Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tunnel Light Shines The Way To Boston

"We all have time machines.  Some take us back, they're called memories.  Some take us forward, they're called dreams." ~ Jeremy Irons

We runners peddle both -- often in the same moment.

That is, the moment we cross a finish line.

Because the distance we've run, regardless of our time, leaves a memory - albeit some more fond than others, but we all still chase a dream of some sort.

Our Tunnel Light marathoners on Sunday, September 17 were without exception.

The dreams of running the Boston Marathon became more real for four of our runners - Todd Hunter, Yaya Herrera, Bonnie Scholz and Tammy Grado - as they met their gender and age group's qualifying standard for the very first time.

Little did Tammy Grado know at the time that one second of celebrating would have cost her a trip to Boston
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Six others traveled to Washington state with their BQ secure - and three of them - Derek Bailey, Juan Flores and Sandra Tezino - replicated their performance.

Derek Bailey was the first Volte to make his way across the finish line.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
And an eighth - Michelle McGill - recorded her 13th BQ from her last 17 marathons.

But, in the chasing of our dreams, we sometimes fail to remember that they don't always come true the first time.

Or the second time.

Or the third time.

In fact, Michelle McGill will tell you that she ran 14 marathons over five years before she recorded her first Boston Qualifier.

Officially, it was a marathon debut for Monse Louimeus, who finished in 4:23:35 -- an improvement on her 25.4-mile jaunt through The Woodlands in March in 4:29:19.

The best of the personal bests -- seven within the group - belonged to Judith Albarran, who shed 33 minutes and 39 seconds -- and maybe a few tears too - off her 5:07:32 debut marathon in Houston three years ago.

Yet we had surprises – and none of them had anything to do with a race result.

Unfortunately, a slew of work projects kept Rapha Machado from being able to join us.

Then, Carrie Hyde, who had trained as well as ever - all the way through the training cycle, heard from her appendix, which had had more than enough.

We’re all grateful that it immediately demanded an audience with the finest clinicians in Montgomery County just 36 hours before she would have join the larger group on the plane to Seattle Friday morning.

Oh, we weren’t done. 

Of course, the only direction to go was up.

With a little help from a pilot not to be named, Jared Hoffart pulled a “Jon Walk special” – as Volte head coach and founder Bill Dwyer tipped your scribe off in his e-mail – and flew to Seattle, arriving at 2 a.m. Saturday morning and surprising his wife Lauren.

And to help everyone soak the entire 26.2-mile experience in, Debra Myers and her husband Rob and her company Enfusia supplied all of our Tunnel Light marathoners with a care package of “Muscle Soak” products.

There were 20 of us (participants, that is) – and we had a few other local runners make the trip.

One of them, the current USA Track & Field 100-mile trail champion, Ronnie Delzer, of The Woodlands, won the race in 2:34:11.  His time was the fastest ever at Tunnel Light and the third fastest of the three Tunnel Marathon races since they started in 2008.

The majority of our Tunnel Light marathoners post-race!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
The results from all 23 runners from our area are listed below:

4:33:53 - Judith Albarran, 37 (PR by 33 min., 39 secs.)
3:04:40 - Derek Bailey, 36 (BQ)
3:53:40 - Jon Braunersreuther, 54
4:36:33 - Kristi Chen, 50
4:04:39 - Erica Coleman, 52
3:52:45 - Mike Coleman, 52
2:34:11 - *Ronnie Delzer, 36, Vantage Point Endurance (BQ, PR)
3:17:19 - Juan Flores, 44 (BQ, PR by 5 min., 38 secs.)

One of the Volte "Bad Hombres", Juan Flores, BQ'd and PR'd again at Tunnel Light.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
3:50:52 - Laura Godfrey, 42
3:51:37 - Tammy Grado, 49 (BQ, PR by 13 min., 3 secs.)
5:40:19 - Falon Gunter, 34
3:34:21 - *Yaya Herrera, 42 (BQ, PR by 24 min., 46 secs.)

Yaya Herrera looks so happy that she'll be heading to Boston; so much so, it looks like she ready to leap and fly!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
4:23:43 - Lauren Hoffart, 28
3:25:20 - Todd Hunter, 49 (BQ, PR by 17 min., 23 secs.)

Todd Hunter's smile is as ecstatic - and electric - as they come.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
3:21:15 - Alan Jones, 46, Finish Strong Coaching (BQ, PR)
4:23:35 - Monserrat Louimeus, 29 (PR - first official 26.2; TW was short)
3:55:29 - Michelle McGill, 50 (BQ)
3:08:21 - Mario Menendez, 42, Finish Strong Coaching (BQ, PR)
4:36:32 - Marta Mixa, 60
4:39:22 - Leanne Rosser, 48
3:39:38 - *Bonnie Scholz, 40 (BQ, PR by 31 min., 41 secs.)
3:41:04 - Sandra Tezino, 49 (BQ)
4:23:36 - Gabby Westbrook, 33

(Note:  The asterisks you see above represent the runners who actually ran a Boston qualifying time at the Fidelity Investments The Woodlands Marathon in March, if Boston would have accepted adjusted times.)

Volte head coach and founder Bill Dwyer said one of the many highlights of the weekend was being at the finish line for eight Boston Qualifiers.

“Everyone worked hard and it paid off,” he said.  “I was so very happy for everyone.”

More than a week or so after all had returned home and all of the group’s qualifiers were able to register for next year’s Boston Marathon, Dwyer shared about the hug (that wasn’t) that might have wrecked that trip for one runner.

“Tammy Grado sent me a note saying that she almost stopped to give me a hug just before the finish,” he said.

After the race, she had posted on her Facebook page, “4X a charm!! Sept 17, I Boston Qualified!!! Thank you Lord for giving me the ability and strength to run.”

And what she couldn’t have known then (and didn’t post) …. “and to not share my enthusiasm with Bill until AFTER the race.”

Tammy qualified three minutes and 23 seconds underneath her age group’s qualifying standard.

The cutoff?  3:23.

“Talk about living a charmed life,” Bill commented.  “She’s in!”

All of Volte’s athletes enjoyed the scenery, weather and the camaraderie.

“I loved my trip to Tunnel Light because I got to spend time getting to know my fellow Voltes,” said the youngest of our group, Lauren Hoffart.  “The race itself was tough but beautiful.  The course really made me feel like God was right there with me.”

The focus on all that we have to be thankful to God for was shared Saturday night before the race.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Perhaps that was a byproduct of the Saturday night devotional led by Jon Braunersreuther, who serves as a mission and ministry facilitator for the Lutheran Church in the greater Houston area.

Pastor Jon led our team's devotional at our Saturday evening pasta party.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
“I appreciate Leanne Rosser helping organize the Airbnb for half of the team and the pasta party,” said Dwyer.  “As well as Mary Carter helping me throughout the weekend and the amazing support provided by Alan Gastineau getting from point to point on the course.”

Dwyer said it wasn't easy.

Alan had made the trip a year ago when Sandra Tezino and Laura Godfrey qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon – and the team put the inside knowledge to use.

Sandra Tezino (right) getting her symbolic Boston ticket handed to her by Scott Sobelesky (who helped her qualify as a pacer a year ago).
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
It wasn’t just all happening in Washington state the third weekend of September.

Volte and friends had runners in Germany, Kemah and North Dakota.

Dirk and Criss Neumann completed the Baden Half Marathon together in 2:09:16 in their hometown of Karlsruhe, Germany on Saturday, September 16.

From Germany, with love!
(Photo courtesy of the Neumanns)
Monica Moreno finished a hot Toughest 10K Kemah the next day in 1:16:44, while a quintet of our friends also finished.  Erika Park led the group in a first place age group (40-44) time of 46:24.

Alvaro Trejo also kept it under an hour in 57:42 while his wife, Lusi, completed the four passes of the Kemah-Seabrook Bridge in 1:13:42.

Hector Lopez and Mario Vazquez also rounded out the group with finishing times of 1:14:06 and 1:16:43, respectively.

Volte friend Jon Walk completed his 54th career marathon, including one in his 34th state, as he finished the Bismarck (North Dakota) Marathon in 5:28:03.

He went 3:35:02 through the first 19 miles – a pace of 11:19 in mid-40 degrees temperatures, but walked the last 10K in hopes of trying to save a little to run the Virginia 10-Miler the following Saturday in Lynchburg, Virginia with his daughter, Waverly.

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