Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Volte Gives Back

Sure, the orange and blue colors on our singlets are noticeable in our local running community.

Folks might not know Volte well, but when they do they often know us by what we do.

That starts with our founder Bill Dwyer, who recently celebrated a birthday that moves him into a new age group.  (We'll let him tell you which one!  ~ NV)

As Bill transitioned from a very good local age group racer into coaching groups and individuals, a twice-monthly 5K came on to the scene in 2000 -- Run The Woodlands 5K.

For the majority of six years, it was produced by Massachusetts transplant Don Drewniak.

Towards the end of 2006, when Don was going to retire in Delaware, an agreement was reached for Luke's Locker to assume the operations of the race.

The oldest of old timers knew it as "The Dollar Race" - a time trial course that started and finished at Barbara Bush Elementary in The Woodlands.

Sometime between the second and fourth Saturday of this month, Luke's Locker, facing some financial challenges, closed The Woodlands store on a Friday and filed for Chapter 11 protection the following Tuesday.

The latter coming just four days before the fourth Saturday of January.

Over the years, a couple of races - primarily when it landed on the same day as Ten For Texas - were cancelled.

But otherwise, even through a couple of hurricanes and a Christmas Day race that Bill and Volte friend Jon Walk produced, most of the 384 available Saturdays since January 2000 have seen a race from the elementary school parking lot.

The day after the news reported Luke's Locker filed for Chapter 11, Bill reached out to Mike Lucas, who had recently moved to the Dallas area after being in charge of The Woodlands location since its opening.

He received permission on Friday from Luke's Locker to be able to keep the race going until it was decided who would handle future races as the company went through Chapter 11 proceedings.

And while there weren't any Volte runners on Saturday, the great running community of The Woodlands, the rest of Montgomery County and surrounding areas and clubs have been a great encouragement to Volte - and have supported us.

(And, for the record, Volte did not mention or promote itself at the race site on race day.)

Run The Woodlands 5K start
(Photo courtesy of Lindsay Perkins)
The race's official results, which if every race had been run would have been Run The Woodlands 5K #386, are here:

Chris Larson - 19:19, Kevin Baker - 19:41, Gary Boerner - 20:16, Parker Jolly - 20:26, Christopher Johnson - 20:28, Troy Joyal - 21:56, J.Nathan Overstreet - 23:12, Brian Duncan - 23:32, Tim Rus - 24:09, Pani Challa - 24:22, Zach Taylor - 25:34, Katerina Savelieva - 25:41, Geoff May - 27:07, Vince Attanucci - 27:15, Dianne Dixon - 29:08, Gant Austin - 29:09, Richard Heestand - 33:32, Mathew Darla - 34:57, Tom Pinney - 36:04, Josh Parker - 37:45, Gavin Berry - 49:07, Kela Berry - 49:07, Brenda Berry - 49:07, Pamela Jaszkowiak - 49:40

Volte's Layton Gill and Volte friend Lindsay Perkins volunteered.   Runners whose names are bolded won the race's traditional post-race drawings.

Gavin Berry went off course (was in 4th at the time) and ended up going an estimated five miles. When he returned to the course he met up with his mom (Brenda) and sister (Kela) and finished with them.  He was announced as the winner of the first ever RTW 5-miler.  :-)

One of the other things that we feel very strongly about in Volte, USA is our group's diversity.

Geographic, nationality, ethnic and spiritual diversity is embraced and - as evidenced this past weekend - athletic.

While we're run-focused, our team and our friends tend to enjoy challenging themselves.

952 steps.  That's how many it was to the top of the Tower of the Americas, reported Volte's Sandra Tezino and Lauren Hoffart.

Lauren and Sandra's view of what they would soon climb!
(Photo courtesy of Sandra Tezino)
They participated in the 32nd annual Lone Star Cystic Fibrosis Tower Climb and Run in San Antonio on Saturday, January 28.

It was a one-mile run followed by a 64-flight climb of stairs.

"We did it!," exclaimed Hoffart while Tezino added that it was "a new experience for a great cause."

Lauren completed the one-mile run in 7:31 while taking 11 minutes to climb the tallest building in San Antonio and the 27th tallest building in Texas.

Tezino eclipsed Hoffart's total time of 18:32 by a minute and four seconds, finishing in 17:28.

"My age group was 41-50 and I had the best mile in my age group (6:29) but those stairs were a different kind of beast," Sandra remarked as she was fifth overall in her age group after a 10:59 minute climb of her own.  "It was fun and I am glad I did it.  You know I will start practicing stairs now, for next year's challenge."

Marta Mixa closed the books on Saturday with a 27:46 early afternoon performance at the Conroe Tiger Band Color Fun Run 5K.  This after a 7-mile group run earlier in the morning.

A little color is all good for Marta Mixa!
(Photo courtesy of Marta Mixa)
Chillier temperatures greated our athletes on Sunday, January 29.

George Rux and Bonnie Scholz didn't let it bother them at the Du The Polar Bear Duathlon in Cy-Fair.  Both placed in their age group in the 2-mile run, 10-mile bike and 2-mile run race.

George was first in his age group in 1:05:35 while Bonnie grabbed second in hers in 1:08:25.

Out west in the first race of the 2017 Texas 10 Series in Boerne, our small team all did well.

Brayden Park was the first finisher in the Lil' Tex Kids' 1-Mile race.

Penny Garza boasted a four-minute and 20-second PR at the 10-mile distance from November with her 1:46:18 effort, a 10-minute improvement from the same course as last year.

Hope Jimenez and Jerritt Park earned some glasses to fill in Boerne.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Ramsey)
Jerritt Park and Hope Jimenez both were second in their age groups in 1:10:58 and 1:18:54, respectively.

Closer to home, Will Ott and Criss Neumann raced the primarily flat Fort Bend Kia Half Marathon that was part of the USA Fit Marathon in Sugar Land.

Will Ott closes on the Fort Bend Kia Half Marathon finish line first.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Will posted a 1:46:10 finish while Criss ran strong and steady too nearly breaking the 2-hour mark in 2:01:02.

Criss Neumann is all smiles after wrapping up a solid race in Sugar Land.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Volte friend Jon Walk followed up a pair of strong weekend 5K efforts on Friday night and Saturday morning in Temple and Angleton, respectively, with his sixth best half marathon ever in 2:13:05.

Jon's race reports from the weekend are as follows:  Temple, Angleton and Sugar Land.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Volte Shows Well in 2016 Texas 10 Series

A lighter weekly recap follows as most of Volte’s runners ran either the Chevron Houston Marathon or the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

From a team perspective, Volte finished tied for fourth in the Ten Gallon Club Cup competition of the 2016 version of the Texas 10 Series with the Cypress Running Club.  It netted our group $250.

The complete standings follow:

1. Herbalife Running Club, $1,000, 59 points.
2. Seven Hills Running Club, $750, 51 points.
3. Black Girls Run Houston, $500, 50 points.
4T. Cypress Running Club, $250, 48 points.
4T. Volte Endurance Training, $250, 48 points.

Five of our folks will be drinking from these cups for awhile!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Individual award winners in the Series’ Armadillo Cup competition included five Volte runners.

Finishing second in their division and earning $125 each were Hope Jimenez (F30-34), Chris Weir (M30-34) and Jerritt Park (M35-39).

Taking home checks for $75 each as a result of a third-place finish were Derek Bailey (M35-39) and Alfredo Gonzalez (M60-64).

Thank you to everybody in our group that supported Volte in the Texas 10 Series’ competitions.

We'll have a solid group in Boerne on Sunday morning, January 29 to kickoff Texas 10's fifth full year of operation.  (There was one race in November 2012.)

Individually this past weekend, John Trocko and Becca Holt traveled to Bulverde to participate in the San Antonio RoadRunners’ Endurathon 25K on Saturday, January 21.

John Trocko standing tall in the middle with his first place age group award.
(Photo courtesy of Becca Holt)
John won his 45-49 age group and was seventh overall with a 2:05:38 finish (8:05 pace), while Becca was fourth in her 40-44 division in 2:21:45 (9:07 pace).

Volte friend Jon Walk ran the Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers’ Bold In The Cold 15K on Saturday in Grapevine, finishing in 1:36:13 (10:19 pace), and then followed on Sunday in Waco with a third-place age group showing at the Miracle Match Marathon 10K.

He crossed the finish line, which ends after crossing the Brazos River over Waco’s famous Suspension Bridge, in 1:02:44 (10:07 pace).

Jon often blogs his race reports.  They can be found here (Grapevine) and here (Waco).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Four Seconds: Not Enough To Break Desna Jackson's Spirit

(Editor's note:  We applaud Desna's willingness to share not only her race experience (below), but also her commitment, perseverance, warm spirit and personable self to us all.  Our mail bag is always open for your race reports.  We'd love to share it here.  ~ NV)

Michael Jordan once said, "It takes only one point to win a game."

Nevertheless, I have always said that must be the greatest loss felt by the losing team -- to have victory within your reach then just have it snatched from under you.

The questions.

The "What if?"

The finger pointing.

Then, there is your SPIRIT and the repetitive self questioning of "How do I bounce back from this?!"

Last year when I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon, I started cramping at mile nine.  Still, I finished five minutes ahead of the designated time.  (5:55:19 was Desna's official time. ~ NV)

At the time I thought, "It can't get worse than that."  Boy, was I wrong!

This year I went in at a disadvantage because I had plantar fasciitis. (Yes, Desna and Galen Rupp.)  

However, with the remedies and inserts in my shoe, I was not worried.

Even though the weather was not going to be as desirable as I had wanted, I still was not worried.

I had put in all the work during training and followed the plan Coach Rich (Cooper) set up.  I ate well, hydrated properly and most importantly I got all the rest I needed to do well.

I was more confident in my training than I was in all the adversity that was before me.

Pictured before the race with Coach Rich Cooper, Desna's smile is never, ever cramped.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
So, race day, I started cramping at mile four.

After two stops at the Medical tents, I practically had to walk the whole thing.

At about mile 17 or 18, the pain was so excruciating that I considered stopping.

However, I gave myself a mental talk, prayed and decided that even if I were the last person, I was going to cross that finish line.

And I did ... in 6:00:04!

Then came the hard part:  a DQ because I didn't finish in the allotted time frame.  Crushed!

That quote from Michael Jordan kept playing over and over in my head.

"Four seconds!"

Maybe if I had not made that second stop at the Medical tent.
Maybe if I had just stepped a little faster at the end.
Maybe that last water stop was not necessary.
Maybe this emotional pain would not be so hard-felt if I had only quit at mile 18.

Maybe, maybe, maybe ... just maybe.

So now, I am left to deal with the curse of the 26.2 because I have already learned that it CAN get worse, BUT it was Michael Jordan who also said, "I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."

With the curse of 26.2 looming over my head, in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice, "I will be back at Chevron next year!  After all, I have a year to heal emotionally!"

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Are You Randall Harris? Ναι, ναι, είμαι.

(Editor's note:  We appreciate Randy's willingness to share his Chevron Houston Marathon race report with us.  Please consider, in the future, sharing your race experiences with all of us.  ~ NV)

Got up at 3. Couldn't sleep.  Had an oatmeal and a banana.

Traveled down to Houston with Derek Bailey and Gabby Westbrook.  We arrived around 5:30 a.m. and went to the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB).

Around 6:00 a.m., I took four Advils with another banana.

Thirty minutes later, I went to the start corral.

The race begins and it is about 68 degrees with 95% humidity.  My plan is to run with the 3:30 pacer.  It starts well but it is crowded and hard to move.

I went to the first fuel station and as I did, a girl tripped me.  It was a soft fall and no injury. When I get up, I decide to run on the outside of the pacer to keep from getting tripped again.

The subsequent miles are around 7:55 and effortless.

Thumbs up from Randy near the 10K mark.  The gel must have hit the spot!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
I took a gel at mile 6 just to keep fuel although I wasn't hungry.  I was happy to finally see the half runners go as we split away.  Still the pace is 7:55.

I gelled again at 12.  Mile 12 was 8:02 but that was because we finished on the top of the overpass.

For some reason I expected the 180 degree turn to be sooner.  Things didn't feel right. I just couldn't tell why.

Mile 13 was 7:55.  So the pace was good, but the feeling wrong.

Miles 14 and 15, which went through the Galleria, were 8:09 and 8:17.  I had come to the conclusion it wasn't my day.

At mile 16 I decided to stop at the water station and go to the restroom hoping it would restart everything.  That mile was 8:50, which was good since I had stopped to go to the restroom.

Unfortunately it wasn't better.

I let creep into my mind if I saw my sister at the race I would ask her to take me home.

There was not going to be a Boston qualifying time. I convinced myself that in the warm conditions I had nothing to prove.

I had figured it out. If I walk the rest of the way I would finish in 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Starting at mile 17, I walked through the water station plus another 100 yards and then began to run.  My pace while running was good, around 8:15.

I saw my sister at mile 19 and told her "Take me home".  She said, "What?"  I told her, "Follow me around the turn."

She never caught up to me so I kept running.  Glad I did.

So the next three miles, I set small goals:  Run until I pass three stoplights.  Run till I pass that person walking.

There were two girls, Marcy (Wilkins) and Kim, who kept running and then walking.

We talked and played cat and mouse.  I would run for a while then stop.

Once they passed me I would start running again and pass them.

We encouraged each other saying, "Your turn."

At mile 23 I looked at my total time and it said 3:21.

While Mandi Fowlkes had her eyes on Boston, Randy's decision to run it in from here netted him a trip too.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Suddenly I woke and realized if I just averaged 10 minute miles I would be sub 4 hours.

I was dealing with cramps in my legs and my tummy unsettled. It had been that way for 5 miles.  No more gels I said. I would have thrown up.

The last mile was happiness as soon as I saw the GRB.  About halfway down Lamar, the heavens opened and the rain began.

I crossed that finish line at 3:54:23.

I was happy that I didn't need to go to medical.  I kept walking and met the others.

While I was disappointed in the time, I knew that is what warm weather does.

Had it been 48 degrees instead my time would have been 3:34, but finishing the race was a triumph.

It was especially rewarding the next day when elite athlete coordinator Erin McGowan from the Houston Marathon Committee called.

She said, "Are you Randall Harris?  Mr. Harris, the Chevron Houston Marathon picks one male and one female that finishes UNDER 4 HOURS to go to Athens and run in the original marathon.  Randall, you are that person."

I cried as I thanked her.

Meanwhile my wife walks in the door and is scared to see me talking on the phone and crying.

When I tell her she says,"Is this for real"?

Stunned, I go to the computer and check. Sure enough, the Marathon sponsors the Athens Cultural Exchange program.

What I have learned from this race is that races are internal.

You have to trick your mind to accept the conditions and then beat your body up with positive thoughts.

In this case, because I did that, I get an external reward I could have never done for myself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Who Wants To Spin The Weather Wheel Next?

Hmmm.  Guess we didn't write "High Humidity" into last week's blog post.

Nor hills, but we'll save that story to the end.

Saturday and Sunday's weather conditions at the ABB 5K, Aramco Houston Half Marathon and Chevron Houston Marathon were actually very similar to 2007 when a front was supposed to move through Houston during the race, but stalled west of downtown.

Of course, it didn't affect Ryan Hall that year as he was done in just 59:43 - an American record.

So how tough was it this weekend?

Our Landa Wright, who ran her debut marathon on Sunday, perhaps said it best, "Today was tough - like I would rather birth another child tough."

Yikes.  (Gentlemen, just nod your head - and agree.)

Hope Jimenez led us in the ABB 5K with a 22:20 effort that was good for fourth in her 30-34 age group (which featured top local talent Amanda Cruise and Sara Hudgens in the 1-2 spots.)

In early candidacy for a brand new Volte-year end Sandbag of the Year award, Leanne Rosser turned a 24:21 performance into a third-place 45-49 podium showing.

See, she told Nine Volte in post-race comments, "And, yes, my time wasn't great either."

The rule is:  If you're top three, your time is great.  Automatically.  We're sure Pre once said it.

Jimmy Baker rounded out Volte's Saturday parade in 28:55.

While Jill Tresaugue had to sit out Sunday's Chevron Houston Marathon with an injury, her family ran the ABB 5K.

Thirteen-year-old son Ryan was second in his age group - and ninth overall - with a sterling time of 17:25

Jill's husband Matt ran with their nine-year-old son Jack and they teamed up for a 24:12 mark -- ninth overall in Jack's 7-12 age division.

Matt turned around and completed the Houston Double on Sunday with a 1:54:01 performance.

Volte friend Jon Walk ran the ABB 5K for the fourth time in the last five years and crossed the finish line in 30:24, then was seen the next day leading the parade on the men's marathon press truck.

Twenty-one Voltes ran the Aramco Houston Half Marathon on Sunday.

Two thumbs up from Andria Zapalac.  Bib name says it all, "Me vs. Me"  Nobody else.
(Photo courtesy of Karen Jones)
Their results are as follows:

Derek Bailey - 1:27:01, Skip Moschell - 1:36:02, Sandra Tezino - 1:47:17, Jerritt Park - 1:50:56, Tammy Grado - 1:59:25, Randy Smith - 2:03:01, Sally Buckelew - 2:03:10, Naika Vargas - 2:03:42, Denise Powers - 2:12:15, Jon Braunersreuther 2:12:22, Carrie Hyde - 2:12:26, Leanne Rosser - 2:12:26, Marta Mixa - 2:12:27, Kim Joyce - 2:16:20, Tammy Ninke - 2:17:21, Llana Bingham - 2:24:41, Andria Zapalac - 2:25:00, Paul Vita - 2:30:13, Claudia McMeeken - 2:50:19, Tabitha Young - 2:56:10, Alfredo Gonzalez - 3:09:19

Skip Moschell was 6th in his 55-59 age group, in front of a couple of all-time great Houston masters athletes in Bayou City Road Runners' Rob Walters and accomplished triathlete Roger Wacker.

Jon Braunersreuther and Leanne Rosser worked together to pace Marta Mixa on Sunday.

Eighteen Voltes finished the Chevron Houston Marathon, including five first-time marathoners.

Mike Csikos - 3:44:17, Todd Hunter - 3:47:49, Brian Schultz - 3:53:22, Randy Harris - 3:54:23, Mary Ellen Hay - 3:54:58, Landa Wright - 3:56:00, Yaya Herrera - 3:59:07, Michelle McGill - 4:09:39, Criss Neumann - 4:11:47, Gabby Westbrook - 4:13:51, Layton Gill - 4:44:34, Laura Godfrey - 4:48:57, Susan Marrero - 4:59:56, Faith Craig - 5:07:21, Alan Gastineau - 5:11:51, Laura Hanyzewski - 5:26:54, Brian Hanyzewski - 5:26:54, Desna McDonald - 6:00:04

We like to think that "Sunshine" Mike Csikos, with his lead finish for us, brought out the sunshine after the rain passed through the course.

Five minutes and 38 seconds longer, Randy Harris would not have been able to share this news with us:

Dear Volte family,

I have some great news.  Each year the Chevron Houston Marathon sends two people from the race to participate in the Athens Classic Marathon. I'm happy to say Volte will have someone in Greece this year. I am the lucky recipient and will be racing in the Athens Authentic Marathon, running from Marathon to Athens on November 12, 2017.

Little did Randy Harris know at this point in the race he'd be going to Greece.  Glad he didn't drop!  :-)
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Each year, one male (Randy) and one female runner (Madison Nasteff, who finished in 3:48:17) who crosses the finish line of the Chevron Houston Marathon in less than four hours and lives in the greater Houston area is selected for an expenses-paid trip to Greece and a race entry into the historic Athens Classic Marathon through the Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange.

A nonprofit program founded in 1988 by George Sarantopolous, the Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange creates a link between the historic Greek marathon and modern-day races.

The 2017 Houston-Athens Marathon Exchange marks the program’s 30th anniversary.

A pair of great local female Houstonian runners - Melissa Hurta and Joy Smith - actually won the Athens Classic Marathon in 1997 and 1998 in 2:54:43 and 2:50:52, respectively.

"It was quite a morning," said Landa Wright, the first of the five first-timers to cross Sunday's finish line, doing so in 3:56.  "Thank you to my Volte Family, my coaches Mary Carter and Bill Dwyer, my parents and my wonderful hubby Larry Wright for putting up with my training for the past year!"

Yaya Herrera was not only the next Volte across the line in 3:59:07, but was the second of five debut marathoners.

Yes, that's still technically a smile.  Way to go, Yaya.  First Yaya to ever finish Houston.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"It was not easy," she said.  "It was that hard that after I was done I decided to retire from full marathons ... but not before running New York City's."

Rumor has it that she'll be toeing the line at The Woodlands.

From the woman that bottles up happy and resells it, Criss Neumann completed her tenth career marathon in 4:09:39.

"I'm so happy, it was not a PR but I don't care, I'm happy!" she exclaimed.

It was Criss' third Houston Marathon to go along with all five The Woodlands Marathons as well as finishes at Walt Disney World and Chicago.

Our third first-timer Gabby Westbrook may be earning a runner's badge of honor to go along with her finisher's medal and 4:13:51 finish.

"I may be losing a toenail, but it was worth it," Gabby remarked, and later seeking advice for its care at track Tuesday night.

"I can't even begin to describe the experience starting in the corral all the way to finish line," she added.  "What a relief it was to see you all and the signs were awesome.  My Coach Bill, he's pretty special. He taught me a lot and prepared me for the worst. Always believed in me.

"And my VoLTE friends, I should say family really, you all helped me get to the end. I love how you care for another and you want the best. Seeing y'all in the chute brought tears. It stinkin' hurt, I'm not gonna lie, but seeing y'all there waiting for us was an overwhelming feeling."

Aww, I think we're going to cry too.  Great job, Gabby!

Our fourth first-timer has a possible, special future target race this year so when the day wasn't going to be everything he might have hoped for, Layton Gill did what some do on a rough weather day:  have a little beer on the course!

The beer came later.  Until then, the Marines helped Layton along.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
It certainly washed down and created a memorable moment to his 4:44:34 debut marathon effort.

One result that might have been a little out of place on a tough day was Laura Godfrey's.

But instead of pushing through muscle cramps, as she continues to set up well for her debut Boston Marathon in April, Laura ran 20 and walked six in her 4:48:57 time.

And if you're able to share that first marathon with somebody, you do.

That's what Laura Hanyzewski did for her husband Brian, who completed his first ever 26.2-mile effort in 5:26:54.

Still smiling is Brian and Laura, even though the race had gone to "Red Flag" conditions.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
As with such a diverse group as ours, Volte also represented in Louisiana and California this past weekend.

Will Ott and Ruth Perez competed in the sixth annual Louisiana Marathon and The Half at the Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge on Sunday.

Will finished the half in 1:51:21, while Ruth posted a 5:02:12 marathon finish.

"Rock Star" Ruth on the Louisiana Marathon red carpet after her finish.
(Photo courtesy of Ruth Perez)
"No PR.  Just happy to finish with a smile," Ruth said.  "This was a hard race due to the weather, hot and humid.  Happy to be with my hubby and him being there at the finish line."

Ruth and her husband celebrated their 31st anniversary late last month.

And we close with hills.

Yes, those things that we call overpasses here in Houston.

And Gabby Brockett, who actually ran The Half at the Louisiana Marathon three years ago in 2:03:32, actually found plenty of hills in Carlsbad, California on Sunday.

"If you love hills, then this is the race for you - the Carlsbad Half in California," she said.  "Every mile has a hill and if you're really lucky, sometimes those miles have multiple hills.  A hill lover's dream!"

She noted that the marathon had steeper hills than the half, by more than 300 feet.

Gabby added, "Sadly, I saw no whales. But, I finished (in 2:17:29) & got over all those *Beep* hills."

And shared this picture to perfectly close another great weekend in Volte, USA.

No caption needed.
(Photo courtesy of Gabby Brockett)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lightning, Cold and High Winds: Oh My!

While it was another sea to shining sea weekend in Volte, USA, Mother Nature threw her best at us -- and we told her that we won't be shaken.

Lightning.  Frigid temperatures.  High wind gusts.  Yeah, Volte saw it all.

The Dopey Challenge met Rapha Machado and they sent Rapha back to Texas with better parting gifts - namely six medals - than those that score an appearance on the Price Is Right.

Rapha Machado looking strong this past weekend at Disney (but no ears!)
Rapha got things rolling with a 28:10 5K on Thursday and a 55:39 10K on Friday.

Then "an elevated risk of lightning" made its way to the race course on Saturday at the Walt Disney World Resort and the Walt Disney World Half Marathon was cancelled.

Disney's note read, "All registered 2017 Walt Disney World Half Marathon runners will receive their half marathon medal."

Rapha sent a lightning Volte of his own back to Disney by running his own Half Marathon around the resort, going 1:56:52.

He said, "I EARNED my Half Marathon medal today.  I will earn my Goofy and Dopey medal tomorrrow!!!  RunDisney here is my time!  (BIB 21111)

As any good runner in 2017 would do, Rapha even attached the Garmin link for verification!

So Sunday was the marathon, right?  Well, can you say "PR!"?  I knew you could.

Nothing Dopey about Rapha's effort as he notched a 3:57:12, besting his 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon time by a minute and 25 seconds (3:58:37).

It was Rapha's eighth marathon since January 1, 2015.

He was one of 397 Texans who finished the marathon on Sunday and one of 319 Lone Star state residents who also did the 5K and the 10K in addition to the marathon.

One of those was Volte alumni Justin Bui, who posted times of 24:11 in the 5K, 50:48 in the 10K and 3:37:43 in the marathon.

We're pretty sure that Justin has finished all of the Dopey Challenges since it was created in 2014.

His marathon times, courtesy of marathonguide.com, at the Walt Disney World Marathon are 3:40:36 (2011), 4:03:14 (2013), 3:40:42 (2014), 3:52:17 (2015), 3:45:12 (2016) and 3:37:43 (2017).

George Rux is all smiles before the 5K with his son.
(Photo courtesy of George Rux.)
George Rux was there too for Thursday's 5K.

When asked how things went, he replied, "Went well.  No time.  It was a fun run I did with my son -- his first running race ever!"

A win in any one's book, obviously.

Long-time Volte friend Mary Kerschbaum, who lived in The Woodlands for many years and now calls the Phoenix, Arizona area home, finished the marathon in 6:18:40.

On Sunday, January 8, Volte's Kate Semmelrogge Thomas had her 9.3 turned into a 5.9.

And even though Kate now lives in San Francisco, those are NOT Richter scale readings.

Kate's note from Hot Chocolate 15K race management, much like Rapha's and Justin's, went like this:  "Attention, San Francisco! Due to the high wind gusts on the Great Highway, we will be shortening today's 15k course, to keep the race entirely in the shelter of the park. We have consulted with the National Weather Service, and no lightning or thunder are expected on the course until after the race is over. All 15k participants who run the shortened course will still receive their medals, and we will have the chocolate waiting at the finish line for everyone!"

Chocolate, of course, is even more important than a medal, right?

Kate knocked out those 5.9 miles in 1:15:07.

What corral was everyone in?  The wind made the corral signs look like strewn lollipops!
(Photo courtesy of Kate Semmelrogge Thomas)
"It was insane," Kate said.  "We ran from a tree that broke right next to us (didn't want to get squashed) and between the wind and rain it was rough, but I had a great time.

"Totally worth running in the storm for the chocolate!"

And then it was cold.  Freezing cold.  In Houston.  (Well, Cypress.)

Try 20 degrees cold and Brayden Park was having nothing to do with it during Saturday's Candy Cane Fun Run 5K at Salyers Middle School in the Cy-Fair Independent School District.  (This race was originally scheduled for Saturday, December 3, but was wiped out by the same weather system that cancelled Texas 10 Katy the next day.)

Dad ran with Brayden the first mile and then the two made a pact:  Jerritt would do his best Cheetah impersonation (again) and Brayden would still finish (and he did).

Taking second in the 40-and-over Santa Division (and 10th overall), Jerritt stopped the clock in 22:10.

Volte friend Jon Walk, who was in the same race mileage neighborhood as Park last year, enjoyed the cold temperatures as any good Pennsylvania native should.

He finished in 28:48, two days after moving into a new 5-year age group.  (He noted that the age in the results was NOT right, adding two to his previous number instead of one!)

He'll survive and so will all of Volte with the threat of another type of weather this Sunday at the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon:  rain!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 is a Wrap!

Saturday night was the Volte Christmas / Holiday Party and the third annual awarding of Volte's Takhe Kwahlals.

Jim and Leanne Rosser were incredible and gracious hosts.  We appreciate them opening up their home to us all.

A Volte Takhe Kwahlal
Here were our 2016 award winners:

Alternate Time Zone - Rich Cooper
Best Finishing Kick - Jerritt Park
Best Mentor/Coach - Jon Braunersreuther                          
Best Performance - Leanne Rosser, Laura Godfrey and Sandra Tezino
Best Selfie - Juan Flores                                            
Best Volte Party Attendance - George Roffe
Coaches Dream - George Rux
Dynamic Duos - Debra Myers/Llana Bingham, Tammy Grado/Michelle McGil and Denise Powers/Kim Joyce
Grumpiest Morning Runner - Leanne Dyksterhuis        
Minimalist - Ken Rieger                                                        
Most Coordinated Apparel - Landa Wright              
Most Hashtags - Leanne Rosser                            
Most Improved - Billy Carter, Penny Garza
Most Likely To Get Lost - Desna McDonald                        
Most Marathons - Vita Galicia
Most Race Miles Run - Jerritt Park, Marta Mixa
Outstanding New Runner - Keri Amador          
Perseverance Award - Mary Carter                    
Race Photographers Dream - Gabby Westbrook
Spirit (Big Heart for Others) - Desna McDonald                              
Volunteer of the Year - Jimmy Baker                
Wingman - Layton Gill                              
Workout Negotiator - Hope Jimenez                    
Workout Rebel - Derek Bailey  

Outstanding Sponsors - Fleet Feet – Lindsey Perkins and Enfusia -  Debra Myers
Outstanding Host - Jim & Leanne Rosser

Club MVP - Jen Smith

Denise and Damien Powers
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dywer)
Door prize winners for $25.00 Fleet Feet gift certificates that were donated by Lindsey Perkins included Damien Powers, who gave it to his wife Denise, Tammy Grado and Letty Gonzalez.

Best wishes to all for a healthy, successful and productive New Year in 2017.

New Year, New Results

With the bulk of our group getting ready for either the 45th running of the Chevron Houston Marathon or the 16th running of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in less two weeks, the volume of racing has lessened somewhat, but certainly not the quality.

And aside from founder Bill Dwyer directing The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K the first Sunday of each month, Juan Flores gets into the race directing act occasionally too.

A former harrier at Aldine ISD's MacArthur High School, Juan recently has been putting on alumni events - both cross country and on the track - at the high school to raise a few dollars for the Generals' current cross country team.

On Saturday, December 31, at noon, Juan produced a 3,200 meter race - officially known as the Winter 2016 MHS Alumni and Friends 3200 Fun Run - that gave medals to the top five men, women and youngsters 14 and under.

Both he and Marta Mixa participated.

Juan finished in 11:59 while Marta was second overall among all females in 17:53.

The next morning, on Sunday, January 1, Andrea Zapalac and Penny Garza ventured out to Sam Houston Race Park to help kickoff the Run Houston Race Series' third year of operation.

Andrea Zapalac
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Penny Garza
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Finding the weather a bit more to her liking than Galveston more than two weeks ago, Andrea posted a 10K time of 1:02:06 while Penny notched her second consecutive sub 29-minute 5K with a 28:33 performance.

Early afternoon on New Year's Day in Huntsville, Dana Formon and her husband Chris Shank participated in the Seven Hills Running Club's annual Resolution Run 10K and 5K club race.

Both fully recovered and rested from their efforts in Hawaii in December, Dana covered the 10K distance just under an hour in 59:35 while Chris finished the 5K in 33:16.

Nine Voltes - no, not the Nine Volte - raced the first The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K of 2017 at Barbara Bush Elementary School in The Woodlands.

Jerritt Park sparked the bunch by chasing everybody down with a 22:02 finish, besting Tim Russell to the finish line by 10 seconds.

Tim Russell was still all smiles after Jerritt Park chased all down.  Must have been the shirt!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Park's initial plan was to run the race with his son, Brayden.  However, the younger Park needed to stop after one loop of the parking lot at Bush Elementary as he had hurt his toe earlier in the day.

Dad then put together a last-to-first effort.

And by almost an equal margin of Park over Russell, Mayra Caamano led Keri Amador across the finish by nine seconds in 23:05.

Mike and Erica Coleman ran together for an equal 23:25 finish.

Mike and Erica Coleman making it look easy.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Layton Gill and Ray Hyde posted efforts of 26:04 and 27:04, respectively, while Mary Carter etched her name in the results by covering the course in 39:20.

Just 52 more weekends of racing until Christmas!