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

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