ten For Texas long sleeve cotton shirt and noted that it was his first time wearing tights for a race.

Nine Volte here.

As I started to write what you read above, and thinking about Susan's rich history with the race, I asked Bill a short while ago to document his history with the Houston Marathon.

He was gracious enough to do so.

This will be Bill's 36th year either running the race, volunteering or supporting runners - an incredible legacy of commitment to our community and what has turned out to become one of the top mid-major marathons in the world.

Here's his year-by-year history:

1987 - 3:11:35 First Houston
1988 - 3:21:35
1989 - 3:09:07 (3:08:54 on my watch...pre chip)
1990 - 3:30:47
1991 - 3:31:41
1992 - 4:03:13 
1993 - 3:49:37
1994 - 3:59:08
1995 - 4:13:12
1996 - 3:29:31 (good year)
1997 - 4:45:52 (ran with friend)
1998 - Support runners (my small group in Spring)
1999 - Support runners (my small group in Spring)
2000 - Support runners (my small group in Spring)
2001 - Support runners (my small group in Spring)
2002 - 4:37:55 Team In Training Official Marathon - but supporting along the way as the 4:30 TNT pacer
2003 - 5:32:49 Team In Training Official Marathon - but supporting along the way as the 5:30 TNT pacer
2004 - 6:09:00 Official Time Limit Pacer.  Stopped to help someone and ended up with marathon 14, but not recorded as official.
2005 - Support Team In Training
2006 - Support Team In Training
2007 - Support my small group (pre-Volte + Woodlands Fit + The Woodlands Running Club)
2008 - Support my small group (pre-Volte + Woodlands Fit + The Woodlands Running Club)
2009 - Support my small group (pre-Volte + Woodlands Fit + The Woodlands Running Club)
2010 - Support Strive Performance Coaching (Team Strive) + The Woodlands Running Club
2011 - Support Strive Performance Coaching (Team Strive) + The Woodlands Running Club
2012 - Volunteered at mile 13 Water Stop, where Dana-Sue Crews was the captain in support of Team In Training and the Bill Crews Remission Run 5K
2013 - Support Volte runners
2014 - Support Volte runners
2015 - Support Volte runners
2016 - Support Volte runners
2017 - Support Volte runners
2018 - Support Volte runners
2019 - Support Volte runners
2020 - Support Volte runners
2021 - Support Volte runners
2022 - Support Volte runners

Thanks Bill for all that you do for all of us! 

And if you're reading this and running tomorrow, run strong and run with endurance and do well!

The Road to Houston -- A Look Back: Volte's Susan Rouse Gets Ready for CHM #37 on Sunday!

Quality over quantity.

That's a saying we're sure you've heard a lot, but really it's true.

There's a lot to crow about when you're talking numbers, but nothing counts more than experience.

Volte's been blessed - taking nothing away from anybody else - to have coaches with the depth of years of experience like Bill Dwyer and Rich Cooper.

They're both "veterans" as defined by the Chevron Houston Marathon for their lengthy years of finishing the events, covering parts of five decades from 1987 to Rich's half marathon finish in 2020.

But what happens when the woman with the second most number of marathon finishes by a female at the Chevron Houston Marathon - count 'em, 36 - reaches out for a little help.  (Hint:  You help her!)

If you haven't met Susan Rouse yet, you need to.

Inspiration is a word that gets tossed around all too frequently, but what Susan has done - without a lot of fanfare and with a huge dose of humility - should be an encouragement to you.

Four Ironman finishes.

Comrades in 2010.

A marathon finish in all 50 states.

Her count of marathons and ultramarathons are well over 100.  (And those aren't "just" finishes.)

And the 2022 Houston Marathon will be her 37th Chevron Houston Marathon, with her first one coming in 1986.

That, folks, is a Houston Marathon finish in five different decades!  She's been running longer than some in our group have been on the Earth!

"I was asked earlier this year to coach a good friend, Susan Rouse, for the 2022 Chevron Houston Marathon." said Volte founder Bill Dwyer.  "So after the shock of someone who - in my opinion - knows the sport as well as anyone, I said, "Yes."  Training has gone well and Sunday is setting up nicely for a quality finish.

When someone all of us admire, like Dwyer, admires somebody, it's really a big deal.

"I have run many of the same events as Susan back in the 80's & 90's," he said.  "The Sunmart Trail Run sticks out in my memory as Susan seemed to always collect one of what we called "ponies" -- the Sunmart age group award, a statue of a running horse.

"It's an honor for me to be involved with such a class athlete."

Susan is all smiles coming into the the finish of the 2015 Houston Marathon!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Even though she ran sub-3:30 - 3:28:02 - at the age of 51 in 2010, Susan says her best marathons in Houston were in 1994 and 1995 when she ran them two seconds apart -- 3:23:51 and 3:23:53.  How's that for consistency?!

We asked her what her most memorable Houston's were.

"The year of the freeze (1997), twice as pace group leader, 3:30 & 3:40 and my 20th - 2003 - when I started splurging on staying downtown in a hotel," she said.

Therefore, she's been overstimulating the Houston economy for nearly 20 years now.

With the exception of 2004, she ran sub-4 all the way through and including the 2015 race, where things have gotten a bit more challenging, she says.

"The later ones with health and aging issues and -- hanging in when it's gotten tough!" Susan said.

As a five-decade runner at the Houston Marathon, she can testify that while there's been a lot of change it has grown and developed into one of running's jewels.

"The numbers started growing after the half was added (in 2000) and when Ryan Hall set the half record (2006), and generally because it’s a wonderful world class event," she said.  "My goodness I’ve been privileged to run so many amazing marathons, triathlons, and ultras but I’ve always thought Houston was the best!! That’s not changed! The crowds (hoopla), the GRB, seeing friends I know, great course, Expo & post race party."

While we're pulling for all 40 or our runners in either the marathon or half marathon, this is the first one that we'll be able to cheer Susan on - and her husband Dan Jordan - as a teammate.

Susan's History at Houston
36-year Legacy Runner

1986 - 3:48:58
1987 - 3:30:04
1988 - 3:47:24
1989 - 3:25:05
1990 - 3:31:34
1991 - 3:30:00
1992 - 3:27:47
1993 - 3:37:37
1994 - 3:23:36
1995 - 3:23:51
1996 - 3:23:53
1997 - 3:40:04
1998 - 3:31:02
1999 - 3:30:46
2000 - 3:31:32
2001 - 3:30:56
2002 - 3:34:43
2003 - 3:36:48
2004 - 4:15:20
2005 - 3:35:38
2006 - 3:24:48
2007 - 3:39:59
2008 - 3:43:28
2009 - 3:27:18
2010 - 3:28:02
2011 - 3:42:01
2012 - 3:35:05
2013 - 3:53:13
2014 - 3:44:13
2015 - 3:49:41
2016 - 4:02:10
2017 - 4:27:14
2018 - 4:25:31
2019 - 4:28:51
2020 - 4:43:44
2021 - 5:15:11  Covid Virtual Year

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Road To Houston -- A Look Back: Rich Cooper and the 1998 Houston Marathon

By Rich Cooper

It’s hard to believe this year will be the 22nd time I have participated in Houston Marathon weekend, where some of the most memorable marathons in the early part of my adult running career were completed at.  
Following the epic adventure of the 1997 Ice Marathon, I was fully immersed back into running. I couldn’t stop talking about it. 

My training also went up a notch as I now wanted to reach some ambitious goals.  
I was running and racing a lot. 

The impact of finishing Houston in the previous year also boosted my confidence in everything I did.  
As I mentioned earlier, running changed my life. 

In the summer of 1997, I met my future wife Ginger.  How she put up with me at the time I’ll never know because all I did was talk about running and working out.  
The 1998 Houston Marathon is my second most memorable race. 

I put everything into training. 

I decided to train again with Houston Fit only this time I would start my career in coaching as I signed on to be an assistant coach to the Yellow Group.  
This marathon would turn out to be a totally different story then the year before. 

The weather was decent. I had a goal of running a sub four-hour marathon. 

Little did I know something terrible would change my running forever.  
It was a really nice day. I had done everything right in the week leading up to the race.

When the gun went off, I stuck to my planned pace and I was feeling really good. 
All of us at different stages in our career have experienced the feeling of being in “THE ZONE” and on this day I was living in it! 

Today was going to be the day!  
The crowds were amazing. The one area on the course which stood out the most was in Rice Village. The crowds were at least two deep, there was music and the people were going nuts! 

My girlfriend Ginger lived in Rice Village so she was waiting for me. 

I gave her some excess clothing and took off on my quest.  
I was having a really good race. 

At the halfway point everything was progressing perfectly.  
Then it happened.  

Rich Cooper at one of the early City of Conroe Turkey Trot 5K's
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)

I had just turned onto Wesleyan when, while running in the center of the road, my right foot struck an uneven part of the road and “POP!” 

My foot violently turned out. I stopped and started walking, cursing my bad luck. 

The pain was terrible.  
An aid station worker ran up to me and asked me if I was okay, I promptly told her in a not so nice way to get away from me.  
I was devastated, but I decided I would keep going, hoping the pain would eventually go away. It did not.  
I kept going running and walking. 

When Ginger saw me at mile 18, she knew immediately something was wrong. (I was at least 20 minutes late). 

I told her I had sprained my ankle, but I was going to keep going.  
The rest of the way was all a blur, but I was determined to finish, and I finally crossed the finish line in 4:22:44. I did it. And I had improved my time from the previous year. 

I could barely walk, and I was escorted to the medical section for evaluation.  
When the doctor removed my shoe, he looked at me and asked me where I had hurt my foot?   

I replied, “At mile 14.”  
He said, “You ran on this for 12 miles?”

I replied, “Yes.”  
He just shook his head and said, “You runners are a crazy bunch.  You may have fractured your ankle.” 

I was stunned.  
The next day I went to the doctor and was told I had a severe high ankle sprain. 

He told me it would take at least four months to be able to start running again.  
When I think back to that moment on Wesleyan, I should have stopped right there but, runners can be a stubborn bunch. 

After that day, my running gait was never the same.  
The lesson I learned from that day is there is no shame in dropping out of race when you're hurt. 

A long time ago, a coach told me the hardest thing for a runner to do is not to finish a marathon, but to not finish one. 

I should have DNF’d that day.  
Still, the fact I ran 12 miles on a bad ankle is something I’ll never forget. 

To this day it fuels me as a coach to advise my runners to think before they do something that may change their running going forward.  
It was a great day, painful but great. I’ll never forget it. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Volte, Friends and Others at the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon

With the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon about upon us, we visited the marathon's Results site to see how many times our runners, friends and community members have run the races.

Obviously, we're not able to get all of the affiliated event results nor we were necessarily able to capture races run under a maiden name (even though that site may have linked them if they had been notified).

Since the marathon included submitted 2021 virtual results - and some of our runners did both the marathon and half marathon, we only counted those virtual as one.  And if it was both, we put the tally in the marathon column.  (There weren't many.)

36 - Susan Rouse (36M)
21 - Rich Cooper (11M, 10H)
17 - Dan Jordan (13M, 4H)
14 - Michelle McGill (14M)
13 - Bill Dwyer (13M)
13 - Tammy Grado (6M, 7H)
12 - Michael Csikos (11M, 1H)
11 - Ruth Perez (5M, 6H)
11 - Todd Hunter (11M)
10 - Julie Stevenson (6M, 4H)
10 - Paul Vita (5M, 5H)
9 - Alfredo Gonzalez (1M, 8H)
9 - David Odom (6M, 3H)
9 - Laura Godfrey (8M, 1H)
8 - Geri Henry (4M, 4H)
8 - Jen Smith (5M, 3H)
8 - Juan Murillo (7M, 1H)
8 - Juliee Sparks (4M, 4H)
8 - Mary Lee Miller (6M, 2H)
7 - Faith Craig (5M, 2H)
7 - Luis Murillo (5M, 2H)
7 - Mike Kuykendall (7H)
7 - Randy Harris (7M)
7 - Sandra Tezino (1M, 6H)
7 - Tammy Hinke (1M, 6H)
6 - Judith Albarran (5M, 1H)
6 - Kimberly Simmons (3M, 3H)
6 - Naika Vargas (1M, 5H)
6 - Trudy Regnier (4M, 2H)
5 - Devyn Cook (5M)
5 - Gustavo Murillo (3M, 2H)
5 - Kim White (2M, 3H)
5 - Tom Hinke (2M, 3H)
4 - George Roffe (4M)
4 - Neven Krstulovic-Opara (4M)
4 - Stephanie Reed (4M)
3 - Brian Hanyzewski (3M)
3 - Carrie Hyde (2M, 1H)
3 - Curtis Hooper (3M)
3 - Erika Sampson (3H)
3 - Jerritt Park (2M, 1H)
3 - Jose Murillo (3H)
3 - Laura Hanyzewski (3M)
3 - Leticia Gonzalez (3H)
3 - Paolo Biagi (1M, 2H)
3 - Robert Dempsey (2M, 1H)
3 - Sally Buckelew (1M, 2H)
3 - Yaya Herrera (2M, 1H)
2 - Amanda Jenkins (1M, 1H)
2 - Auggie Campbell (2H)
2 - Bonnie Scholz (2H)
2 - Brittany Haddad (1M, 1H)
2 - Chriss Neumann (2M)
2 - Christopher Branch (2M)
2 - Darren Hadden (2M)
2 - Gabby Westbrook (1M, 1H)
2 - Gourav Kumar (2M)
2 - Jane Campbell (1M, 1H)
2 - Lisa Csikos (2H)
2 - Llana Bingham (2H)
2 - Mayra Caamano (2M)
2 - Ramon Rosales (2M)
2 - Rob Gay (2M)
2 - Robert Cardnell (1M, 1H)
2 - Sharon Mitchell (2M)
2 - Sue Griffis (2H)
2 - Tim Russell (2M)
2 - Waverly Walk (1M, 1H)
1 - Desna McDonald (1M)
1 - Holly Benson (1M)
1 - Jeffry Lehner (1M)
1 - Layton Gill (1M)
1 - Lillian Evans (1H)
1 - Mimi Torrez (1M)
1 - Rapha Machado (1M)

16 - Ken Johnson (15M, 1H)
15 - Vincent Attanucci (15M)
13 - John Laskowski, Team Strive/Outrival/Mach 5 (12M, 1H)
13 - Josh Rivas (11M, 2H)
13 - Randy Bradley (11M, 2H)
13 - Reggie Bruhn (13M)
11 - Jon Walk (9M, 2H)
9 - Shannon Truman (7M, 2H)
7 - Erika Park (1M, 6H)
5 - James Griffis (4M, 1H)
4 - Gena Alvarez, Strike Force Racing (4H)
3 - Landa Wright (1M, 2H)
3 - Scott Mayer, Team Strive (3M, last 2010)
2 - Brandi Perkins (2M)
2 - Greg Alvarez, Strike Force Racing (2H)
2 - Ronnie Delzer, Vantage Point Endurance (1M, 1H)
1 - Rick Ames, Team In Training (1M)

7 - Jill Tresaugue (4M, 3H)
5 - Amanda Cruise (4M, 1H)
4 - Kate Looney (3M, 1H)
3 - Krista Blevins (3H)

24 - Jim Braden (19M, 5H)
19 - Dan Green (15M, 4H - Eight sub-3 marathons, 1972 winner)
15 - Sandra Sutherland (5M, 10H)
13 - Fran Blanton (13H)
13 - Nancy Prejean (8M, 5H)
11 - Barry Blanton, Red X Running (1M, 10H)
8 - Dana Lyons, Finish Strong Racing (8H)
6 - (Pastor) Jeff Wells (5M, 1H - Four marathons sub-2:30, 1976 winner)
3 - Juris Green (3H)
1 - Michelle LeBlanc, Mach 5 Racing (1H, 2009)

Friday, December 31, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: Rich Cooper and the 1997 Houston Marathon

By Rich Cooper

It’s hard to believe this year will be the 22nd time I have participated in Houston Marathon weekend. 

Some of the most memorable marathons - early in my adult running career - were completed at the Houston Marathon.  

My first Houston Marathon was in 1997. The lead sponsor at the time was Houston Methodist Hospital. I was two years into my rejuvenated running career. 

During that time, I had started running again as a way to get back in shape. 

Running changed my life as I was able to lose 60 pounds and quit smoking. 

In my younger years, I had run three marathons and come close to qualifying for Boston, but college and a new career took me away from running which brought on the unhealthy lifestyle I was living.  

So, at the suggestion of my personal trainer, I started running again. 

At the time though, I had never dreamed of running another marathon. Then a friend of mine suggested I check out Houston Fit with the eventual intention of maybe running the Houston Marathon. 

In July of 1996, I took that leap of faith -- along with 1,500 of my closest running buddies -- and started training for the Houston Marathon.  

As training progressed, my confidence grew and in October, I took the plunge and entered. 

Rich finishing up his last Chevron Houston Marathon in 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Houston Fit was the perfect program for my training as it slowly prepared me for what lay ahead. 

Little did I know it would one of my most memorable running experiences in my lifetime.  

In 1997, the Houston Marathon was the only marathon in town.  And there was no half marathon, as that wouldn't come until 2001 when Compaq became the sponsor.

Leading up to race day, there were only 7,000 people entered.  

As we all do leading up to our races, I kept a close eye on the weather. The forecast did not look good, but I decided I was going to do it regardless of what it would turn out to be. 

The forecast called for a cold front to come through which would include temperatures in the low thirties, wind gusts up to 25 mph and rain. 

My friends all told me I was crazy and that there was no way I was going to finish. 

I wanted to prove them wrong.  

Race Day  

The weather was bad! 

I arrived at the George R, Brown Convention Center by 6 a.m., and by then the cold weather had arrived and the winds were gusting. 

I mentally prepared myself for what was ahead. 

When I stepped out to head to the starting line, I remember looking up and seeing the flags blowing like crazy -- along with sideways rain! 

My first thought upon seeing that was “What the hell am I doing?!”  

At the start line all of us were going nuts and I remember looking around and thinking, "There are not 7,000 people here."  (I later found out the final number was below 5,000). 

The gun went off and we shuffled north into the wind and the rain and onto the Elysian Viaduct. 

It was crazy because ice was already beginning to form so everybody was running really slow.  

Little did I know at the time, the temperatures were in the high twenties with a wind chill of single digits. 

Rich in the half marathon (2020) that made him a double Veteran at Houston.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

As we progressed along the course, the wind and rain never did let up. 

There were very few spectators on the course. 

I never really get cold simply because I had followed the guidance from Houston Fit to layer my clothing.  

The finish was really uneventful as the weather was still terrible so the spectators were not there at all. 

I practically cried when I crossed the finish line simply because I had done something that most people would never do in their lifetime. 

It was a moment that changed my life forever! 

Finishing the 1997 marathon also brought me legendary status with my friends.  Some called me crazy while others just shook their heads in awe -- not all of them were runners!

The storm later that day caused power failures all over the city, causing me to lose power later that evening and to be out for two whole days.

So memorable, Rich nailed it down for it to not easily get away.
(Photo courtesy of Rich Cooper)

I finished in 4:39:17. 

At the time, and still today, I am not disappointed with it as I did something I will never forget. 

It propelled me into making running a permanent part of my life.  

To this day, Houston Marathon weekend is the highlight of my running year. 

I’m amazed at how much its grown to become one of the premier marathons in the country. 

I’m proud of my "Houston" Veteran status. 

In 2020, I became a dual race veteran when I completed my 10th Aramco Houston Half Marathon (11 Houston Marathons and 10 Half Marathons).  

This year will be really cool as it will be the 50th Anniversary of the Houston Marathon and will fall on my birthday, which is really cool.  

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: First-Time Marathoners Waverly Walk and Megan Eastin in 2018

Sometimes groups like ours can get lost in the initials - BQs, PRs and so on - even though we're all chasing dreams and in some cases, making major lifestyle changes.

While the USA Fit programs locally, with our friends at Woodlands Fit especially, in some cases are best positioned to assist first-time marathoners meet their goals, it doesn't mean that Volte and other training groups can't.

In fact, for groups like ours, coaches and fellow runners alike, it can often be more of a challenge to ensure that the first timer is being guided the same way and given the proper team support that more experienced marathoners are accustomed to receiving, making sure they're ready and feel welcome.

Then, for an additional degree of difficulty, make it all just a bit personal.

"When you are helping the daughter of one of your best friends you want to really make sure that everything goes well," said Bill Dwyer, Volte's founder, of coaching Waverly Walk.  "Actually you want things to go well for everyone all the time, but especially in this case."

A big dose of #goflames for Waverly Walk at mile 23.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Enter Megan Eastin stage right.

"The goal was to get through the training healthy and have a very good experience," he added.  "We were blessed by having another first timer - Megan Eastin - join the group who ran the same pace and had the same goal."

Both young ladies bonded with one another over the course of many, many early Saturday morning long runs to get ready for the 2018 edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon.

"When advising a first time marathoner," Dwyer said.  "I like to paraphrase a Jerome Drayton quote, "To describe running the marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind."

He adds that "those later miles get tough for everyone so the goal was to run conservative enough to finish well, learn the event and then plan for the future."

While Megan got across the start about nine minutes earlier than Waverly in the corrals, had they started together, their times and paces might have allowed them to run the race together.

The two were eerily on pace with another through the halfway point -- Waverly with a time of 2:24:12 and Megan just six seconds off of that at 2:24:18.

Megan had gone through the first three 5K check points in a remarkably steady 34:27, 34:25 and 34:25.

Waverly, whose Dad had a bib in the marathon race and ran the first five miles with her to keep her from going out too fast, moved around a little bit with splits of 35:18, 33:19 and 34:08.

In fact, the two went between the half marathon timing mat and the 25K flag in the same amount of time as well as between the 35K and the 40K mat.

Was that a two thumbs up or a Gig 'Em from the Aggie grad Megan Eastin?  All smiles regardless!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

All in all, Megan finished in 4:50:37 and Waverly stopped the clock in 4:51:23 - a new family Houston Marathon personal best.

"My race plan was (for them) to stay between 10:45 and 11:45 per mile," Dwyer said.  "Megan averaged 11:05.  Waverly 11:07."

The two finished two places apart in their 20-24 age group.

Mission accomplished.

"For the longest time, I have wanted to run a marathon, but it has always been one of those ‘one day’ ‘bucket list’ type goals," said Eastin.  "Today after hundreds of training miles, many early Saturday mornings, and much preparation, I finally accomplished that goal in 4:50.37 - slow and steady.  This is an indescribable amazing feeling, and I feel truly blessed for the ability to run."

Waverly was equally as grateful.

"A dream became a reality today, as I completed my first marathon in 4:51:23!" she said.  "It was tough, but God was so faithful to give me strength and place people perfectly throughout the course to give me the extra ounce of encouragement I needed in that moment. 

"Two of those people were my Mom, who saw me along the course, and Dad, who ran part of the race with me. I couldn't have asked for a better coach, Bill Dwyer, to train me and running partner, Megan Eastin, to complete the long runs with. Thank you to every person who has encouraged me and prayed for me today and throughout the training process!"

The following October, 2019, Waverly would go on to complete her second marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in 5:17:21 amidst a steady morning rain that littered the course with standing water and puddles -- and may have a third on the horizon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: Michelle McGill and Mayra Caamano in 2014

The 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon was just the second time that Volte had gathered as a club for the event after getting its start midway through the 2012 calendar year.

Volte was somewhat of an expansion team - but a darned good one - with runners gravitating to run under founder Bill Dwyer's guidance. 

And, of course, it never hurts to have a US level class athlete in David Odom running with the group ready to dispense wisdom from his stellar running career.

Two runners, however, Michelle McGill and Mayra Caamano, who both recorded what is still their personal best to date, proved that day that there isn't just one way to earn a PR and a BQ.

"The 2014 event was a very good day for us. The weather was good, training had gone well and as a whole our group did very well," said Dwyer.

The two ladies, separated in age by ten years from one another, were part of a group of six athletes who earned their Boston qualifier to be able to join up with four other Volte runners to race Boston in April 2015.

McGill had not only run to her previous personal best just three months before at the Chicago Marathon, but 2013 as a whole had been one of her best years ever as a marathoner.

The ledger looked like this:

3:47:36 - Chevron Houston Marathon, Houston, 1/13/13
3:48:55 - The Woodlands Marathon, The Woodlands, 3/2/13
3:44:39 - Boston Marathon, Boston, MA, 4/15/13
3:39:05 - Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL, 10/13/13

It all would prove to be in the middle of a streak that saw her string together 14 consecutive sub 4-hour marathons.

"Michelle had put in a solid training cycle for Chicago in October, recovered well and then did a short training cycle for Houston," Dwyer noted.

And the weather couldn't have been better, with a temperature of 50 degrees at the 7 a.m. start that rose to 62 degrees by the time both McGill and Caamano had finished.

"Wow, that was a good day!  The weather was perfect!," remembered McGill.  "It is always great to see my family out there and all the Volte friends on the course."

Dwyer, that year, was positioned near the mile 26 flag and she said that she recalled "seeing his smiling face at mile 26 and actually feeling good."

When you know that you're feeling it, you show it like Michelle McGill here!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Like Devyn Cook did six years later at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon, McGill couldn't have been any more on the money.

Her first three 5K splits to the 15K mark were 25:51, 25:20 and 25 minutes even.

She made the halfway point in 1:47:18.

"I mentioned to her that she was ready for a 3:35 the night before," Dwyer said.

And McGill didn't believe it, even now.

"Also, the night before when you sent me my race plan, I thought, "No way!"

Hold steady - and the prize would be hers.

And she did.

From the 25K to the 40K flag, Michelle replicated her even pace with 5K times of 25:21, 25:41 and 25:48.

The back half came in at 1:47:41 -- for a total time of 3:34:59, one second off of Dwyer's projections.

"Crazy" was how McGill recalled it.

One of Volte's mantras, though, has always been "family first".

Unless, of course, you're left with no choice.

That's what Mayra Caamano was dealt with leading up to the 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon.

One of her daughters had been very sick in the fall.

"I truly did not have a good training cycle prior to the race," Caamano remembered.  "As a matter of fact, just two weeks before race day, I was still debating whether I should do it or not."

"Mayra has a lot of talent and is never really that far out of shape," Dwyer said.  

And for Caamano, where there's one part talent, there's usually - at least - three parts heart to go along with her God-given ability.

"I wasn’t able to commit to running in the months prior.  So, my body wasn’t strong enough and my mind wasn’t in the right place either," she said.  "Pretty much at the last minute I decided I would run the race with my heart and let it be whatever it would be."

"My memory is that she went out too fast (which she did) and hung on as best she could," said Dwyer.

She breezed through the first 15K with 5K splits of 23:43, 22:55 and 23:00 -- paces of 7:38, 7:23, 7:25 -- and came to the halfway point in 1:38:53.

Hold that - and she would shatter her first three marathon times of 3:53:56 (Rock N Roll Las Vegas, 12/4/11), 3:54:40 (The Woodlands, 3/3/12) and 3:56:13 (Marine Corps, 10/28/12).

Even though she held onto the sub-8 minute pace to the 25K mark, Caamano posted a back half time of 1:46:29 to turn in a crazy 26-minute and 34-second personal best for a closing time of 3:27:22.

Caamano, not far from the finish, was putting the finishing touches on a crazy new PR.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

"I knew she could run a BQ but did not expect it on this day," Dwyer remarked of Caamano who had come over to Volte from Falcon Fit.

She still smiles today thinking about the race.

"It turned out to be the perfect day for that kind of risk and adventure," she shared.  "One of my favorite races to date."

Caamano would turn in a time of 3:27:14 three years later at The Woodlands Marathon, but the course turned out to be some six tenths of a mile short because of an error by the lead cyclist.

McGill, meanwhile, will be running her 15th Chevron Houston Marathon at the 2022 race with nine of her last 10 being sub 4-hour efforts.  Her entire Chevron Houston Marathon race history follows:

2007 - 4:43:05
2008 - 4:29.01
2009 - 4:32:02
2010 - 4:18:53
2011 - 3:58:38
2012 - 3:54:15
2013 - 3:47:36
2014 - 3:34:59
2015 - 3:55:02
2016 - 3:41:53
2017 - 4:09:39
2018 - 3:52:03
2019 - 3:57:20
2020 - 3:49:37