Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Happens In Vegas

Is a whole boatload of new personal bests, a few Boston qualifiers and a couple of stories of sacrifices made on behalf of our teammates.

You thought the line was going to be different, right?  Of course not.

The weekend of Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30, Volte divided and conquered.

A group of 22 Volte athletes and friends, in addition to head coach Bill Dwyer, made their way west for the second running of the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon and Half Marathon.

Meanwhile, a smaller, but no less determined group competed in Missouri City at the third race of the 2017 Texas 10 Series, Texas 10 Sienna.

Volte at Texas 10 Sienna
(Photo courtesy of Rich Cooper)
In addition to the wind, which was strong in both locales, incredible people, solid racing and even more impressive camaraderie and fellowship were actors on life’s big stage.

It was our founder’s first trip to Vegas and he said, “It was better than I expected.”

But, of course, we all know Bill.

He’d rather invest in the lives of his athletes than hit the casinos or the Strip.

“It was a great trip.  I was very excited for everyone,” he said.  “I spent time with great friends, got to meet Jen Smith’s friends from Katy – Kim Hamilton and Sonia Dhopakar and watched how our folks – namely Mayra (Caamano), Jen (Smith), Tom (Ninke) and Gabby Brockett – provided amazing support for others on the course.”

The marathon.  Three BQ’s and four PR’s from our 11 athletes and friends.

Flowing beard and all, Juan Flores was the first one down the mountain – and despite encountering some cramping in the last 10 kilometers, he earned his first BQ with a 3:22:57 that was more than 14 minutes off his previous best of 3:37:36 at the 2013 Chevron Houston Marathon.

Juan fights off cramps to earn his first BQ!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
“Nevada was kind to me,” he said.  “Hung out with good people and made some new friends.”

Meanwhile, Kristi Chen said before the race, “I’m just going to run for fun.”

The equation kind of looks like new math to me:  “Fun = BQ + PR”.

She turned in a time of 3:46:14 in her seventh career marathon, which was 67 seconds better than the 3:47:21 at the Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge two Januarys ago.

Calm and focused, Kristi Chen descends down Mt. Charleston
(Photo courtesy of Revel)
Teammates gushed with praise of Kristi’s effort.

“I think I am genuinely happier about your race than mine,” said Mayra Caamano.  “Just amazing.  Well deserved.  You simply did everything right and it paid off.”

Back to Boston will be Erica Coleman, who got sterling pacing effort from her husband, Mike.

The two were less than two minutes off Kristi’s heels in 3:48:07.

Erica and Mike Coleman:  All smiles getting Erica back to Boston!
(Photo courtesy of Revel)
It will send Erica back to Boston for the first time since 2015, where she logged consecutive finishes of 3:45:29 (2013), 3:37:14 (2014) and 3:56:08 (2015).

Volte’s Hope Jimenez and Volte friend Kim Hamilton rounded out the sub 4-efforts of the travelling group with times of 3:54:49 and 3:58:33, respectively.

Jimenez enjoyed more than a 23-minute improvement from her debut marathon last summer at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, which she ran in 4:18:13.

“I was dedicated to my training this time and I’m truly happy with my results,” said our resident Canadian Carrie Hyde.

Rebounding from an injury that troubled her much of 2016, Carrie’s marathon time of 4:03:43 admittedly left her in a much happier place than last year post-Wineglass (4:34:58).

“Carrie’s PR is 3:47 and we’re working back toward that,” said Dwyer.

Alan Ramsey followed with a 4:23:33 while Marta Mixa’s last best marathon time was 20 years ago!

Mayra Caamano supporting Marta Mixa less than a tenth of a mile from the finish
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Slashing more than 20 minutes off her time from the 1997 Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, Marta reveled in her 4:33:57 effort.

Next up for Mixa will be the Tunnel Light Marathon in mid-September where she’ll be joined by nearly 20 Volte athletes who will be making the trip.

And not every day can be the one that is revealed as the best on the race clock.

Nonetheless, those times – even though we do this for fun, health and camaraderie – reveal much more than five digits ever will.

Even though the weather conditions were as favorable or better than her sterling half marathon in her hometown of Victoria (Texas) in late February, the mountain wasn’t friendly to Tammy Ninke.

A day earlier, she and her husband, Tom, went back to the Las Vegas airport to pickup one of the last members of Volte’s marathon team for the weekend – Gabby Brockett.

And Gabby repaid that kindness by sacrificing her race to stay with Tammy all the way down the mountain.

Always good to finish a race with a friend:  Tammy Ninke and Gabby Brockett
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
The two finished, hands raised high, in 5:33:33 and 5:33:41, respectively.

Our marathon team – as a result of our four fastest times – finished 29th of 46 teams in Revel’s team competition.

In the half marathon, Volte was fifth overall out of 59 teams with times counting from Voltes Mayra Caamano, Jen Smith, Tricia Driver and Volte friend Sonia Dhodapkar.

An average time of 1:41:57 the four knocked down and had there been a women’s only division, Volte would have been singing “We Are The Champions”.

Eight Voltes and two Volte friends ran the Revel Mount Charleston Half Marathon.

Flying her country’s flag across the finish line was Venezuelan Mayra Caamano as she notched a time of 1:33:56– five minutes and 46 seconds better than her 1:39:42 mark at the 2013 The Woodlands Half Marathon.

Jen Smith hasn’t quite picked up the accent yet – living in England with her husband and children on a long-term work assignment, but she certainly accented a fine piece of running with a PR of her own.

She snapped four minutes and 10 seconds off her previous best of 1:40:30 three Octobers ago at the Koala’s Houston Half Marathon with a time of 1:36:20.

Volte's Mount Rushmore of PR's at Revel Mt. Charleston:  Mayra Caamano, Jen Smith, Jon Walk and Penny Garza
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Another of Jen’s friends from Katy, Sonia Dhodapkar, was next in that would be winning women’s team as she stopped the clock in 1:42-even.

Both Mayra and Jen are able to use their times to qualify for the New York City Marathon.

The first of three remaining half marathon PR’s on the morning came from Tricia Driver.

Shaving nearly three minutes off of her 1:58:26 time from November 2010 The Woman’s Half Marathon in Tempe, Arizona, the soon-to-be-married Driver covered the distance in 1:55:32.

Mom and daughter, Kim and Tricia Driver, are all smiles post-race.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Even though he registered Sunday night before the race, Volte friend Jon Walk’s bib showed that he was a legacy runner, having completed the half here a year ago for a half marathon in then his 41st state.

That 2:15:26 was his 13th best of 120 half marathons to that point.

His half marathon PR was 2:09:45 at the Elroy Tunnel-Trails Half Marathon in Elroy, Wisconsin in September 2010 – a day before watching Kim Mac Namee qualify for Kona at Ironman Wisconsin.

Saturday, he beat both times with a stunning 2:06:09 in his 130th career half marathon.

For Penny Garza, she PR’d for the fourth time – out of four half marathons this racing season.

And the 2:11:04 – prompting Penny to say that “I’ve never felt worse, but I can’t get the smile off my face” – slashed (and burned) 19 minutes and 46 seconds off of her Vintage Park Half Marathon time of 2:30:50 earlier in the month of April.

Tricia’s mom, Kim, ran a steady race to finish in 2:32:33.  Kim and her husband, Steve, and Tricia and her fiance made it a vacation-like weekend as a getaway reward.

Alfredo Gonzalez, like Juan in the marathon, battled some cramping to gut out a 3:11-even time.

Meanwhile, his wife, Letty, ran with Mary Carter to ensure that she was able to finish the race after succumbing to an ankle injury earlier in the week.

Letty was given the honor of finishing four seconds faster than Mary in 3:39:56.

A slightly smaller group of 15 Volte athletes and friends took the race venue consolation prize of the weekend:  Texas 10 Sienna in Missouri City.

Well, that is, just depending on how you look at things.

They got all of the wind, but none of the downhill.

At least, the course was flat – and fast.

Fast to the tune of eight pieces of hardware and six new personal bests - and all on the wings of Coach Rich Cooper's pre-race prayer,

Denise Powers and Kim Joyce got the show started with PR’s in the 5K.

Grabbing third in her age group, Denise dropped a 25:47, besting her previous by 79 seconds – a 27:06 effort three weeks before at Run The Woodlands 5K.

Navigating the turn and making it look easy is Kim Joyce
(Photo courtesy of Rich Cooper)
Kim followed Denise by 16 seconds, in 26:03, but won her division and lowered her 26:34 at The Woodlands Marathon 5K in 2015 by 31 seconds.

Two minutes were slashed off of Tammy Grado’s previous best 5-mile effort as she won her age group with a 38:31 effort that bettered her 40:39 from Texas 10 Conroe in 2015.

Jimmy Baker crossed the finished line in 46:43 while Llana Bingham earned first place in her division with a time of 48:14.

Volte friends Deanna and Ray Sarno also finished the 5-Miler in 1:02:59 and 1:03:00, respectively.

The hits kept coming in the marquee 10-mile race.

The second overall woman and first masters female finisher was Tiffany Hauerwas, who completed Texas 10 Sienna in 1:09:50.

“My third Texas 10 was one for the mature ladies,” she said.  “I wasn’t going to mention this one, but I decided it is ok to be grateful for what we are able to do.

“Always fun sharing the morning with Volte and my top notch husband, who woke up super early to drive an hour because "he loves to watch me race".”

Anybody that can’t replicate that speed certainly does too.

Jerritt Park drew the short straw of the morning, finishing in 1:12:30 but off the podium.

Using some of that post-Boston fitness to her advantage, Laura Godfrey’s first race back out netted her a 1:17:39 PR and first-place age group placement.

Like Grado, Laura’s previous best came at Texas 10 Conroe two years ago, in 1:20:46.

Keri Amador and Gabby Westbrook finished second and third in their age groups, respectively, with times of 1:18:40 and 1:22:09.  It would be Gabby’s debut race at the distance.

Layton Gill is focused on the Texas 10 Sienna finish line
(Photo courtesy of Rich Cooper)
Layton Gill finished in 1:26-even while Desna McDonald said she “left everything on the course”.

All but her heart, that’s for sure.

Desna sliced more than five minutes off her previous best in a 10-miler with a great performance of 1:49:18 – better than her 1:54:24 Texas 10 College Station on March 26.

And, as always, Brayden Park wrapped up our race day – and weekend – with another solid effort in the Texas 10 Sienna 1-mile race.

No comments:

Post a Comment