Monday, April 24, 2017

Wright Time, Wright Pace and a Wright Finish at Ironman Texas

"Ironman Texas:  It's a day that everyone pulls together for a common goal of supporting an extraordinary event that changes so many lives." ~ Bill Dwyer

Well said.

The way a lot of what we do comes together is truly pretty special.

"Landa Wright, You are an Ironman!"
(Photo courtesy of Mary Carter)
First, though, let us congratulate Landa Wright on finishing the seventh annual Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas on Saturday, April 22 in 14 hours, 21 minutes and 38 seconds.

Landa, 28, spent 1:47:18 in Lake Woodlands and the Waterway Canal and was in and out of T1 in eight minutes and nine seconds.

Faster than a speeding car on the Hardy Toll Road, Landa was approximately 75 miles into the bike here.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
A double out-and-back of the Hardy Toll Road, plus getting to and from, was accomplished in 7:44:20, just a couple of minutes longer than Monday morning rush hour traffic.  :-)

In and out of T2 in 6:54 before a 4:34:57 marathon.

Starting her second lap of the run, Landa looked strong and relaxed.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Even though many in the group have completed one or more Ironman triathlons, Landa Wright's first Ironman was also a first for Volte's founder and head coach Bill Dwyer.

"Landa is the first athlete that I have coached through an Ironman so yesterday was extra special for me," Bill said.  "She managed the day perfectly as she was within six and a half minutes of her planned finish."

And it was Landa's first triathlon.  Period.

"CB&I would have been first if it was not cancelled last year," he said.

He stated that Landa's focus was for a solid debut marathon at this year's Chevron Houston Marathon - accomplished in 3:56-even -- and then work into an Ironman training schedule.

"She worked her plan perfectly," he said in addition to getting generous help from many.

"Thank you to the Conroe Triathletes [@conroetri] for hosting open water swims and group rides. They are a great group of people," Dwyer added.  "Thank you to everyone who helped Landa along the way (pretty much everyone in Volte), but especially Layton Gill who was Landa's Sunday run partner.

"He is a big part of her strong run performance at Ironman Texas.

"And thank you to everyone who was out on race day (which was about everyone), and especially to Mary Carter, who was awesome getting around the event course."

Pre-race with Landa, Bill always has a plan for each and every athlete - and an even bigger heart!
(Photo courtesy of Mary Carter)
Steady and conservative.
It's simple:  Finish.
Moderate efforts at the beginning of each leg.
Have fun and don't worry about the time.
Race your own race, don't worry about other athletes.

Those were Bill's "Five Keys to a Successful First Ironman."

And one more:  "It'll be tough, but anything worthwhile is and you are much tougher anyway."

Conservative won the day, too, Landa acknowledged post-race.

"I was definitely conservative, but literally never felt any pain or felt like I needed to pull back," she noted.  "And I was completely tech free besides overall time and overall mile count, so I did it old school."

She noted that she would never have had the confidence to attempt an Ironman if it wasn't for Dwyer.

Volte also had a trio of friends complete Ironman Texas too.

John Stocko led the way in 12:53:05.  Kelly Barnes came through in 13:52:26 followed by Anthony Serrano in 14:24:27.

So, who's next?

Nobody raise their hands too quick or pull out $700 - or whatever the entrance fee is these days!

While Ironman was front and center this past weekend, our group tends to find its ways to spread its athletic efforts around the city, country and world.

Those are age-group award place medals for Penny and Ruth,
not the numbers of post-race beverages at the West End Brew Run 5K.
(Photo courtesy of Penny Garza)
Ruth Perez and Penny Garza headed out early Saturday morning, April 22, to participate in the inaugural West End Brew Run 5K.

Using a 28:27 effort to do so, Ruth was second in her 50-59 age group.

Penny covered the distance in 31:35 and was third in hers to complete her fourth race of the month - one in each of the five-weekend month of April.

Brian Schultz jetted off to the greater Chicago area to participate in the Advocate Health Care Spring Chance BQ.2 Marathon in Geneva, Illinois on Saturday.

It was Brian's fifth marathon of 2017 and his 19th career 26.2-mile finish.

Needing a 3:40 at age 55 to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon, he shared that his splits through mile marker 19.79 were right on the money.

He passed the timing device in 2:43:49 and still had a chance at mile 23.21 with a chip time of 3:15:21, but ran out of gas.

"This race was within reach.  So close again.  Lost it on the last lap," he said.

He finished in 3:53:20.

Across the pond, Jen Smith more than got ready for this Saturday's Revel Mt. Charleston Half Marathon in Las Vegas with a strong performance in the Southhampton Half Marathon on Sunday, April 23.

The Smith family team picture from the Southhampton Half Marathon!
(Photo courtesy of Jen Smith)
Yes, that's Southhampton, United Kingdom, where she and her family currently live.

She shared that it was a pretty unique course.

The Southhampton Half Marathon elevation profile.  "Jen, Revel Mt. Charleston will NOT be like this!"
(Photo courtesy of Jen Smith)
"Mile 11 kicked my tail. Up over bridge, turn around do the bridge again," said Jen.  "Too many turns in the course.  Ten turns alone in mile one."

Regardless, she said that she "just ran" to a 1:44:30 finish.

"Very, very pleased with my time," she added.  "Didn't look at (my) watch.  Total climb of 500 feet.  Ran by feel, didn't push it."

And so did Jill Reitzel, on a course that was, ah, pancake flat.

Jill and Gabby celebrate post-race at the Divas Half with a little bubbly.
(Photo courtesy of Gabby Brockett)
Jill is a friend of our Gabby Brockett, who she ran along with for her first half marathon at Sunday's

"So proud of Jill Reitzel completing her first half marathon today in tough windy conditions," said Gabby of Jill's finishing time of 2:27:40.  "You did it!"

And before announcing in Barry Blanton's "Some Like It Hot Aid Station" at Ironman Texas where many Voltes worked once again - including Gabby, Curtis Hooper, Laura Hanyzewski, Mayra Caamano and her daughter and probably a few more that he forgot to mention and perhaps notice, Volte friend Jon Walk ran the third annual Run The Grove 5K in Houston in 29:52.

Next up for Volte?  Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon and Half Marathon on Saturday, April 29.  Viva Las Vegas!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hawt in Bahston

We had helpers.  We had friends.  Most importantly, we had runners.

All in Boston on Monday.  It was a beautiful thing.

Yeah, well, except for the temperature.

"The weather at Boston did not cooperate this year.  Everyone did great just getting to the finish line." said Volte founder Bill Dwyer.  "It was 48 degrees the next day.  Missed it by a day.

"I'm very proud of everyone."

And so is all of Volte, USA.

From left to right, Angela Rizzo, Sandra Tezino, Laura Godfrey, Derek Bailey, Leanne Rosser, Alan Gastineau, Jennifer Rowe and Michelle McGill.
(Photo courtesy of Leanne Rosser)
The finishes of Derek Bailey, Laura Godfrey, Leanne Rosser, Michelle McGill and Sandra Tezino are numbers 29 through 33 of Volte's official five-year history to date.

Twenty-two different runners in Volte, or who were trained by Volte coaches for the race, have experienced a Boston finish since 2013.


While they were enjoying Beantown, Fenway Park and taking selfies with the finish line, we had some folks racing a couple of 10Ks and 5Ks two days before.

Making the trek east from Arizona for the second straight year to the Big Easy for the Crescent City Classic 10K on Saturday, April 15 was Dave Odom.

The results show him as "David".  He's Dave to us.

Quite a few men's 60-64 runners maybe had another name or two for him, especially regional titan Leonard Vergunst from Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Dave took the first mile out easy in 6:56, just two seconds ahead of Leonard.

The duo both aged up in 2017.

Ahead of Vergunst, who was under 39 minutes last year while Dave ran 41:08 in his last year in the 55-59 division (finishing 8th), by 16 seconds, he wasn't a factor this year for Dave.

Dave ran a negative split on the back half, covering the second 5K in 21 minutes even after a 21:10 to place second in his age group in 42:10.

Dave Odom and Joe Killeen at the Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Volte friend Joe Killeen from The Woodlands Running Club and his wife Denise also ran.

Joe told us at the track one Tuesday evening that he has been running the Crescent City Classic 10K for quite a long time.  So long, we wished we'd written it down!

He ran 42:31 while his wife finished in 1:20:37.

These results are available online for Joe's years of running the Crescent City Classic and the Boston Marathon:

1998 (April 11) - 39:58, age 38, 366th place
1999 (April 17) - 39:28, age 39, 272nd place
2001 (April 14) - 42:39, age 41, 279th place
2002 (March 30) - 42:22, age 42, 305th place
2004 (April 10) - 41:41, age 44, 256th place
2005 (March 26) - 40:07, age 45, 162nd place (3:40:16 at Boston on April 18)
2006 (April 15) - 44:40, age 46, 367th place (3:09:02 at Boston on April 17)
2007 (April 7) - 39:00, age 47, 112th place (3:23:29 at Boston on April 16)
2008 (April 11) - 40:24, age 48, 152nd place (3:16:54 at Boston on April 21)
2009 (April 11) - 40:42, age 49, 181st place (3:23:30 at Boston on April 20)
2010 (April 3) - 40:01, age 50, 134th place (3:04:10 at Boston on April 19)
2011 (April 23) - 41:00, age 51, 172nd place (2:57:55 at Boston on April 18)
2012 (April 7) - 42:17, age 52, 375th place (3:38:13 at Boston on April 16)
2013 (March 30) - 38:13, age 53, 129th place (2:56:24 at Boston on April 15)
2014 (April 19) - 41:50, age 54, 316th place (2:57:15 at Boston on April 21)
2015 (April 4) - 39:34, age 55, 140th place (3:16:46 at Boston on April 20)
2016 (March 26) - 41:41, age 56, 248th place (3:24:58 at Boston on April 18)

Dave was 260th overall on Saturday while Joe was 279th.

"Dave and I had a great time at Crescent City," said Dwyer.  "Looking forward to next year already.  Who knows?  I might run it in 2018."

Closer to home, also on Saturday, April 15, almost a half dozen of runners ventured to City Centre on the Houston's west side where the 8th annual Green 6.2 and 5K were being held.

Jon Braunersreuther and Yaya Herrera both beat the 51:08 10K standard that the Chevron Houston Marathon has which would allow either of them to register during the May 3-31 registration window.

Jon crossed the finish line in 50:52 while Yaya was close behind in 51:06.

Mimi Torrez, Yaya Herrera and Monse Louimeus waiting for Volte friend Jon Walk to start the 8th annual Green 6.2.
(Photo courtesy of Monse Louimeus)
Monse Louimeus easily kept it under a 9-minute per mile pace with her 54:17 effort as did Volte friend Mimi Torrez, who crossed 25 seconds later in 54:41.

Ruth Perez and Geri Henry both ran the 5K and placed first in their age group.

"I have an inspiring friend (Geri) that keeps me running and to not give up," said Ruth.  "We both placed first in our age group in the 5K, but most of all building stronger relationship.

"God gives us exactly what we need."

Geri Henry and Ruth Perez:  Age group winners at the Green 6.2 5K!
(Photo courtesy of Ruth Perez)
Ruth took her division with a 32:04 effort, while Geri, who has completed a marathon in all 50 states, did so in hers in 39:04.

Mile High bunny ears for Penny Garza at the Bunny Bolt 5K in Denver.
(Photo courtesy of Penny Garza)
Penny Garza ran the Bunny Bolt 5K in Denver, Colorado in 33:28.

Our five Volte athletes who completed the 121st running of the Boston Marathon included:

Derek Bailey - 3:06:27
Michelle McGill - 4:02:16
Laura Godfrey - 4:17:53
Sandra Tezino - 4:18:45
Leanne Rosser - 4:19:41

It was Derek's fifth Boston Marathon finish and Michelle's third while Laura, Sandra and Leanne completed their first.

Sandra and Laura's qualifying effort for this year's race landed also within the 2018 qualifying window.

Derek was one of 364 Texans - out of 1,055 overall finishers - whose time on Monday, April 17 re-qualified them for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Alan Gastineau and Jennifer Rowe, who moved with her family to Massachusetts recently, were there to provide support for our runners.

The conditions were such that an experienced veteran such as Bailey was quick to note that it "was one incredibly painful medal to earn."

For nearly everybody in the field, the heat slowed many runners down.

Those running it for the first time, like Tezino, Godfrey and Rosser, were quick to note the course's terrain.

"The Boston Marathon has lots of rolling and I do mean rolling hills," Tezino said.  "I had major legs cramps beginning at mile 15 and they continued to mile 20.  There were a lot of runners with the same problem.

"The beautiful thing is I finished."

Rosser was overwhelmed as well.

"Truly an amazing experience today.  I have a completely new respect for this distance and this course," she said.  "Sunny, hot, hilly and humid conditions (77 degrees) -- all the things I struggle with as a runner, but I did it.  A very humbling experience for sure."

Eight Volte friends tackled the course too.

Joe Killeen posted his 13th consecutive finish by leading the group with a 3:07:58 performance.

Coached by Volte two years ago, Jessica Menendez finished in 3:50:36 for her fourth career Boston Marathon finish.

Sarah Tyler and Mary-Ellen Wilderman-Hay finished within 20 seconds of each other as they stopped the clock in 3:55:25 and 3:55:55, respectively.

It was Sarah's first Boston while Mary-Ellen posted her third consecutive sub 4-hour finish in Beantown.

Brandi Herrera, another first-timer, rounded out the sub 4-hour finishers of the group in 3:58:10.

Michael Donelan finished his sixth Boston Marathon since 2009 with a time of 4:05:06, qualifying him for 2018.

Angela Rizzo ran her third Boston since 2012 and covered the distance in 4:45:45 while Christi Moore made her debut Boston appearance with a 4:57:54 showing.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bonnie Scholz: Running With The Gators at Brazos Bend 50K

The coach's plan?  "Keep it easy and enjoy!"

A year ago, my sister, Michele Fregia, talked me into trying a trail run or was it, "Did I talk her into it?"

Either way, it was the best decision we both made.

The trail races produced by Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT) are very different from some of the races I've participated in over the years.

They're usually very small and low stress with packet pick up and parking less than an hour before it's time to start.

The major difference, though, is in the community of people this type of race attracts.

I've met some of the friendliest runners along the way that helped talk me through the tough parts and I've tried my best to pay it forward.

This past weekend, Saturday, April 8, I tried the Brazos Bend 50K for the second straight year.

As usual, we had a low stress morning getting to the starting line even though my sister woke up five minutes before we needed to leave.

During the first mile, several of us had grouped up and started chatting about when we might see the fake gator race director Rob Goyen puts on the trail to scare us.

Further along the way, I met a couple of first time trail runners -- one was 19 years old and the other had not run since high school and was my age.

I saw each of them several times along the way and tried to keep it positive even when they started to feel the monkey on their back half way.

One had to quit at mile 21, but the 19-year-old made it all the way to the finish.

I kept telling him if he could just cross the finish line he would probably be first in his age group.

I recognized a few familiar faces from the other trail runs and some from Volte, namely Juan Flores and the Murillo brothers.

I learned they aren't so quiet after all.  The bonus came during the first few miles in having someone to chat with and to watch so I would keep a decent pace.

Although I had to drop back a few times from people that were going too fast for me.

At the halfway point - mile 16, I still felt solid and started to pass more people.

Every time I passed someone, I tried to offer a positive word of encouragement to tell them they were going a great job and the last five miles I think everyone repaid the favor.

I started to feel the monkey around mile 21 and started to make the goals a little smaller, such as "If I can just keep going until the next food tent, I can put ice in my hat!"

I was thirsty and eyeing people that had carried water bottles.

One guy had four bottles on his belt and I ran faster just to catch up to see if they were full:  they were!

Luckily I made it to the tent for a quick refreshing ice bath and Gatoritas and didn't end up begging for a bottle.

With about five miles to go, at least 15 runners encouraged me with a comment or thumbs up.

One lady told me I was doing great and looking strong.

At first I didn't believe it but each time someone said something I felt stronger and more confident.

I think that's the main reason I love running trail runs.

It feels energizing and the community continues to give their energy to each other.

Combine that with the beautiful scenery in the woods and you leave feeling you received more than you gave during the race.

At the finish line, I was handed a cup where I learned I was the second place overall female.  My time was four hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds -- almost an hour faster than last year.

I can't wait for the next adventure on the trails!

(Editor's note:  The TROT Cup Standings presented by Altra Running were updated and released on Sunday, April 16.  Not quite sure how the points are calculated, but Bonnie is 11th overall and third in the 40-49 division. ~ JW)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Volte Covered All The Distances Last Week: 2.5K Swim to 50K Trail Run

"Cornucopia for $100, Alex."

"An abundant supply of good things of a specified kind."

"Well, Alex, that, of course, must mean Volte and friends' results!"

Yes, indeed, it is all good as we recap April's second full weekend of racing in Volte, USA.

Speaking of Alexander, we missed a result - or three! - from the first weekend of the month.

The Hyde family men took advantage of the opportunity made available to ExxonMobil employees and family on Saturday, April 1 to run in the ExxonMobil United Way 5K, which was held on the grounds of the company's world headquarters just south of The Woodlands.

And Alexander led by a mile - well, maybe almost two minutes.

While Dad (Ray) ran with brother Braeden for a solid time of 31 minutes and 49 seconds, Alexander took off and finished by himself in 29:55.

"It was first time Alexander ever ran a race of that length basically alone, which is pretty cool," said Mom (Carrie).

We couldn't agree more.

Getting ready for her debut Ironman next weekend here in The Woodlands with the seventh annual Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas, Landa Wright participated in another of a jewel of sporting events in our area -- the Snapping Tortuga Open Water Swim, held in Lake Conroe and produced by one of the nation's best swim coaches, Tim Floyd.

Last major swim preparation is complete as Landa is ready for Ironman Texas!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
She completed the 2.5-kilometer Open Water Swim in 1:09:36.

Landa will be wearing bib #933 in next Saturday's Ironman Texas.

Many Voltes and friends will be working at Barry Blanton's "Some Like It Hot!" aid station on the run course down near Landry's restaurant, raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

If you would like to put in about four hours helping your fellow endurance sports athletes out, there's still room available.

Click on the link below:

It will take you to a screen for "Some Like It Hot", where you will see the three shift choices listed below:

Shift #1 -- 11:00a – 3:30p -- Help set-up and get to see the elite leaders! (no kids under age 10)
Shift #2 -- 3:00p – 7:30p – The busiest shift with lots of athlete traffic! (no kids under age 10)
Shift #3 -- 7:00p – 12:00 midnight – See the magic of the late finishers and help tear down!

Denise Powers and Kim Joyce conquered the Run The Woodlands 5K course by posting times of 27:06 and 27:29, respectively.

Denise was also the first overall female with a five-second personal best.  The two also won the post-race drawings which included $25 gift cards to Fleet Feet.

Trail racing adventures moved to Needville on Saturday, April 8 as Bonnie Scholz and Juan Flores led the Volte contingent - in addition to a solid group of Volte friends.

They all participated in the Brazos Bend trail races, produced by Trail Racing Over Texas.

The second overall woman, Bonnie knocked down the 50K in 4:35:49, improving her time from a year ago by nearly 52 minutes.

Bonnie's mouth is agape as she looks at the time on the clock!
(Photo courtesy of Michele Fregia)
In the 25 kilometer race, Juan was second in his age group in 1:52:02.

Just more than half dozen of Volte friends also ran the trails at Brazos Bend.

Age group bling for Juan and Bonnie at Brazos Bend.
(Photo courtesy of Michele Fregia)
Luis Murillo was second overall in the 50-miler in 7:09:57, while Alvaro Trejo finished his first 50 in 11:04:45 and Gary Knoll stopped the clock in 11:58:26.

Juan Murillo finished the 50K in 4:31:34 while Doug Spence did so in 8:40:16.  Doug, who lives in Houston, was part of Bill Dwyer's original Texas Independence Relay teams in 2008 and 2009.

Bonnie's sister, Michelle Fregia, covered the 25K in 3:24:29.

Jose Murillo ran the 10K in 54:26.

Sunday, April 9 brought more action for Volte athletes.

Rapha Machado and his wife, Juliana De Souza, got things started at the Paris Marathon in France.

When in Paris, you represent!  Juliana and Rapha pre-race all ready to go!
(Photo courtesy of Rapha Machado)
Saying it was "warmer and harder than I expected," Rapha completed the race in 4:12:10 while Juliana did in 4:52:13.

Brian Schultz finished his fourth marathon of 2017 and his 17th overall with a 4:40:57 finish at the Go! St. Louis Marathon in St. Louis, Missouri.

We had a big crew at the inaugural Vintage Park Half Marathon, produced by the Bayou City Half Marathon Series.

Rip Reynolds led us all with a 1:28:48 finish that put him at the top of his age group.

Robert Sweeney also grabbed a division award - second place - for his 1:37:47 showing.

Randy Smith keeping the pack behind him at Vintage Park.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Randy Smith and Jerritt Park followed with efforts of 1:52:23 and 1:58:06, respectively.

Notching almost a nine-minute PR was Penny Garza with her time of 2:30:50, better than her 2:39:40 at the Katy Half Marathon in February.

Mary Carter and Penny Garza all ready to race!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Mary Carter finished in 3:15-even.

Brayden Park was third in his age group in the Kids 1K in 4:15.

We sure hope Brayden took that to school last Monday for show and tell!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Former Volte coach Adrienne Langelier, running for Bayou City Elite, was the first overall female in the 5K in 19:23.

Volte friend Jon Walk made the drive to Layton Gill's stomping grounds to take part in the 35th annual Ponchatoula Jaycees Strawberry Strut 10K where he finished in 1:01:37 for a race in his 289th North American city or town.

If you're racing Green 6.2 in CityCentre on Saturday, Jon will be announcing there.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Volte's 2017 Road To Boston: Derek Bailey

(Editor's Note:  When this blog got started four years ago, I used the nom de guerre of Nine Volte as I wanted the attention to be on the talents and the abilities of the athletes of my best friend Bill Dwyer's training group -- and not my writing.  

(More importantly, Bill doesn't actively recruit runners, yet there's something to be said for being an active part of the discussion in a very competitive, attention-seeking community.  The athletes who trained for, qualified and ran the Boston Marathon are listed on the main page of the blog:  Street cred, so to speak, even though all who run with the group may not ever have that as their goal.

(Furthermore, when I presented the Bill with the idea of profiling each Boston Marathon qualifier this year, he agreed.  We sent everyone the same questions with a deadline.  He gathered pictures and I did no follow-up with each of the runners.  I took what they provided and crafted the stories that you have read so far, which I hope that you've enjoyed.  In my mind, every group should do things like this for their runners.

(Like Baskin-Robbins, each one's story has a different flavor and, as a result, has been presented differently.  To that end, and please pay attention to the italics below, our final profilee is Derek Bailey.  ~JW)

The sport of running is so common, yet so very unique.

We all go to races big and small.  Marathons that began with a cannon blast.  5K's at a county fair with chalk drawn across the pavement to signify the starting line.

We may even train week after week with runners in our running club or training group and really not know much about them.

Life is messy.  Sometimes we don't want to pry.  Other cases, there are times - for a thousand different reasons - we don't want to share.

Yet we think to ourselves, "Man, they've got it all put together."

Derek Bailey has run 29 marathons.  Well, the "runners" in the group say "26" and three as part of an Ironman.  Yes, yes, they've all covered 26.2 miles!

And the majority of them, the average marathoner has a category for them:  "Fast"!

Here's your picture of "Fast":  Derek at Texas 10 Cypress last year.  Of course, the Oklahoma
State-inspired compression socks.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
3:01.  3:08.  3:06.  3:02.  3:14.  That was at altitude.  3:07.  2:59.

Yet,  behind those numbers, there's a person.

People do not relate to you because you are an Olympic gold medalist, They relate to you because deep down they are just like you, a person with imperfections.  That's what a great Christian man, a friend and a former elite runner (2:10 Marathon PR) once told me.  That is exactly what I am...  a person with imperfections.  Throughout my running career I have had many people look up to me and say I inspire them.  If this blog inspires just one person who is thinking about throwing in the towel on life, just one drunk to sober up or focus on what matters more than running in life then I will consider this blog a success.  ~ Derek Bailey

Success, though, is relative.

Ask Derek about his first marathon - a 4:32:01 in 2009 at the Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Marathon - and his response (if you don't know his jovial personality) would shock you.

"Like a trash fire?" he laughed.

Every race, there's a picture with Derek by a port-a-john.  More fun then a trash fire!
(Photo courtesy of Derek Bailey)
"To sum up Derek in one word:  Fun," says Volte founder Bill Dwyer.  "Derek came to Volte in the spring of 2013 and brings great enthusiasm to our group.

"He's very supportive of everyone, frequently giving up or modifying his workouts to help others."

Last Saturday, a week out from Boston, Dwyer said that Derek used his easy 10-miler to run the second half of Carrie Hyde's last 20-miler - with others - for Revel Mt. Charleston.

Yet, like everyone else, there was a start.

"I think I pinned the bib on three to four times before it was right," Derek said speaking of his first race ever - the Dad's Day 5K experience of June 20, 2009 in downtown Houston.  "I also took a water bottle for a 5K race."

He finished in 23:31 having run recreationally off and on - "Nothing serious," he added - over the years.

But things got serious in his running and as a result his marathon times fell as fast as Wal-Mart prices in the three years to follow.

By his 12th marathon, he had lowered his marathon best to 3:08:19 and put eight states outside of Texas in his 50 state marathon sticker book.

"I love the marathon distance.  I'm not very good at short distance stuff," he said.  "My 5Ks say I could never break 3:00 in a marathon and my sub-3 marathon would say I could do a 17:?? 5K which I have never done.

"I also like the 140.6 but I'm horrible at it."

Horrible was not the word, though, for April 29, 2012.

It was the day that he could claim membership in the 50 States Marathon Club -- a finish in state #10 at the Eugene Marathon in Eugene, Oregon.

But, more importantly, it was the day that the Boston Marathon became a reality for Derek.

"To this day my favorite photo I have ever got from any race - ever."
Derek about to finish at the Eugene Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Christie Bailey)
"Two miles out from finishing, I was cruising comfortably at a sub 7:30.  Doing the math in my head I realized I only had to do an 8:30 for 2 miles to get in," he said of his 3:00:58 performance that not only punched his ticket to Boston, but was also a seven-minute and 21-second PR.

Before making it to the 2013 Boston Marathon, which would become state #14, he added marathon finishes in South Dakota, Illinois (narrowly missing his PR by 36 seconds at the Chicago Marathon) and Georgia.

This year will be Derek's sixth consecutive running of the venerable race after his 3:02:41 debut.

A race that he gets ready for with what he calls "the treadmill torture test".

"It's a tempo run at marathon goal pace done on a treadmill while changing the inclination to replicate Boston's Heartbreak Hill," he explained.

Breaking three hours at the Chevron Houston Marathon in 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer.)
Some might say it's an approach that's to be expected from an engineer.

If you know Derek even a little, you might say, "Intensity with a smile."

But, sometimes when life is going swimmingly well and we're running on the treadmill on the deck of a beautiful cruise ship with an incredible view, we still can get thrown overboard and into the sea.

As some may know the person I described (above) was me in some aspects over the last year.  Since getting laid off from my career of over nine (9) years about a year ago I have spent the last year drinking frequently and struggling with throwing in the towel on life.  It was not until recently that my renewed focus on my relationship with Jesus Christ has enabled me to let go of these burdens that so easily get us tangled and focus on what is true. It worked for me and I have faith it will work for you too.  See John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That's anybody and everyone who believes.  Romans 8:38 to say that nothing can separate us from God's love exhibited through Jesus Christ.  ~ Derek Bailey

"Derek has a big heart, is very positive, and has his life priorities right," explains Dwyer.  "He has gone through a tough time with his recent job search but is in a good place now and should have a very good effort at Boston."

We all have people that we admire for various reasons - and who have helped us get to where we are.

Some of our lists are long; others short.

Derek's, though, is in order.

A little Volte Photoshop magic:  Boston Marathon team picture on
a Bruno Mars video capture.
(Photo crafted by Carrie Hyde)
"I have had many but to name a few (in no particular order beyond the first three):  My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my wife Christie and my parents," said Derek.  "Susan and Dan Jordan - the two toughest people to compete in endurance sports I've ever met, Carrie Hyde eh, Nuclear Kate Looney, Bob Looney, Brian Jackson, Tammy Grado, Chris Weir, Jen Smith, Michelle McGillRandy Harris, Bill Dwyer, as well as many other friends I have met in the running community along the way."

For somebody who's run a marathon in 18 states and Ironmans in three more and a pair of sub three's at Houston the last two times he's toed the line there, you'd think that he doesn't have any big goals left.

Well, you'd have guessed wrong.

"Ironman Kona or 70.3 World Championships," he said.  "If I shoot for the moon and miss at least I'll land among the stars."

If there is something I can ever pray with you or for you about, or if you would like to know how you too can have a personal relationship with Jesus the invitation is open.  I would be honored and glad to help.  I do not know how Boston 2017 is going to turn out or what the future holds for that matter but I know this.  I am going to take up my cross and run after Jesus daily going forward as we struggle through life's failures together.  I mean after all it's only 26.2 miles:  What could possibly go wrong?  ~Derek Bailey

Go wrong?  As above, all depends on your perspective.  What's wrong to one person may be another person's goal:  you just have to understand where they're coming from.

2017 will be his sixth consecutive trip and I'm sure that Derek will say that it never gets old.
(Photo courtesy of Derek Bailey)
His goal:  "I want to cross the finish line on Boylston feeling like I left it all out on the course and check into Medical."

If he does, thanks to HIPAA, we won't be able to track him online in the medical tent.

Fortunately, we'll just have to wait on the Facebook check-in with a picture of the IV in his arm.

Go Derek!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Volte's 2017 Road To Boston: Michelle McGill

Next Monday's 121st running of the Boston Marathon will be Michelle McGill's 30th career marathon.

It is the most - along with our next profilee Derek Bailey - by any of our Volte team.

Number 21, though, almost never happened.

The Chicago Marathon, held on October 13, 2013, had a record 39,115 finishers cross a finish line in Grant Park that came after running 26.2 miles in ideal weather conditions.

Michelle was one of them.

It was a great day for her too as she finished in 3:39:05, a new personal record to that point in her short running history.

Michelle before the 2015 edition of the Boston Marathon:  Her second trip to venerable race.
(Photo courtesy of Michelle McGill)
Thirteen years earlier, Michelle's brothers and sisters needed a sixth runner to fill out a Beach To Bay Relay team in Corpus Christi.

"I had never run before - having done only step aerobic from time to time," she said.  "So they gave me the flattest and shortest leg.

"I twisted my ankle less than a mile into the run and couldn't finish."

She was chided for quite some time that she had done it on purpose.

Six years later, she found herself running three times a week and by then, family left her alone.  However, others talked her into joining Woodlands Fit in July 2006 to train for a marathon.

"I had never run a race, not even a 5K," said Michelle.  "To be honest, I didn't even really know anything about a marathon and had never heard of 'the Boston Marathon'.

"I learned quickly being around runners," she chuckled.

The first marathon came seven months later in Houston and she finished in 4:43:05.

"I had no goal except to finish," Michelle said.  "It was an amazing experience and I have been running marathons ever since."

She says the shorter distances are "painful".

Michelle leading a pack at the 10K mark of the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
If you bring Michelle's profile up, she's credited with 49 races -- 27 of her 29 marathons are captured there in addition to eight Ten For Texas, nine various half marathons, two Run Thru The Woods and three miscellaneous races.

"Michelle is a pure distance runner," says her coach, Volte founder Bill Dwyer.  "She loves the sport, not for the results but for the process."

In 2010, the process started to include weight training.

"For the next few years, all I did was run (covering marathons 2-9)," she said.  "In about 2010, I started strength training three days a week to help with aches and pains and a way to stay healthy.

"It also works on balance, core and strengthening all over."

The first sub-4 - a 3:58:27 - came on November 14, 2010 at the Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Marathon.

Three more out of her next five marathons were as well but Boston was still one of those races that "we would always joke and say we would qualify when we were '70'."

"I really never thought of Boston as a possibility," she said.  "When I started strength training my marathon times were getting faster.

"I was getting sub 4s and I was happy, but I know how even taking five minutes off is hard.

"So I would just run."

In fact, in 2011, Boston adjusted its qualifying times where she needed an additional five minutes.

The unknown possibility actually got a little bit more remote.

"I would have needed a 3:45 and I knew that wasn't going to happen," she said before she toed the line of the 2012 edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon.

Yet she ran and PR'd that day with a 3:54:15.

Seven-tenths of a mile from the finish of her PR - the 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"I was 44.  I was thrilled and had a great race," Michelle remarked.  "When I got home that night, I pulled up qualifying times - and read that the times are based on your age on the date of the Boston Marathon, so in April 2013, I would be 45.

"I called a friend and she confirmed that I did qualify by 45 seconds! I couldn't believe it."

She said it was actually better that way.

"I think it was probably best I didn't know during the race; too many things can go wrong." she added.  "I may have pushed to hard and not done as well."

Her seventh PR in 16 marathons came six weeks later at the inaugural The Woodlands Marathon with a time of 3:49:23.

"I was told that there was a chance I wouldn't get in because it could fill up before I registered, so I was excited to be able to register early," she said.  "I have been fortunate to have been able to qualify every year since."

Eleven of the 14 marathons to follow, Michelle has posted a Boston qualifying time.

"We have a few in our group that have training schedules that do not include track workouts," said Dwyer.  "Michelle is one of them.  She still gets the work done on the roads."

She admits that speed work challenges her.

"I really don't do a structured speed workout," she added.  "I kind of do my own. As I'm getting older, I'm worried about getting injured or (rather) I'm scared of it."

Probably because she doesn't want to miss out on all of the fun.

Part of her Volte running family at the start line of Espirit de She 5K in November 2016
Kristi Chen, Erica Coleman, Michelle and Tammy Grado
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"I have met so many amazing people during my running journey," Michelle said.  "My family has been very supportive of my running.  Of course, I'm thankful for my coach, Bill Dwyer, for everything he does for us - and his positive attitude and encouragement."

Dwyer explains the sentiments in the group are pretty much mutual.

"She has a big heart for others," he says.  "I sometimes think she would rather go and support her friends than actually race. She's a wonderful, kind, amazing person."

Kristi Chen and Michelle wrapping up a long run in last year's grueling Texas summer.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
And most importantly, "She's a joy to coach," he added.

McGill came to Volte just weeks before marathon number 20, which was held on Monday, April 15, 2013.

"My first Boston was filled with every emotion possible,"  she said.  "The weather was perfect.  I had no goals.

"I had just started running with VoLTE and I remember Bill just telling me to enjoy every second, it was a celebration.  Again, no goal."

She had prepared well, starting 2013 off with marathon finishes of 3:47:36 and 3:48:55 at the Chevron Houston Marathon and The Woodlands Marathon, followed by an almost PR half marathon time of 1:49:18 at the ZOOMA Half Marathon three weeks before Boston.

"The race was perfect, negative split and I even pr'd by 5 minutes," she said, looking back at her 3:44:39 finish that day.  "I think I had angels around me that day as I finished about 20 minutes before the bombing."

And for a natural amount of time for her, Michelle, like so many, dealt with all of those emotions.

"After the bombing, I didn't think I would run another marathon, but I'm glad I decided to continue running," she said.

There are many within Volte - and The Woodlands running community - that is glad that she has.

She made it back in 2015, finishing in 3:53:40.

Her plans this year?

"My goal for this Boston Marathon?  Enjoy it," she said.  "I'm not really sure what my time goal will be, (rather) will see what race day brings."

After the race, though, she says that she'll enjoy recovery and get back to training.

"As long as I can run," she said.  "I will."

Call it #thewillofmcgill.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Volte's 2017 Road to Boston: Leanne Rosser

The way Volte founder and head coach Bill Dwyer sees it, he's always believed that Leanne Rosser "had the talent to make the Boston standard."

Her second race in New York state, Rosser living it large at the Wineglass Half Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
And a little karma - or numerical coincidence, however you see it - doesn't hurt either.

"I met Leanne at the Thoroughbred Half Marathon, April 19, 2009 (almost eight years to the day of the 2017 Boston Marathon)," he said.  "I was there to support Melissa Poole, who was running the half marathon.

"Leanne ran the 5K that day (in 26:46) and she started running with us - prior to Volte even existing - a few weeks after that."

And that was just two months and five days - and five races - after pinning on a bib for the very first time after having been a runner in high school.

"I was very nervous, felt out of place and didn't feel like a real runner," Leanne said of her appearance in the second annual Gimme Some Sugar 5K at Sam Houston Race Park - a forerunner of today's Run Houston Race Series.  "I was wearing cotton and I was way too over dressed.

"I walked for about 30 seconds around two and a half miles, not realizing there was a race photographer taking pictures.  Oops!"

However, that location - the same place where she met Dwyer for the first time - proved to be her first steps on her road to Boston.

Leanne finished in 30:25 that day, sixth in her then 35-39 age group.

Something clicked, though, like it has for most - or many - of us who have run a race of any distance, large or small.

Even though she had given birth to three children since her high school running days, she said that fitness never escaped her.

"I would work out with weights, aerobics and body pump," she said.  "I just never ran more than a mile."

She had caught the bug, though.

Eighteen races in 2009, including her first half (2:11:20 at Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon) and her first trail race (2:06:58 at the Texas Trail 20K in Huntsville State Park).

She knocked on the door of breaking two hours at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January 2010 with a 2:01:03 -- all as part of her build up to her debut marathon that April.

The Big-D Texas Marathon was on Sunday, April 11, 2010.

"It went OK.  I was laughing and crying in the last mile," she said of her 4:48:44 finish.  "So many emotions!"

And for nearly five years, Leanne harnessed the positive aspects of that first marathon to use the sport to be able to broaden her horizons and increase her circle of friends.

Rosser can always be seen with a number of running friends as she's pictured here with Carrie Hyde (left) and Tammy Grado (right)
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Most of which has come, traveling to out-of-town races with her husband, Jim, who's in the aviation business.

"My husband always helps me on out of town race days as he calms my nerves for sure," she said.  "I absolutely love doing out of town destination races with friends.  We all help each other out."

If you're the jealous type, you might want to skip over this next section.

2010 -- Two weeks after the Big-D Dallas Marathon, she ran the More Magazine Women's Half Marathon in Central Park in New York City (2:06:33) and the 28th Athens Classic Marathon.  Not Ohio nor Georgia, but Greece.

2011 -- The Kauai Half Marathon in, yes, you guessed it, Hawaii.  A 2:19:13 half where she meets ultrarunner-and great guy and father Michael Wardian of Washington, D.C; the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Mandeville, Louisiana running with a best friend from Virginia; the Thunder Road Half Marathon in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.

2012 -- The Prague (Czechoslovakia) Marathon in May, the Broadway Bridge Half Marathon in Kansas City in early September and the Philadelphia Marathon in November - PR'ing by approximately 14 minutes on what she was told was "not a PR course".

2013 - Dipping under two hours in the half at the 3M Half Marathon in January in 1:58:16, two weeks later the Sedona (Arizona) Half Marathon and two months later the Big Sur International Marathon in Carmel, California come calling (where she met one of her current best friends).  Another PR in the half, 1:47:11 at the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Salt Lake City in Septmeber with the Chicago Marathon to follow four weeks later.

2014 - Chicago was a two-minute PR, but it opened the door for a 4:19:29 showing in early January at the Museum of Aviation Foundation in Warner Robins, Georgia.  And then, her third international marathon - the BMW Frankfurt Marathon in late October.  Yeah, bratwurst in Germany!

2015 - And even though the Zooma Texas Half Marathon was a destination race, Leanne put down a 2:00:37 half before dropped her marathon PR by another 14 minutes at the St. George (Utah) Marathon.

And that's when she knew.

"I realized during the St George Marathon that I was going to be able to qualify for Boston," she said.  "I was only 10 minutes away from by BQ and I was injured for most of the training cycle.

"I knew with a great training cycle it would be possible."

While she never lost sight of running with friends, the 3M Half Marathon in Austin the following January a perfect example, it was all about finding the right race.

The times were continuing to come around too.

The Route 66 Half Marathon in November 2015 brought a 1:52:49 on a semi-hilly Tulsa, Oklahoma course followed by a 1:50:07 Phoenix Half Marathon two months later.

But also, the right training partner.

Rocking Mt. Charleston with Jon Braunersreuther. on the road to Boston.
(Photo courtesy of Revel Mt. Charleston)
That was Jon Braunersreuther.

"I was fortunate to have him as a training partner as he held me accountable for all the workouts, including chin-ups and the mile repeats, which hurt," she said.

"And the few who believed that Boston was always possible, namely Bill, Mary Carter and my husband."

May 7, 2016 was the day and it was back to Las Vegas, but none of that Rock 'N' Roll business.

It was something that she thought she could revel in - the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon.

"It was a magical day," Leanne recalled.  "My secret "A" goal was 3:39, although I didn't tell anyone and would have been a 26-minute PR.

"I believe this would have been possible if not for a potty break and slowing myself down in fear of running out of the gas in the last few miles."

3:42:22 was the time of her lucky 13th marathon.

And Dwyer said that she accomplished that by doing three things that day - and those leading up to it - very well, "Learning to believe that she could do it, having a solid training cycle and managing the race course on event day."

What does Beantown bring to mind for Rosser?

"My goal on race day is to run sub 4, but I am honestly afraid of the Newton Hills and I keep hearing about between miles 16-20," she said.  "It would be nice to BQ (there), although I am not sure I would run Boston again.

"But everyone who has run Boston says, 'I will, for sure, change my mind.' "

However, her athletic future might include having to change the mind of her husband, Jim.

"I would like to try a tri, although my husband is not on board with that," she says.

At least not yet.

"I'm honestly not sure what my plans are after Boston," she added.  "I'm getting older and things are starting to hurt.

"I would like to do an Ironman, if my body is capable."

Fierce and focused Rosser has become in her running, seen here at The Woodlands Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
One thing is for certain, aside from the running and the traveling, and that's the comaraderie of the sport.

"I love running with others, helping to pace them and achieve their goals."

When she gets back from Boston, she'll go to the workout room at the Rosser Ranch, put another mark on the large United States and world map on the Fenway-like wall and start mapping out her next athletic adventure.

And even the folks at Hobby Lobby will be happy to see her too.

The journey is as important as the adventure as she memorializes each of her marathons - and many of her half marathons - with a frame to go on her wall of her race bib and pictures of friends and family that helped make race day special.

We all can't wait to see how Boston develops for her.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Volte Loves The Lone Star State. Really.

Probably the first weekend in many that Volte or its friends didn't venture outside of the Lone Star state to race.

In fact, Juan Flores and the Murillo boys were the only ones to leave Montgomery or Harris counties.

At Saturday's Hells Hills Trail Run in Smithville, Juan covered the 25-kilometer course in 2:25:48.

Volte friend Gostavo Murillo was second overall in 1:55:45 while Juan Murillo finished just in front of Flores in 2:19:28.

Jose Murillo was the first overall Masters finisher in the 10K in 59:39.

Closer to home, Penny Garza and the Hanyzewskis ran around Minute Maid Park on Saturday, April 1.

Brian paced his wife, Laura, for the first half of the Run Houston Minute Maid Park 10K before she took off and finished 47 seconds ahead of him to grab third place in her age group -- and a new personal best - with a 50:47 effort.

Laura Hanyzewski stands proud with a third place age group award -- and a PR!
(Photo courtesy of Penny Garza)
His consolation prize was a first time finish at the distance in 51:34.

Penny ran the 5K in 29:46.

Although she admitted that she wasn't the most excited about her time, Garza maintains the proper perspective.

"While this morning did not go as planned, I got to celebrate a third place finish with one of my favorite run couples/friends, " she said, speaking of the Hanyzewskis.  "I finished standing on two feet, laughed until my side hurt, and at the end of the day, I'm still more than two minutes faster per mile than I was eight months ago."

Winner, winner chicken dinner.  Grilled, of course.

With a race director's report forthcoming, Conroe High School assistant principal Randy Harris directed the CHS Alumni Association 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run.

He said at the track Wednesday night that the race raised more than $8,000 for deserving Conroe High School seniors.

After ensuring everything was set and ready to go, Randy even got to run it, finishing first in his age group in 19:43.

Volte friends Barry and Fran Blanton - and Conroe High alums - finished in 28:53 and 26:27, respectively, to take third and first in their age groups.

Later in the afternoon near Creekside Park in The Woodlands, Leanne Dyksterhius grabbed second in her division with a 23:33 time at the 10th annual Muddy Trails Bash 5K.

This after she ran with her daughter in the one-kilometer kids' race - her first race ever.

No Boundaries alums Bubba and Sandy Priesmeyer finished The Woodlands Parks and Recreation-produced race together in 46:19.

Volte friend Jon Walk announced Muddy Trails after running the Memorial Park Conservancy Brunch Run 4-Miler earlier in the morning at Houston's Memorial Park in 39:21.

The following day, Sunday, April 2, at The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K, held at Barbara Bush Elementary in The Woodlands, it was the Voltes vs. the Friends.

Six Volte runners versus six Volte friends.

We took it easy on our friends.  We want them to come back and run with us, right?

Weir leads neither Volte nor friend across the finish line Sunday night.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Chris Weir led all runners with a winning time of 20:50, followed closely by Jerritt Park in 21:11.  Mayra Caamano was the first female in 22:17, while Carrie Hyde, Tammy Grado and Sally Buckalew got their Sunday workout in with a controlled 27:42 effort.

Mayra Caamano is a few steps in front of another interloper at Sunday night's race.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Our friends were led by Edson Jones, who was fifth overall, in 22:32.  Elijah Kelly and Curtis Barton were two seconds apart in 24:48 and 24:50, respectively.  Mike Kelly finished ahead of the ladies in 27:22 as Ken Johnson and Walk ran together, covering the course in 37:43.

Johnson, meanwhile, was at the starting line of the Alamo Run Fest 13.1 Half Marathon on Saturday when it was cancelled because of threatening weather that was to come through San Antonio during the race.

Mary Carter: My San Felipe Shootout Experience

A few weeks back, Bill Dwyer and I were discussing schedules:

+  Who was racing in the upcoming weeks.
+  Which ones were critical, "A" Races.
+  Which were part of a build up to other things
+  Which ones were for fun

It's tough to facilitate a weekly Saturday long run and to make everyone's races.

I love supporting our Volte runners as much as Bill does.

We agreed that I would take the Saturday long run so Bill would be able to make The Seabrook Lucky Trails race.

I would make the San Felipe Shootout the following Saturday.

The San Felipe Shootout is three races -- a 5K at 7:30 a.m., a 10K at 8:30 a.m. and a half marathon at 10:30 a.m.  Participants could do one race, two races or all three.

He would then make the Texas 10 Series race in College Station on Sunday.


As the days progressed, I started thinking about the Shootout.

I have cheered people on (at a trail race), but never actually run one myself.

The idea of actually running it was starting to cross my mind.  I needed nine to 10 miles for my own long run that weekend.

By doing the 5K and the 10K, I could accomplish that goal and still support the other Volte runners, all the while getting a few race day photos.

I signed up.


It was cheaper to sign up for all three races than it was to sign up for just two .  This is how you get suckered in.

I talked to Bill about it at our weekly Tuesday track workout and came away with a plan to do the first two races and then to walk as much as I could of the third.

My longest run up to this point in my training had been six miles of run-walk.  The two races would get me to nine.

I spoke with Bonnie Scholz that week and hatched a plan to follow her up on race day, since this was her second race at this park. The race site was in Sealy at Stephen F. Austin State Park.

We met up at 5:00 am at a gas station on Texas 99.  The drive up was fairly quick.

I got a pre-race pep talk from Bill by phone and a surprise "Hello! and Good Luck!" from Jen Smith.

All of the predicted weather seemed to be moving into the area we were leaving.

On arriving, the parking was very close to the start line and packet pick-up.

Everything went very smoothly.   The race producer, Trail Racing Over Texas, also had a couple tables of goodies available for purchase.

Every woman likes a sale:  especially running gear.

Bonnie, her sister Michelle Fregia, Juan Flores and his buddies were running all three races. Marta Mixa would be running the half.

Bonnie set up a "Camp" for the day behind the start line, which consisted of a couple of chairs.  Her race plan involved sitting down after all the races.

I knew I would not have that opportunity, but was proactive of having somewhere to leave my things and knowing where to find everyone after the races.

We all left drop bags, which had everything that we thought we would need for after each race or to access after each loop, in the chairs.

It's interesting what went into these bags:  wet wipes, dry wash cloths, gels, Tylenol, bug spray, Vasoline body gel oil, phones, etc.

An aid station was set-up right next to the Start/Finish Line.

We would be passing it - which seemed to be well manned and stocked - as we finished each loop.  Porta potties were just across from the aid station.  It was a really great set-up.


Start time found us all corralled up and us seeing Juan and company for the first time.  Everyone was ready to go as the horn blew the start.

I carried a handheld Nathan hydration bottle and my camera.  My plan was to walk for a few minutes to warm up, so watching everyone tear away from the start line was a little surreal.

I started my run-walk intervals after a couple of minutes.

I was able to get some pictures of everyone as they came back thru the out and back portion of the loop.

It was very interesting how quiet the trail got when I was alone.  Yes, alone.  I was definately at the back of the pack.  It's not where I want to be, but it is where I'm at and I have embraced the situation for the time being.

The 5K was going very well:  until the very end.

I tripped and fell on a bridge within a minute of finishing.  Wish I could say it was a root or unlevel ground, but no just my very long feet.  It felt like I went down in slow motion. I had stumbled and tried to regain my footing, but was unable to do so.  I hit the wooden bridge with my right knee.

My reaction was to laugh and get back up with the help of the runner that was behind me.

One trail 5K.  One skinned knee.  One PR for this year.  45 minutes.

Not anywhere near my previous fastest 5K.  Almost embarrassing actually, except that I know how far that I have come from my first miles back in October.  (The first mile that I walked post surgery was over 30 minutes, so then I put it into perspective.)

It all makes me smile and appreciate that I am able to train and I am getting better, fitter, and eventually, I will get faster.

I finished my 5K with enough time in between to actually find the group and see how everyone did.  I found the aid station for a quick drink on the way, refilled my water and got myself a cup of Tailwind.

Everyone was excited and greatful that weather had cleared; however, it was really humid. The trail itself was well marked and clear of all debis.  The Park staff had done a super job of getting the trails ready for this race.


I used run-walk intervals the entire way as I wanted to have six solid miles of run-walk to set me up well for my half marathon training.

My first loop felt really good.  It felt mentally so much better to run out with everyone as opposed to walking and watching everyone run away from you.

The trail itself was a mixture of dirt paths and areas where the path had been reconstructed/repaired with a mixture of crushed rock & granite.  (I may be wrong about the granite.)

I took advantage of the aid station between loops.  I have to say they were really very well stocked.  One of the volunteers was making frozen Tailwind slushies in a blender and I took in a small cup of that along with some pickle slices.

The second loop of the 10K found me walking in the areas where the crushed rock mixture was and running on the softer dirt surface.  This slowed me down considerably but my legs and feet thanked me for it.

By the end of the 10K, my feet were starting to hurt a little, but everything else felt great.


However, by the time I finished, the half had been underway for almost a half hour (having heard the horn go off earlier from a distance.)

I took my time to regroup and get off my feet for a few minutes after finishing:  more Slushie, more pickles, a couple of cookies and I felt like going back out.

My entire goal was to see how many miles I could get in walking.

It's always interesting what your mind thinks you can do and what you can actually do.

This goes back to paying for three entries because it was cheaper. I really should have just stopped there, but no, I had something to prove now.  I wanted to belong.  I wanted to be part of all of it.

I knew two miles in, though, that this was a mistake as it just hurt to walk.

I managed to finish with my dignity still attached and with no regrets about stopping and I will be back to do this again.

I found out where I was physically, and I'm good with it for now.

I will keep working at it with a smile on my face.

My "A" race is still a few weeks out and I am looking forward to it.

I needed a goal race to help keep me focused on recovering as I am now six months post surgery.

I walked for the first three months, and started run-walk three months ago.

I am slow but getting stronger as I am going thru all the things that new runners go thru when they first start moving their bodies again.

It all hurts, but it's all good (to quote Nine Volte).

This is truly a joy to do this and I loved every step that I took.


+  Everyone should try this.
+  The scenery beats any road race hands down.
+  The participants aren't bumping and running over you with "Now" manners.  Instead, the whole thing is very relaxed.
+  The aid stations are awesome:  frozen Tailwind slushies, cookies and pickles.  Really loved the pickles.
+  Sitting around post-race rehashing the day with fellow teammates was really special.  It's hard to do this at big races.

I see another trail run in the future.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Volte's 2017 Road To Boston: Sandra Tezino

We all need a push sometimes.

Even when we are or appear to be the world's biggest go getter, whether that's based on what we do or how much people see us juggle.

Sandra Tezino is no exception.

"The thing that challenges me the most is my work schedule," says the 49-year-old wife and mother of six.  "My schedule changes almost daily and I have to plan my running and personal life around it."

Yet with a pleasant smile on her face, Sandra embodies the slogan, "Here everything's better", of her employer, HEB, where she's a Store Director.

Sandra at her fastest Aramco Houston Half Marathon in 2015.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"My journey has been challenging and beautiful," she says.

That first encouragement came from her husband of seven years, Donald.

"He encouraged me to start running again and that he would take care of our twin boys while I did so," she said.  "I remember when I first started I could only run for a few minutes, maybe seconds.

"Yet, every time I went back to run, I would run a little farther and walk less until one day I could run three miles without walking."

Thirty years earlier, Sandra ran -- and ran fast.

"All my family and friends called me by my middle name when I was younger and most still do." - Sandra Dianne Bowie
(Photo courtesy of Sandra Tezino.)
While at Merryville High School in Louisiana, just across the Texas state line, she was part of a 4x400 relay team with Stephanie Gill, Katherine Hickman and Renee Franks that won an LHSAA state championship - and set a state record - in 4:11.5.

In fact, in 1953, the Merryville HS boys accomplished the same feat with a 3:53 mark that stood until 1957.

"I stopped running, though, had six children and made little time for fitness," she said.  "Before my first race, I was not very fit."

Even though her name first appeared in a race result in October 2011 as she ran/walked the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure 5K in downtown Houston in 30:16, Sandra points to The Gusher Half Marathon in Beaumont the following March as she official "starting over" point.

"I ran my first half marathon in 2:28:26," she explained.

Volte friend Jon Walk first announced The Gusher that year that Sandra finished.
(Photo purchased from Your Sporting Image)
Yet, of course, it wouldn't be her last.  In fact, she was quite content with running half marathons.

"It is my favorite race distance:  It's fast and recovery time is less than a marathon," she added.

Her time progression in the distance followed as such, according to

2:28:26 -- Gusher Half Marathon, Beaumont, 3/10/12
1:56:31 -- Houston Half Marathon, Houston, 10/28/12
1:53:10 -- Galveston Half Marathon, Galveston, 1/27/13
1:49:03 -- The Woodlands Half Marathon, The Woodlands, 3/2/13
1:48:22 -- Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Houston, 1/19/14
1:45:34 -- Run Girl Half Marathon, Houston, 12/7/14
1:44:48 -- Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Houston, 1/17/15
1:43:42 -- The Woodlands Half Marathon, The Woodlands, 2/28/15
1:43:13 -- Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Anaheim, CA, 5/10/15

That type of steady improvement would make it easy to remain laser focused on the distance.

Enter Alan Gastineau.

"Sandra and Alan came to Volte (in 2014) from Liz Berry's training group when she stopped coaching.  Liz actually sent them to me," said Volte Endurance Training founder and head coach Bill Dwyer.  "I believe Alan planted the seed for Sandra to do one marathon.  She always said, 'The half is perfect and I'm not planning on any marathons'."

"Running a marathon was a bucket item list for me," Sandra said.  "I never really thought about qualifying for Boston because I was determined to only run one marathon and that was the Tunnel Light Marathon."

A duplicate of the original Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon, started in 2007 and held in June, the Tunnel Light Marathon was held on September 18, 2016 -- a date that allows participants to use their times to qualify for both the 2017 and 2018 Boston Marathons.

While Alan opened Sandra's mind that she was able to cover the marathon distance, credit Laura Godfrey for planting the seed that Boston was a possibility.

"Laura told me the time I needed to qualify for Boston during our summer training and that is when I thought, “Maybe, I can qualify for Boston," she said.

Also optimistic was Dwyer.

"When she entered Tunnel Light (with Alan and Laura), I did say to her that she'll most likely be running two marathons," he said.  "My reasoning was Laura was set up to BQ and Sandra will run about the same time as Laura, and she has 10 more minutes for her qualifying time."

He added, "Still, first marathons are tough."

Sandra and Laura out on one of many training runs leading up to Tunnel Light together.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
And so was training, other than track workouts hearkening back to her high school days, in that her work schedule made the preparation seem as if it was being delivered via an iPod Shuffle instead of Training Peaks.

"Sometimes, I have to run in the mornings, sometimes at night, sometimes on the treadmill, sometimes at the gym," she said.  "All of these things affect my sleep and sometimes I don’t get the seven to eight hours of sleep my body so desperately needs."

Yet she and Laura trained diligently through the hot Houston weather all summer.

"It was my first marathon and my goal was to finish in under four hours," she said.  "I know I needed to run with a pacer to keep me from running too fast in the beginning and from going too slow in the end."

Starting near the top of the 3,015-foot high Snoqualmie Pass and running a course that race organizers explained as having one of the best profiles in the country for a fast time due to the consistent gentle downhill grade, going too fast was a legitimate concern.

Sandra's race manager that day?  55-year-old Scott Sebelsky from Camano Island, Washington.

"He was the (Tunnel Light) pacer for 3:40 and I thought, “Ok, I can try to do that," she said.  "Scott was the motivator that kept me going.  He has a lot of experience and I trusted him, especially when he said, “We could stop to get water.”

"I was like, “I never stopped during a race before.” We not only stopped once but twice."

He had actually run the course during its June running the last two years in 3:43:25 and 3:42:56 as part of a group called the Super Pacers.

With Scott guiding Sandra's race, it allowed Tezino to focus on her thoughts of fellow Volte runner - and fellow Boston Marathon participant this year - Michelle McGill.

"I wanted to be like her - a strong, consistent and talented runner," she explained.

Fatigue, however, began to set in at mile 20, but she applied some often-shared advice from Dwyer about taking a Tums to maintain her PH level during the race.

The Light nearly went out at mile 23, though.

"I was exhausted and I wanted Scott to just go off and leave me, but he didn’t," she said.  "He kept encouraging me and he was telling everyone we passed by, “This is her first marathon and she is killing it!”

A mile later, the two caught up with Godfrey.

"I told Scott that she was my friend and she needed to finish with me.  He begin to encourage her (as well) and we both finished under 3:40," she said, as she finished in 3:39:18 while Laura crossed in 3:39:34.  "He kept saying, “You are going to hurt tomorrow any way, so give it all you can today.”

Scott Sebelsky waved his magic 3:40 wand and helped fit Sandra to her BQ.
(Photo courtesy of Tunnel Light Marathon)
As Boston is now under two weeks away, Tezino is still forever grateful.

"I know, deep down in my heart, I would not have been able to finish with that time, if it were not for Scott Sebelsky," she said.

"It was an amazing feeling," Sandra added.  "Emotional, thankful, surprised, exhausted.  All kinds of emotions."

Something she hopes to be able to share as she lines up in Hopkinton on Monday, April 17 and runs toward Boyslton Street.

"(I want) to finish the race, not walk and enjoy the experience and to smile and thank people along the way," she said with a smile herself.

Boston in 2018 is on the list as she wants to "take my family with me to cheer me on" and to qualify for the New York City Marathon with her half marathon time.

All thumbs up from Sandra during a warm 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Tezino will get the benefit of turning 50 next year which opens up the qualifying time from 1:42 to 1:49 -- her PR is 1:43:14; however, it's pretty reasonable to expect she'll still be aiming for the 1:42 regardless.

Dwyer has no doubts.

"Sandra is very motivated to get her workouts in with her challenging personal schedule. She's very talented and very humble," he said.

And very, very thankful.

"(This is) a sport that keeps me grounded, mentally ready, and that makes me feel good.," she explains.  "I am surrounded by so much love. My biggest fan is my husband, Donald and then my children.    The twins are now 12 and surprised that I run so much.

One of many track workouts with Yaya Herrera (to the left).
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
"I have a great coach, Bill Dwyer.  A fast, strong and beautiful running/friend, Laura Godfrey.  A talented running group, Volte Endurance Training and the best of friends that give unconditional support, Alan Gastineau and Yadira (Yaya) Herrera.

"I am a living witness that “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

And the great thing is:  We all get to watch.