Friday, December 31, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: Rich Cooper and the 1997 Houston Marathon

By Rich Cooper

It’s hard to believe this year will be the 22nd time I have participated in Houston Marathon weekend. 

Some of the most memorable marathons - early in my adult running career - were completed at the Houston Marathon.  

My first Houston Marathon was in 1997. The lead sponsor at the time was Houston Methodist Hospital. I was two years into my rejuvenated running career. 

During that time, I had started running again as a way to get back in shape. 

Running changed my life as I was able to lose 60 pounds and quit smoking. 

In my younger years, I had run three marathons and come close to qualifying for Boston, but college and a new career took me away from running which brought on the unhealthy lifestyle I was living.  

So, at the suggestion of my personal trainer, I started running again. 

At the time though, I had never dreamed of running another marathon. Then a friend of mine suggested I check out Houston Fit with the eventual intention of maybe running the Houston Marathon. 

In July of 1996, I took that leap of faith -- along with 1,500 of my closest running buddies -- and started training for the Houston Marathon.  

As training progressed, my confidence grew and in October, I took the plunge and entered. 

Rich finishing up his last Chevron Houston Marathon in 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Houston Fit was the perfect program for my training as it slowly prepared me for what lay ahead. 

Little did I know it would one of my most memorable running experiences in my lifetime.  

In 1997, the Houston Marathon was the only marathon in town.  And there was no half marathon, as that wouldn't come until 2001 when Compaq became the sponsor.

Leading up to race day, there were only 7,000 people entered.  

As we all do leading up to our races, I kept a close eye on the weather. The forecast did not look good, but I decided I was going to do it regardless of what it would turn out to be. 

The forecast called for a cold front to come through which would include temperatures in the low thirties, wind gusts up to 25 mph and rain. 

My friends all told me I was crazy and that there was no way I was going to finish. 

I wanted to prove them wrong.  

Race Day  

The weather was bad! 

I arrived at the George R, Brown Convention Center by 6 a.m., and by then the cold weather had arrived and the winds were gusting. 

I mentally prepared myself for what was ahead. 

When I stepped out to head to the starting line, I remember looking up and seeing the flags blowing like crazy -- along with sideways rain! 

My first thought upon seeing that was “What the hell am I doing?!”  

At the start line all of us were going nuts and I remember looking around and thinking, "There are not 7,000 people here."  (I later found out the final number was below 5,000). 

The gun went off and we shuffled north into the wind and the rain and onto the Elysian Viaduct. 

It was crazy because ice was already beginning to form so everybody was running really slow.  

Little did I know at the time, the temperatures were in the high twenties with a wind chill of single digits. 

Rich in the half marathon (2020) that made him a double Veteran at Houston.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

As we progressed along the course, the wind and rain never did let up. 

There were very few spectators on the course. 

I never really get cold simply because I had followed the guidance from Houston Fit to layer my clothing.  

The finish was really uneventful as the weather was still terrible so the spectators were not there at all. 

I practically cried when I crossed the finish line simply because I had done something that most people would never do in their lifetime. 

It was a moment that changed my life forever! 

Finishing the 1997 marathon also brought me legendary status with my friends.  Some called me crazy while others just shook their heads in awe -- not all of them were runners!

The storm later that day caused power failures all over the city, causing me to lose power later that evening and to be out for two whole days.

So memorable, Rich nailed it down for it to not easily get away.
(Photo courtesy of Rich Cooper)

I finished in 4:39:17. 

At the time, and still today, I am not disappointed with it as I did something I will never forget. 

It propelled me into making running a permanent part of my life.  

To this day, Houston Marathon weekend is the highlight of my running year. 

I’m amazed at how much its grown to become one of the premier marathons in the country. 

I’m proud of my "Houston" Veteran status. 

In 2020, I became a dual race veteran when I completed my 10th Aramco Houston Half Marathon (11 Houston Marathons and 10 Half Marathons).  

This year will be really cool as it will be the 50th Anniversary of the Houston Marathon and will fall on my birthday, which is really cool.  

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: First-Time Marathoners Waverly Walk and Megan Eastin in 2018

Sometimes groups like ours can get lost in the initials - BQs, PRs and so on - even though we're all chasing dreams and in some cases, making major lifestyle changes.

While the USA Fit programs locally, with our friends at Woodlands Fit especially, in some cases are best positioned to assist first-time marathoners meet their goals, it doesn't mean that Volte and other training groups can't.

In fact, for groups like ours, coaches and fellow runners alike, it can often be more of a challenge to ensure that the first timer is being guided the same way and given the proper team support that more experienced marathoners are accustomed to receiving, making sure they're ready and feel welcome.

Then, for an additional degree of difficulty, make it all just a bit personal.

"When you are helping the daughter of one of your best friends you want to really make sure that everything goes well," said Bill Dwyer, Volte's founder, of coaching Waverly Walk.  "Actually you want things to go well for everyone all the time, but especially in this case."

A big dose of #goflames for Waverly Walk at mile 23.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Enter Megan Eastin stage right.

"The goal was to get through the training healthy and have a very good experience," he added.  "We were blessed by having another first timer - Megan Eastin - join the group who ran the same pace and had the same goal."

Both young ladies bonded with one another over the course of many, many early Saturday morning long runs to get ready for the 2018 edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon.

"When advising a first time marathoner," Dwyer said.  "I like to paraphrase a Jerome Drayton quote, "To describe running the marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind."

He adds that "those later miles get tough for everyone so the goal was to run conservative enough to finish well, learn the event and then plan for the future."

While Megan got across the start about nine minutes earlier than Waverly in the corrals, had they started together, their times and paces might have allowed them to run the race together.

The two were eerily on pace with another through the halfway point -- Waverly with a time of 2:24:12 and Megan just six seconds off of that at 2:24:18.

Megan had gone through the first three 5K check points in a remarkably steady 34:27, 34:25 and 34:25.

Waverly, whose Dad had a bib in the marathon race and ran the first five miles with her to keep her from going out too fast, moved around a little bit with splits of 35:18, 33:19 and 34:08.

In fact, the two went between the half marathon timing mat and the 25K flag in the same amount of time as well as between the 35K and the 40K mat.

Was that a two thumbs up or a Gig 'Em from the Aggie grad Megan Eastin?  All smiles regardless!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

All in all, Megan finished in 4:50:37 and Waverly stopped the clock in 4:51:23 - a new family Houston Marathon personal best.

"My race plan was (for them) to stay between 10:45 and 11:45 per mile," Dwyer said.  "Megan averaged 11:05.  Waverly 11:07."

The two finished two places apart in their 20-24 age group.

Mission accomplished.

"For the longest time, I have wanted to run a marathon, but it has always been one of those ‘one day’ ‘bucket list’ type goals," said Eastin.  "Today after hundreds of training miles, many early Saturday mornings, and much preparation, I finally accomplished that goal in 4:50.37 - slow and steady.  This is an indescribable amazing feeling, and I feel truly blessed for the ability to run."

Waverly was equally as grateful.

"A dream became a reality today, as I completed my first marathon in 4:51:23!" she said.  "It was tough, but God was so faithful to give me strength and place people perfectly throughout the course to give me the extra ounce of encouragement I needed in that moment. 

"Two of those people were my Mom, who saw me along the course, and Dad, who ran part of the race with me. I couldn't have asked for a better coach, Bill Dwyer, to train me and running partner, Megan Eastin, to complete the long runs with. Thank you to every person who has encouraged me and prayed for me today and throughout the training process!"

The following October, 2019, Waverly would go on to complete her second marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in 5:17:21 amidst a steady morning rain that littered the course with standing water and puddles -- and may have a third on the horizon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: Michelle McGill and Mayra Caamano in 2014

The 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon was just the second time that Volte had gathered as a club for the event after getting its start midway through the 2012 calendar year.

Volte was somewhat of an expansion team - but a darned good one - with runners gravitating to run under founder Bill Dwyer's guidance. 

And, of course, it never hurts to have a US level class athlete in David Odom running with the group ready to dispense wisdom from his stellar running career.

Two runners, however, Michelle McGill and Mayra Caamano, who both recorded what is still their personal best to date, proved that day that there isn't just one way to earn a PR and a BQ.

"The 2014 event was a very good day for us. The weather was good, training had gone well and as a whole our group did very well," said Dwyer.

The two ladies, separated in age by ten years from one another, were part of a group of six athletes who earned their Boston qualifier to be able to join up with four other Volte runners to race Boston in April 2015.

McGill had not only run to her previous personal best just three months before at the Chicago Marathon, but 2013 as a whole had been one of her best years ever as a marathoner.

The ledger looked like this:

3:47:36 - Chevron Houston Marathon, Houston, 1/13/13
3:48:55 - The Woodlands Marathon, The Woodlands, 3/2/13
3:44:39 - Boston Marathon, Boston, MA, 4/15/13
3:39:05 - Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL, 10/13/13

It all would prove to be in the middle of a streak that saw her string together 14 consecutive sub 4-hour marathons.

"Michelle had put in a solid training cycle for Chicago in October, recovered well and then did a short training cycle for Houston," Dwyer noted.

And the weather couldn't have been better, with a temperature of 50 degrees at the 7 a.m. start that rose to 62 degrees by the time both McGill and Caamano had finished.

"Wow, that was a good day!  The weather was perfect!," remembered McGill.  "It is always great to see my family out there and all the Volte friends on the course."

Dwyer, that year, was positioned near the mile 26 flag and she said that she recalled "seeing his smiling face at mile 26 and actually feeling good."

When you know that you're feeling it, you show it like Michelle McGill here!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Like Devyn Cook did six years later at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon, McGill couldn't have been any more on the money.

Her first three 5K splits to the 15K mark were 25:51, 25:20 and 25 minutes even.

She made the halfway point in 1:47:18.

"I mentioned to her that she was ready for a 3:35 the night before," Dwyer said.

And McGill didn't believe it, even now.

"Also, the night before when you sent me my race plan, I thought, "No way!"

Hold steady - and the prize would be hers.

And she did.

From the 25K to the 40K flag, Michelle replicated her even pace with 5K times of 25:21, 25:41 and 25:48.

The back half came in at 1:47:41 -- for a total time of 3:34:59, one second off of Dwyer's projections.

"Crazy" was how McGill recalled it.

One of Volte's mantras, though, has always been "family first".

Unless, of course, you're left with no choice.

That's what Mayra Caamano was dealt with leading up to the 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon.

One of her daughters had been very sick in the fall.

"I truly did not have a good training cycle prior to the race," Caamano remembered.  "As a matter of fact, just two weeks before race day, I was still debating whether I should do it or not."

"Mayra has a lot of talent and is never really that far out of shape," Dwyer said.  

And for Caamano, where there's one part talent, there's usually - at least - three parts heart to go along with her God-given ability.

"I wasn’t able to commit to running in the months prior.  So, my body wasn’t strong enough and my mind wasn’t in the right place either," she said.  "Pretty much at the last minute I decided I would run the race with my heart and let it be whatever it would be."

"My memory is that she went out too fast (which she did) and hung on as best she could," said Dwyer.

She breezed through the first 15K with 5K splits of 23:43, 22:55 and 23:00 -- paces of 7:38, 7:23, 7:25 -- and came to the halfway point in 1:38:53.

Hold that - and she would shatter her first three marathon times of 3:53:56 (Rock N Roll Las Vegas, 12/4/11), 3:54:40 (The Woodlands, 3/3/12) and 3:56:13 (Marine Corps, 10/28/12).

Even though she held onto the sub-8 minute pace to the 25K mark, Caamano posted a back half time of 1:46:29 to turn in a crazy 26-minute and 34-second personal best for a closing time of 3:27:22.

Caamano, not far from the finish, was putting the finishing touches on a crazy new PR.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

"I knew she could run a BQ but did not expect it on this day," Dwyer remarked of Caamano who had come over to Volte from Falcon Fit.

She still smiles today thinking about the race.

"It turned out to be the perfect day for that kind of risk and adventure," she shared.  "One of my favorite races to date."

Caamano would turn in a time of 3:27:14 three years later at The Woodlands Marathon, but the course turned out to be some six tenths of a mile short because of an error by the lead cyclist.

McGill, meanwhile, will be running her 15th Chevron Houston Marathon at the 2022 race with nine of her last 10 being sub 4-hour efforts.  Her entire Chevron Houston Marathon race history follows:

2007 - 4:43:05
2008 - 4:29.01
2009 - 4:32:02
2010 - 4:18:53
2011 - 3:58:38
2012 - 3:54:15
2013 - 3:47:36
2014 - 3:34:59
2015 - 3:55:02
2016 - 3:41:53
2017 - 4:09:39
2018 - 3:52:03
2019 - 3:57:20
2020 - 3:49:37

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: Devyn Cook in 2020

At First Watch restaurant in College Station earlier this month after the BCS Half Marathon, Volte founder Bill Dwyer was sitting with a small group of his athletes updating his paper worksheet while waiting for their food to be delivered.

While certainly pleased with his athletes' efforts and performances, and never one to brag himself, he was delightfully happy that nearly everyone's time that morning fell within a targeted range that he had for them based on their training.

For a coach, it is as much a validation of their guidance as it is for the athlete of their effort in training and on race day.

It wasn't new territory, though, for Dwyer.

As he waited for fellow coach Layton Gill to pick him up the morning of the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon, he was pretty certain that one of Gill's athletes - then 24-year-old Devyn Cook - had an opportunity of a special day.

One that she had been working on for 11 and a half years.

And that was to be able to run well enough to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon.

It would be her fifth effort at the 26.2-mile distance and since her debut at the distance four years earlier, she had come a long way from an opening time of 4:47:51 at the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon.

And just one year before, while running a very respectable 3:43:34, it was on the outside looking in at the three hour and 30-minute qualifying standard.

Although Cook admitted in her Instagram postings that the hardest part of her running journey was jealousy.

"I had been through a lot as a runner, and I had a “woe is me” attitude," she admitted.  "I desperately wanted my journey to be easier. I took it personally that it wasn’t. 

"I faced obstacle after obstacle all while seeing it come together for others, which broke my heart.  It hurt my love of the sport.  I decided that I was not going to have this mentality anymore."

And, according to Gill, that was part of what she did.

"She had a more focused training approach," he said.  "She limited the focus on what others were doing and truly focused on what she could control.  

"She also took a less is more approach to limit injuries."

Cook said in her Instagram postings that she peaked at 56.5 miles per week.

"Devyn's training had been very solid and Layton's plan for her was to target 3:20," said Dwyer.  "While on the course cheering and supporting everyone, we were constantly watching the tracker and Devyn was on pace at every check point."

Cook started the race running with Holly Benson and Mayra Caamano and treated the first two miles as a warmup going at a 7:55 per mile clip.

Early in the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon, Devyn Cook was excited that the day was unfolding well.  (Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

But when the 3:20 pace group passed her, it was time to take chase.  

It took her to mile 10, she wrote, though, to catch the 3:20 pace group.

Her official time showed her at 24:11 for the first 5K and 23:11 the next 5K for a total 10K time of 47:22 -- and then she produced a 23:14 5K to the 15K mark.

When she made it to the half-way point, she had a new half marathon personal best of 1:39:29.

"Mile after mile, I maintained the pace," Cook wrote.

And indeed she did.

Because there wasn't a separate 20K timing mat, her time from the 15K to the 25K was 47:36, just 14 seconds slower than the first 10K of the race.

From the 25K to the 35K mark, 47 minutes even.

She was running like a metronome -- and Roger and Robert King - a pair of Marines - hadn't even joined Volte yet.

And Cook darned near negative split the entire race -- going 1:39:29 in the front half and 1:39:53 in the back half.

Cook was focused coming through the Memorial Park area on her way to her fifth CHM finish.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

She rode the wave of emotions from mile 20 on in.

"People cheered the pace group on and commented about how strong we looked and how fast we were," she said.  "A guy shouted that we were going to qualify for Boston at that pace.  It felt like royalty."

In the later miles, when she was sure that she would qualify for Boston, she said that she started to sob, but told herself to cry at the finish line as she was starting to cramp up.

"I had a thought that I could break 3:20," she said. "But I would be happy anyway if I qualified. 

"At mile 26, I passed the 3:20 pace group and heard my mom shouting “You’re going to qualify for Boston.”  I booked it (on in) to the finish line in 3:19:22."

There she found Olympian Meb Kelfezighi's arms to fall into and cried once there.

After the race, Cook had realized a dream that because of the pandemic was slightly delayed -- and that was to run the Boston Marathon, which she did this past October.

Sort of a victory lap of her running to date.

Turning 26 on race day this year, where she'll run Houston for the sixth time, Cook's progression has been nothing short of impressive, including running two faster times the last two years at The Woodlands Marathon.

Devyn's complete marathon history is here:

2016 - Chevron Houston Marathon - 4:47:51
2017 - Chevron Houston Marathon - 4:55:49
2018 - Chevron Houston Marathon - 4:02:17
2019 - Chevron Houston Marathon - 3:43:34
2020 - Chevron Houston Marathon - 3:19:21
2020 - The Woodlands Marathon - 3:13:09
2021 - The Woodlands Marathon - 3:16:56
2021 - Boston Marathon - 4:04:27

That day, she was certainly grateful for all that she experienced and learned, which later in 2020 segued into her receiving her RRCA Coaching certification.

We're all excited to see where the roads lead for Cook in her life - and running life too.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Road to Houston - A Look Back: Yaya Herrera and Laura Godfrey in 2019

We've all been there after a race, regardless of our ability level.  

That nagging question:  "What if?"

The race plan is executed well.

We run strong.

Our coach is pleased.

But we miss a personal best, a time goal, a time standard, such as a BQ, or a benchmark like 3:30.


"The 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon was a good day for our group," said founder Bill Dwyer.  "We'll circle back over the next few days with a few other mentions."

Dwyer called the weather "favorable" but Yaya Herrera remembered that it was a cold morning.

With the exception of some easterly winds, it was perfect racing weather for the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

"I don’t like the cold so when the temperature is low I suffer," she said.  "The waiting time in the starting line is always hard."

She was also a little disheveled because "we got there a little late and just on time to line up in the starting corral".

But even though she said that she never knows how she is going to do, "if my legs feel good I just move" and "that morning (my) legs felt great".

The temperature at the start of the race was a crisp 53 degrees that never got higher than 56 through the duration of the race.

But the winds, which were at nine miles an hour at the start of the race and ticked up to 13 mph by the time Herrera and Laura Godfrey made it on to Allen Parkway, made it seem much cooler.

Godfrey said she remembered taking advantage of the tailwind -- as it it came out of the east or east-northeast the entire day -- in the first half of the race because she "knew the headwinds were going to slow me down coming up Memorial".

Dwyer saw them both - among all of the other Volte athletes - and remembered them "looking to be on a mission at six miles".

Herrera, who started 25 seconds behind Godfrey, caught her at the 10K timing mat.

Herrera was having a great day on the course at the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

"Laura has always been like one of my superheroes:  very strong, determined and a beautiful human being," said Herrera.  "That's why I felt so happy when I caught up with her on the route. 

"She is very familiar with the route and I remember she described to me what was next, I think a hill or something like that.  That talks loud about her beautiful heart."

That day was Godfrey's 7th Houston Marathon, having started in 2012 with a time of 4:38:29 and interrupted just once by the half marathon in 2013.

She said that she also drew strength from Mayra Caamano - who she caught just before - because "as always, (she) told me words of encouragement."

To Dwyer's point, both runners produced their fastest 5K split on the way to the 15K point, which is just after turning west off Main on to University.

Herrera, who was making her Houston Marathon debut, passed through the halfway point in 1:42:43 with Godfrey not far behind in 1:43:57.

Their paces slowed a little getting to the Tanglewood area, but quickened again to the 30K marker - with 7:49 and 7:53 paces - before starting to be exposed to the head winds.

And that's where Herrera remembered - mile 21 - "that it was hard".

Laura Godfrey running strong, like Herrera mentioned earlier.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

But Dwyer said that - even with the headwinds - "at mile 23 (both) were still holding on to PR pacing."

He lauded them for "their focus on the task at hand" being "incredible".

Herrera two years earlier had posted her best at the 2017 Tunnel Light Marathon with a 3:34:02 - her first try at Houston was in January 2018 with a 3:39:32.

Godfrey's, meanwhile, had come a year earlier at Houston with a time of 3:37:59.

She remembered seeing Dwyer and fellow Volte coach Layton Gill on Allen Parkway thinking "I had a chance at making it under 3:30".

And while Herrera wondered post-race with Dwyer that "I should have pushed a little harder for the 11 seconds to break 3:30", it was likely God - even with Herrera saying that she repeated her personal mantra throughout the race of "I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me" - who had the greater say (with the wind) - and perhaps another plan - in the day.

Regardless, both Herrera and Godfrey were rewarded with brand new personal bests of 3:30:10 and 3:31:16, which represented respective improvements of 3 minutes and 52 seconds for Herrera and six minutes and 46 seconds for Godfrey.

Yaya, after finishing her first Ironman in October at Ironman Texas, will be racing her third Chevron Houston Marathon in less than three weeks.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Road To Houston - A Look Back: David Odom and Krista Blevins in 2013

Over the years, Volte has had some prolific training duos - or even, at times, trios.

We see this today with what Nine Volte likes to call the "We three kings of Volte running are" -- Roger and Robert King and Darren Hadden, Paolo Biagi and Tammy Grado and the longest-running duo of our group, Laura Godfrey and Sandra Tezino.

But in the early days of Volte it was Dave (David) Odom and Krista Blevins.

And while most of Volte's runners have always had a high HQ - humility quotient, Dave and Krista's HQ, for their ability level, was off the charts.

"I love Dave," says Volte founder Bill Dwyer, "He is famous in our group for saying stuff like "I really wasn't that fast". He's very humble.

"Krista like Dave is pretty humble about how well she runs."

Dave, who currently lives in Tucson, has a long history in the running community in Houston -- and at the Houston Marathon.

He was second overall in 1978 in 2:23:00, followed it up with a fourth-place finish the year following in 2:19:31 and posted his personal best in 1984 with a 2:17:13.

And, he ran in the 1984 United States Olympic Marathon Trials.

"We had Jeff Wells come speak to our groups several years ago. Dave was there," said Dwyer.  "The first thing Jeff mentioned (after seeing Dave) was telling the group about Dave at UH (Jeff competed for Rice)."

Even when he ran at the Polish Pickle 5K in Bremond many years ago, long-time Terlingua Running club member and race director Ken Yanowski - after seeing Dave had won his age group - provided a short and unexpected bio about Dave to everyone there.

Krista's personal best came - at the age of 32 - in 2002 at the Chicago Marathon with a 3:01:27, but even 10 years later - at the inaugural The Woodlands Marathon - she won the masters division in 3:11:52 that earned her a BQ which she used to run a 3:14:44 the following year in Beantown.

Camille Herron (1st), Krista Blevins (5th), Rebecca Bell (4th) and Allie Scott (2nd) after the inaugural The Woodlands Marathon in The Woodlands' Market Street.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)

But leading up to the 2013 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Dave and Krista ran a lot of training miles together.

On race day, they finished two seconds apart, both taking second place in their respective age groups.  Dave stopped the clock in 1:28:16 while Krista was right there - in 1:28:18.

In the picture below, they were also - two seconds apart - in one of the wettest races in the marathon's history (independent of the 1987 ice storm) making this year's Run Thru The Woods look like a light shower.

Krista Blevins chasing David Odom all through Houston during the 2013 Aramco Houston Half Marathon  (Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

"Dave mentioned after the race that every time he looked back Krista was right there," Dwyer reminisced.  "Two good friends pushing and pulling each other; fun stuff.

"They were a perfect training match in 2012-13 making it fun and memorable to see them two seconds apart that rainy day in Houston."

Friday, December 17, 2021

Volte Runners Aiming for Houston Pass Their Tests at BCS Half Marathon

Somewhere in Sunday's field at the BCS Marathon and Half Marathon, there was a runner whose bib said, "I Love Steph".

It was supposed to be affixed to the shirt of our own Christopher Reed, confessing his undying love for his wife, Stephanie.

However, likely an error in the electronic file that was sent to the bib printer assigned bib names to others as randomly as a spin on "Wheel of Fortune".

And, boy o boy, were there some doozies in the mix-up.

Instead of "I Love Steph", Chris Reed seemed to enjoy the irreverent "Nooner" reference that he wore on his BCS Half Marathon run.

Stephanie was "Camryn Heye" for the day.

Roger and Robert King became "Kelli" and "Christi".  And if those ladies got their bib and were twins, well, they should all buy lottery tickets.

Kyley Hampton struck the "Big Bad Rosie Pose".

Who knew that "Jacob Blankenship" was Kim White's alter ego?

Darren Hadden got handed "Sanders".  Might have been fun to have put a Colonel in front of that with a Sharpie.

And so on it went.

Auggie Campbell was "Geoff".

Robert Cardnell became "Abby", and he ran with such acclaim that he could have moved into a starring role on "Downton Abbey".

Just call Devyn Cook "Daniel".

Randy Harris was "Krista".

Julie Stevenson was the only one that drew a same gender reference with "Celeste".

Buddies Michael Gayle and Scott Haney were "Kathryn" and "Mindy".

And Jane Campbell was just Jane.  

She had a VIP registration.  Guess the race was smart not to comingle those in the same data file.

Faith Craig had nothing, as they issued her bib on Saturday.

It definitely provided for a ton of laughs that likely loosened our folks -- aside from the great summer and fall training -- to eight personal bests and six age group awards on Sunday, December 12.

The day before, though, Kristi Park was the second woman overall in the Santa Dash 10K that was held on The Woodlands Waterway.  She earned the award in a time of 49:32, but because of a quickly approaching soccer match for Rylie she couldn't stay to claim it.

The organizer of the race, B.I.G. Love Cancer Care, actually ended up making the effort and delivering Kristi's award to her during the week.

If there was one person who bemoaned all of the COVID-19 cancellations last year, it was Judith Albarran.

But this year, she and Christopher Branch got caught in a different "Catch 22".

Prior to Tunnel Light, they had signed up for a number of races in the winter and spring.  However, Boston made a September house call to them both in North Bend, Washington.

So, like hell were they cancelling what they had already paid for - and they were off to Dallas this past weekend to run the BMW Dallas Marathon 5K on Saturday, December 11 and the BMW Dallas Marathon on Sunday, December 12.

And both exercised the self discipline to dial it back for their "A" races at the Chevron Houston Marathon in January.

They ran the 5K on Saturday together in 27:28, while Chris finished the marathon in 3:56:02 and Judith had a still impressive 4:05:43 - all from just taking it easy.

Faith Craig was our only marathoner at the BCS Marathon, where she finished in 5:17:03.

Her Dad, Thomas Thomson, finished in 4:50:55 while fellow Volte friend Jonathan Weishuhn did so in 3:45:49.

The main event for us was the BCS Half Marathon with 15 runners.  (Jason Bodie and Stephanie Stevenson were scheduled to run, but were not able to start.)

Robert led us with a strong performance that netted himself a sweet PR!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Robert and Roger King got the hit parade started with first and second place age group finishes of 1:26:28 and 1:27:30, respectively.  Both were new personal bests for the brothers.

The next duo to the finish were Darren Hadden and Robert Cardnell as they rolled through with times of 1:32:28 and 1:35:16.

Robert Cardnell made 1:35 look ridiculously easy.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Cardnell's effort was our third personal best of the morning.

Devin Cook and Jane Campbell both won hardware and set new PR's as they earned first and third place awards with their respective times of 1:36:02 and 1:42:22.

Jane Campbell looking pretty happy as she heads to the BCS Half Marathon finish line.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Kim White was our sixth PR and fifth age group award winner with his first place effort of 1:45-even.

Finishing his tenth consecutive BCS Marathon event (two marathons and eight half marathons) was Randy Harris, who came in from Uvalde.  He finished in 1:49:18.

Which was also the identical time that Julie Stevenson used to record a new personal best -- and finish second in her age group.

Christopher and Stephanie Reed continued their "Run Together" tour from Chicago to College Station and crossed the finish line in 1:50:29.

Kyley Hampton's running has been on fire recently as she bested her previous best half marathon time once again with a time of 1:53:46.

Auggie Campbell, Michael Gayle and Scott Haney rounded out our bunch with Auggie leading with a time of 1:54:17 while Michael and Scott followed in 2:02:04 and 2:05:26, respectively.

A good group of our friends ran the half marathon as well.

Zero Dark Thirty's Brandon Sager was third in his age group in 1:25:48.  He was right behind Robert King just before making the left-hand turn on to George Bush near the 10-mile marker.

Former Volte coach and Aggie grad Adrienne Langelier was fourth overall and first in her age group in 1:28:40.

C. Stephenson Lake was third in her age group in 1:39:14 while Sonia Dhodapkar and Mariela Rodriguez rounded out our friends' performances in 1:49:25 and 2:31:21, respectively.

Volte friend Jon Walk on Saturday ventured down to Houston to take part in the Terry Hershey parkrun 5K #81.  

Much like Run The Woodlands, parkrun is a free, timed race that's run every single Saturday (except this year for Christmas).

You can get a bar code at, which you can used to get a time at any one of 40 parkruns in the US and so many more internationally, if you travel.

It was Jon's sixth time to run at Terry Hershey and it was his eighth different parkrun, which includes The Woodlands Waterway that hasn't returned to operation yet.

Just A Normal Volte Opening Week of December: From 1K to 100 Miles

It's the most wonderful time of the year
Oh, yes, we're still racing
And everyone's running around with good cheer
It's the most wonderful time of the year

You know what they say, "Where's there a runner, there's a race."  

Ok, well, at least two runners.  

Almost like where Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

We seem to even perform better in a group, and with our friends.

Yes, Volte athletes - and friends - are still racing in December, and performing very nicely we might add.

Our folks put on a heck of a show at the Brazos Bend Trail Run in Brazos Bend State Park in Needville on Saturday, December 4 (and for two of the Murillos, Sunday, December 5).

Luis Murillo was first overall at the half marathon distance in 1:36:13.

Holly Benson and her friend from Katy, Heather Ziembo, finished together in the marathon in 4:57:15, where Heather took home the third overall award while Holly was first in her age group.

Well done, ladies, at Brazos Bend Marathon!
(Photo courtesy of Holly Benson)

Two of our longtime Woodlands Fit friends Randy Bradley and Michael Smith competed in the 50-mile race.

Randy was first across the line in 15:29:06 while Michael followed in 16:04:01.

Then, Juan and Jose Murillo topped off the day off in Fort Bend County with a pair of 100-mile finishes, finishing within 20 seconds of each other in 28 hours, 19 minutes and 16 seconds.  

(We'll let you ask them which one finished 20 seconds later officially!)

Going just a little shorter distance was the Park family at the Tavola Reindeer Run in New Caney.

Father and son, Jerritt and Brayden Park, both took home a second place age group award in the 5K with Brayden winning the family competition with a 19-minute flat while Dad posted an impressive 19:56 effort.

Daughter and sister Riley Park grinded out a 7:30 Tavola Reindeer Run 1K that was really more like 2K said Dad.

And Volte friend Dr. John Slate won his age group in the 5K in 24:12.

Professionally, we'd love to offer a shout out to John as he recently chaired the committee of his 100th doctoral student at Sam Houston State University to graduate.

In San Antonio the next morning, Sunday, December 5, Bill and Dana-Sue Crews ran the Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon.

Bill finished in 1:48:48, while Dana-Sue kept it under two in 1:58:35.

One of the success stories of the year was meted out by our friend and former Remission Run committee member Lisa Henthorn.

She worked diligently to train for the half marathon and lost a significant amount of weight and celebrated the birthdays of her sons, Zachary and Tyler.

While Zachary ran to his own half marathon time of 1:36:19, Tyler ran with his Mom the entire way as they finished in 2:59:50.

Our Woodlands Fit friend Mariela Rodriguez stopped the clock somewhere in between with a mark of 2:39:33.

The last running of The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K for 2021 took place on Sunday, December 5, to a small field of five athletes.

Jerritt Park led all runners in 21:42 while Chloe Kramer - having some time off between high school cross country and track seasons - was second overall and the first female in 25:37.

Strong and steady effort from Chloe Kramer, the daughter of our Mayra Caamano.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Our good friends from the Seven Hills Running Club also participated with David Keithley finishing in 26:35 and Ken Johnson doing well in 44:43.  

David's wife, Velvia, also ran with us.

Special thanks to Bill Dwyer for completing his 13th year of producing The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5Ks up to 12 times a year for all of us.  Well done.

Volte friend Jon Walk picked up a Cajun double - back to "racing" after recovering from some left knee issues and a busy high school cross country announcing season - with a 32:59 finish in Dasher Dancer Prancer 5K in Carencro, Louisiana (just north of Lafayette) and a time of 1:07:45 in the Tiger 10K that finished on the field of LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

He drew a pair of courses that were just slightly long - Saturday's race measured 3.23 miles while the last .2 miles on Sunday's race were closer to .4 miles.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Randy Harris' Legacy Results at BCS Marathon and Half Marathon

Congratulations are in order for our Randy Harris as he has completed the marathon or half marathon at every single BCS Marathon event ever held.

Here's a look at Randy's finishes:

2011 - 3:52:08 Marathon - 4 AG - 45-49
2012 - 3:50:49 Marathon - 11 AG - 45-49

2013 - 1:32:07 Half Marathon - 1 AG - 50-54
2014 - 1:37:19 Half Marathon - 6 AG - 50-54
2015 - 1:36:27 Half Marathon - 1 AG - 50-54
2016 - 1:39:04 Half Marathon - 5 AG - 50-54
2017 - 1:44:45 Half Marathon - 10 AG - 50-54

2018 - 1:39:42 Half Marathon - 2 AG - 55-59
2019 - 1:43:19 Half Marathon - 2 AG - 55-59
2020 - Event not held due to COVID-19
2021 - 1:49:18 Half Marathon - 9 AG - 55-59

Well done, Sir!  Thank you for representing Volte with class and excellence.

Jerritt Park's Texas 10 Series Race History (2014-Present)

There have been 58 Texas 10 Series races produced since the Series' inception on November 3, 2012 in Conroe.

Starting with his first race in Boerne in 2014, Jerritt Park has raced in 49 of the 53 races including and since that event.

1:19:27 - Boerne, 3/30
1:22:58 - Huntsville, 4/13
1:15:49 - Fort Worth, 10/12 (3 AG)
1:15:38 - Katy, 11/2
1:11:11 - Conroe, 12/7
** missed Plano, 5/10

1:16:23 - College Station, 2/1 (2 AG)
1:12:34 - Boerne, 3/29
1:15:10 - Plano, 4/19 (2 AG)
1:18:08 - Huntsville, 9/27 (2 AG)
1:04:41 - Fort Worth, 10/11 (1 AG)*
1:16:13 - Katy, 11/1
1:11:03 - Conroe, 12/6 (2 AG)
* Course short

1:17:17 - College Station, 1/31
1:13:03 - Boerne, 4/3 (3 AG)
1:14:49 - Sienna, 4/24
1:27:17 - Huntsville, 9/25
1:11:11 - Cypress, 10/9
1:13:57 - Conroe, 11/6
**Katy cancelled due to weather

1:10:58 - Boerne, 1/19 (2 AG)
1:12:04 - College Station, 3/26 (3 AG)
1:12:30 - Sienna, 4/30
1:23:55 - Huntsville, 9/24
1:17:06 - Cypress, 10/8 (3 AG)
1:19:37 - Katy, 11/5 (3 AG)
1:11:26 - Conroe, 12/3 (3 AG)

1:15:07 - Boerne, 1/28
1:12:58 - College Station, 3/25 (1 AG)
1:14:22 - Sienna, 4/29
1:18:22 - Huntsville, 9/30 (3 AG)
1:15:32 - Cypress, 10/14 (1 AG)
1:15:03 - Katy, 11/4
1:11:20 - Conroe, 12/2

1:15:05 - Bridgeland, 1/13
1:14:50 - College Station, 1/27
1:15:06 - Huntsville, 3/31 (1 AG)

1:17:34 - Cypress, 10/13/19
1:16:09 - Katy, 11/3/19
1:12:24 - Conroe, 12/1/19
1:15:52 - Bridgeland, 1/5/20
1:14:43 - College Station, 1/26/20
** missed Sienna, 9/29/19

1:13:08 - Conroe, 11/29/20
35:12 - Bridgeland (aka Conroe), 2/7/21 (1 AG, 2 OA)
35:23 - Huntsville, 3/28/21 (1 AG)
33:42 - Katy, 4/11/21 (3 AG)
33:11 - Sienna, 4/18/21 (1 AG)
** missed College Station, 1/31/21
** missed Cypress, 4/25/21

1:09:09 - Sienna, 9/26/21 (1 AG)
1:13:46 - Cypress, 10/10/21
1:11:22 - Katy, 11/7/21 (3 AG)
1:12:34 - Conroe, 11/28/21 (2 AG)

It is believed of all of Volte's runners that Jerritt has run the most Texas 10 races than any other.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Volte Shines On Its Home Turf at Texas 10 Conroe

In the Texas 10 Series, Conroe has always been Volte's home turf.

Sure, we typically travel as well as many of the other clubs that frequent the Series on a regular basis, but you can't beat the shorter drives there and to Huntsville.

Well, on the latter, too, to break bread with our good friends from the Seven Hills Running Club.

On this day, Volte did well.

Nineteen runners among the three races.  

Sixteen age group placements, enough glassware to stock the local IHOP.

And eight new personal bests.

We also got to see Volte friend Norman Langwell return to local racing along with his great wife, Tiffany.  

They had both, for many years, been parts of our local running community in the The Woodlands area.

They were two of 19 of our friends who were out racing too on Sunday, November 28.

Luis Murillo became only the second Volte to win a Texas 10 Series 5K - joining eight-time winner Brayden Park - with the fastest time of the 2021-2022 Texas 10 Series, 17:26.  

Brother Juan was third overall and first in his age group with a time of 19:29, the fourth fastest of four races so far in the current Series cycle.

Juan Murillo nice and steady coming in for a third place overall finish in the 5K.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Their father Jose, who is 70, won his age group in 24:44.  Only one other individual 50 or older has run a faster time than Jose this cycle.

Coach Layton Gill took second in his age group in 26:26 while Volte friends Tiffany Langwell and Debbie Tripp finished in 40:14 and 48:16, respectively.  Debbie was second in her age group.

Talk about a fast five mile race - six age group awards and three personal bests.

And three Voltes put times down that were in the best seven so far of the 2021-2022 Texas 10 Series.

Robert King was second overall (first in his age group) in 31:34 with Brayden Park and his brother Roger close behind.

Brayden was third overall in 31:57 - a new personal best for first in his age group, while Roger was five seconds behind in 32:02, good for second place in his division.

Ironman training partners Paolo Biagi and Tammy Grado are going on a hardware run like some high rollers in Vegas here recently.

Paolo ran his fastest five mile time ever while picking up a second place award in 37 minutes even while Tammy was first in hers in 40:37.

Coach Rich Cooper ready to make a break to the right to the 5M finish line.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Coach Rich Cooper scored a new five-mile best time of 44:28 while George Rux, one of his athletes, was first in his division in 49:20.

George Rux's training is paying off; running strong.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Our Volte friends did well too.

Sonia Dhodapkar was first in her age group in 38:39.  Randy Bradley and Alvaro Trejo finished within a minute of each other in 51:14 and 51:53, respectively.

Alvaro's wife Lusi finished in 53:48 while Dianna and Ray Sarno covered the distance in 57:48.  Ray was second in his age group.

Ken Johnson was third in his age group in 1:17:08.

Dianna, Ray and Ken have all run all four 5-milers in the current 2021-2022 Texas 10 Series.

Six age group awards and five personal bests for Volte in the 10-Miler.

Christopher Branch led our group of eight runners with a first place age group - and personal best - time of 1:07:36, while Jerritt Park was second in his age group in 1:12:32.  He has run all four 10-milers in the current Texas 10 Series cycle and has finished in first, second, third and fourth.

Christopher Branch, heading towards the end of the first loop, ended up beating Jesus Moreno (590) by nearly two minutes.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Jason Bodie was the second of our runners with a personal best, running nicely with a mark of 1:15:16 but his age division is a beast where he finished sixth.

Four of the top 40-44 women's times this Series were run at Conroe, led by our Mayra Caamano and Judith Albarran, where they went first and second in the division (and they are the third and fourth best times of the current Series).

Judith Albarran wrapping up the first five-mile loop; was down 23 seconds before closing it to seven seconds for second place in her division.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Mayra had her fourth straight Texas 10 Series time in the 1:17 minute, including the last three races of last year's Series, and won the division in 1:17:19 with Judith seven seconds behind with a brand new personal best of 1:17:26.

Caamano has run 17 Texas 10 Series races dating back to 2013 and has never finished out of the top three.

11/28/21 - 1:17:21 - Conroe - 1 (7 OA)
04/18/21 - 1:17:18 - Sienna - 2 (9 OA)
04/11/21 - 1:17:07 - Katy - 1
03/28/21 - 1:17:14 - Huntsville - 1 (8 OA)
01/31/21 - 1:18:34 - College Station - 3
11/29/20 - 1:15:37 - Conroe - 3
12/01/19 - 1:12:56 - Conroe - 1 (4 OA)
12/02/18 - 1:15:07 - Conroe - 2 
12/06/15 - 1:12:57 - Conroe - 1 (6 OA)
12/07/14 - 1:16:17 - Conroe - 2 (6 OA)
11/02/14 - 1:15:43 - Katy - 1 (6 OA)
10/12/14 - 1:16:13 - Fort Worth - 2 (4 OA)
05/10/14 - 1:21:50 - Plano - 2 (6 OA)
04/13/14 - 1:17:06 - Huntsville - 1 (7 OA)
12/07/13 - 1:14:41 - Conroe - 2 (5 OA)
09/29/13 - 1:15:32 - Katy - 1 (6 OA)
04/06/13 - 1:17:17 - Huntsville - 2 (4 OA)

Sources:  Texas 10 Series,,

Rob Gay has run all four Texas 10 Series races this cycle, but grabbed his first age group placement of the season with a third place time of 1:20:04

A pair of personal bests were in order for Kyley Hampton and Sue Griffis.

Kyley Hampton leading a local legend in James Griffis into the finish.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Kyley's 1:25:44 was one spot off of the podium, which she made the last race at Katy, while Sue was third in her division in 1:34:44.

Volte friends Lu Buoanga and Mark Amann both cracked an hour as they finished second and third overall - behind winner Oscar Garcia - in times of 56:25 and 57 minutes even.

Lu Buoanga has now finished first and second in the last two Texas 10 Series races.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Rip Reynolds was first in his age group in 1:09:15.

Terrence Baptiste finished a place in front of Bodie in their men's 50-54 division with a time of 1:12:39.

John Slate and James Griffis were second and third, respectively, in theirs with times of 1:24:33 and 1:26:07.

Judy Selfridge finished in 1:31:48 while Erin and Jimmie Gowton got their fourth straight Texas 10 finish of the current Series with marks of 1:34:44 and 1:44:43, respectively.

And Norman Langwell made his Texas 10 Series debut in 1:51:30, which may have been his first race in nearly 13 years.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Volte Sees Great Groups of Runners for Turkey Day Races

"Over the river and through the woods to ...."

Oops, wrong holiday.

Or was it?

Who knew that three-mile and five-mile participants of the 32nd annual Run Thru The Woods in The Woodlands on Thanksgiving Day were going to have to run through standing water on the roads that felt like running "over the river" to Grandma's house.

While we had 27 Volte athletes and 16 friends get in two-thirds of a triathlon, we did also have some friends and Voltes that ran elsewhere on Thanksgiving Day.

Darren Hadden and his daughter Brooke ran in the Fleet Feet Turkey Day 8K in Ridgeland, Mississippi, just north of Jackson.

Dad grabbed second place in his age group with a 32:04 effort while Brooke set a PR - first time at the distance - with a mark of 49:57.

Moving west, Volte friend Terence Baptiste scored a time of 36:59 in the 112th New Orleans Athletic Club Turkey Day Race 5-Miler in New Orleans.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Volte friend George Orebe ran to a time of 22:24 in the Plano Turkey Trot 5K.

And, then, down in the Valley, Yaya Herrera, in her first race since Ironman Texas, was the third overall woman, in 47:10, in the Turkey Trot 10K in Mission.

Yaya all smiles with her third overall effort!
(Photo courtesy of Yaya Herrera)

Jerritt and Kristi Park's daughter, Riley, was the only Volte athlete who got to run rain free at Run Thru The Woods as she was second in her age group with a 7:40 one-mile that started and finished before the downpours started.

In the three-mile race, Erika Sampson led us with a first place age group time of 21:59.  

Erika Sampson gets an assist from Mother Nature to her 7:20 pace for an AG win!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Isaac Rodriguez just barely finished in a faster time than Jason Bodie and his son, Theodore.  Isaac crossed in 23:41, while the father-and-son team followed three seconds later by chip time.

Rebecca Coates posted a time of 31:27 while Debra Myers and Llana Bingham ran the race together and finished in 33:28.

And in the father-daughter division, Gilbert Grado ran with his and Tammy's daughter Cassidy in a time of 44:40.

Father-daughter combination, Gilbert and Cassidy Grado look totally unbothered by the rain!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

A good group of friends also participated in the three mile, including The Woodlands High School freshman Stoya Laydevant, who was second overall in 18:29; Wil and Lauren Cole, who ran together in 27:37; Strike Force Racing's Greg and Gena Alvarez with times of 28:48 and 30:44, and Galloway The Woodlands' Molly Field-Stout and Debbie Tripp, who completed the course together in 49:29.

Seventeen (17) runners ran the marquee five-mile race and eight of our Voltes bragged at lunchtime dinner tables about their age group awards!

They wouldn't brag, would they?  :-)

Where there's a race, there's a Murillo, right?

Luis and Juan led the way with first-place age group awards with times of 29:54 and 34:03, respectively.  Jerritt Park and Christopher Branch were not too far back of Juan with first and third place age group placements of their own on efforts of 34:41 and 34:45, respectively.

You might have though that Brayden took it easy on Dad after beating him on Saturday on the cross country course when you see his posted time of 36:40, but there's a story.

He managed to take a wrong turn, following a runner that was not in the race when the rain was very heavy), and by the time he realized it and got back on track he added about a half mile to the run.

Paolo Biagi, after a blazing first mile trying to ride on former Rice Owl Connor Meaux's coattails, settled in for a five-mile best time of 38:10.

Finishing slightly under eight minutes a mile was Judith Albarran with a time of 39:30 while Jose Murillo was slightly over, capturing first place in his 70-74 age group in 40:47.

Tammy Grado took third place in her age group with a 42:34 mark, while daughter and father Michaela and Mike Csikos ran together in 45:57 and coaches Layton Gill and Rich Cooper finished in 47:06 and 47:52, respectively.

Dan Jordan and Susan Rouse finished a minute apart in 48:02 and 49:12, respectively, but Susan took third in her division.

After singing the National Anthem before the race, Waverly Walk finished in 52:33 and our group's effort was rounded out by Taylor Grado, who finished her first five-miler in 1:00:07, and Geri Henry, who was second in her age group with a time of 1:05:41.

Our friends ran well in the rain too, including four age group placements.

Patrick Wills and Rip Reynolds went first in their age groups in 30:33 and 33:39, respectively.  John Slate and James Griffis followed with second and third place winnings of their own with times within a minute of each other, 43:13 and 43:39.

Christina Gray and Jill Tresaugue, kind of like soccer, finished in the 45th minute, Cristina at the 45-minute even mark while Jill was just 51 seconds behind.

Volte friend Jill Tresaugue is smiling in the downpour. 
First time we may have gotten a picture of Jill on the Volte blog.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Vincent Attanucci came in in 48:13, while Erika Lawton and Mariela Rodriguez closed the books on all of our friends' finishes with times of 52:46 and 54:42, respectively.

The following two days, the last two races of the Montgomery County Triple, created back in 2006 by Bill Dwyer, Jon Walk and Rick Cook, were contested.

Bill and Jon - more Bill some years - produce the Friends of the Running Community 5K and sometimes a second version on Saturday when Run The Woodlands doesn't fall on the fourth Saturday in November.  (In some years, it has been on the fifth Saturday.)

Friends of the Running Community 5K
Friday, November 26, The Woodlands, TX
Jerritt Park – 21:31, Christopher Branch – 23:21, Jason Bodie – 23:37, Layton Gill – 29:08, Rich Cooper – 30:52, Tammy Grado – 31:56, Paolo Biagi – 31:56

Friends: John Slate – 28:19, Jon Walk – 46:52, Ken Johnson – 46:55

Tim Russell and Rob Myers.  We think they've run more than a few miles together.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Run The Woodlands 5K
Saturday, November 27, The Woodlands, TX
Brayden Park – 20:41, Jerritt Park – 21:02, Christopher Branch – 23:48, Jason Bodie – 24:22, Cara Branch – 31:55, Rich Cooper – 30:11, Tim Russell – 30:24, Rob Myers – 30:24, Tammy Grado – 32:28, Layton Gill – 32:28, Paolo Biagi – 32:28

Friends: John Slate – 27:54, Nita Shinde – 28:58

Nine Volte would have said, "Don't let your Dad beat you!" to Brayden Park
(Photo courtesy of Bil Dwyer)

This year's Montgomery County Triple finishers are Jerritt Park, Christopher Branch, Jason Bodie, Layton Gill, Rich Cooper, Tammy Grado, Paolo Biagi, John Slate and Ken Johnson.

Thank you for helping to keep a longstanding Thanksgiving weekend tradition alive.

Volte Ran Before Turkey Day Cometh

Even though the number of races dwindles on the weekend before Thanksgiving, leave it to some of our Voltes and friends to find places to either get out and run or kick the tires on their distance training.

Jerritt and Brayden Park and Volte friend Mark Amann kicked off Saturday, November 20 racing in the Nike Cross Regional South Community Run 5K, which was part of the NXR South Regional held at Bear Branch Sports Park.

Their race was even webcast across the Internet!

But former The Woodlands High School harrier and current University of Arkansas-Little Rock sophomore Spencer Cardinal got most of the attention with a commanding, decisive overall win.

Brayden covered the distance for the first time at Bear Branch - after many middle school races for McCullough Junior High - in 18:46.  

He'll step up to the distance in high school competition next fall for The Woodlands.

In a field with other post-collegians, Jerritt, who ran for Slippery Rock University, did well with a time of 20:21.

Volte friend Mark Amann, who lettered a year for Sam Houston State University, was third overall in 17:02.

On an eat, drink and be merry Saturday, we had three participate in the Great Houston Pie Run, just inside the loop in Houston.

Happy for running and pie both!  Great job at the Great Houston Pie Run!
(Photo courtesy of Mike Kuykendall)

Christopher Branch was the first overall master in the 10K in 42:39 while Judith Albarran was the third overall female with a nice time of 46:27.

Christopher Branch working on more "V" salutes than Mork!  Wait, that was a double V!  :-)
(Photo courtesy of Mike Kuykendall)

This is what third place overall looks like!  Great job Judith Albarran!
(Photo courtesy of Mike Kuykendall)

Mike Kuykendall got more than a post-race pie as a treat as he continues to steadily come back from an injury recording a 5K mark of 32:39 to grab second in his age group.

The drink part of the equation came in Shiner as Volte friends Erin and Jimmie Gowton took part in the 10th annual Shiner Beer Run.

The event, which now features a marathon to go with its original half marathon, 10K and 5K, saw the couple running in the 10K which Erin finished in 54:24 and Jimmie in 1:00:54.

And the merry came at the City of Conroe Turkey Trot 5K, one of the original races at the start of the Montgomery County Triple in 2006, when Volte friends John Slate and Ken Johnson both left Carl Barton, Jr. Park with first place age group awards.

John won his division in 24:57 while Ken took his in 45:18.

On Sunday, Sunday 21, the Murillo family ruled the HMSA Classical 5K in downtown Houston.

Gus took first overall in 18:20 while Juan and Luis ran together in 19:57 where they both won first place in their respective age groups.  Their father, Jose, was first in his division in 24:13.

Volte friends Kahn Grice and Sabina Lorca ran in the La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon.

Kahn was third in his division in 1:44:04 while Sabina pounded out an 8:24 per mile pace for a time of 1:50:09.