Monday, December 30, 2013

Volte Thaws Out B-CS Marathon With Love

When football fans hear the words, “Ice Bowl”, they think of Green Bay, Dallas, Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, Lambeau Field and the 1967 NFL Championship Game.

When runners in these parts hear the same words, the Methodist Health Care Houston Marathon of 1997 is still frozen in their mind.

Sort of.  Maybe more like slush, which is what runners encountered in downtown parking lots race morning.

“Cold enough for ice on the overpasses and warm enough for it to rain and sleet and not snow,” said Volte founder Bill Dwyer.  “Snow would have been better.  I have never been so cold and wet at the same time.”

And while many who ran this year’s Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon thought is was pretty rough, Dwyer believes 1997 was definitely worse.

“Harder rain, but not as cold,” Dwyer said.  “I was on the course supporting people for six hours last year so I can make a good comparison.  It was still tough, tough conditions last year.”

Runners earlier this month faced some of the same issues with a line of treacherous weather – for Texas – that forced race officials in Dallas to cancel this year’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon a day before what would have been its 44th running.

If 1997 had happened three weeks ago, Dwyer believes that Houston’s running version of the “Ice Bowl” might never have been experienced.

Lots of runners from The Woodlands were affected, including three Volte athletes – Jerritt Park, Carrie Hyde and Kelly Green (even though Hyde was nursing an injury and was unlikely to have run anyways.)

But for Green, the 39-year-old mother of two, it was to be her first marathon ever.

However, even before the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon announced its official cancellation, B-CS Marathon and Half Marathon race director Chris Field allowed runners – early Friday afternoon, December 6 -- to defer their entry if they were traveling through areas of inclement weather to get to College Station.

Additional entries in the amount of the number of deferrals went on sale at 3 p.m. and Green’s marathon dream was alive once again.

She would join fellow Volte athletes Michell Bradie, Mike Csikos, Randy Harris, Brian Jackson, Kate Looney, Debra Myers, Todd Snider, Jon Walk and Tabitha Young.

Young was participating in a four-person Corporate relay team, Jackson and Walk were also running the marathon while the rest would challenge the half marathon.

Unbeknownest to her, “Operation Support Kelly Green” began to take shape Saturday evening.

Mary Carter, Gabby Brockett, who did many long runs with Kelly in training, Dwyer and her coach Juliee Sparks car-pooled to College Station on Sunday morning arriving 30 minutes after the start to avoid detection by Green.

Already on the course following Green were her husband and Kelly McMahon.  They would later be joined by Todd Snider as well as Young and her husband.

Young drew the shortest distance straw of the day – 6.5 miles – but she and her four-person “Peanut Butter and Jelly Legs” Corporate Relay Team put the business on their opponents with a first-place time of 4:40:02.

“(I’m) so proud of my relay team girls that ran their longest runs to date and we rocked it,” she said.

So did Randy Harris in the half marathon.

Fresh off of being named the Region 6 Assistant Principal of the Year by the Education Service Center, Harris, the 50-year-old Magnolia High School assistant principal, also grabbed a first-place 50-54 age group award with the top Volte showing of the day with a time of 1:32:17.

A pair of former Aggies, Mike Csikos and Kate Looney, were on Harris’ heels like Reveille – as they all would finish in the top 50 of the half marathon.

Must be something special about Aggies (Mike Csikos and Kate Looney) running in Aggieland to be able to go that fast with smiles to match.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Csikos, 44, and Looney, 33, would pass through the finish line together while Mike’s chip time of 1:34:24 was two seconds faster than Looney.  But it wouldn’t keep her from finishing second in her age group.

“Mike and I ran together the entire time and got to check splits and reminisce about our time at A&M as we ran through campus,” she said.  “I told him as we finished that BCS was one of the most enjoyable runs I've done in a long time.”

Mike said it sets him up well for Houston next month.

“The race was a nice confidence builder as we prepare for Houston,” he added.  “I was 17 seconds slower than my half PR today.

“I honestly didn't think about PR's while racing, but staying on pace was the primary focus. “

Doing so allowed Csikos, he said, to post sub-seven minute miles in the last two miles without “feeling stressed”.

Despite getting pinched from crossing the start line by almost four minutes, Snider, 43, made it under the two-hour standard with plenty of room to spare as he posted a finishing time of 1:55:14.

Bradie, 50, and Myers, 45, rounded out the Volte half marathon finishers with times of 2:12:55 and 2:16:59, respectively.  The latter was a 17-minute PR for Myers.

The only casualty of the day came shortly after Myers’ finish.

Aiming to complete his 52nd career marathon, Walk, 46, started experiencing some hip and lower back pain during miles 12 and 13 after going 2:22:24 to that point.

Faced with a run/walk much of the back half, and already soaked despite four layers, he dropped to avoid dealing with hypothermia issues that he had experienced at marathons in New Jersey in April and North Carolina in November.

Not to be slowed down, though, was Brian Jackson.

The 34-year-old lowered the boom on his time of 3:16:41 in the 2012 The Woodlands Marathon with a 22nd overall performance of 3:03:18 – and a Boston Qualifier.

And with support on the back half of the course from Brockett (who actually entered the half to run the course with a bib), Green got her debut marathon completed – much like Carter had the year before – with a finishing time of 6:12:29.

Carter, Brockett, McMahon and Young all helped run Green through last few yards across the finish line.

The magic moment of a first marathon finish by Kelly Green.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

“I have never felt more support and love than at this very moment,” exclaimed Green after the finish.  “These women have played a huge part in me crossing that finish line.

“I achieved a goal that I never thought was possible.”

She was quick to point out, though, the belief that her coach, Juliee Sparks, had in her.

“She made me believe in myself and my abilities,” she rejoiced.  “She even called me speedy.”

But it was Looney who circled back on all of what the day represented.

“A great race with inspiring friends to share the day with,” she said.  “It was also great to celebrate with friends running their first half and full marathons there too.”

And she said that she’ll lead the group back to Aggieland.

“BCS was, hands-down, one of the best races I've done yet,” she said.  “I was quite impressed by the race directors and their heart for us runners and the nice course through A&M.  I am absolutely adding this to my list of must-run races next year.”

Sunday, December 29, 2013

RunGirl's Fast and Fun for Volte's Lucky Seven

Some races, because of how well they’re put on and the people behind the event, are very popular, even though the numbers of finishers might not always seem to indicate that.

One of those that’s enjoyed by our Volte ladies -- and other female runners alike -- is the RunGirl Half Marathon, often held on the first Sunday in December at East Houston’s Duessen Park.

Its success is a testament to co-race directors Jana Landry and Carrie Godfrey.

And that loyalty can be seen in the following statistic:  Of the 683 official finishers of this year’s race – frequented by seven (7) of our Volte women – 15 had run it as an individual all four years, 82 were finishing for their third time and another 251 were posting their second finish.

Five of our seven ladies fell into this category.

Is this a Volte endorsement of a “must do” race or what?

Ruth Perez, 52, a member of our group program led by Volte coach Rich Cooper, is the only one who has taken on RunGirl all four years – and this year, she posted an event personal best of 2:11:54 that bettered her time of 2:14:51 in 2011.

She will be running her third Chevron Houston Marathon in three weeks after finishes in 2006 and 2007.  (Ruth has run the Aramco Houston Half Marathon five times.)

Cris Neumann and Naika Vargas are all smiles after bringing it in on a cold morning under two hours!
(Photo courtesy of Ricardo Vargas)
Another event PR was had by three-time RunGirl finisher Naika Vargas, who is prepping for her first Chevron Houston Marathon.

Naika, 41, broke the two-hour standard with a 1:58:06 time that beat her 2011 effort by six minutes and 51 seconds.

Jill Tresaugue, Llana Bingham and Stacy Roberson all ran RunGirl for the second time – and the first time in two years.

And true to earlier form, they all bettered their 2011 times at RunGirl.

Llana, 48, delivered the biggest time improvement of the trio – nine minutes and 11 seconds – to produce a finish of 2:20:35.

Two years before, Jill covered the 13.1-mile distance in 1:56:40.  Her goal – as well as Stephanie Wolf’s – was to keep it under a nine-minute per mile pace and finish under two hours.

“We were feeling so good that we kept up a faster pace,” said Tresaugue.  “I was shocked to get a (new) PR.  That wasn’t my plan for the day and I couldn’t have done it without Stephanie.”

Jill, 38, maintained a pretty even pace to produce a 1:53:19 finish.  She covered the front half in 8:38 per mile – 14th best in her division, but held it for an 8:40 per mile effort on the back half, which was 7th best in her age group.  A tell-tale sign that others went out too fast.

Jill will be running her first Chevron Houston Marathon next month after three previous Aramco Houston Half Marathon finishes (2010-2012).

Meanwhile, Stephanie, 45, recorded a 1:53:33 effort that earned her a fifth place finish in her 45-49 age group.

With Big Sur (Marathon) far off in the distance, Roberson, 42, picked up the pace (much like Fearless Champion) on the back half – lowering it from 8:26 to 8:18 per mile – to slip under the 1:50 benchmark and lead the group with a time of 1:49:38.

Stacy was one spot out of hardware as she finish sixth in the 40-44 division.

Cris Neumann, 36, rounded out our team’s effort with its fifth sub-two hour performance of the day – a 1:57:04 finish.

All in all, a fun day – and race – for all involved!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Volte Captures Inaugural Texas 10 Series Ten-Gallon Club Cup Competition

I knew the stakes were high right from the start.

Indeed, they were.

Team Volte entered Saturday, December 7 and that morning’s Texas10 Conroe event one (1) point behind the Cypress Running Club in the Texas 10 Series’ Ten-Gallon Club Cup competition.

Another post-race Volte bunch - full of smiles, medals and a little cash even!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
If they turned out the most runners, we were done -- we’d have to settle for second.

Then again, with The Woodlands Running Club and the Seven Hills Running Club a point behind, Volte easily could have slipped from second to fourth.

That’s part of the mystery of the Ten-Gallon Club Cup competition.  You just don’t know how many the other clubs are going to bring.

The strategy, especially with a first-place prize of $1,000 on the line, then became:  Get everyone to turn out.

When she dealt the cards, I bet my heart.

Heart.  Former Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich said, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.”

Ten miles stood between Volte and an inaugural Ten-Gallon Club Cup Series victory.

The question was whether or not another club would run away from Volte – and the win.

Yet hearts that morning were heavy as our team of 26 – flanked by founder Bill Dwyer, David Odom and Anita Werner -- stood in temperatures not much warmer to learn that Series race director – and Volte friend - Willie Fowlkes’ mother-in-law had passed away earlier in the week.

Our Randy Harris – a day away from hoping that he would play a straight flush at the B-CS Half Marathon in College Station – set aside those cards, opened his heart and led participants in an Invocation before the cold, windy race began.

Now I just found a game that I can't play,

No, no, this was a game that Volte indeed could play.

This wasn’t thermonuclear war and “Shall we play a game?”, but rather a road race of the two loops, five miles each variety.

Trina Jones, Gabby Brockett and Mary Carter were the first three to play.

And not only was the time clock was generous, but the cash register was too.

The 47-year-old Jones crushed her Texas10 Katy time of 48 minutes even to finish third overall – second in her age group – in 40:56 – a near 7-minute improvement.

A result of hard work on the track for sure for Jones -- aided by conditions that were more like Santa’s arrival than the opening the door of a train boxcar that had been on the Katy (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) Railroad all day long.

Dialing it back was Brockett, who would spend 13 miles the following day – unbeknownst at that time - with Kelly Green, as she finished in 49:47 while Mary Carter took second in her age group with a 1:06:38.

All three won $50 in the post-race raffle.

And this is where Team Volte runs away.

With 10 age group awards, a handful of PR’s, two post-race $100 winners -- from Amy Allison and Geri Henry, and a bevy of quality performances.

Geri, Jennifer Rowe and Curtis Hooper led the way with first-place age group wins.

Ellen Kurtz-Hammond's second place overall finish put her in the Armadillo Cup money for the Series.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Mayra Caamano, Tony Allison, Patty Williamson and Ellen Kurtz-Hammond posted second place age group finishes, while Tammy Grado, Leanne Rosser and Gabriela Coates picked up the remaining three (3) third-place age group awards.

And our hearts are beating faster as we run,

Curtis led Volte with the top time of the morning – good for seventh overall -- in 1:06:58.  And it was good enough to give him the first spot in the 45-49 division for the entire Texas 10 Series – and $200 cash.

Sixth in the toughest men’s age group of the day, 35-39, Randy Smith to beat Mayra to the finish line by 4.6 seconds as the two posted chip times of 1:14:39 and 1:14:40, respectively.

While Randy’s was the toughest, Mayra’s was perhaps the closest as the top three in her 35-39 age group were separated by just 8.6 seconds – in chip time.

Mayra Caamano and Erika Park running close together just like at Huntsville and Katy
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Second by chip and third by gun time, as she two-stepped South Coast Endurance’s Erika Park to the finish line over the last two miles, Mayra grabbed $150 cash with her second place Texas 10 Series Armadillo Cup effort for 2013.  Park was first.

Juliee Sparks sporting the new Volte singlet to the finish!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Volte coach Juliee Sparks, 37, and Rowe, 45, were ninth and tenth overall as they finished with just nine (9) seconds to spare between the two of them.  Sparks finished in 1:17:25, fourth in her age group, while Jennifer won her division in 1:17:36 – almost a minute ahead of second place.

Running for the things we’ve come to love.

Winning is a natural love, but family is even more important.  And so are friends.

We had three sets of husbands and wives run for us in the 10-miler.

One of the newest additions for Volte is former The Woodlands Running Club president and 50 States Marathon finisher Tony Allison, 58, who took second in his 55-59 age group in 1:20:56, while his wife, Amy, 49, posted a 1:34:29 effort.

Tom, 39, and Tammy Ninke, 38, finished in 1:31:58 and 1:39:44, respectively.

Sandra Jones helped Greg Harris pace his wife, Krista, to her first 10-mile finish ever.  They all finished in 1:49:37.  (Greg actually got there a second early to celebrate!)

Leanne Rosser (left) and Tammy Grado (right) before the running sisters rocked the course for new PRs.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Grado, 45, and Rosser, 44, pushed each other to nine-minute personal bests – and top 20 overall finishes -- as they notched times of 1:24:48 and 1:25:44, respectively.  Tammy’s finish propelled her to capturing first place in her age group in the Armadillo Cup competition – good for $200.

It's time to say goodbye to yesterday.

Phew.  For sure as we still had nine Voltes – no, no, our own Nine Volte didn’t run – and three Volte friends to cross the finish line.

Williamson, Coates and Kurtz-Hammond all finished within a minute of each other to take a pair of second place finishes and a third.  Williamson was second in her 50-54 age group in 1:27:27, while Coates was third in 30-34 in 1:27:58 while Kurtz-Hammond was second in 55-59 in 1:28:16.

Ellen would win $150 in the Armadillo Cup competition after it was all said and done.

Rich "Blue Man" Cooper getting ready to turn on the jets toward the finish line.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Volte coach Rich Cooper and Katie Jackson broke the 1:30 mark with times of 1:28:49 and 1:29:47, respectively, while Amber Brock was in striking distance of the standard in 1:30:45.

Even though she said she struggled a little bit in the middle of the second loop, specifically miles 6-8, Marta Mixa crossed the finish line strong in 1:41:12 for fourth place in her age group – guaranteeing that Ellen didn’t finish third in her division in the Armadillo Cup competition as the fifth-place AG finisher would have then tied Ellen for second.

Henry’s 1:47:01 age group win ensured that she scored the most points of any competitor – 42 – in the 2013 Texas 10 Series and put $200 in her pocket – just in time for Christmas.

And while his wife, Letty Gonzalez, has been recovering from an injury that took her out of the Chicago Marathon earlier this year, her husband, Alfredo, has started to put the miles down himself.

In his first race running for us, he took the two-loop course in 2:01:33.

Volte friends that enjoyed the cold weather included Bert Blevins (1:12:45), Hafeiz Mat Jusoh (1:21:49) and Debbie Tripp (2:14:57).  Debbie is a part of  Galloway – The Woodlands training group which finished second to Volte with a strong showing at Texas10 Conroe.

And this is where Team Volte rides away

With the inaugural Texas 10 Series Ten-Gallon Club Cup championship and $1,000.

Dwyer shared the following in the Texas 10 Series’ post-Cup competition press release:

“To win the inaugural team award is very special to us.  Willie (Fowlkes) has put together a quality and fun Series of events.  The point system is set up so everyone participating counts equally making this extra special as everyone who participated in Huntsville, Katy and Conroe helped earn this.

“It was also fun with the other clubs in the mix and really not knowing how it would play out.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Langelier, Bell Podium at Texas Trail Endurance Races

While Volte’s Randy Harris was leading all runners in prayer 25 miles south at the start of the final race of the 2013 Texas 10 Series, a pair of friends – best friends, rather -- were separately preparing for their Texas Trail Endurance Races at Huntsville State Park.

One, over the past six years, had covered every nook and cranny of the Park.

The other was furthering her education in the Park’s tree-rootology.

One was getting reacquainted with a bib number, having recently freed herself – and her training – from the high expectations that seemed to follow her initial successes in the sport.

The other might say that she never met a bib that she didn’t like.

And while the temperatures were much colder than the weekend their paths crossed in the Pacific Northwest, the friendship was grown much warmer from the roads and miles traveled – and the laughs and tears shared -- since then.

One was here to see where the next road might lead.

The other already had a return trip to the Park booked in exactly two months.

In Texas, well, we let our neighbors go first -- whether it’s through the supermarket checkout line (unless you’re trying to traffic 30 items in the 10-and-under line) or a 31-mile jaunt through the woods.

A sign of things to come for Langelier and Bell.  Regardless, smiles abound.
(Photo courtesy of Keith Bell)
So when the horn sounded at 7:30 a.m., Rebecca Bell, Volte’s favorite Alabama runner, stepped to the line first -- not only setting out to improve upon some finished business from 2012, but also with designs on a lofty achievement in the new year to come.

Thirty minutes later, Volte coach Adrienne Langelier – one of Bell’s besties (no, this word isn’t in the AP style book) – would attempt to recapture some past Huntsville State Park trail glory – although against much stronger female competition than her Hog’s Hunt 25K wins from 2008-2009.

And neither failed to disappoint.

Bell went home with another second-place overall finish in the 50K, but improved her 4:51:13 time from a year ago by just under 17 minutes -- to 4:34:39.

All – and then some – of it coming on the third and final loop, cutting her time from 2:10:27 in 2012 to 1:51-even this year.

She stated in her blog, “I had never been close to first place (San Antonio’s Marnie Staehly), nor had third place been close to me.  We held first through third the entire race, all contested.”

Meanwhile, Langelier, who hadn’t raced double-digit mileage in two years (which was a second overall RunGirl Half Marathon finish), drew an Olympic Trials participant in the field and a fellow college professor who has seven straight Boston qualifiers since moving to Texas three years ago.

After she took The Woodlands’ Heather McNiff, who ran in the 2012 United States Olympic Marathon Trials, and San Antonio’s Ashley McGee out on what she called, “one of the most challenging parts of the course”, Adrienne settled into third – and stayed there – to register a 1:38:39 finish.

“I remembered how to race again," said Langelier.  "From the feeling I get before the gun goes off, to when to dial back, when to dig deep, and how it feels when you put in a good morning's work and gave it your best for the day.”

And that best on this day was six minutes out of first, three minutes out of second, but also – and most importantly – a leader in all of our hearts.

To read Adrienne's race report, please click here.
To read Rebecca's race report, please click here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Debra Myers: Open Letter to Running Partners, Coaches and Clubs!

Many runners like the solace of running alone.

We put on our tunes and jog it out or simply delight in The Lord’s work and tune out the world.  We are alone with our thoughts.

Honestly I never thought of running as fun or as therapeutic!  Running was simply a way to eat more of the foods I love.  I realize this is shocking because most real runners do it for “the love” of it.  I was - at best - a fair weather jogger.

In Houston, Texas, there are often more days to blow off the run than not.  Mainly it’s too hot, too humid, too cold, too something.  I usually could find a reason not to go!

I really had no love of it until I joined a running club.

My husband signed me up for a half marathon two years ago.  I was NOT interested in this at all but my love for him made me commit.

He’s a real runner and since it was important to him, it was going to be important to me.

At the time my longest “jog” - to call it running is an insult to running - was about 2.5 miles.

When I joined the club, they had a plan for me to get me ready for the big race.

Keep in mind this was August - in Texas.

The thought of running in 98-102 degree weather was not even on my radar screen; however, I made a commitment to the group that I would show up and so I did.

Everyone was so nice and there were so many different people and personality types this always made for an interesting time.

I love people and I love the stories of our crazy lives.  My life became enriched by the stories of other runners.

Week after week you get to know them and before you know it you know absolutely everything about them.

I’ll admit I’ve run with many people for many miles and three steps into it I’ve forgotten their name.

However, I never forget their stories.  This is when running became fun -- and I finished my first half marathon, which was a huge victory.

This year, I joined a group to take my running to the next level.

That sounds much more serious than it is since my goals are quite simply to finish in a good (not great) time.

My coach, Bill, is awesome.

He is the greatest encourager and sees the talent in every runner.

He celebrates the smallest victories even when I don’t see them as such.

He is not only kind, he’s gentle.

He prods in a way that doesn’t demean or belittle.

He understands the small technicalities that can hinder us even when I don’t see it or usually don’t understand the mechanics of it.  I often joke with him, “pretend” I have no idea what you are talking about because I probably don’t have any clue.

The first night at our track training, he nicely said “Ok, tonight, we are doing nice and easy 400’s.”  I said, “Great, “What’s a 400?”

He taught me the etiquette of the track which, by the way, carries over into everyday life.

Runners, although competitive, are generally very kind and encouraging.

I love to get accolades from Coach Bill and they come in many forms.

My absolute favorite is when he stops his watch when we run by and says “Wow!”

You can’t help but smile.

It’s not a “Wow, you’re an Olympic athlete.”  It’s “Wow, you are improving and I’m noticing your efforts.”  Thanks Bill!

Running partners come and go when you run in a group.  It’s hard to find someone who is your pace and stays there.  As I mentioned I’m not the fastest runner in the world and finding someone who is my pace from mile 1 to mile 13 has been difficult.

My partner Llana is amazing.  We encourage each other, that’s for sure.

I can tell you right now that if she weren’t there it would be more difficult to show up when it’s 100 degrees or 30 degrees.  The extremes take the most out of us but it’s my commitment to her that gets me there.

Llana is a great supporter, a great listener, she laughs at my jokes (they aren’t that funny), she encourages me when I’m worn out, she’s naturally faster than me so she pushes me.

She has a beautiful stride and I’ve really come to admire that as a runner.

She has made me a better runner, a faster runner and a more consistent runner.

She is a great human being and I’m blessed to have her by side mile after mile.

Thank you to the running community for being that -- a community!

My heart aches a little for those who will never know the closeness of a running club, the depth of relationships with your running partners or the smile of an encouraging coach.

All of these things made me love running!

I’m proud to say I am a runner.

(We'd say that we're proud that Debra's a Volte runner. - Editor)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Volte's Thanksgiving Day Turkey Wrap-Up

Faith, family, friendship, fellowship and five miles were among the many things to be thankful for this past Thanksgiving!

Run Thru The Woods race director Roxanne Davis with Volte founder Bill Dwyer.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
A few even added an additional 6,336 feet for good measure while the Volte vibe was carried this holiday weekend to Louisiana, Tennessee and Massachusetts.

Where do we start?

Well, how about Wednesday night, November 27, in Lafayette, Louisiana?

Kim Biggerstaff and her children competed in the Camellia Crossing 5K, billed as Acadiana’s fastest 5K which benefitted Miles Perret Cancer Services.  Kim covered the 3.1 miles in 30 minutes and three (3) seconds, while her daughter, Anna-Claire, 12, and son, Campbell, 8, both won their age group in respective times of 23:05 and 29:18.

Of course, the marquee event for the group was the 24th annual GE Run Thru The Woods, but the day started in Stow, Massachusetts as Erica Cahill toed the line at the 7th annual Stow Gobbler 5K, where the temperature at start time was 25 degrees.

“I was absolutely freezing and they started the race 20 minutes late,” she said.

Nonetheless, Cahill, 48, brought a little Volte cheer to the community - located 20 miles west of Boston - by throwing down a time of 21:55 to take second in an expansive 40-59 age group.

She was also the seventh overall female finisher of a race which was won by professional triathlete couple Jarrod Shoemaker and Alicia Kaye.

Moving west to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Katie Jackson, 35, finished one spot out of the top 25% of her 35-39 age group as she completed the SportsBarn Turkey Trot 8K in 43:06.

She was 14th out of 55 finishers in her age group.

Derek Bailey, 32, was the next to pick up hardware as he met his goal of breaking 40 minutes in the Forest Park Medical Center North Texas Turkey Trot 10K in Frisco, Texas.

One of just 16 athletes on the morning to finish in under 40 minutes, Derek easily won his 30-34 age group in 39:55 as he noted that “racing unhurt is a beautiful thing.”

Next up for Derek?  He’s going after a sub-3:00 finish at the Chevron Houston Marathon and he expressed his thanks to “Bill Dwyer, Chris Weir, Brandon Sager, Kate Looney, Brian Jackson, Mayra Caamano and the Volte crew” for putting him in a position for his Thanksgiving Day age group win.

Debra Myers and her son Nick in Austin at the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot 5-Miler
(Photo courtesy of Deb Myers)
In Austin, Debra Myers and her son, Nick, challenged the 23rd annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot 5-mile course.  Debra finished in 50:26 while Nick waited on his Mom after a sterling time of 42 minutes-even.

Meanwhile, four Volte athletes headed to Uptown Park near the Galleria in Houston to take part in the 21st annual TXU Energy Turkey Trot 10K.

Lauren Hoffart led the group with a time of 59:18 while Rolin Thomas posted a 1:14:15 showing and Kate Thomas and Denise Fessler finished in identical times of 1:19:56.

The kiddos, though, got things started close to home at Run Thru The Woods with the one-mile Kids run.

Eight-year-old Emerson Blevins led the way with a 9:31 mile followed by six-year-old Jack Tresaugue in 10:01, 12-year-old Davis Cooper in 10:20, seven-year-old Luke Tresaugue in 11:31 and the youngest of them all, four-year-old Kash Blevins in 12:05.

And according to Kate Looney, it wasn’t the kids that had all of the fun either.

“Run Thru The Woods is a recent Thanksgiving tradition, but one Bob and I really enjoy,” she said.  “I love seeing running buddies both old and new at this race and it's always a great turnout from the Spring/The Woodlands running community.

“The weather was nice and cool and set up for fast times this year.  And of course, the pancakes and hot coffee at the end are the best way to top off the morning!”

Oh yeah, she didn’t even mention her own piece of hardware.

We can assure you that Kate does run with her eyes wide open.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
While Bob led Volte with a time of 31:18, Kate and Geri Henry were the only two to take home age group awards from the race produced by the South Montgomery County YMCA.

Looney, 33, used a personal best 33:34 to take second in her age group which was won by former pro triathlete and University of Minnesota swimmer Emily (Deppe) Finanger.

Third behind Houston’s Susan Waldau and Tempe, Arizona’s Catherine Sandvig, Geri, 65, finished with a chip time of 52:25.

Justin Bui seems to be saying, "Save me two pancakes in the post-race food line!"
Or possibly, "I'm beating my time from last year by more than two minutes!"  He ran 34:35 last year.  31:56 this year.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer.)
Another seven finished in the top 10 of their respective age groups.  They included fifth place finishers Mayra Caamano (36:06, 35-39) and Marta Mixa (46:22, 55-59), sixth place finisher David Odom (34:44, 55-59), seventh place finisher Justin Bui (31:56, 25-29), eighth place finishers Juliee Sparks (36:49, 35-39) and Ron Henry (53:52, 65:69) and ninth place finisher Michelle McGill (39:17, 45-49).

McGill’s daughters - 14-year-old Regan and 27-year-old Amanda Williams - completed the distance in 54:57 and 56:19, respectively as the McGill family was one of four parent-daughter efforts in the five-mile race for Volte on Thursday.  Michelle went back out and ran both in to the finish line.

Mike Csikos, 44, paced his 13-year-old daughter Michaela around the course in 45:12.

Jennifer Rowe, 45, and her 11-year-old daughter May finished in 50:12 while Jon Walk, 46, guided Waverly, his 18-year-old daughter who’s a freshman at Liberty University in Virginia, to a 52:50 finish, which was over a seven (7)-minute personal best for her.

Three mother-child teams split duty between the five-miler and the three-miler.

Jill Tresaugue,38, finished the five-miler in 42:41 while her 11-year-old son, Ryan, was sixth in his age group in 19:25.

Tammy might have been all thumbs up here, but that was the secret sign that she was going to drop #2208.  And she did.  By five seconds at the finish.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer.)
Tammy Grado, 45, had a steady five-mile effort of 40:52 while 18-year-old daughter Cassidy covered the three miles in 33:58.

Kelly Whiddon, 36, and daughter Natalie, 10, teamed up to run 46:19 and 23:11, respectively.  Natalie was eighth in her 10-14 age group in the three-miler.

Marisol Maresca, 41, and her daughter Kaitlyn, 9, wrapped up Volte’s family connections on Thursday by sharing a time of 40:09 in the three-miler.

From left to right, Sandra Jones, Nicole Mikelonis, Juliee Sparks, Julie Pearce, Stacy Roberson
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer.)
Our Volte team rounded out the five-miler with the following times:

Jerritt Park – 34:51, Alli Choi – 39:03, Kelley Davis – 39:41, Steven Lopez – 40:47, Stacy Roberson – 42:46, Jon Yarborough – 43:07, Colleen Sager – 43:37, Paul Vita – 44:29, Rich Cooper – 44:39, Sandra Jones – 45:23, Nicole Mikelonis – 47:41, Julie Pearce – 48:10, Tabitha Young – 48:14, Llana Bingham – 48:42, Eileen Flynn – 58:57

We think Steven Lopez took home Thursday's prize of the "Biggest Smile" on the course.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer.)
Jerritt would follow with three 5K’s the next three days to complete the Montgomery County Triple while Rich did 5K’s on both Friday and Saturday after.

Alli Choi was home on Thanksgiving Break from the University of North Texas in Denton.

Jon Yarborough bounced back nicely after a 2:15:43 half marathon the previous Saturday, November 23, at the Shiner Beer Run Half Marathon in Shiner.

And, as always, a group of Volte friends were ever present in the five-miler with Jennifer Worthington, 42, winning the 40-44 age group in 35:01.  Meanwhile, Chris Weir, 29, led all of our male Volte friends with a sixth-place age group finish of 31:51.

The rest of our Volte friends posted the following times:

Will Ott – 34:56, Kashay Mendez – 38:43, Jon Braunersreuther – 40:38, Chad Giardina – 41:02, Tony Allison – 46:14, Amy Allison – 46:15, Fran Blanton – 47:54, Hollie Quigley – 47:55, Barry Blanton – 48:29, Denna Johnson – 55:08, Tad Chenet – 57:09, Rhonda Chenet – 57:24

Sunday, December 1, 2013

8th annual Montgomery County Triple Complete

Volte Endurance Training and Friends of the Running Community (also known as Volte founder Bill Dwyer and Jon Walk) was proud to support a close-knit, yet inclusive-to-all tradition known as the Montgomery County Triple this Thanksgiving weekend.

Originally started in 2006 to help support two Montgomery County races – the City of Conroe Turkey Trot 5K, which used to be held the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the Luke’s Locker-sponsored, twice monthly Run The Woodlands 5K, Volte and FOTRC jumped in this year to host two 5Ks on Friday and Saturday as a quirk of the calendar gave us a fifth Saturday in the month of November after Thanksgiving.

We invited all of the local clubs and training groups as well as the young men and women who are part of The Woodlands Running Club’s Juniors program

We appreciate all who came out on Friday and Saturday – as well as those who contributed to the 77 canned goods that we’ll be taking to a local food bank.

We had great volunteer support from David Odom, Gabby Brockett, Mary Carter, Waverly Walk and Cory Ognisty and we’d like to thank Rich Cooper for leading us in prayer for Saturday’s race as well as Waverly Walk signing our National Anthem.

And most importantly, our Montgomery County Triple finishers for 2013 are as follows:

Chris Allen
Mike Attanucci
Vincent Attanucci
Liz Berry
Richard Cooper
Patty Cowden
Mike Csikos
Alan Gastineau
Nate Kramer
Stoya Ladevant
Dawn Martinez
Matt Martinez
Lucas Menendez
Jessica Menendez
Payton Ognisty
Jerritt Park
Stephen Smith
Zach Williams
Jon Williams

Eleven (11) of the aforementioned 19 runners also completed Sunday evening’s The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K for the Montgomery County Quad award.

Montgomery County Quad award winners
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
They included Chris Allen, Zachary Williams, John Williams, Jerritt Park, Steven Smith, Vincent Attanucci, Lucas Menendez, Jessica Menendez, Patty Cowden, Liz Berry and Payton Ognisty.

Chris Allen also completed the City of Conroe Turkey Trot 5K on Saturday, November 16 to earn the very rare Montgomery County Star award.

Thank you for your support, fellowship, friendship and spirit of generosity.

Bill & Jon

Montgomery County Triple 5K Results - Saturday, November 30

The informal "race start" picture.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Volte athletes are highlighted in blue.

Zach Williams – 20:06
Jerritt Park – 20:36 
Mario Menendez – 20:55
Mike Csikos - 22:25
Kate Looney - 22:54

Stephen Smith – 24:30

Another day, another finish for the Attanucci boys (Michael and Vincent).
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
Vincent Attanucci – 24:42
Mike Attanucci – 24:42
Michaela Csikos – 26:20 
Jon Yarborough – 27:00
Kent Erickson – 27:29
Alan Gastineau – 27:37
Ethan Williams – 28:55
Lucas Menendez – 28:57

Chris Allen and Joe Glass finish together as part of a longer run for the two of them.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
Joe Glass – 29:25
Chris Allen – 29:25
Rich Cooper – 29:36
Dawn Martinez – 29:41
Stoya Laydevant – 30:12
Meri Laydevant – 30:12
Liz Berry – 30:15

Mom congratulates her two boys after jobs well done!
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
Mats Hagemann – 30:33
Oscar Hagemann – 30:33
Dte Hagemann – 31:11
Felis Hagemann – 31:11
Ryan Rohrlich – 32:42
Rhonda Rohrlich – 32:42
Matt Martinez – 34:23
Patti Cowden – 36:06
Rebeca Williams – 36:24
John Williams – 36:24

Another satisfied runner after a chilly five kilometers!
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
Sofia Menendez – 39:59
Jessica Menendez – 39:59
Jill Ochoa – 41:25
Jaxon Ochoa – 41:25
McKenzie Ochoa – 41.25
James Ochoa – NT
Alicia Yarborough - 56:43
Brenda Meraz – 56:43

A quintet of Juniors getting ready to begin their laps of the Barbara Bush Elemenary parking lot.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
Merek Soriano and Aden Dominiguez completed two (2) miles while Peyton Ognisty, Kaia Soriano and Nate Kramer all finished a mile as part of The Woodlands Running Club's Junior program.

Thanks Waverly, Mary and Bill!
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk.)
The 5K was supported by Bill Dwyer, Mary Carter, Cory Ognisty, Waverly Walk and Jon Walk.

Montgomery County Triple 5K Results - Friday, November 29

Awaiting the start on a cold day after Thanksgiving morning.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Volte Athletes are highlighted in blue.

Zachary Williams – 20:31
Jerritt Park – 20:50 
Mike Csikos – 21:17 
Stephen Smith – 23:03
Chris Allen – 24:50

Three-time Ironman Texas finisher Richard Tramm and
'13 Ironman Texas and Rocky Raccoon 100 finisher Karen Felicidario
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Richard Tramm – 24:56
Karen Felicidario – 24:58
Alan Gastineau – 25:17
Vincent Attanucci – 25:25
Mike Attanucci – 25:25
John Williams – 25:38
Paul Vita – 27:44 
Lucas Menendez – 28:58
Jessica Menendez – 28:58

Stoya and Meri Laydevant finishing in crisp, cool temperatures.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Stoya Laydevant – 29:03
Meri Laydevant – 29:03
Dawn Martinez – 29:33
Richard Cooper - 30:33
Matt Martinez – 30:55

The entire Olsen family finishes!
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Jeff Olsen – 30:38
Rebecca Olsen – 30:58
Emma Olsen – 30:58
Charlie Olsen – 30:58

Just a split second before Patty Cowden (left) attempted to jet past Liz Berry (right) to the finish.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Patty Cowden – 37:59
Liz Berry – 37:59

Isn't running supposed to be this fun, like it was for Peyton Ognisty?
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Peyton Ognisty – 41:37
Kelly Green – 41:38 
Cory Ognisty – 41:38      

Nate Kramer, a participant in the Juniors program of The Woodlands Running Club, finished an untimed mile in addition to Friday's 5K runners.

Bill Dwyer, Mary Carter, Gabby Brockett and Jon Walk supported the runners as volunteers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Calm Before The Storm

And thankfully, we're not talking about the weather.

The first of "it" arrived Saturday morning for our group run!

"It'll get pretty busy the next few weeks (though)," says Volte founder Bill Dwyer.  "We have several in Run Thru The Woods on Thursday and a few running out-of-state Thanksgiving Day races.

"We also have the Montgomery County Triple this weekend followed by next weekend's Texas10 Conroe, B-CS Marathon and Half Marathon, MetroPCS Dallas Marathon and Half Marathon and the Texas Trail Endurance Runs."

First, though, came the sweltering.

Kacey Bryant, Katie Marshall and Gabby Brockett took three for the team at the Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon on Sunday, November 17.

Kacey and Katie ran their own races but put down identical times of 2:08:29 while Gabby, the triple fall marathoner, paced a friend to a 2:20:54 finish.

Some ladies that we hope to see in the Volte ranks soon also were in the Alamo City.

Patty Williamson and Lauren Hoffart covered the 13.1 miles in 2:07:55 and 2:22:27, respectively, while Kate Thomas paced a friend to a time of 3:39:09.

Other Volte friends running the half marathon included Hollie Quigley (2:24:44), Denna Johnson (2:34:57), Fran Blanton (2:34:57) and Barry Blanton (2:42:02).

Of course, Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love.

However, somebody forgot to tell Will Ott's stomach that.

Our Volte friend and Woodlands Fit coach went to the Pennsylvania city without a Super Bowl win in search of a 3:25 marathon, but instead switched to the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Half Marathon and put down a 1:46:01 time that was better delivered than a Phily Cheesesteak sandwich.

And then, there was shivering at the HMSA Classical 25K last Sunday, November 24 in downtown Houston.

But it should haven't bothered Paul Vita, the Penn State graduate, too much.

"I felt pretty good," he said.  "The temperature was fine, but the wind was tough on the backside so that cost me some time."

Yet, Paul still conquered the triple-loop course from the Wortham Center to Shepherd and Memorial to post a finishing time of 2:26:40.

Volte friends Keith Wiley, who trains with us periodically, and 50 States marathon finisher Tony Allison also went loop de loop with respective times of 1:43:28 and 2:09:07.

Keith's time was good for eighth in his 35-39 age group.  Tony was 19th in his.

And like Allison, one of our long-time friends at Volte, Strive Performance Coaching founder and current Finish Strong Coaching coach Kim Mc Namee was the third overall female in 1:41:56.

Mc Namee, 42, said she used the race as another step in her preparation to run the Chevron Houston Marathon in January for the first time in 10 years, where she qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nine with Nine Volte: Anita Werner

We led in on the first Nine with Nine Volte on Curtis with the following message:

"I am very blessed to have everyone that we have in our group," says Dwyer.  "One isn’t any more important than another. Everyone brings a personal strength to the table. We compliment each other very well.  And it isn't about running speed, but rather the positive encouragement to reach personal goals."

To be honest, I really feel this way about anyone in the group.  Everyone is a blessing in my life.

Anita is an accomplished athlete who has some new goals on the horizon.  She, like everyone else in our group, is totally self-less:  she cares about everyone.  It doesn't matter if they are running for time, running to finish, or just running for fitness.

She is very motivating and understanding of the training process, both physical and mental.

-- Bill Dwyer, Volte Founder, on Anita Werner

Anita is for "A" - Always with a smile.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Nine Volte:  We started Curtis off by asking him what his "A" race was.  But right now, you're just looking for "a" run.  Tell us a little bit more about what is sidelining you from running?"

Anita Werner:  Oh my goodness!  I have to follow the fun and beloved Curtis?  Oh, the pressure!

As far as being sidelined, I had a small meniscus tear that I tried to recover from first with rest and anti-inflammatories, but it didn't work.  I had meniscus repair surgery almost three weeks ago.

I am supposed to try to run a little this coming Thursday, November 7, which will be exactly three weeks after surgery.

I am recovering very well, even better than I expected, so I am hoping that I won't be sidelined much longer.

NV:  You've been an active - and competitive - endurance athlete, with a run start and focus - for at least the last ten years.  How hard has this setback been for you, especially as you looked to maybe tilt your activity more in a run-focus as opposed to a tri-focus?  And what have you learned from it to share with fellow adult athletes?

AW:  While my setback was disappointing, especially at first, this time around, it really hasn’t been that difficult.  My Volte teammates have provided such support and compassion for what I was going through, and that has kept me positive.   It also helped I was still able to cycle, swim and strength train.   And my new awesome friend, Allison Urvan, who has been sidelined at the same time, has also helped me get through, as we were able to call and cheer each other up if one of us got down.

Although I was trying to re-focus more on running, I believe this has made me realize I have some unfinished business with endurance triathlon.

What I have learned that I would share with any interested adult athletes, aside from the obvious of trying to find out what caused your sideline and figure out how to remedy it, is to try to take the time to see if God has another door waiting for you to open and check out for a while, take the extra time you now have to enjoy friends and family, support your teammates and volunteer and give back to the running community.

Giving back:  Getting ready to cheer runners on at Rocky Raccoon earlier this month
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
I also find that when I return healthy, I can use the fact I am healthy and nothing hurts as motivation and to help me mentally focus and push through the discomfort of a tough long run or speed workout.

Ok.  That wasn’t brief, but it was the best I could do.  You should see how much I erased!

NV:  Wow.  What an answer.  With that kind of energy, one day I could put off as much energy as a D battery!  Erase?  I think the new programmers of know all about that word.

We'll come back to triathlons.  Talk about your start as an athlete.  Did you compete in high school or college or were you an adult onset athlete?  The first result that pops up out there on the Internet is the 2003 Houston Marathon.

AW:  Ha!  No one told you I was an endurance talker too, did they?  Volte athletes have so much energy, that if you combined it all, you could light up the state of Texas!

As for being an athlete, it depends if you mean running or other sports.  I did the cheerleading stint from sixth through eighth grade and gymnastics in seventh and eighth.  I had my first track season in seventh grade, in which I ran the 440 (yep, back when it was 440, not 400).  For some reason, the school didn't have a track team in eighth grade, but I joined the track team once I entered high school.

I ran the 440 again freshman and sophomore year.  I didn't like the coach, so I decided to take up dance and joined a dance club in high school.  Dancing to this day is still one of my favorite things to do.

As far as the running goes, I didn't like the track coach so much, I decided I didn't like to run and didn't run for almost 20 years, which is when I trained for the 2003 Houston Marathon.  I did a Susan G Komen 5K and a duathlon - which was called a biathlon at the time - completely untrained that I just thought looked like fun a few years before that marathon, but I could never find those results.

NV:  Alright, now the song, "Dancing Queen", is ringing between my snaps!

That initial Houston Marathon finish was in 4:20:31 and then there was a marathon finish in San Diego in early 2005 that was 4:32-even and then that fall is when things - perhaps looking from the outside -- started to change and you really invested a lot in your running -- and it paid off, leading to a Boston Qualifier (BQ) in Houston followed by a trip to Boston later that April.

AW:  Great!  Now that song will be stuck in my head all day!  I'm going to have to make my son do dishes tonight so he puts his iPod on his country music so we can sing and two-step between the pots and pans to get that out of my head!  One of our favorite mother/son things to do.

Anita at the track with her son
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
So there's a question in there somewhere, huh?  Yes, my first two marathons, I trained to finish, and I had a great time doing it that way.  Although, being true to the majority of marathoners, even if it's only to correct a time about seconds (in my case two minutes or less), I don't know why that marathon in San Diego reports the gun time and not the chip time.  It was 4:30, but I do not recall the seconds.

Yes, I decided I could improve my time, since I hadn't been training for time up to that point.  I had never truly done any consistent and real speed work before then, including high school track, and didn't realize the impact it had.  I moved back to Houston from San Diego at the end of July 2005 and started speed work the beginning of August with Katy Fit's ATP group and had dramatic results.

At the beginning of the season, my goal was four (4) hours and then try to qualify for Boston the following year.  Within a few months, I was extremely surprised at the Warm-up Series results and had been encouraged by more experienced runners to adjust my goal for a Boston BQ for Houston's 2006 marathon in January.

NV:  Take us through the next stages of your running.  Was Chicago - with an impressive 3:16:35 -- later that fall your PR race?  You came home, you ran 1:51:31 in the 25K and 2:14:43 in the 30K (just seven minutes shy of your 25K the year before), but Boston and New York the following year were in the mid 3:40s (still very impressive, but not this new level that you had recently achieved).

AW:  Yes.  My 2006 Chicago Marathon was my PR.

Multiple things took place to hinder my race times and training within the same time frame.  First, I did have a minor injury a few weeks after the 30K.  I took a risk running so many long distance races so close together, and I fared well until I failed to take recovery time and continued with speed work and high mileage.  This also caused me to DNF in the 2007 Houston Marathon, which was a race I wanted to do well.

After Houston 2007, I finally took some time to recover and fell behind for Boston training.  I decided to enjoy it, not worry about time and high five every kid with a hand out.  For New York, I felt recovered and felt I was trained for about 3:30, but I made the mistake of wearing not well-tested new shoes that didn’t work well with the concrete hilly bridges of New York.  My tailbone was in severe pain by mile 15.

For my 2005 and 2006 seasons, my husband had a rare period of not traveling.  Being the great, supportive husband and father that he is, he afforded me the luxury to focus on my running those years, as we have two kids and they were pretty young at the time.

When he began to travel again towards the end 2006, I wanted to spend more time at home and tone down my running efforts.  During training for New York 2007, we also started making plans to move to Cairo, Egypt, which added to a change in priorities.

I train hard when life permits, but when it comes to my family, they will always come first.

NV:  Egypt.  Wow.  I don't think Athlinks was able to crack the Sphinx for your results there!

Seriously, discuss your opportunities to stay physically fit while in Egypt.  And when you came home, the shift was on to multisports.  What - or possibly who - was the motivation for that athletic transition?

AW:  No, Athlinks is neither all inclusive nor 100% accurate, but they do a pretty good job.  And my son says the Sphinx is smaller than you would think.  I personally thought it was the size I expected.

I want so much to try to give a short, concise answer, but to explain my fitness opportunities overseas and introduction to multi-sport isn't a simple answer for me.  So here goes…

The Wadi
(Photo courtesy of Anita Werner)
Some of my most fun running memories were in Egypt.  There was this place called The Wadi.  It was a small canyon with a dried up riverbed that people used as a trail, and it was located very close to where most expats lived. Being a canyon and away from the general public, it provided me a little security, and I felt free to actually wear shorts and bare my shoulders in a running tank.   Many of the expat women would also walk their dogs there every morning.

Hill running in the Wadi
(Photo courtesy of Anita Werner)
I would usually get up early and run with my Lab and time it so I would meet the other women with their dogs back at the entrance.  I would have someone bring my little dog, who couldn't run with my Lab and me, and I would go back out with my dogs and walk with the other expat women.  I also had access to the American school track, which I used a few times, but I was really focusing on the enjoyment of running in The Wadi with my dog as the sun rose.  It was spectacular!  So I actually kept up my fitness pretty well there.

There was also a group of very strong cyclists that rode early morning Fridays, which was "Prayer Day" in Egypt and not much traffic on the roads.  Drivers in Cairo seemed to view the dividing lines in the road that divide traffic (if there were any lines) as optional.  Even with little traffic, I found it not worth the danger after riding twice.

As far as swimming, there were options, but I found the restrictions of making sure there were no men around before or after you get out of the pool, as you shouldn't be seen in a swimsuit, a bit overwhelming.

Although I did meet one incredible American woman in Cairo, who trained there and has qualified for Kona several times.   She was able to push through those training barriers that I found difficult.  So it is possible to train for triathlon in Egypt.

Before moving to Egypt, I already had it in my mind to try triathlon.  I was in the Cinco Ranch Triathlon in the relay as the runner two years in a row, and it piqued my interest.  I also did a duathlon in Webster in 2007.  I had been cycling once in a while as cross training for about a year before my move and even did the Katy Flatlands Century in 2006 or 2007, I don't recall for sure which year.  My interest piqued even more when I moved to Singapore the year after moving to Egypt.

Singapore is an excellent place to run, but I unfortunately got a bad case of plantar fasciitis and was only able to run a couple months until it got so bad I was completely sidelined from running.  I again found an amazing cycling group that had many triathletes and began cycling more seriously there.  Some reading this may even know one of the people I met in my cycling group in Singapore, as he moved to The Woodlands a year after I moved back to the Houston area.  I met and rode with Winston Cervantes in my cycling group in Singapore (along with Todd Whittemore, now from Katy), who have both done many triathlons in the Houston area.  We even had a little Singapore reunion at the inaugural Ironman Texas, as we all three did the race.

Just before moving back from Singapore to the Houston area again, literally days before, I tore my meniscus lifting weights and then proceeded to do hill repeats on my bike the next day.  This again affected my running, and I again joined a group of triathletes that rode their bikes near my home in Fulshear, and the triathlon influence took hold once I had my meniscus repaired and finally got rid of that plantar fasciitis.

NV:  Three questions left.  So you really hadn't done anything more than a sprint triathlon when Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas was announced (which, of course, you signed up for and completed).  If Ironman Texas wasn't immediately on the horizon, would you have waited a little longer to bite off that challenge?  Did you sign up day one?  Obviously the pinnacle for a triathlete is to compete in Kona as Boston is for a runner; however, describe the emotions of finishing Ironman Texas versus running at Boston twice.

AW:  Yes, my intention was to wait a little bit longer to do the Ironman distance.  The plan was a few of us from our riding group were all going to sign up and train together, and I thought that sounded like fun.  So yes, I signed up the first day.  Then I ended up moving to Pennsylvania January of that year.

The move caused me to not be able to get consistent with my training until the beginning of February, so I was a bit worried about being ready.  I had done a total of three sprint triathlons before moving, but two were pool swims.  The one triathlon with an open water swim was only 300 meters (which I panicked and doggie paddled across the lake), so that was a great concern since there were not going to be any triathlons up north before Ironman Texas because of the time of year.

I ended up coming back for Kemah Olympic and Galveston 70.3 to get a little open water experience. I also had to do the training by myself with all my rides on the trainer because of the cold winters in Pennsylvania. It was not what I had planned.  If I had known I was moving, I would not have signed up.  So I'm happy I didn't know I was moving, because I am glad I did it.  It was a really fun race.

I know it may sound kind of odd, but I have never really been one to be super emotional at the finish line.

There is no doubt there is always the feeling of accomplishment, and I am always very happy after a major accomplishment, like a PR, Boston qualifying or completing Boston, and Ironman Texas was no exception.

For me, it is the experience of the race and reflecting on what got me there.

I am extremely happy my first Ironman was Ironman Texas. I had forgotten just how many people I know in the running and triathlon community in Houston.  Not only was my family there to cheer me on, but I saw someone at every turn in Ironman Village and on and along the course. I had so much joy having so many people all over the event that I knew, because I have been a part of the truly special and amazing running and triathlon communities in Houston.  I felt like I was with friends and family the entire event, and I never went long before a friendly face I knew was cheering me on.  It is a day that I will never forget.

NV:  Fantastic.  We're in the last two innings of the baseball game, so to speak.  You've accomplished much.  You've seen a good bit of the world.  Great family.  Great friends.  Any unfinished business athletically?

AW:  I feel like I have yet to do "my best" at the Ironman distance.  I am signed up for Ironman Wisconsin next year, and will perhaps do one more after that, but I am not sure yet.  After that, I will probably keep running, perhaps add some trail running, possibly an ultra.  I plan to focus on the fun of the run.

Fun, yet focused
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
If the competitive side of me gets ignited again, then I may train for time again on the run, but unless that happens, I will just enjoy my running and my fellow runners.  Bill has done a great job of keeping the run fun for me, so I am just happy to be with Bill and Volte.

NV:  You've shared so much with us and we're very appreciative of you and your time. Final question is:  "You're asked to speak to newer athletes, regardless of discipline. What three things would you tell them to keep in the forefront of their mind about life and sport."  Thank you again for participating in Nine with Nine Volte!

AW:  It was my pleasure.  I am honored to be asked about my athletic history.

Three things I would tell new athletes if asked, in no particular order, are:

Never let others define you or tell you what you should or cannot do because of your background, age, body type or anything else.  Others can only stand in the way of your dreams if you allow them.  You are good enough and you can do what you set your mind to if you have the desire and mental focus.  It really is true that the mental aspect is 90% of your game.  But don't forget, you need to train for the 90% mental focus as well.  It doesn't just show up and take over on game day.

Once you have some experience in your sport or any aspect of life and maybe even become accomplished, don't forget to get inspiration from beginners.  Sometimes starting is the hardest part. Acknowledge that bravery and drive.  Never forget how much courage it took just to start and how much work it took to get to your level, because they are now pushing through all those barriers.  By the same token, while you are beginning and working hard and perhaps suffering through the awkwardness of beginning stages, do not diminish others' success, who are perhaps more accomplished.  Remember, even the most talented have to work hard to be at the top of their game.  Don't tell them that "It just comes easy for you."  It doesn't.

Have fun!  We already have too many things in life to make us anxious or try to bring us down.  You can be competitive, but keep it friendly competition.  Only make competitive friendly wagers if you know it won't bother you if you lose and really just serves to motivate.  For example:   Derek Bailey won't mind when I beat him in Ironman Wisconsin.  The beer he will buy me will be the best tasting beer ever.  Although, the best competition is to compete against yourself.  The only one you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Volte's Brockett One of 25 Texans to Run Both Chicago and New York City

We'd like to congratulate our own Gabby Brockett for being one of just 25 Texans this year to finish both the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the ING New York City Marathon!

Below is the complete list of runners -- 16 men and 9 women -- who finished two of the World Marathon Majors:

Combined Time - Name, Age, City (Chicago, NYC)
11:11:22 - Allen, Greg, 51, Lewisville (5:40:43, 5:30:39)
06:57:49 - Arencibia, David, 43, Laredo (3:36:49, 3:21:00)
07:56:47 - Braate, Eric, 43, Houston (3:59:05, 3:57:42)
08:23:29 - Clark, Stewart, 43, Houston (4:24:12, 3:59:17)
08:54:06 - Dierkes, David, 40, Dallas (3:56:54, 4:57:12)
10:03:27 - Garrido, Sergio, 43, Sachse (4:55:23, 5:08:04)
09:19:14 - Garza, Felipe, 34, Hidalgo (4:21:47, 4:57:27)
12:07:44 - Hatton, Daniel, 49, Dallas (5:32:40, 6:35:04)
09:18:01 - Hope, George, 46, Houston (4:14:12, 5:03:49)
10:08:44 - Olsen, Andrew, 29, Plano (4:42:59, 5:25:45)
09:26:26 - Robinett, Kelly, 64, Carrollton (4:49:17, 4:37:09)
09:26:03 - Rubio, Fernando, 45, Dallas (4:46:07, 4:39:56)
10:38:12 - Russ, Andy, 33, San Antonio (5:17:38, 5:20:34)
06:24:28 - Takacs, Greg, 36, Willow Park (2:50:53, 3:33:35)
08:25:46 - Velasquez, Hector, 54, Laredo (4:18:23, 4:07:23)
09:45:33 - Velazquez, Luis, 33, Kingwood (4:48:46, 4:56:47)

09:42:36 - Arencibia, Noemi, 43, Laredo (4:49:43, 4:52:53)
09:29:49 - Bennett, Robin, 47, Dallas (4:11:42, 4:18:07)
11:06:25 - Brockett, Gabriella, 41, Spring (6:22:54, 4:43:31)
12:42:40 - Brown, Patricia, 53, Dallas (6:07:36, 6:35:04)
10:08:44 - Dullum, Breanna, 29, Dallas (4:42:59, 5:25:45)
08:13:22 - Hernandez, Lisa, 33, San Antonio (3:51:39, 4:21:43)
09:30:02 - Nieto, Laura, 41, Dallas (4:43:37, 4:46:25)
08:07:11 - Pini, May, 37, Houston (3:53:12, 4:13:59)
08:19:01 - Sessums, Kara, 37, Sugar Land (3:55:39, 4:23:22)

Gabby, that just leaves Berlin, Boston, London and Tokyo (the remaining four World Marathon Majors) for you to complete!

Congratulations and best wishes on Sunday with the Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jackson’s Journal: A Runner’s Reality Check

Volte Coach Traci Jackson
A little over a month ago, I woke up one morning with back pain.

It progressively got worse to the point I had to get an MRI done.

The results?  I had three bulging discs and osteoarthritis in my spine.

And my chiropractor’s initial response?  “You might want to give up running, especially on hard surfaces, and buy an inversion table.”

As you can imagine, I didn’t find that an acceptable option.

Living in this small east Texas town has been quite a challenge to find the right doctors (there is only ONE orthopedic spine doctor here) and the right course of therapy.

I’m sure most of you feel the same way:  If something is “broken” and its impeding your running in any way, you want to, HAVE to fix it and fast!

While dealing with phone calls, insurance and appointments, I kept thinking to myself, “What IF I never ran again?”

That question brought up so many different emotions and I was a little surprised what came up.

Was I satisfied with what I had accomplished?  Yes, I am proud of my past race performances but what I remember and cherish the most are the runs leading up to them.

What bothered me most about not being able to run was the training being taken away -- my “therapy” sessions with my running partner(s), the Saturday morning runs and getting to hang with my favorite friends who understand this crazy runner’s world.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love race day and the energy surrounding it, pushing yourself to your limits and testing your training. The feelings you get after completing a race are amazingly indescribable.

But really what I love most are the daily runs -- group runs, solo runs, runs in the heat, humidity, cold and rain, etc.

The runs where memories are made, secrets are shared and things are learned about oneself.

When it came down to it, all I wanted was to be ABLE to run.

Running is so much more to me than racing.

And that was what I was faced with when I did entertain the thought of the “What if?”

A good friend gave me this quote in a beautiful frame:  “Life and running are not all about the time, but about our experiences along the way.”  So true.

My running hasn’t been defined by races or hitting certain paces, but about the people I have met and trained with and learned from.

Are there any races you just *have* to do?

Or a new training method/approach you’d like to try or challenge yourself with?

Is there someone in your life that you want to share your love of running with but have been putting it off?

On that note, I do also have to add that in my “What if?” thinking I was having, it absolutely crushed me to think I wouldn't be able to coach anymore.

Sure one can coach without being an active runner but for me and my coaching style, I draw on all areas of running including my own current experience as a runner.

I LOVE coaching and sharing my love and passion for running.

So in closing, ask yourself this, “If your running days were over tomorrow, are you satisfied with the runner you are today and what you have accomplished?”

What would you change? Or would you be completely at peace not running another step?”

Unless, of course, there was a zombie apocalypse. That is what those “non-runners” say why they’d ever run, right?

Happy, HEALTHY miles to you all,

Coach TJ