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.

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