Saturday, March 11, 2017

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

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