Friday, March 31, 2017

Volte's 2017 Road To Boston: Laura Godfrey

One thing is for near certain, Laura Godfrey isn't likely to give triathlons too much of a try.

"My philosophy on cycling is 'so much pain, so little gain'," she said.

Which suggests that maybe the 42-year-old wife and mother of one from Montgomery has a few more marathons left in her.

"My ultimate goal is to run all of the World Majors," said Godfrey.  "Since I haven't been lucky enough to get into New York City via the lottery, I'm going to have to work on improving my half marathon time so I can time qualify."

Athletic time started in 1999 for Laura.

Her first race that year was the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure 5K in downtown Houston.

"I wish I could find the results," she laments some.

However, like many, running wasn't her initial key to fitness.

"I was a gym rat.  I particularly loved step aerobics in my early 20s," she said.  "I started mixing running and yoga in as well."

Even today, she says it's a toss up between hot yoga and a tempo run on hills that makes her feel the strongest.

Running strong, though, is something that has come to Laura, but it's taken some time.

Laura looking strong here doing 1600s in a track workout leading up to last September's BQ.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
And she says, "the marathon is definitely not my strongest distance."

In fact, Laura believes that the 10K is her best distance and therefore, her favorite.

However, she admits that she has "a strange kind of addiction to the marathon."

The fascination with the marathon came at an early age -- even before she took a four-year break from running and working out when her daughter, Elle, was young.

"I always had a desire to run the marathon," Laura said.  "The second part of my goal was to qualify for Boston.  My 20-year-old self thought for sure I would do it on my first attempt."

Six years ago, Laura began to run again.

She raced the Austin Half Marathon on February 20, 2011 in 2:36:29.

"I knew that I wanted to tackle a marathon the next year," she said.  "The 2012 Chevron Houston Marathon was my first and I finished it in 4:38:29.

"It went great actually.  Probably the best I've ever felt at the end of a marathon.  I trained entirely by myself with pretty much nothing but water."

Late in 2012, she brought her half marathon times under two hours with a pair of 1:58's -- 1:58:06 and 1:58:11 - at the Rock 'N Roll San Antonio Half Marathon in November 2012 and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January 2013.

After setting a PR at the Houston Half Marathon in October 2013 with a 1:44:55 performance, Laura lined up for the Chevron Houston Marathon the following January and came close to breaking the four-hour mark in 4:03:29.

Three more marathons in 2014 -- The Woodlands, 4:17:43; Zydeco, 4:09:11 and Chicago, 4:13:43 -- though still left her on the outside looking in at the four-hour standard.

"We had a big group (of 12 other runners) go to Chicago that year," said her coach, Volte Endurance Training's founder Bill Dwyer.  "Laura ran with us as a guest a few times before the Chicago Marathon."

And not too long after, Dwyer said she made Volte her permanent running home.

Laura at this past October's Houston Half Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"Laura came to us with a short term goal to break 4-hours and a longer term goal of under 3:45," he added.

And with the base underneath, along with a few adjustments, she was finally be able to meet the first of the two goals -- doing so in January 2015 at the Chevron Houston Marathon with a time of 3:53:44.

It was then that she could process the possibility of being able to qualify to run the Boston Marathon.

"Since I didn't actually complete my first until 2012 and I wasn't in quite that shape I had been prior to having Elle, I adjusted (my) expectations," she added.  "I felt like I had a shot at BQ'ing in 2015 and I set out to do just that at Revel Rockies that July.

"Unfortunately due to a mishap with the buses, I wasn't able to run the entire race."

And in early 2016, she started to be able to taste it after running 3:54:34 at Houston in January and a then-personal best of 3:51:52 at the Rock 'N' Roll New Orleans Marathon at the end of February.

Out went the semi-frequent racing of the past and as she put it, "I trained hard all summer in the Houston heat hoping this would be the race that earned me a Boston Qualifying time."

That race was the Tunnel Light Marathon just outside of Seattle, Washington and was held on September 18, 2016.

Laura had the classic "A", "B" and "C" goals:   "C" was her BQ at 3:45, "B" was "at least a 3:42" and "A" was "to be under 3:40."

She ran the race with her training partner, Sandra Tezino, who was running her first marathon and had decided to run with the 3:40 pacer.

Laura and Sandra Tezino after their last 20-miler before Tunnel Light Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
However, Laura said she knew something about herself from the first 10 marathons that she had run and that was the "propensity to fade in the last few miles."

"Our coach had given us general guidelines to shoot for an 8:15 pace, never running faster than an eight-minute mile," she said.  "A mile into the (2.4-mile) tunnel (at the start of the race), something inside me told me I just needed to go for it.

"So I sped up and never looked back."

The course was a packed dirt and gravel trail with a gradual decline almost all the way to the bottom.

Then Laura's music went out after two songs.

"I knew that it was just going to be the Big Guy, myself and the trail," she added.

But there was an unintended benefit to it all.

"I was able to settle into a rhythm and I started feeling the course. I learned when I could surge and when the trail was flattening out and I needed to pull back and conserve a bit," she explained.  "Had I zoned out to music I wouldn't have been able to do this as well. Also if I had run with the pacer I wouldn't have been able to listen to my body."

At mile 21, Laura felt like a BQ was in the making after maintaining between a 7:55 and an 8:13 pace through that point.

However, the trail started to flatten out for quite a while.

And we'll let Laura re-tell the story from here:

"My new mini goal was just to make it to 23. Around 23.5, I was in so much pain and decided I would pull back a bit and just maintain my 8:55 pace and settle for a 3:41 or 3:42. 

"At mile 24, I heard a really loud voice saying "this girl is running her first marathon and she is killing it!" Well I knew exactly who that was and I knew that the 3:40 pacer was on my heels.

"This was all the motivation I needed to speed it back up. Once they caught me at mile 25 the pacer absolutely made it his mission to get us both over the finish line under 3:40.

"The trail became really rocky and it was hard to keep my footing, but we held on and finished Sandra 3:39:18 and myself 3:39:35.

Two happy Boston Qualifiers!
(Photo courtesy of Alan Gastineau)
"It was a truly beautiful moment to cross the finish so close together both earning BQ's and both going sub 3:40!"

Laura said that "it was a completely surreal experience and definitely my greatest running experience thus far."

And that leaves Boston on Monday, April 17.

Her goal?  "Just to enjoy it and take it all in," she said.

It's a big day for Laura - and others - and she's quick to give credit to those who helped make it all possible.

"I've definitely been blessed by the Lord, with a beautiful life that allows me to pursue my dreams," she said.  "I have a very supportive husband and daughter who always encourage and root for me.

"I have an amazing run family (Volte) and coach (Bill) who have inspired and helped me more than I can express in words.

"And, obviously, the months of training with Sandra have profoundly affected my running. She definitely makes me a better runner and person.   While months and months of chasing Jen (Smith) and Mayra (Caamano) on League Line Road certainly helped me get faster and stronger."

Some notions that Dwyer reciprocates about Laura.

"Laura is an amazing person, very consistent with her training, keeps things in the proper perspective and supports everyone around her," he said.  "And watching her just one time you know that she has the talent to make it to Boston."

Layton Gill: My College Station 10 Miler

The day started with the 3:30 a.m. alarm.

I had to give myself time to get up, get organized, and out the door in time to meet Tammy Grado at 4:30 a.m.

Layton and Tammy Grado:  Bright and early in College Station!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
We had decided to ride together earlier in the week and wanted to make sure we arrived before the mad rush at packet pickup.

We warmed-up for about five minutes and then walked to the starting corral.

The race began promptly at 7 a.m. and we quickly made our way out of the College Station High School parking lot.

I had joked earlier in the week about chasing Jerritt Park.

That chase ended rather quickly as he made his way to the streets and disappeared in the distance.  (For the record, he finished 11 minutes before me, but I will continue working on narrowing that gap.)

I settled into a comfortable pace, though faster than I had intended for the early miles.

I knew Tammy was just behind me, and by mile one, Keri Amador came up to pass.

She asked my pace as she passed, stating her watch malfunctioned so she did not know.

I gave her a quick note and off she went.

I attempted to keep her in my sights for as long as I could.

I skipped the first water station as I often do.  By the second one around mile three, I was ready.

I grabbed the cup and began the process of trying to drink.  To say I failed would be modest.  Half went up my nose as the other half ran down my chest.

My pace started to slow as I developed a slight side stich, and around mile four, Tammy zipped by me.

It was very reminiscent of our summer training runs on League Line Road, where she often pulled away from me as the heat and humidity along with long stretches of hills dwindled my speed.

It was great to see her looking as strong as she did before her injuries.

With a slightly more successful water stop and my side pain easing, I managed my pace, which allowed me to keep Tammy within sight.

I realized I was not slowing down as much as she was pushing the pace.

As we approached the split for the second five-mile loop, I spotted Letty Gonzalez and Bill Dwyer.

Bill offered dinner if Layton would catch Tammy.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
I pointed up the hill at Tammy and said something to the effect of, “She just zoomed by me.”

Bill yelled, “Yes, she looks great.  I will buy you dinner if you catch her.”

I knew I was paying for my own dinner unless something disastrous occurred.

It was apparent that was not going to happen.

Tammy continued to pull away, and I could not have been more excited.

Tammy was anxious about this run, hoping to PR, and since I was on pace for her PR, I knew she was crushing it.

I decided to walk through the water station at the 6.5-mile mark as I felt the need to get as much water down as possible.

After two cups of water and a minute of walking, I picked the pace back up.

I was not as fast as I was on the first loop but knew that I would be close to a 10-minute PR for myself.

It took a lot of focus to push through the last two miles, the hilliest of the loop.

I mostly focused on calculating my finish time and hoping I did not pass any of my fellow Volte runners ahead of me.  I still had my 10-minute PR in sight and needed to push the pace to get there.

Quarter mile by quarter mile, I would tell myself only x more loops to go, referring to the many track workouts we have all pushed through.

As I entered the final stretch, there was Tiffany Hauerwas cheering me on.

I met Tiffany just a few weeks ago on an early Thursday morning run, but for a moment it was as if we had logged hundreds of miles together.

I rounded the corner and up the hill knowing I was ever so close to my PR goal.

I sprinted like it was the first of a 200-meter workout.

I could see the clock as I approached Bill jumping up and down with excitement.  There he was possibly more excited about my finish than I was.

Yes, that's a facial expression that comes with a 10-minute PR!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
See, I was excited to finish to see how everyone else had done.

I knew what I was accomplishing throughout the race but wondered about the others.

In the end, our small contingent of Volte participants had a great day including four PRs.

And as excited as I am about my own 10-minute PR, deep down I get more pleasure out of seeing my training partners, and more importantly friends, have as much if not more success.

Strike up the band - or just the symbol - for Layton's big effort!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
I am thankful for all who have accepted me into Volte and let me join you along the way.

If we have not had chance to run together, name the place and time, and I will attempt to make it work.

This day was more than about the race for me.  It was about being a part of something truly special.

I finish with the following quote and wish you the same success on your next race.

"Runners have an unspoken bond that’s unmatched in any other sport. We’re trusting of complete strangers. In every other group I’ve joined in my life, trust is earned gradually—it has to be proven. With most runners I’ve met, trust is assumed. We support each other immediately and without hesitation. More than any other group, my running friends are fiercely loyal. I don’t know why “good people run...” but I have a guess. We build relationships outside in nature, forcing us to leave the stress, anxiety, and societal pressures behind for just an hour or so. We leave the drama at work, family stress, and we just focus on the run. All we need to have a good time is a pair of shoes." ~ Joanna Reuland

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Singapore, San Francisco, San Felipe and Spring Dot Volte's Map

It is always good to go out and kick the tires on our training.

Equally enjoyable is being able to get out and connect with others in our running community.

It is why we race and why week after week our list of Volte friends that we talk about in our weekly racing recaps seems to grow.

We first, though, to go Singapore this week where Rapha Machado on Saturday, March 25 ran in the OSIM Sundown Half Marathon.

"It is truly endurance training, especially when the race is not well organized," he said.  "It was so hard to run a half marathon at 1 a.m. at 81 degrees and 98% humidity."

Totally unlike his mid-January efforts, where conditions were optimal, as part of Walt Disney World Marathon's Dopey Challenge, Rapha finished in 2:00:59.

Back across the Pacific Ocean, Keith Wiley was finishing up an East Coast-West Coast Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon double.

On Sunday, March 26, he celebrated the Rock 'N' Roll San Francisco Half Marathon with a finishing time of 2:14:28 despite "the hills (which) were tough in Golden Gate Park."

All of that was forgotten as Keith ran into an old classmate from elementary school.

"There is no better feeling," he said.  "Gotta love the power of Facebook."

We had two good crews out this past weekend.

One at Texas 10 College Station and another at the San Felipe Shootout.

Our Texas 10 College Station crew -- Brian Hanyzewski, Tiffany Hauerwas (kneeling), Laura Hanyzewski, Layton Gill, Jerritt Park (seated), Tammy Grado, Keri Amador, Bill Dywer, Desna McDonald, Letty Gonzalez and Alfredo Gonzales.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dywer)
Ten of our athletes made the trip to Aggieland -- three left with age-group awards, four with new 10-mile personal bests and Desna McDonald grabbed a $100 in the cash drawings.

Second in his age group was Rip Reynolds with a 1:05:04 that was just 10 seconds behind Spring's Mark Fanelli.

The Park family ran well.  Father Jerritt was third in his division in 1:12:04 while his son Brayden was first in the kids 1-mile race in 6:43.

Then the personal bests started to roll in across the finish line.  In fact, three in a row.

Winning her age group by three minutes and 28 seconds was Keri Amador.

"(It) finally felt like all my training came together today," she said after notching a time of 1:17:44.  "(I) had a great race and an almost two and a half minute PR!"

Keri's previous best came at last year's Texas 10 Conroe in 1:20:10.

Tammy Grado's been waiting for a new 10-mile personal best since a former Texas 10 Conroe too.   Namely, a frigid morning in 2013.

Focused is Tammy Grado.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer.)
"After nursing an injury for months, a four-minute PR brings (me) lots of happiness," Grado explained as her 1:20:41 performance shattered the 1:24:48 from three and a half years ago. "Tuesday night track and Thursday morning 5 a.m. tempo runs definitely contributes to that. As a result, I'm feeling stronger every day."

Then came Layton Gill, who finally had reason to own the PR Gong.

Just the fact that an LSU fan was putting fast feet down in the lands of fellow SEC foe Texas A&M should have been enough.

He sprinted to the finish with a time of 1:23:09 -- just more than ten minutes better than last year's Texas 10 Huntsville where he battled the hills in 1:33:19.

After the race, Gill, and don't dare call him "E. King", said he "would have had to be injured not to PR", explaining that his time was a minute better ... per mile than last year's effort at Texas 10 Huntsville.

Laura Hanyzewski told us after the half marathon at The Woodlands Marathon three weeks ago that her husband, Brian, was continuing to make progress in his running.

We agree.  And a one-minute, 48-second personal best of 1:29:41, lowered his previous best from Texas 10 Conroe in 2014 of 1:31:29.

However, Laura finished just a little ahead of him in 1:28:19.

McDonald and Alfredo Gonzalez rounded out our Voltes in the 10-miler in1:54:24 and 2:14:28, respectively.

Volte friends Tiffany Hauerwas and Ken Johnson were second overall and second in their age group, respectively, with times of 1:09:59 and 2:16:06.

A day earlier, Ken also took second in the American Legion 5K in Jersey Village in 36:53.

In the Texas 10 College Station five-miler, Ray Sarno and his wife, Dianna, ran together and finish in 1:04:48, which netted Ray a second place age group finish.

Running west to east of our crews on Saturday - and Sunday - was Tim Russell, who participated on the Conroe ISD "Apples" Texas Independence Relay team that covered 203 miles from Gonzales to the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte.

The "Apples" are one of many teams who have done TIR all ten years of its existence.

Four of our Voltes ran in the San Felipe Shootout as did four of our friends.

"I had a blast participating in the San Felipe Shootout ... running a 5K and a 10K followed by a half marathon," said Juan Flores.

He completed the Shootout by taking third in his age group in both the 5K and the 10K in 23:28 and 48:27, respectively, while running the half marathon in 2:06:06.

Having done a couple of loops at Seabrook the week before, Bonnie Scholz was ready.

First in her age group in the 5K and the 10K, with marks of 25:01 an 53:19, she produced a 2:10:46 half marathon that was third best in her division.

The ladies at the San Felipe Shootout:  Bonnie Scholz, Mary Carter and Marta Mixa.
(Photo courtesy of Mary Carter)
"I was the fifth female in the triple (in 3:29:07) and Rebecca Gartrell beat me by (only) 43 seconds!" she said excitedly.  "I looked her up and she's a beast.  I can't even believe I was that close to her.  She had about 66 races listed -- and many were 100 milers."

We think Bonnie has a little beast mode in her as well though.

Back in action was Mary Carter.  She covered the 5K in 45:46 and then needed to stop her Triple pursuit after the 10K that she did in 2:27:42.

Rounding out our Voltes was Marta Mixa in the half marathon.

"This has been one of my most difficult races I've ever done and the most beautiful ones too," she said after taking third in her age group in 2:40:50.  "I think I'm falling in love with trail running.
"It was great to have my Volte friends there with me."

Perfect segue, Marta.

And the men:  Juan Murillo, Juan Flores and Luis Murillo.
(Photo courtesy of Mary Carter)
Brothers Luis and Juan Murillo run at the Knox Junior High track with us nearly every Tuesday night.  As they come out with Juan Flores.

Luis was second overall in the 5K in 19:52, first in the 10K in 41:20 (third best ever behind Calum Neff and Jeff Ball) and third in his age group (and fourth overall) in the half marathon in 1:40:28.

However, Luis took the San Felipe Shootout overall title in 2:41:42.  Flores was the tenth male in 3:18:03.

Juan Murillo finished the Shootout in a cumulative time of 3:31:23 -- two spots behind Bonnie -- with times of 24:32 in the 5K, 55:42 in the 10K and 2:11:08 in the half marathon.

Also doing the Shootout was Bonnie's sister, Michele Fregia.

She ran the 5K in 38:37, the 10K in 1:20:33 and the half marathon in 3:58:49.

Former Volte coach Adrienne Langelier was second overall in the 10K in 46:41, which was part of the new Gulf Association USA Track and Field 10K Trail Championships.

Volte friend Jon Walk ran his 12th and 13th new races "to him" in 2017 on Saturday and Sunday as he finished the inaugural Run Thru The Village 5K in Spring in 30:07 and the 32nd annual Lookin' Good Shamrock Strut 10K in Houston in 1:04:53.

Run Thru The Village 5K was hosted by CHI St. Luke's Health and was the first race ever in the new Springwoods Village, where the world headquarters of ExxonMobil are located.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lucky Trails, Fast Pacers, the Big Apple and No Pins: Life in Volte, USA

The 1:30 pacer at the Canyonlands Half Marathon in Moab, Utah last Saturday must have thought our Juan Flores - especially with the beard - was one of those "bad hombres" that then Republican nominee Donald Trump talked about during the election.

Why?  Well, we ran off and left Juan.

"I was a bit aggressive and shooting for a 1:30 half marathon," said Flores, who was off on one of his fascinating vacations.  "But that went out the window after the first mile when the pacer brought us in at 6:18!"

Juan's ready in Moab, Utah in what appears to have been a beautiful half marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Juan Flores)
He said, though, he had "no regrets" with his 1:35:39 showing saying "what a way to conclude my Spring Break."

However, Juan chuckled, "Note to self:  Never trust the pacer!"

Keith Wiley, meanwhile, had many to choose from among 19,412 finishers of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, produced by the New York Road Runners.

"Great race (which was) very well organized," he said about the Sunday, March 19th event. "There is no better feeling than running around Central Park, Times Square and Lower Manhattan checking out the sights of Chelsea Piers, Battery Park and One World Center.

"Running under the FDR tunnel with the wind at your back never felt so good."

Especially in 34 degrees weather and a stiff 18 mile per hour wind.

Using it to his advantage, he ran New York City in 2:21:39.

The 40th annual Bayou City Classic 10K hosted three Voltes:  Jerritt Park, Ruth Perez and Geri Henry.

Crushed, he said, on the hills, Jerritt remarked that his 46:42 was an "okay time", but that the best part of the race was when he went to pick up his packet.

"They said, "We are out of pins to hold it on," he noted.

Perhaps Bayou City's marketing campaign for 2018 will be, "Run Naked.  Run Pin-free."

Ruth was happy with her 1:00:55 saying that she thinks she likes the race and that it was an "under the radar" effort.

Volte friend Jon Walk remarked that it would have only been "under the radar" if she had taken the timing device off.  :-)

Geri finished in 1:11:45.

Another weekend, another piece of Rock 'N' Roll race bling - the ball from the top of the tall building in the Dallas Skyline - for Brian Schultz.

In Dallas for its Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon on Sunday, March 19, Brian was 1,092nd among 8,312 runners, including 38th from 221 runners in his 55-59 age group, with his time of 1:57:32.

Bonnie Scholz and Letty Gonzalez have separate and different "A" races ahead.

Bonnie is targeting next weekend's San Felipe Shootout on the trails, which includes a 5K, followed by a 10K and then a half marathon that starts at high noon!

Letty will be descending down Mount Charleston with the rest of Volte at the end of next month.

Both had different goals in the 14th annual Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon this past Saturday.

One was a supported long run; the other was to possibly snag the BQ that was snatched from her at The Woodlands.

Letty proudly displays her Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon bling.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Starting with about 20 or so other runners, Letty took advantage of the race's 6:00 a.m. early start and finished her second career marathon in 7:44:20.

Meanwhile, never trust Snow White and Cinderella - just like pacers!

Disney World and ten miles on her feet the day before the race didn't spell BQ, but Bonnie came away with two solid loops of the four-loop course to register an unofficial half marathon PR of 1:44:19 -- five minutes better than the 1:49:20 effort at the 2014 Santa Hustle Half Marathon in Galveston.

Bigger smile than Snow White.  Why?  Bonnie's on the trails.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Volte friends Ken Johnson and Sabina Lorca ran Seabrook's Saturday and Sunday half marathons, respectively, in 3:01:58 and 1:39:41.

And they both won their age groups.

It would help us all to run a race with the name, "She Is Beautiful 5K".

Yes, even the guys.

Just as a reminder that the guys should tell the ladies in our lives more often that they are beautiful -- inside and out, right?

We think that caption says it all already.
(Photo courtesy of Kate Thomas)
Kate Thomas ran the appropriately named race in Santa Cruz, California on Sunday, March 19 in 35:35.

Two hours northeast of Santa Cruz, Volte friend Amanda Clark and her sister Emily Stauffer were completing the Modesto Half Marathon.

Amanda Clark shares a little California bling.  That needs a Texas upgrade!
(Photo courtesy of Amanda Clark)
Amanda, friends with Leanne Rosser and in town recently for The Woodlands Marathon, posted a finishing time of 2:17:51 while Emily covered the 13.1 miles in 2:50:49.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

As Easy As SAP: Schultz, Amador and Perez

Reporting from Easy Street ...  Just kidding.  Things are never that easy, right?

Although it really is an easy week here in Volte, USA.

We spend the bulk of our focus each and every year in the races of the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Fidelity Investments The Woodlands Marathon.

Once we get past The Woodlands Marathon, many of group's runners follow various paths as they have different "A" goals until the Fall when Ten For Texas becomes the biggest race on the Volte dance card.

Nothing says though that we can't still enjoy pinning on a bib and testing ourselves.

Three of our team did just that this past weekend.

Brian Schultz didn't let the disappointment of the outcome of The Woodlands Marathon settle in too long as he jetted off to our Nation's Capital last weekend.

Four of Brian's marathons have come at Rock 'N' Roll events and he was there at Saturday's United Airlines Rock 'N' Roll D.C. Half Marathon.

Maintaining a fairly steady pace throughout the race, Brian finished in 1:52:35, good for 39th out of 249 runners in his age group.

Closer to home, we sent two across the Sabine River to the Zydeco Half Marathon in Lafayette, Louisiana last Sunday, March 12.

And they ran well enough to be welcomed back.  (We're in a festive mood, aren't we?)

Keri Amador couldn't run the half at The Woodlands Marathon the week before last, as she was sick.

She sure made up for it in Louisiana.

The 33-year-old notched a five minute and 33 second personal best as she finished 14th overall in 1:46:53.

"I'm really happy with my time today," said Amador.  "I was one second behind fourth (in her age group) and one minute behind third.  It was a great race.

"I felt much stronger than last race as it was 45 degrees and 16 mph winds, and the rain had stopped by the time we started running."

Ruth Perez before last Sunday's Zydeco Half Marathon in Lafayette.
(Photo courtesy of Ruth Perez)
One spot off the podium was Ruth Perez.

One spot and three tenths of a second.  Hashtag heartbreak!

Ruth was doing a Louisiana double of sorts after running the Louisiana Marathon in January in 5:02:12, she returned with a 2:09:11.9 performance -- three-tenths of a second behind Sherry Weaver from Foley, Alabama.

It certainly didn't dampen Ruth's spirits as she said that the race's "after party was great" but that she "couldn't stay long because it cold and windy."

Even our Volte friends took a bit of a pause this past weekend.

Well, except for Ken Johnson and Jon Walk.

They found their way to downtown Houston for the 32nd annual John J. Eikenburg Law Week 8K, one of the Houston Area Road Runners Association's (HARRA) Spring Series races.

Jon covered it in 49:21, while Ken was second in his age group to Larry Lindeen in 1:04:52.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Coaches Corner: When The Coach Is Injured And Can't Run!

By Richard Cooper
Coach, Volte Endurance Training

Throughout my running career, I have been blessed to have very few times when injury kept me off the road.

Every year, my two “A” races are the Houston Aramco Half Marathon and the Woodlands Half Marathon.

In a lot of ways, these events defined my running season and set me up for the following year.

Cooper, though, has never, ever been injured during the Montgomery County Triple!
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)
Disaster Strikes

Two weeks before this year's Houston Half Marathon, my world was rocked!

While doing my last hard track workout, I felt a knot in my calf.

It was a different pain I had never experienced before so I immediately stopped my workout.

A week and half later - after trying to run again, I found out I had pulled my calf muscle and it would take six weeks to heal.

Just like that, both my “A” races were wiped out.

It was the first time in 15 years I had suffered a significant injury.

Gaining A New Perspective

However, something changed for me this time.

The last time I was injured, I was in a state of depression for the duration of the time I was out.

This time, I decided to have a different attitude.  I accepted it as God’s way of telling me my body needed to take a break.

So I chose this time to evaluate and educate on how to deal with injury.

And since I am a coach, I knew my experience could be passed on to others. That’s what we do at Volte Endurance! We help each other out.

As a runner, the first thing you wonder and probably ask God is “Why me Lord?!!!”

It’s my belief that everything happens for a reason.

How you deal with adversity is all about perspective.

With most injuries, the first step to recovery is rest.  You have to allow your body to heal, otherwise it will only prolong the process.

I know this is hard.

Most runners are very stubborn and inpatient and want things to change immediately, but you have to be patient and let nature take its course.

The biggest worry is getting out of shape and losing all your gains.

Lesson #1 – Listen To Your Body!

There are different types of pain.

There are aches which come from training and then there is the sharp pain or as I term it, “This doesn’t feel right pain.”

Trust me, you’ll know the difference:  The dilemma, though, is what you do about it.

Aches go away after rest and recovery; injury pain is persistent.

While it may lesson over time, the minute you try and run again it comes back and often with more intensity.

When you feel this pain, the most important thing to do is to take time and evaluate it.

If you have a coach, talk to them about what to do.  You may not like what they have to say, but trust me they know what you should do.

Most of the time, it will probably mean taking a break.

A term I like is R.I.C.E., which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

For soft tissue injuries this is usually the first step to treating your injury.  (This is what I did for the first two weeks after I became injured.)

If your coach tells you to go see a doctor, do it!  Your doctor will often prescribe rehab.

Of course, finding the right one is important.

My advice is to ask your coach or fellow training partners who they use for treatment.

Another option - especially for soft tissue injuries - is to seek out a good massage or physical therapist.

In my case, I opted to visit my massage therapist who was able to work on the muscle and do ultrasound and electroshock therapy to speed the healing process up.

One thing that is not an option though is don’t sit back and expect the injury to heal itself!

And most importantly, have a positive attitude.

As I said earlier, everything happens for a reason so use the time off to spend time with your family or help out in the running community.

Lesson #2 – Follow Your Training Plan!

If you have a training plan, follow it!  Every plan has a purpose.

As coaches, we develop them to help our runners get stronger and faster throughout the period of the plan.

Each workout within the plan has a specific purpose.

So when your schedule says Rest, that’s what you need to do.

If it says Easy Run, then run easy.

In most training plans there are more Easy Runs and Rest days than high intensity workouts.

After every high intensity workout there is always a Rest or Easy Run day so the body can recover.

Lesson #3 – Don’t Take Your Running Too Seriously!

It’s all about perspective.

Throughout my career as a runner and a coach, I have seen running take over people’s lives and wreak havoc.

So unless you’re a professional runner, running should not consume your life.

Running is a gift from God and although it has a purpose, it's not the only one.

Running is a way for us to stay healthy and form relationships with others.

It’s a life enhancer!  For me, running changed my life.

Twenty years ago, I weighed 250 pounds and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.

Two years after I started running and 70 pounds lighter, I met the woman of my dreams and married her.

From that, everything fell into place:  two handsome young sons and a great career.

So running can significant change your life, but it should not consume it!

Final Thoughts

Getting over an injury takes time, discipline and patience.  It will involve making some tough decisions.

But remember this, you have to think about the long term objective!

If you come back too soon, it could make your injury much worse and set you back even more.

The end result for me is I’m back and slowly easing back into my running schedule, after all I have nine months to get ready for Houston 2018.

My body feels refreshed and ready to go.

And even though I know getting back into shape will not be easy, I know in the long term I will come back stronger and wiser.

The bottom line is overcoming an injury takes time and if you treat it correctly, you’ll come back stronger than ever!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Volte Ran Large At The Woodlands Half Marathon

Hit .297 in the major leagues and you'll make $10 million a year.

Guide 11 runners to personal bests out of 37 that toed the line at The Woodlands Half Marathon on Saturday, March 4 and you start creating believers - in the process.

Chris Weir, Rip Reynolds and Skip Moschell all drew elite bibs this year, courtesy of Elite Athlete Coordinator Chris Strait.

Weir led Volte with a 1:20:48, his fastest of three The Woodlands Half Marathon finishes.

In addition to grabbing third in his age group, Rip Reynolds, with his 1:28:43, became one of 48 runners who have run The Woodlands Half Marathon all six years.

Incredibly consistent, Rip's times have ranged between 1:28:09 in 2013 and 1:30:28 the following year.

Skip finished his fifth The Woodlands Half Marathon in 1:31:52.

Chris Weir led us all at Volte in The Woodlands Half Marathon
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"Chris runs with us, but is not coached by Volte," said its founder Bill Dwyer.  "He's a very talented super nice guy (as is Skip, and Rip).  He's become a great ambassador for our group.

"One of the things that makes Volte a little different is that it doesn't matter if you are a 6-min miler or 16-min miler. You're still a runner and you're still covering the distance for a personal goal.," Dwyer added.  "We all support each other no matter what the pace is. The finish times are personal and when a goal is achieved, everyone celebrates the effort. Chris, who is one of the fastest in the group, embodies this value."

Curtis Hooper and Jerritt Park slipped in under 1:40 with times of 1:35:14 and 1:37:12, respectively.  Park was running in his third The Woodlands Half Marathon.

The other two?  1:37:35 in 2015 and 1:37:24 last year.

"People ask why I always sprint at the finish line," said the 39-year-old Park.  "Today I had a PR in the half marathon with a time of 1:37:12, compared to my old PR of 1:37:25.  That's why I sprint!"

Rapha Machado and Jon Braunersreuther made their debut appearances in The Woodlands Half Marathon with finishes of 1:45:26 and 1:45:53, respectively, while Sandra Tezino finished her fourth by stopping the clock in 1:45:32.

Ten runners finished between 1:50 and 2:00.

They included:  Will Ott - 1:50:13 (3rd), Leanne Rosser - 1:50:41 (2nd), Gabby Westbrook - 1:50:55 (1st), Sally Buckelew - 1:55:32 (2nd), Tim Russell - 1:56:18 (3rd), Tammy Grado - 1:56:54 (2nd), Jill Tresaugue - 1:57:17 (6th), Denise Powers - 1:58:40 (4th and best by almost six minutes at TWHM), Laura Hanyzewski - 1:59:11 (3rd) and Brian Hanyzewski - 1:59:21 (3rd).

Dwyer remarked that one of the 11 PR's on Saturday came from Brian Hanyzewski.

Runners behind Brian Hanyzewski are checking their watches,
but he led the way to a sub 2-hour finish.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"It's fun watching Brian, who married into our group! The gap between him and his wife Laura is getting smaller," he said.  "With a tenth of a mile to go Laura passes me entering the finish chute and yells, "Brian is right behind me!  He's doing great!"  Love this couple."

Another nine were between two hours and 2:10.

Naika Vargas - 2:00:02 (3rd), Rob Myers - 2:00:56 (3rd), Judith Albarran - 2:01:04 (1st), Dana Formon - 2:02:59 (1st), Marta Mixa - 2:05:57 (4th and second best), George Rux - 2:06:08 (2nd), Susan Marrero - 2:06:09 (4th) and Mike Kuykendall - 2:07:16 (3rd) all were in this group.

Kristi Chen ran her first The Woodlands Half Marathon in 2:11:10.

Michelle McGill paced her daughter, Amanda Williams, who is 26 weeks pregnant.  They both finished in 2:14:06.  It was Amanda's third The Woodlands Half Marathon finish.  Regan McGill, Michelle's older daughter, finished her first half marathon in 2:23:38.

Paul Vita's second The Woodlands Half Marathon was a 2:15:44.

Kim Joyce ran her debut The Woodlands Half Marathon in 2:16:44 while Debra Myers finished her fourth in 2:18:45.

"All's good!" points out Debra Myers.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Myers posted her second straight 2:18-and-change half marathon at The Woodlands Half Marathon, which really excited Dwyer.

"She's one of the most consistent with her training and is an example that anything is possible," he said of the creator and owner of Enfusia, a producer of bath and body products.  "Debra is an inspiration to the whole group. She survived a car accident many years ago and had multiple surgeries after.  We are very blessed to have her and her husband Rob as part of Volte."

Making their The Woodlands Half Marathon debuts were Jenny Fonseca (2:21:03), Desna McDonald (2:35:46) and Ricardo Vargas (2:55:33).

Alfredo Gonzalez rounded us out with his third The Woodlands Half Marathon finish in 3:01:22.

The Priesmeyer family, Rebecca, Sandra and Sarah, represented are Volte/No Boundaries program alumni last Saturday.  Rebecca finished in 2:18:45, while Sandra and Sarah finished within a second of each other at 2:42:52.

We say repeatedly, "Volte has a lot of friends in the community."

Andy Dublin led all of our Volte friends with a 30-34 second place age group finish in 1:18:50.

James Reed finished in 1:26:31 while Tiffany Hauerwas grabbed a first place award with a 1:32:29 showing in the 40-44 division.

Erika Park posted the best of her three finishers at The Woodlands Half Marathon with a 1:35:16 time, as she finished four places behind Tiffany.

Finishing his fourth The Woodlands Half Marathon in 1:40:48 was Edson Jones, while Madelen Davila crossed in 1:55:49.

Not to let their recent nuptials dampen their competitiveness, Dan Jordan made it to the finish line faster than his spouse, Susan Rouse, by little more than a minute, 1:56:21 to 1:57:34.

Barry Craft and Brad Hay finished in 2:14:54 and 2:34:18, respectively, while Barry Blanton, who volunteered the first five years of the race at the finish line, ran it for the first time and recorded a 2:24:09 finish while his wife Fran crossed in 2:25:41.

Just three of our athletes ran in the Fleet Feet Sports 5K - Christopher Medina and a pair of sisters, Brooke and Chloe Kramer.

Christopher, the daughter of Monse Louimeus, led the way with a 32:01 finish.

Much will probably be said for some time that the younger one, Brooke, outlegged the older one, Chloe, to the finish line by a second, as she finished in 45:22.

The evening before, Friday, March 3, we had an arsenal of young athletes participate in the Pathfinder Pediatric 2K Family Fun Run and Walk.

Our next generation of runners included Sarah Comeaux,  Eli Chen, Mike and Mikel Davis, Braeden and Alexander Hyde, Brayden Park and Jack and Anna Looney.

Our big wheel at the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 10K was Juan Flores.

In fact, it was squeaky and made a lot of noise too.

Outlegging former professional triathlete Leslie LaMacchia to do so, the former Aldine MacArthur General notched a time of 39:59.

"It's been a while since I've gone under 40 minutes in the 10K.  Barely sneaked in!" he remarked.

Wrapping up a busy weekend, we had six at The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K at Barbara Bush Elementary on Sunday, March 5.

Jerritt Park led us in 19:55, while Flores got a little extra work for the weekend with an effort of 21:32.  Layton Gill and Tim Russell crossed in 23:01 and 24:55, respectively.

Curtis Hooper and Russell ran the entire way themselves, while Mayra Caamano went easy after finishing the marathon the day before, posting a time of 28:49.

Our friends from the Seven Hills Running Club were there as Curtis Barton, Jon Walk and Ken Johnson ran in 26:18, 29:35 and 37:58.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Volte's Wrap-up of The Woodlands Marathon and Marathon Relay

We led with our volunteers and the rest of the team that ran their heart out in the marathon on Saturday as the spotlight had been all week on those who lost out on a Boston qualifier.

It had been determined that once the finish line closed on early Saturday afternoon, 169 thought they might be on their way to Boston in 2018.

As word started to sift through the community and social media that .8 miles had been missed, Volte friend Jon Walk started to crunch some numbers to make available a list of those whose adjusted times would still be in the qualifying standard -- and those who might be on the outside looking in.

In the previous post, we noted that Volte had six of those 169 runners.

We're still kind of small, but to have another six qualifiers (and potential qualifiers) is a testament of the dedicated, consistent work that our team and our coaches put in week to week.

It's important to them and those that they run and train with.

Brian Jackson has qualified for Boston twice before -- and put enough time underneath the standard where he's had no trouble registering and running in both 2015 and 2016.

The 38-year-old drew an elite bib from elite athlete coordinator Chris Strait.

Given the circumstances of the day, perhaps Strait should have left Jackson's #13 in the box and assigned another.

However, it wasn't unlucky for Jackson.

"Action" Brian Jackson led Volte's banner day in the marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Brian led our team's effort in the marathon with a 2:59:14, which adjusts to a 3:05:10 (underneath his needed 3:10 qualifying standard if times had been accepted).

It represents his best effort of three The Woodlands Marathons and the fourth best marathon of 13 career finishes.

Mike Csikos staring down career marathon finish #25
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Dipping under 3:20 for only the third time in 25 career marathons, 47-year-old Mike Csikos thought that the initial 3:19:47 would propel him to a corresponding third visit to Beantown.

The adjustment, however, left him at 3:26:13 - just outside of his 3:25 qualifying standard.

The traditionalists would have winced when they heard that 39-year-old Mayra Caamano was running the sixth annual The Woodlands Marathon just two weeks after finishing her sixth career marathon at the Love. Run. Marathon in Huntsville State Park, 30 miles north of us.

It was three years ago that the mom of two had her breakout marathon in Houston where she punched her ticket to Boston with a 3:27:22 beatdown -- more than 26 minutes better than her previous best.

If you can make it through one race without getting dinged up too bad, there's much to be said for overall fitness - mixed with a lot of heart and a touch of passion for the local community.

Thing is, she saw 3:27 on the clock again when she finished.

Had the chip time of 3:27:13 stood, she would have been celebrating a well-earned PR.

However, an adjusted 3:33:53 would make her a Boston qualifier again -- even with the additional five minutes she would have gained from moving into a new age group on Boston Marathon race day next year.

Caamano hopes to pay it forward - literally - to one needy individual in the running community who perhaps wasn't getting all of the attention from a lost BQ, but just felt empty from not really running the entire 26.2 miles that they were promised.

Thing about Volte is that we're really fortunate to have some inspirational people in our group -- just as much through their hard work as their great and pleasant spirit.

Bonnie Scholz is one of them.

Two years ago, she attempted her first marathon in 13 years at The Woodlands Marathon.

At the age of 25, Bonnie's debut was at the ... Compaq Houston Marathon - a company that isn't around any longer.  She was 255th in a field of 259 finishing 25-29 year old women.

Her time then was 6:00:40.  Today, that result would have been washed from the records by Houston.

The reintroduction to long distance running came with some improvement, a 5:14:08 finish where she was happy enough to make sure her bib was visible when she passed by the official race photographers.

What a difference two years has made.

A year later at The Woodlands, she came back with a 4:16:42 time.  Wow.  Nearly a 58-minute improvement.

A couple of 50Ks last year as well as a pair of sub 4:15 efforts -- 4:13:11 in Utah in September and 4:11:19 at Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio -- built a solid base for Bonnie to build on.

Things went so well for Bonnie on Saturday that photographs early in the race looked like it was a Color Run instead of a marathon.

But after awhile, she was the only one in the last sets of pictures.

The others - two of whom are in our group - posted still great gun times - 3:36:12, 3:41:37 and 3:47:06.  

None of them were there, though, for Bonnie's 3:33:52 reading of the clock.

Her chip time of 3:33:20 adjusts to 3:40:12 -- both under her 3:45 qualifying standard.

We're certain that there's a visit to Boylston Street in Bonnie's future.

It is just a matter of time - and staying healthy.

Brian Schultz is very close too.

Less than a minute after he crossed the finish, Brian Schultz was pumped.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
After 16 marathons, all since December 2012, the 55-year-old has beaten the 4-hour barrier six times with a personal best of 3:39:29 at the Chicago Marathon in October 2013.

It was his third marathon ever.

He finished Saturday in 3:36:12 - a "should have been PR" that adjusts to a 3:43:10 finish.

We can't always include complete Facebook statuses from all, but if you can't feel some inspiration from this - on par for an Academy Award speech, you may want to check your heart a little bit:

Okay. I ran a 3:36:13 marathon today. It is a personal best and it qualifies me for Boston. Not sure who to thank but I will give it a try. My wife who puts up with my extreme training and pains, I love you. My kids who cheer me on, I love you. My immediate family. You may not think a text means much, but it means the world to me and it inspires me to run faster. Imagine that. My Volte running team, I could not do this without you. Bill Dwyer continues to amaze me with his devotion to running and his desire to watch others succeed. Love you man. Tammy Grado and Michelle McGill, who push me to speeds I did not think I could do. You are my cheerleaders. And finally God. He has given me new life in a broken body that can now run a marathon every month. I will not give up. I am all in. In that running zone, right Layton? Thanks to all who support me and cheer for me. I love you all.

Tears in your eyes and the keyboard here too.

Juana "Yaya" Herrera's first marathon came two months ago at the Chevron Houston Marathon -- a debut of 3:59:07.

When she gets to Boston one day, we have a feeling she might be the first Yaya to run it!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
What does one do for an encore?  If you're Yaya, you BQ.

She shaved almost 15 minutes off an adjusted time of 3:44:29 - just under the 3:45 qualifying standard, if the times were allowed.  Her original chip time was 3:37:29.

Perhaps the most philosophical of the bunch, she said, "The best part is that I learned that if it's not in this race it will be another one for me to be a BQ."

Many helped her improve from the last race to this one.

"I was very grateful for Wil Cole, who paced me the first 12 miles, and my dear friend Alan Gastineau, who paced from mile 20.  It made the difference," Yaya exclaimed.  "I'm blessed to be part of the Volte team.  Seeing them at the end and their encouraging words were energizing.

"Special thanks to coach Bill, Sandra, Alan, Leanne for believing in me and telling me I could do this."

Three of our runners ran in the Marathon Relay on Saturday.

Allison Urvan, who won the inaugural 5K at The Woodlands Marathon five years ago, ran on "Clean Sweep" in the four-runner division where they finished second in two hours, 54 minutes.

Part of her preparation for the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon in two weeks, Letty Gonzalez was part of the "Agony of d'Feet" four-person relay team that turned the clock off in 4:59:10.

Then there was Alvaro Trejo.

This might be one of the best stories from the entire marathon weekend.

He was on the "Tough Runners Club" team.

How tough were they?  So tough, that three of his teammates didn't show!

What was Alvaro to do?

Run all four legs.  And in a time of 3:14:22.  He was 12th overall -- all by himself.

Next Up:  The Half Marathon, 5K, 2K and other racing from last weekend.

Strong Performances Ruled The Day At The Woodlands Marathon

Volte is strong.  Volte is resolute.

Volte stares disappointment and adversity in the face.  Together, as a group.

We possess humility and understanding, yet we persevere.

We know, however, that a short course in The Woodlands Marathon isn't the end of the day.

That isn't real adversity.

Real adversity is the loss of a spouse, a parent, a grandparent or Heaven forbid, a child.

Real adversity is getting the news that you have cancer.

(Actually, the young nephew of a friend of Volte just received word that cancer had returned on Thursday after an MRI the day before.  Keep this young man, his family and friends in your prayers.)

Volte had six runners this past Saturday who met their respective qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon that will be held in 2018 on what they had hoped - when they started to sprint down Lake Robbins at 7 a.m. - to be 26.2 miles.

Lead runners, misdirected by race officials, went straight on Grogan's Mill instead of turning into East Shore, cutting 0.8 miles off of the marathon course.

If the Boston Athletic Association had accepted the adjusted times, four of those six would have been official Boston qualifiers.

Two would not have and one of the four may not have had enough time underneath their respective standard to be able to have their registration accepted any way.

As a group, as a team, we'll circle the wagons together, tweak our training and approaches and look at other places to chase that goal.

Three of the six have run there before.

The other three were looking for hotel rooms Saturday night in Boston for the first time ever.

Now that the BAA has delivered its news to race management this past Thursday, Volte is beyond the why and how it happened, but just hopeful that the community we love so much will not again be in the national running spotlight for an error that affects the dreams of so many.

While the marathoners garnered much of the attention over the weekend, Volte is most proud of the opportunity to give back to our community through our team's volunteer work.

Serving on The Woodlands Marathon Race Committee was our founder Bill Dwyer, Ken Reiger, Mary Ellen Hays and Jimmy Baker.

Part of the crew that helped guide athletes down the Waterway all the way until a medal was placed around their neck were the following individuals:  Mary Carter, Juliee Sparks, Carrie Hyde, Layton Gill, Tina Saims, Paul Saims, Gabby Brockett, Amanda Clark, Rich Cooper, Llana Bingham and a couple of our Galloway friends, Liza Clark and Michelle Griffin.

Llana Bingham and Gabby Brockett were the bearers of heavy medals!
(Photo courtesy of Hello Woodlands)
Jumping in here and there to help various runners on the course were Laura Godfrey, Leanne Dyksterhuis and Alan Gastineau.

Sure, the singlet stands out.  How can blue and orange not?

However, we - as a group - often do our best work when we wear the same colors as the rest of the team on race day.

Thank you to all of you who volunteered and represented Volte so well.

"To err is human," said Bonnie Scholz.  "But I may need another marathon soon while I'm still trained up!"

That theme was constant throughout our athletes as they accepted the news on Thursday from race management that their Boston qualifier was truly for naught.

Twelve personal bests were also washed away.

Bonnie Scholz and Todd Hunter are all happy with solid runs!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
The first of those was Todd Hunter.

Twice in the last 14 months, the 48-year-old, who runs a minimum of two marathons a calendar year, has broken 3:50 after 21 consecutive tries dating back to his debut marathon in Houston in 2008.

A year ago at Houston, he finally broke through with a 3:42:43.

This year, even in crappy weather, he made it to Legacy Status with his 10th Houston finish and another sub-3:50, in 3:47:49.

Saturday's conditions turned out to be perfect.

Even though he may be a year away from casting his net on his own Boston qualifier, Hunter was the first of those that was outside of the BQ window but a 3:35:48 was just a breathtaking performance from where he's been in his last 23 marathons.

Even more heartbreaking is an adjustment from 25.4 to the marathon distance leaves his adjusted time:  3:42:45 - two seconds slower than at Houston '16.

The PR parade blared big bass drums on Saturday for Wil Cole.

The 44-year-old veterinarian from Spring had the toed the line one previous time, a year ago at the Chevron Houston Marathon in 4:26:14.

Soft-spoken, diligent and consistent in his training, Cole was perfectly lined up for his goal:  a sub-4 hour marathon.

How about more than a 41-minute improvement (save the time correction)?

Cole shattered more than a glass ceiling with a 3:45:04 effort (3:52:19 adjusted).

Another second timer, like Cole, Larry Batton, also broke a little glass.

He rattled off a 3:46:34 (3:53:52 adjusted) to blow away his 4:11:48 debut marathon 16 months ago at the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Only 21 runners have finished every The Woodlands Marathon since its rebirth in 2012.

Our Criss Neumann is one of them.

If her 3:51:35 would have stood up, her 11th career marathon would have been almost a five-minute improvement on her former best at the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

Her adjusted 3:59:02 still gives Criss her sixth sub 4-hour marathon in her last seven finishes.

Clark Lara II notched a 3:53:45 for his debut marathon.  A straight pace adjustment corrects his time to just over four hours in 4:01:17.

Meanwhile, Randall Harris is working on a special 2017.

Well-documented is his "don't throw in the towel 3:54:23 performance" at the Chevron Houston Marathon that threw him in a pool of sub 4-hour finishers to be drawn for a trip to November's Authentic Athens Marathon in Greece.

However, the desire of every father's heart who is a runner is to pace their daughter to their first marathon.

Saturday, even a short marathon course couldn't have spoiled Randall's day.

Every time the official race photographer appeared, Randall and his daughter, Kelly Kelley, put their arm around one another, smiled wide for the cameras and did so -- never breaking stride.

Like letting off the training wheels of the first bicycle ride alone, the clock and the photographic evidence is preserved to show that Kelly crossed the Waterway finish line all by herself in 4:13:39.

The 26-year-old Kelley, who calls Tyler, Texas home, put three seconds on her father in that final sprint to the finish, yet it will reverberate in way more than three years worth of warm feelings in Dad's heart.

Similar to a gymnast on perfect vault, some runners just hit it.

Just like rolling 3's on the slots at the casino, Monse Louimeus
had a nice payout time at her first marathon finish line on Saturday.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Twenty-nine year-old Monse Louimeus might be a natural, although she could very easily be mistaken for a triathlete.

"She was not ready "fully trained"," said her coach, Bill Dwyer.  "But managed the event perfectly to get a finish - and a good finish.  She's very talented."

Fighting hard the last few miles and more than relieved at the finish, Louimeus produced a solid 4:29:19 showing (4:37:59 adjusted).

Faith Craig, 35, and her father, Thomas Thomson, 62, from Shavano Park (over near San Antonio) teamed up and stopped the clock together in 4:58:24 (5:08:01 adjusted).

Crossing the finish line within 15 seconds of one another were Spring's Penny Garza and Hockley's Tata Kromah.

Garza, 30, nearly wiped off an hour from her 6:29:14 debut marathon last April at the Big-D Texas Marathon in Dallas as she finished in 5:36:35 (5:47:25 adjusted).

Meanwhile, Kromah, 41, was another first-timer from our group.

Coached by Mary Carter with a little assistance from Sandra Tezino, Tata was "strong and steady" said Dwyer as she recorded a debut effort of 5:37:11 (5:48:03 adjusted).

Three Volte friends represented at the marathon distance -- Tim Griepp in 3:12:08, Tyler Henthorn in his first stand-alone marathon (other than last year's Ironman Texas) in 3:34:31 and Michael Donelan in 3:58:25.

With an adjusted time of 4:06:06, Donelan was one of 120 runners who not only walked away thinking they had qualified for Boston, but also would have made it if BAA had accepted the times of The Woodlands Marathon.

Next up:  The Qualifiers and The Relay