Saturday, December 20, 2014

Houston 12K's of Christmas Race Report

When you pay full rate for a race (more on that later), you expect certain things.

Or at least the things that I strive to deliver working as part of an event production team.

They are what Pete Magill wrote about in Running Times about an earlier time in the sport of running.

They are:  1.) start a race on-time, 2.) make sure the course distance is accurate and 3.) get the results right.

So how did the 12K's of Christmas, produced by RA Sports Management, do this morning, according to that standard?

The 12K race, set for 7:45 a.m., started five minutes late.

(Not that big of a deal to me this morning, but annoying as I hate being in a situation - as a race announcer - when I have to communicate a delay.  And there are many things that can impact a start, especially out on the course that is out of an event producer's control.)

Course distance?  Who knows for sure.  Should have checked, but it is not a certified course (as I just glanced at the USATF web site).

The mile markers were definitely whacked.  The first two seemed spot on as well as the 5K, but the mile 4 marker was long as well as mile 5.  Miles 6 and 7?  They didn't exist.

If two loops - or two out-and-backs - equal 12K, that means it is 3K out, 3K back and so on.  So the 8K or 5-mile marker should have been before the turn around, right?  It wasn't.

My watch shows that Waverly and I did the last 4K in 20:38.  No way.

Results?  I don't know yet, but I keep my time on my watch.  Therefore, if the timer matches, then it is a good day.

And I think it did.

For those unfamiliar with this race (I was until this year), this is a double-and-out and back on Memorial Drive from the Wortham Center to approximately Spotts Park.

We were a ways back in the corral.

We came over to the start line at about 7:35 p.m. -- 10 minutes before the scheduled start.

You really couldn't hear pre-race announcements.

We could tell that there was an invocation.

After a few minutes pause and without an introduction that you could hear, the National Anthem was sung -- the loudest voice of them all.

We were 24 seconds from crossing the start line (24.61).

Here were our splits and this is how I could tell that the mile markers were totally whacked.

Mile 1 -- 10:28.29
Mile 2 -- 10:18.09  (Thought these were spot on)
5K -- 11:03.05 (As well as this one as this was before the turnaround)
Mile 4 -- 11:34.62
Mile 5 -- 10:08.21
Last 2.5? -- 20:38.71

Total time -- 1:14:30.97 less 24.61 offset = 1:14:06.36

Gary had Waverly's gun time at 1:14:34.9 and chip time at 1:14:11.3 and mine at 1:14:33.1 and 1:14:10.0.

We raced well, I think.  If the distance was correct (which I open to thinking that it could have been off), then we ran just under 10 minutes a mile.  1:14:11 is 9:57 per mile for 12 kilometers.

We practiced a little bit with me leading because at Kingwood on New Year's Day, the trails will be such that you really shouldn't be running side-by-side.

So some of this is just event production pickiness -- some of which that I should just shut off.

However, when I spent $50 for an entry -- the day before the event producer starts using an $8 (per entry) off code, I think it is reasonable to expect to get the race portion of it spot-on (as I honestly don't partake in nor care about the "event" part of things).

Did I have some post-race food?  Yes.  We both grabbed a bottle of water at the finish line (plenty of smiling and friendly volunteers), a bagel and the one bakery place was loading up stuff as much as they could get into people's hands.

This, of course, is a sign that more runners were expected.

I'm guessing that the Santa Hustle race in Galveston tomorrow, which is put on by a Chicago-based firm (and was seeking volunteers one year without disclosing that they were a for-profit entity), snagged some runners.  Only know if results are compared from year-to-year.

Bartendeex Oropeza said that there were many more at this race last year and he was right.

Last year, the event had 702 timed finishers in the 12K and another 116 in the 6K.

This year, the numbers were 349 in the 12K (with an additional 22 DQ's - assuming a single loop only) and 81 in the 6K.

Great to see Walt and Lisa Yarrow, Greg Witherow, Sean Robertson and Kevin Lang out there.  The latter two run a lot of Robby Sabban's races.  Kevin - from League City - does a ton of half marathons.  Also had a great conversation with Suzy Seeley post-race too.

She's always been so excited about Waverly and was sharing with us about being a grandmother for the first time.

Great stuff.

We also talked to a few Cypress Running Club members and thanked them for their participation in the Texas 10 Series.

And, of course, the official race photographer:  RaceShots.Net and three quarters of the Phegley family.  (There will be a picture of me mimicking Ben Harvie running behind Roger Boak).

Overall, Graham Schooley and Lauren Smith do a great job.

These are fixable things that I mentioned above, but they're important.

Graham and I had a chance to talk at length at The Woodlands Marathon Expo after a little bit of some engaging conversation about participants and finishers.

The only thing that "maybe" was missing today (and it can be dependent upon the number of available volunteers) was a smaller water stop in the middle of the course -- equidistant from the start and the turnaround.

And I'm glad that I didn't run fast because the leaders had to run through the crowd on the second loop.  Yet that's knowledgeable when you sign up for a race with that kind of course.

Otherwise ... a great morning.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kinsel Ford 2-Mile All-Time Top 20 Times


11:38 - Mark Segura, Bridge City, 2013, 1st overall
12:09 - Ramiro Sanchez, Beaumont, 2014, 1st overall
13:24 - Ramiro Sanchez, Beaumont, 2012, 1st overall
14:29 - Lionel Brigg, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd overall
14:54 - Nathan Vincent, Beaumont, 2013, 3rd overall
15:00 - Jonathan Stogner, 2014, 2nd overall
15:29 - Anthony Maybit, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 15-19
15:57 - Joshua Stogner, 2014, 3rd overall
16:01 - Landen Die, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 11-19
16:02 - Tyler Spikes, Groves, 2013, 1st 20-24
16:08 - Jonathan Snipes, Bridge City, 2012, 2nd overall
16:18 - Corey Richard, Port Arthur, 2014, 1st 11-14
17:03 - Gus Becker, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 25-29
17:15 - Abel Chapa, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 1-10
17:19 - Roberto Diaz, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 35-39
17:25 - Keenan De La O, Bridge City, 2013, 2nd 1-10
17:44 - Jackson Gibbs, Port Arthur, 2014, 1st 1-10
17:49 - Larry Chatagnier, Groves, 2013, 1st 40-44
17:51 - Zachary Ramer, Lafayette, LA, 2013, 2nd 11-19
17:53 - Hoa Luu, Port Arthur, 2014, 2nd 1-10


13:44 - Christina Segura, Bridge City, 2013, 1st overall
15:54 - Amber Olesky, Port Neches, 2014, 1st overall
15:58 - Kristen Hoffpauir, Beaumont, 2014, 2nd overall
16:30 - Brittney O'pry, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd overall
16:38 - Teri Wilson, Port Neches, 2013, 3rd overall
17:14 - Taryn Chatagnier, Groves, 2014, 3rd overall
17:18 - Victoria Gonzalez, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 1-10
17:48 - Taryn Chatagnier, Groves, 2013, 2nd 1-10
17:52 - Evelyn Hilario, Port Arthur, 2014, 1st 1-10
18:10 - Brittany Clanan, Port Arthur, 2014, 1st 11-14
18:11 - Monica Brannen, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 50-54
18:12 - Keli Hendon, Lumberton, 2014, 1st 25-29
19:21 - Alyssa Ybarra, Beaumont, 2014, 2nd 11-14
19:34 - Evelyn Hilario, Port Arthur, 2013, 3rd 1-10
19:43 - Anna Oxner, Port Arthur, 2013, 1st 15-19
19:52 - Kayleigh Ritchey, Groves, 2014, 3rd 11-14
19:54 - Brooke Denison, Lumberton, 2013, 4th 1-10
20:08 - Molly Lahaye, Grapevine, 2013, 1st 45-49
20:48 - Gale Daigle, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 50-54
21:06 - Camryn Carreon, 2014, 4th 11-14

The Kinsel Ford 2-Miler is part of the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon in Port Arthur, Texas, which is produced by the Sports Society for American Health.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon All-Time Top 20 Times


1:17:12 - Ryan Kelly, Bridge City, 2013, 1st overall
1:23:38 - Brian Clark, Orange, 2014, 1st overall
1:23:41 - Elijah Allen, Houston, 2013, 2nd overall
1:23:43 - Iram Leon, Austin, 2013, 3rd overall
1:25:53 - Joe Melanson, Orange, 2013, 1st 55-59
1:26:06 - Daniel Villarreal, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 25-29
1:26:49 - Dan Smith, Sulphur, LA, 2014, 2nd overall
1:28:11 - Geoff Landry, Lake Charles, LA, 2014, 3rd overall
1:29:06 - Jonathan Owens, Beaumont, 2012, 1st overall
1:29:24 - Harrison Fowler, Beaumont, 2014, 1st 15-19
1:29:52 - Dezrick McDowell, Beaumont, 2014, 2nd 15-19
1:29:54 - Daniel Villarreal, Beaumont, 2014, 1st 30-34
1:30:45 - Joe Melanson, Orange, 2012, 2nd overall
1:31:44 - Michael Sanchez, Port Neches, 2013, 1st 30-34
1:32:12 - Nicholas Marcotte, Bridge City, 2013, 1st 15-19
1:32:29 - Sam Steffen, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd 25-29
1:32:35 - Laurin Dugas, Lafayette, LA, 2013, 1st 35-39
1:33:11 - Chris McDermand, Nome, 2012, 3rd overall
1:34:15 - Williard Hochstrasser, Groves, 2013, 1st 40-44
1:35:13 - Jeremiah Brammer, Lumberton, 2014, 1st 40-44


1:26:02 - Stephanie Bonk, Pittsburgh, PA, 2013, 1st overall
1:31:26 - Angela Laborde, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd overall
1:34:39 - Nora-Beth Saunders, Beaumont, 2013, 3rd overall
1:35:07 - Kate Gurfein, Austin, 2013, 1st 30-34
1:40:36 - Vicky Moye, Baytown, 2012, 1st overall
1:45:07 - Christie Johnsen, Silsbee, 2013, 1st 40-44
1:47:37 - Jane Angel, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 45-49
1:48:30 - Christie Johnsen, Silsbee, 2014, 1st overall
1:48:39 - Pam Guidry, Bridge City, 2014, 2nd overall
1:48:52 - Michelle Wier, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 25-29
1:48:54 - Ivonne Landon, Montgomery, 2012, 2nd overall
1:48:57 - Susan Taylor, Eire, CO, 2013, 1st 35-39
1:49:05 - Victoria Dai, Beaumont, 2014, 3rd overall
1:49:24 - Jennifer White, League City, 2012, 3rd overall
1:49:33 - Kellie Fowler, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd 40-44
1:49:40 - Nichola Gerland, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd 35-39
1:49:51 - Dana Andrae, Austin, 2012, 1st 40-44
1:50:24 - Rachel Babson, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd 25-29
1:50:30 - Haley Spell, Nederland, 2012, 1st 30-34
1:52:30 - Nichola Gerland, Beaumont, 2012, 1st 35-39

The Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon in Port Arthur, Texas is produced by the Sports Society for American Health

Moore For Kids 10K All-Time Top 20 Times


35:32 - David Tate, Taylor Lake Village, 2013, 1st overall
35:41 - Julian Perez, Beaumont, 2014, 1st overall
37:06 - Iram Leon, Austin, 2014, 2nd overall
38:51 - Dustin McAlpine, Nederland, 2014, 3rd overall
40:06 - David Tate, Taylor Lake Village, 2012, 1st overall
40:22 - Justin Gibbons, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd overall
41:47 - Jonatan Sevilla, Port Arthur, 2013, 3rd overall
41:50 - Ramiro Sanchez, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 25-29
41:50 - James Urban, Beaumont, 2014, 1st 20-24
42:13 - Mark Montebello, Lumberton, 2013, 2nd 25-29
42:43 - Jonatan Sevilla, Port Arthur, 2014, 1st 25-29
42:50 - Williard Hochstrasser, Port Neches, 2014, 1st 40-44
42:52 - Brian Bauer, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 45-49
42:57 - Stephen O'Neil, Beaumont, 2012, 2nd overall
43:24 - Stephen O'Neil, Beaumont, 2014, 1st 50-54
43:25 - Mark Segura, Bridge City, 2014, 1st 30-34
43:41 - Eric Laing, Beaumont, 2014, 1st 35-39
43:46 - Jeremy Franks, Vidor, 2014, 2nd 30-34
43:47 - John Myers, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 20-24
44:13 - Brian Franklin, Port Arthur, 2013, 3rd 25-29


46:38 - Christina Segura, Bridge City, 2014, 1st overall
46:57 - Megan Wilkinson, Lumberton, 2013, 1st overall
47:24 - Kara Louvier, Nederland, 2013, 2nd overall
47:51 - Sarah Wion, Orange, 2013, 3rd overall
48:18 - Kristin Gilley, Liberty, 2013, 1st 35-39
49:29 - Kellie Fowler, Beaumont, 2014, 2nd overall
49:36 - Melanie Holland, Nome, 2013, 1st 50-54
49:45 - Maria Jaimes, Galveston, 2014, 3rd overall
49:53 - Colleen Bauer, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 20-24
50:00 - Bonnie Landry, Beaumont, 2013, 1st 30-34
50:41 - Hailey Stogner, Vidor, 2013, 1st 15-19
51:00 - Ana Christensen, Beaumont, 2014, 1st 50-54
51:40 - Melanie Aldrich Holland, Nome, 2014, 2nd 50-54
51:46 - Bonnie Landry, Beaumont, 2012, 1st overall
52:11 - Kacy Ellis, Silsbee, 2013, 1st 25-29
52:16 - Fay Guillory, Beaumont, 2012, 2nd overall
53:23 - Melanie Holland, Nome, 2012, 3rd overall
53:37 - Jennifer Glover, Vidor, 2014, 3rd 50-54
53:45 - Marsha Reed, Silsbee, 2014, 1st 40-44
53:46 - Catherine Wu, Beaumont, 2013, 2nd 20-24

The Moore For Kids 10K is part of the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon in Port Arthur, Texas, which is produced by the Sports Society for American Health.

Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon, 10K and 2-Mile Legacy Runners

- A -
Abel, Iva, Lumberton, 2012-2014 (10K)
Aldrich-Holland, Melanie, Nome, 2012-2014 (10K)
Alexander, Scott, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (Half)

- B -
Barry, Rick, Nederland, 2012-2014 (Half)
Bean, Cody, Beaumont, 2012 (Half), 2013 (10K), 2014 (Half)
Benson, Tracy, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (10K)
Bowling, Richard, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (Half)
Brack, John, Beaumont, 2012 (10K), 2013 (Half), 2014 (10K)
Brough, Theresa, Nederland, 2012 (Half), 2013 (10K), 2014 (Half)
Burris, Dawn, Beaumont, 2012 (10K), 2013 (2M), 2014 (Half)

- C -
Carlson, Julie, Lafayette, LA, 2012-2013 (Half), 2014 (10K)
Carlson, Randy, Lafayette, LA, 2012-2013 (Half), 2014 (2M)
Chambers, Lisa, Beaumont, 2012 (10K), 2013-2014 (Half)
Chatagnier, Taryn, Groves, 2012-2014 (2M)
Christensen, Ana, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (10K)
Christensen, Eric, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (10K)
Conley, Angie, Port Arthur, 2012 (Half), 2013 (2M), 2014 (10K)

- D -
Decuir, Judy, Nederland, 2012-2014 (10K)
Die, Jr., David, Nederland, 2012-2014 (10K)

- F -
Fowler, Kellie, Beaumont, 2012-2013 (Half), 2014 (10K)

- G -
Gillis, Angela, Beaumont, 2012-2013 (Half)
Gilman, Karen, Beaumont, 2012 (10K), 2013 (Half), 2014 (10K)
Granger, Daryl, Orange, 2012 (10K), 2013 (Half), 2014 (10K)
Grant, Beulah, Kountze, 2012-2014 (10K)

- H -
Haynes, Brian, Groves, 2012-2014 (Half)
Hochstrasser, Williard, Port Neches, 2012 (10K), 2013 (Half), 2014 (10K)
Howlett, Buddy, Vidor, 2012-2014 (10K)
Hudson, Keshia, Port Arthur, 2012-2014 (10K)

- I -
Ingram, Greg, Nedeerland, 2012-2014 (10K)
Istre, Jeannie, Orange, 2012 (Half), 2013-2014 (10K)

- J -
Johnsen, Christie, Silsbee, 2012-2014 (Half)
Johnson, Craig, Port Arthur, 2012-2014 (10K)
Johnson, Michelle, Bridge City, 2012-2014 (10K)
Jones, Morgan, Port Neches, 2012-2014 (Half)
Jordan, Mattie, Groves, 2012-2014 (10K)

- L -
Lieby, Aimee, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (10K)

- M -
Mauldin, Luke, Nederland, 2012 (10K), 2013-2014 (Half)
McMullen, Robert, Port Arthur, 2012-2014 (10K)
McWherter, Melinda, Vidor, 2012-2014 (10K)
Miles, Lindsay, Houston, 2012 (Half), 2013 (10K), 2014 (Half)

- R -
Russell, Cary, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (Half)

- S -
Sanchez, Ramiro, Beaumont, 2012 (2M), 2013 (10K), 2014 (2M)
Sevilla, Jonatan, Port Arthur, 2012 (Half), 2013-2014 (10K)
Stogner, Tara, Vidor, 2012-2014 (Half)
Sykes, Damien, Beaumont, 2012 (10K), 2013-2014 (Half)
Sykes, Jesica, Beaumont, 2012-2014 (Half)

- T -
Thigpen, Van, Port Neches, 2012 (Half), 2013-2014 (10K)
Tippett, Jennifer, Orange, 2012 (Half), 2013-2014 (10K)

- W -
Wilson, Pat, Nederland, 2012-2013 (10K), 2014 (Half)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I May Be Slow ...

... but I can honestly say that the only material thing that I've ever run for was to get the sweatshirt that the then-hp Houston Marathon was gave away as a finishing item.

I think I was running the 2004 Bridgefest 5K in Kingwood when I saw the finishing sweatshirt - tells you in 10 years how "old school" I am -- for the race a few weeks before.

Mind you, I had finished my second half, but I wanted to wear that accomplishment.

Just the same when I was seeking a training race for my first half marathon in November 2003 and Seven Hills Running Club's Ken Johnson told me via e-mail that if I didn't think that I could finish their half in a certain time that I shouldn't run it.

I wanted to prove Ken wrong -- and I did.  (But, I should note that, we're very good friends today.)

So what drives me to the point of writing?

I'm an administrator on The Woodlands Marathon's Facebook page as its media relations coordinator.  Therefore, with notifications on, I get e-mailed on most messages and comments.

I wasn't able to be at last night's Course and Medal Review at Fleet Feet Sports in Shenandoah, but there was one comment that drove me to here.

It was, "The half finisher medals were very disappointing".

The individual is registered for the half marathon.  I have a copy of the database (so I could format some data so Willie could wish everybody registered to date Happy Birthday in the Constant Contact mailing.)

I'd almost like to give the person their money back out of my own pocket.

Is that we run for today?

Medals and material things are the most important?

If they are, that's such a shame that you have to rest your laurels on those.

There's so much more to our sport -- sport(s) for my multisport friends.

I really felt bad for Willie - as well as anybody associated in producing the Marathon - because apparently for this one person ... it is all about the bling.

Nothing anybody  else does -- seemingly (and a bit tongue in cheek too) -- really seems to matter.

I have a race to announce Sunday -- and a bridge to cross there myself.

We had a challenge with our shuttle bus strategy at the Toughest 10K Galveston a couple of weeks ago.

We believed that we had enough vehicles to transport runners, but because of a long light - and one other issue, they weren't able to make the return trips as fast as we anticipated.

One runner who is participating in the three-race Series posted in a comment on Facebook -- after we profusely apologized (including walking through a return line to board a bus back to the parking lot and looking this individual right in the eye and saying that we would get it taken care of) -- that it was a "total failure".

All I would say is that total would mean that we were negligent in all things.

That simply wasn't the case.

However, on the Facebook page of the last race of the Series, here they were -- shortly after the "total failure" comment -- posting pictures that they are a "bling whore" and couldn't wait for the next race.


They'll be running on Sunday -- in another Series that I announce for.

I've declined to announce a race because of people participating before.  (I rarely see two of the people and by happenstance bumped into the third a month ago.)

It won't happen on Sunday nor in two weeks, but it is people like this who - and they don't realize it -- are an encouragement to me to do something else with my time.

I love what I get a chance to do.  I take great pride in it.

As you've seen me say many times, my job is make sure people have the information they need on race morning, that we get people lined up and get the race started on-time -- and it is done professionally.

Everything else is gravy -- well, and edification of the participant's performance that day.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ironman World Championship Well-Wishes

On Saturday, some 2,200 Ironman athletes will enter the water just off the pier in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii to compete in the Ironman World Championship.

Through some crazy events over the last ten years, I'll actually know many of those competing -- and some that are there to offer moral support too.

I can only count one professional (that will be competing) as a Facebook friend -- Pennsylvanian Kim Schwabenbauer.  Proud that she'll not only be representing the Commonwealth, but also Penn State.

Corpus Christi's Ed Cheatham will be there as a race official with his wife, Candy.

Competing in the men's 50-54 age group will be Finish Strong Sports and Conroe Triathletes' Kent Morris.  There's not too many classier - and humble - gentlemen around than Kent.  So glad to see him get this opportunity.

In the men's 45-49 division is Houston's Greg Colvin.  I met the former James Madison defensive lineman for the first time on the plane home from Ironman Lake Placid in July 2010.  It was the very first Ironman that I ever covered.

Houston's Matthew Chauvin and The Woodlands' Michael Young are both in the 40-44 age group.

Both Greg and Matthew I've gotten to know through my friendship with Walt and Lisa Yarrow.

This is Michael's second straight trip to the World Championship.  He and a triathlete from Japan are the only two to win lottery spots the last two years.

Not sure about the other guy, but of course, Michael wouldn't be disappointed if good fortune came his way a third time.

The final lottery spot from the area went to Spring's Eric Fontaine, who has done somewhere between 15 and 20 Ironmans.

He just had some very recent surgery - having read a post on OutRival Racing's wall -- but he'll figure out a way to make it across the finish line.

Then in the women's 45-49 division, there are two women that I hope finish in the top 10 and it wouldn't disappoint if they went 1-2.

Those two talented ladies are The Woodlands' Karen Ponette-Maldonado and Peggy Yetman, who now calls Fort McMurry, Alberta, Canada.

Peggy has finished on the podium three times at Kona in the 40-45 age division -- one each at first, second and third.

Karen has the fastest time of all qualifiers in their division with her 9:45 at Ironman Cozumel.

Peggy made it to Kona by winning her age group at Ironman New Zealand early this year.

Other than families, there are friends and others that I know who are there from The Woodlands to cheer these great athletes on, including Greg and Maureen Gibbons, Balazs Csoke and Tim Floyd.

One of these days, I'll make it out there to cover the last of the three endurance granddaddy races - having been already to the Boston Marathon and the Western States 100 before.

Best wishes to all tomorrow!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall 2014 Race Announcing Schedule

A lot of people will ask me "Are you announcing such-and-such race?" or "What's coming up next for you?"  Honestly, I'm glad - and flattered - that people care.

I was pretty busy this past spring and the fall is shaping up to be much of the same.

I'm very thankful that I get to do what I do to in helping race directors communicate effectively, get events started on-time and orderly and celebrating athlete's achievements at the finish line and - in some cases - during post-race awards.

Two new things that I'll get to do this fall are to announce 1.) an out-of-state race [Florida10 Lakeland] and 2.) a Marathon Warm-Up Series race [the Finish Line Sports Sugar Land 30K].

And there's one more major event - to me - that I'm hoping that will come to fruition.

In the meantime, though, here's where I'm going to be this fall:

 9/ 6 (Sat.) - Galveston Sand Crab 10K and 5K (Bill Gardner)
 9/20 (Sat.) - Toughest 10K Kemah (Robby Sabban)
10/ 3 (Fri.) - Nike South Cross Country, The Woodlands (Juris Green)
10/ 4 (Sat.) - Nike South Cross Country, The Woodlands (Juris Green)
10/11 (Sat.) - Methodist Mansfield Run With Heart Half Marathon (Raul and Meghan Najera)
10/12 (Sun.) - Texas10 Fort Worth (Willie Fowlkes)
10/18 (Sat.) - Toughest 10K Galveston (Robby Sabban)
10/19 (Sun.) - Florida10 Lakeland (Willie Fowlkes)
11/ 2 (Sun.) - Texas10 Katy (Willie Fowlkes)
11/ 8 (Sat.) - Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon, 10K and 2M, Port Arthur (Richard and Amie James)
11/16 (Sun.) - La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon (Robby Sabban)
11/22 (Sat.) - Nike Cross Regionals Cross Country, The Woodlands (Juris Green)
12/ 7 (Sun.) - Texas10 Conroe (Willie Fowlkes)
12/14 (Sun.) - Finish Line Sports Sugar Land 30K (Andy Stewart)

I certainly hope that I get to see many of you at one or more of these races the remainder of 2014.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

January-March 2015 Marathon and Half Marathon Calendar

1/ 1 (Thu.) - Texas Marathon and Half Marathon (Kingwood)
1/18 (Sun.) - Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon
2/ 1 (Sun.) - Galveston Marathon and Half Marathon
2/ 1 (Sun.) - USA Fit Marathon and Half Marathon (Sugar Land)
2/ 7 (Sat.) - Katy Half Marathon
2/14 (Sat.) - Love. Run. Marathon. and Half Marathon (Huntsville)
2/14 (Sat.) - Jail Break Run Half Marathon (Baytown)
2/15 (Sun.) - Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon (Houston)
2/15 (Sun.) - Austin Marathon and Half Marathon (Austin)
2/15 (Sun.) - Sugar & Spice Half Marathon (Clear Lake)
2/21 (Sat.) - Surfside Beach Marathon and Half Marathon
2/28 (Sat.) - The Woodlands Marathon and Half Marathon
3/ 1 (Sun.) - Cowtown Marathon and Half Marathon (Fort Worth)
3/ 1 (Sun.) - Armadillo Dash Half Marathon (College Station)
3/ 7 (Sat.) - The Gusher Marathon and Half Marathon (Beaumont)
3/14 (Sat.) - Seabrook Lucky Trail Half Marathon
3/15 (Sun.) - Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon and Half Marathon
3/22 (Sun.) - Memorial Herman Sugar Land Half Marathon
3/29 (Sun.) - Angie's Half Crazy! Half Marathon (Clear Lake)

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Top Triathlons in Greater Houston

2,196 - Ironman Texas, The Woodlands, May 17

2,187 - Ironman 70.3 Galveston, April 6 (2,136 individual, 51 relay)

1,928 - Kids Tri Houston, April 13

1,196 - Kids Tri Houston - Junior
   732 - Kids Tri Houston - Senior (22 one-loop bike not included)

1,512 - Kemah Triathlon, April 26-27
   735 - Kemah Sprint Triathlon (714 AG, 21 relay)
   643 - Kemah Olympic Triathlon (627 AG, 16 relay)
   134 - Kemah Kids Triathlon (132 AG, 2 relay)

1,046 - CB&I Sprint Triathlon, The Woodlands, May 3 (885 AG, 96 relay, 48 weight, 17 elite)

   547 - Shadow Creek Ranch Triathlon, Pearland, July 13 (472 AG, 16 relay, 25 pro, 34 weight)

   518 - Tejas Triathlon, Sugar Land, June 1 (467 AG, 20 weight, 31 relay)

   478 - Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Triathlon, June 22 (451 AG, 27 relay)

   453 - TriGirl Super Sprint Duathlon and Triathlon, Houston, May 11
   304 - TriGirl Super Sprint Triathlon (287 AG, 17 relay)
   149 - TriGirl Super Sprint Duathlon

   431 - Y Freedom Triathlon, Pearland, June 29 (368 AG, 41 weight, 21 relay, 1 pc)

   396 - Sylvan Beach Kids Tri, Duathlon and Triathlon, La Porte, June 14-15
   246 - Sylvan Beach Triathlon (225 AG, 13 weight, 6 relay, 2 pro)
   104 - Sylvan Beach Duathlon (101 AG, 3 relay)
     46 - Sylvan Beach Kids Triathlon

   357 - No Label Triathlon, Katy, March 30

   356 - Du The Polar Bear Duathlon, Houston, February 9 (335 AG, 11 relay, 10 weight)

   276 - Springs Back Sprint and Olympic Triathlon, Fulshear, May 4
   159 - Springs Back Sprint Triathlon (150 AG, 6 weight, 3 relay)
   117 - Springs Back Olympic Triathlon (117 AG, 3 weight, 1 relay)

   209 - Silverlake Sprint and Olympic Triathlon, Pearland, May 25
   123 - Silverlake Sprint Triathlon (119 AG, 4 relay)
     86 - Silverlake Olympic Triathlon (82 AG, 4 relay)

   187 - Conroe YMCA Tri For Fun Sprint and Youth Triathlon, March 30
     90 - Conroe YMCA Tri For Fun Sprint Triathlon (85 age group, 5 relay)
     87 - Conroe YMCA Tri For Fun Youth Triathlon

   161 - Texas Kid's Triathlon, Houston, May 17

   141 - TriColor Super Sprint Triathlon, Fulshear, April 19 (139 AG, 2 relay)

   136 - Texas Star Sprint Triathlon, Montgomery, July 13

   108 - Tri Kids Camps Houston's Family Triathlon, May 3

     88 - Lake Tejas Triathlon and Duathlon, Colmesneil, April 12
     69 - Lake Tejas Triathlon
     19 - Lake Tejas Duathlon

     76 - Kiwanis Kids Triathlon - Stude Park, Houston, July 12

Monday, June 30, 2014

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Triathlon Winners (2001-2014)

Female - Overall
2001 - Anne Smith, 49:45
2002 - Lynnie Terry, 40, 52:01
2003 - Terra Castro, 22, 50:17
2004 - Autumn Ray, 24, 49:57
2005 - Autumn Ray, 25, 50:22
2008 - Ann Smith, 41, 50:49.5
2009 - Julie Mosier-Crosno, 38, 51:54.9
2010 - Ann Smith, 43, 53:14.2
2011 - Liz Baugher, 33, 50:53.5
2012 - Kassie Harris, 26, 52:40.2
2013 - Michelle LeBlanc, 38, 48:15.0
2014 - Grace Benes, 31, 51:11.2

Female - Masters
2001 - Cindy McCasker, 55:58
2002 - Ellen Happe Phillips, 57:02
2003 - Lynnie Terry, 41, 52:14
2004 - Lynnie Terry, 42, 54:15
2005 - Ann Morris, 41, 54:36
2008 - Ann Morris, 44, 54:53.8
2009 - Ann Smith, 42, 52:59.0
2010 - Melanie Sun, 40, 56:41.6
2011 - Ann Smith, 44, 52:03.4
2012 - Shannon Crowe, 42, 53:32.5
2013 - Ann Smith, 46, 51:34.5
2014 - Ann Smith, 47, 52:21.7

Male - Overall
2009 - Bradley Pigage, 25, 45:15.5
2010 - Bradley Pigage, 26, 46:24.1
2011 - Grant Glauser, 27, 44:22.7
2012 - Andy Borremans, 16, 46:46.9
2013 - Scott Wilkinson, 23, 42:42.9
2014 - Scott Wilkinson, 24, 42:39.5

Male - Masters
2009 - Brett Cole, 42, 50:56.4
2010 - Shawn Smith, 45, 49:29.8
2011 - Brett Cole, 44, 50:02.8
2012 - Dave Depinet, 49, 50:51.7
2013 - Cort Prois, 40, 46:23.1
2014 - Shawn Smith, 49, 49:38.8

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Keeping Boilerplate Race Marketing Out of My Facebook E-Mail

I just received a reminder to register for a race about three hours ago.

It wasn't personalized like, "Hey, Jon, even though I know that you normally don't do triathlons, I thought you might be interested in knowing ..."

But, of course, why would a race director make that kind of effort for somebody like me when they have a big race to fill or "sell out"?  [Hmm. Maybe numbers aren't where they hoped they would be.]

Yet it didn't come in to my regular, personal e-mail, which would be expected.

We all opt in to race's Constant Contact (or similar) mailing lists.  It is part of the territory.

It came in my personal Facebook e-mail, but not from the race's official Facebook page (or account).

Again, that would have been fair game, in my mind.

No, it came from the race director's personal Facebook account.

Now wait, if I'm that race director's - at a minimum - Facebook friend, don't I know when all of their races are, what their event production's website is and when registration deadlines might be?


This information, in my news feed, as a status update - to me - is also fair game.

So instead of taking the time to unclick me (which would be pretty good personalization, if you ask me) when you send that mass e-mail to all of your Facebook friends, just go ahead - even though I didn't understand it was part and parcel of being your Facebook friend - and send me your standard boilerplate marketing material - to my Facebook e-mail.

So, unfortunately, it didn't earn you a registration.  It just got you blocked.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Current Price of All Texas Marathons (June 10, 2014)

Overnite Software Surfside Beach Marathon, February 21, 2015 (No indication of price increase)

Michelob Ultra El Paso Marathon, February 22, 2015 ($75 on September 1)

McAllen Marathon, December 14 (No indication of price increase)

$70 (Registrants 451-700)
New Year's Eve Marathon, Allen, December 31 ($75 for Registrants 701-950, combined with half)
New Year's Day Marathon, Allen, January 1, 2015 ($75 for Registrants 701-950, combined with half)

The Army Marathon, Killeen to Temple, March 1, 2015 ($85 on October 1)
Fiesta Marathon, Edinburg, November 16 ($85 on October 13)
Frankenthon Monster Marathon, Cedar Park, October 18 ($85 on August 1)
GE Irving Marathon, April 4, 2015 ($85 on November 1)
HITS Running Festival Marathon, Austin, December 14 ($100 on November 14)

Tyler Rose Marathon, October 5 ($90 on August 2)

Galveston Marathon, February 1, 2015 ($95 on December 21)
Metal Sawing Technology Texas Marathon, January 1, 2015 (Until race day or sellout)

Exygon and Baptist Hospitals Gusher Marathon, Beaumont, March 7, 2015 (No indication of price increase)

Baylor Scott & White BCS Marathon, Bryan-College Station, December 14 ($100 on September 1)
Big-D Marathon, Dallas, April 12, 2015 ($105 on January 12)
Cowtown Marathon, Fort Worth, March 1, 2015 ($100 on September 2 per e-mail)
Hill Country Marathon, Marble Falls, October 19 ($100 on September 22)
Marathon 2 Marathon, October 25 ($100 on October 2)
Miracle Match Marathon, Waco, January 25, 2015 ($110 on January 1)

Chosen Marathon for Adoption, New Braunfels, October 25 ($105 on July 1)
Fidelity Investments The Woodlands Marathon, February 28, 2015 ($105 on August 1)
Memorial Hermann USA Fit Marathon, Sugar Land, February 1, 2015 (No indication of price increase)

Fort Worth Marathon, November 9 ($110 on September 1)
MetroPCS Dallas Marathon, December 14 ($110 on July 1)

$105 (for the first 1,000)
Freescale Austin Marathon, February 15, 2015 ($115 until August 6, then $125)

Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon, December 7 ($120 on July 1)

Chevron Houston Marathon, January 18, 2015 (Lottery registration through June 19)

Not Open
West Texas Crossroads Marathon, Odessa, October 4, 2014
Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon, March 15, 2015
Davy Crockett Bear Chase, Groveton, April 2015

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Road to 2,000 - 5/23/14 to 5/22/15

Pretty ambitious goal for me because I've never, ever logged miles (i.e. wrote them down).
I've tracked race miles before, but that's completely different.
So here goes to see if I can run 100 miles for every year of Waverly's life in the coming year.

5/23/14 - Idle
5/24/14 - 6.77 miles (6.77 total; 1,993.23 to go)
5/25/14 - 7.1 miles (13.87 total; 1,986.13 to go)
5/26/14 - 3.1 miles (16.97 total; 1,983.03 to go)
5/27/14 - Idle
5/28/14 - 6 miles (22.97 total; 1,977.03 to go)
5/29/14 - 6 miles (28.97 total; 1,971.03 to go)
5/30/14 - Idle
5/31/14 - 3.1 miles (32.07 total; 1967.93 to go)
6/1-4/14 - Idle
6/5/14 - 6 miles (38.07 total; 1961.93 to go)
6/6/14 - Idle

Run 1 - 3.1 miles, road/trail mixed (Heroes and Hope 5K, Sugar Land, TX), 5/24/14
Run 2 - 3.67 miles, treadmill (32:40), 5/24/14
Run 3 - 3.1 miles, paved park trail (Run For Wellness 5K, West Houston, TX), 5/25/14
Run 4 - 4 miles, treadmill, 5/25/14
Run 5 - 3.1 miles, paved road (Memorial Day 5K, Huntsville, TX), 5/26/14
Run 6 - 6 miles, treadmill, 5/28/14
Run 7 - 6 miles, treadmill, 5/29/14
Run 8 - 3.1 miles, paved road (Bryant High School Hurricane 5K, Irvington, AL), 5/31/14
Run 9 - 6 miles, treadmill, 6/5/14

Thursday, May 8, 2014

More From Behind The Microphone

I got a lot of nice compliments from announcing the 11th annual CB&I TRI - The Woodlands Triathlon on Saturday - and I appreciate every single one, but one stood out.

And that wasn't just because Lars Finanger won.

It was no more than about 10 words at the Pavillion in Northshore Park during the awards ceremony.

But knowing a little of Lars' background and where in the sports of triathlon and cycling that he's been, it spoke volumes.  (Google Lars and you'll find out.)

Again, if you don't know me, you're thinking, "Well, he'll probably let something like that get to his head."

No, not really.

I mean, you have to have a little bit of an ego to do this, but it is more out of confidence than being a braggard.

I've said often that I don't have a classically strong voice, but I just know how to use it well.

It is always nice to be asked.

Sometimes, however, you need a break, especially when you had worked seven events in the previous seven weeks.

Volte Endurance Training's Brian Jackson asked me to announce for the 8th annual BMI 5K in Conroe, which was held on Saturday, April 26th -- a race that I had one time race directed a couple of years.

It had nothing to do with the size of the event.

I just needed to get my running kind of kick-started again -- and needed to get out of town to do so.

And since I wasn't going to be around, Brian used my speaker system for the event.

Other times, you have a schedule conflict.

One race that I've announced before -- and one that I left voluntarily -- reached back out to me this week that they were considering other options.

If they moved their race to another date, which isn't necessarily an option for them, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

New opportunities are great too.

Texas 10 Series race director Willie Fowlkes and his race management team have and are giving me the opportunity to announce in new markets.

Texas 10 Boerne put me in the San Antonio market for the first time.  Really, Mark Purnell can't be everywhere!  (As I said in the Night Trail Run 15K race report, Mark does a really nice job out there announcing.)

I'll announce in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Saturday for the first time at Texas10 Plano - and will again later this year at Texas10 Fort Worth.

Florida will be new in mid-October with Florida10 Lakeland on Sunday, October 19.

It will be the first race that I fly to to announce for - kind of like Mike Reilly - as I'll work the Toughest 10K Galveston on Saturday, October 18, which is the second race of the Texas Bridge Series.

And sometimes a schedule conflict creates a new opportunity.

The second race of the 2014 Florida 10 Series was going to be on Sunday, December 14, which would have made my trip to get Waverly home from the Fall semester interesting.

Not sure how much she would have liked to have gone to Florida before making it home for Winter Break.

However, Florida10 Sarasota is now going to happen on Saturday, December 7 -- the same day as Texas10 Conroe.  That decision - for my time - will come later.

It will allow for me to do for the first time -- a Marathon Warm-Up Series race, the Finish Line Sports Sugar Land 30K on the 14th.

Jana Landry has always wanted me to do the USA Space City 10-Miler, which is typically held on the second Sunday in October.  However, I've always had a conflict -- or I've liked to run that race myself.

The Space City 10-Miler is a HARRA Fall Series race, but not in the Marathon Warm-Up Series.

I really appreciate Andy Stewart for giving me the opportunity to announce the 30K.

I'll work with Andy for the first time next month at the Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Triathlon on Sunday, June 22.

Andy has been putting on road races and triathlons in the greater Houston area since the early 1980s, if not before that.

There is disappointment too in what I do - aside from having scheduling conflicts.

I don't attempt to go out and drum up business because this isn't what I do for a living.

I prefer to let my work speak for itself.  If people think I do a good job, I figure that they'll tell somebody when they know that an event is looking for an announcer.

I have a rate card (as I was advised to do this by one race director) and I share it when asked, "What do you charge?"

One event that I did last year I haven't heard back from, but I don't think it is from a lack of a quality performance.

I think that it is either that they've forgot or that their numbers aren't where it fits in their budget.

That's one disappointment.

Another is when somebody does reach out to you at the recommendation of somebody you've worked with.  You respond immediately when they ask if you'd be willing to meet with them, but they don't reach back out to you.

In either case above, knowing something is better than not knowing anything.

Actually, this works for personal friendships and relationships too.

Finally, sometimes it isn't fun to get a participant list ahead of time -- even though I need it to prepare.

Why?  I'm not friends with everybody and there are those out there who don't like me.

A few, yes, hate me.  (And they are very good friends of people who I like.  It makes those interactions a challenge because I've wondered what they've said about me - and how much the person that I like has believed it.)

It is the most rough part of what I do.

Two years ago, I got the participant list for CB&I and there were two names that I just couldn't see myself announcing their names as enthusiatically as I did everyone else.

(I saw both of those individuals last Saturday at Northshore Park.  They weren't racing, but it was a challenge to be in the same area as them.)

I've gotten better at it, but it still isn't fun.

The best medicine?  Hope that you're both working (or running in) a bigger event.

So what motivated this post?

It was Kate Looney's comment this morning - after an initial one of praise - on the CBI post from Saturday which said, "Universal Sports needs to hire you to do the live commentating on the elite marathon races. Chicago and London were awful."

When they start putting marathons on radio, maybe then.  As I don't have the face for television.  :-)

Aside from The Woodlands' Nora Wilson always putting me in the same class as Reilly (which I don't think that I deserve), my favorite comment has come from Karen Ponette-Maldonado.

"Just wanted to tell you that at Ironman Cozumel I thought of you when crossing the finish line.  LOL," she said.  "The guy there didn't say anything but "You are an Ironman" and I thought to myself, they need to hire Jon Walk!  Really!"

Now that's fun -- and puts a smile on my face.

See you at the races.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

BCS Marathon Race Series Night Trail Run 15K Race Report

After being at Northshore Park Friday night and Saturday morning (and a little bit of a nap Saturday afternoon), a little "me time" was in order for Saturday night.

So what's somebody like me do?  Go run a race, if there's one available.

And the BCS Marathon Race Series fit the bill with its "Night Trail Run 15K" at Royalty Pecan Farms off Highway 21 just east of Caldwell and west of Bryan.

They had hosted a 5K there earlier in the morning and were producing a 10K and 15K that night.

In a sense, it kind of makes you think of what Robby Sabban started - locally - with the Saturday Half Marathon at the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon in 2007.

From a numbers perspective, there were 120 finishers in the 5K and another 276 in both the 10K and the 15K.  That distribution was a 2:1 split (185:91).

The one thing that Series founder Chris Field has done very well with his events is leverage the trend in our sport to bring women to the start line.

In the 5K yesterday morning, there were 83 female finishers and 37 men.

In the 10K, 131 women and 54 men finished.  Even in the 15K, 57 ladies crossed the finish line while 34 men.

This trend is pretty prevalent throughout, with the exception of the 26.2-mile distance.

2011 BCS Half Marathon - 902 overall.  581 women, 381 men.
2011 BCS Marathon - 408 overall.  173 women, 235 men.

2012 BCS Half Marathon - 2,089 overall.  1,310 women, 779 men.
2012 BCS Marathon - 614 overall.  262 women, 352 men.

2013 Girls Just Want to Have Fun 5K - 209 women.
2013 Night Trail Run 5K - 185 overall.  133 women, 52 men.
2013 Night Trail Run 10K - 146 overall.  102 women, 44 men.
2013 Night Trail Run 15K - 71 overall.  35 women, 36 men.
2013 BCS 5K - 193 overall.  128 women, 65 men.
2013 BCS 10K - 334 overall.  218 women, 116 men.
2013 BCS 5 And Dime 5-Miler - 116 overall.  73 women, 43 men.
2013 BCS 5 And Dime 10-Miler - 244 overall.  172 women, 72 men.
2013 Brazos Running Company Turkey Trot 5K - 769 overall.  420 women, 349 men.
2013 BCS Half Marathon - 2,052 overall.  1,348 women, 704 men.
2013 BCS Marathon - 944 overall.  419 women, 525 men.
2013 BCS Marathon Relay - 39 finishing teams.  No gender information available.

2014 Girls Just Want To Have Fun 5K - 260 overall.

When I attend a race, I typically am watching for race operations issues to see if there's anything that I can do better or the event that I'm working with.  Some might say that it is "stealing", but when you get to a group of top event producers, you really don't see too much different.

Really, it boils down to different styles and flavors.

No different than me and the events that I work with, this event (and the entire Series) has a really good public address announcer, Mark Purnell, out of San Antonio.  (In fact, his sister was working with the team on Saturday that was timing CB&I.  I also think I ran a 10K in Bandera in late March that she was the race director for when we talking a little bit.)

The trail race was running on the dirt roads that were in the pecan groves.

They had a 5K loop marked off that you ran twice if you were doing the 10K and a third time for the 15K.

The College Station Running Club served as water station volunteers for the two that were on each loop -- one on the far northwest corner of the course (just before the 2-mile mark supposedly) and another at the end of the loop.

Before you even hit the grounds, the entrance to the property was well-marked with BCS Race Series teardrop flags.  Volunteers helped people lineup parking to maximize space and minimize damage to the grounds.

Packet pickup didn't take too long, but the person that was helping with the 15K was struggling with the setup that she was given.  I had arrived in plenty of time; therefore, it wasn't an issue.

We received a race t-shirt and a pecan sample - and was welcome to go through a box that had leftover BCS Race Series technical shirts.  (Like I need another shirt.)

I had plenty of time to go back to the car and put on bug spray, relax and get my head lamp ready.

The race started on time at 8:17 p.m. and off we went.  I had positioned myself pretty far back and with almost 300 hundred runners, it took me 30 seconds to cross the start line.

We made a hard right after passing underneath the inflatable arch and crossing a "bridge" that was made even with a series of thick plywood sheets.

Afterward, there was a quick left to start a loop that was much like a retangular box standing on its end.

The paths between the pecan groves were wide and this race can hold many, many more people.

The majority of the surface was dirt, but wasn't so loose that you felt like you were running in sand or on the beach the entire time.

And with the exception of a stretch that ran north and south across both stretches that went out and back, there was a spot were it was built up and you had to pick your feet up like you were going over a large speed bump.

It was still a little humid, but not too warm as we were on the first loop.

I hit the first mile marker in 10:44 (10:43.98) and then completed the first loop in 34:38.36.

The second loop, which I finished in 35:58.64, was still pretty easy to run as you had more people doing the 10K to run near (and with), but the third loop got pretty lonely out there.

I passed a couple of people at the water stop to end loop two and then I'm not sure that I passed anybody else until after I got past the other water stop.

During the second and third loops, I took my light off of my head and carried it.  (During the last loop, the strap actually broke free from the light.)

Footing was pretty stable as this wasn't a technical trail by any means.  And by holding the light, it simply became easier to run.

Actually felt stronger the last loop as it got a little bit more cooler.  I was able to pass a few people in the last mile or so as I covered it in 35:39.42.

So, that gave me a time of 1:45:36.

The timer had me at 1:45:43.  That means he started the clock seven (7) seconds before the announcer said to go.  (Not an issue, by the way.)

No sooner had I crossed the finish line and got some water came Texas 10 Series participant Stephen Griffin of The Woodlands.  It was good to see him there as well.

I was going to run this morning one of the Houston Wellness Project 5Ks - actually the newest one that they started near the Heights.  I was beat and wiped out from last night.  Therefore, it was a "no go".

So work one, run one kind of weekend it was.

In case you were wondering, Caldwell was not a new city for me.  I had done the Kolache Krunch 5K there in 2007.  It was the last new city that I added that year to get me to 44!  :-)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Race Announcing The 11th Annual CB&I TRI - The Woodlands Triathlon

It is always a lot of fun to announce at the annual CB&I TRI - The Woodlands Triathlon.

Many, many thanks to co-race directors Kelly Dietrich and Angel Nicks and their management, Chris Nunes and John Powers, for allowing me to represent The Woodlands Township at their events, which include the annual Muddy Trails Bash each April.

It is a great community race that has the best of the best involved, including Finish Strong Coaching's Dana Lyons, TxTri's Sandra Sutherland and Team Strive's Kimberly Mac Namee (yes, I know Kim is on Dana's staff now, but she'll always be Team Strive to me) and top USAT officials (including Andrea Chan), coming together.

I covered the race for a couple of years while I was writing weekly running and triathlon columns for The Courier and then got the chance to do finish line announcing in 2010 while Willie Fowlkes was the race director.

I didn't announce in 2012 (nor attend the event) because of some personal issues involving a few competitors, but drew the bead in 2013 - for all announcing - when the event's regular race announcer was unable to make it.

This year, it appeared as if he wasn't going to be able make it again, but by mid-Monday I knew that I would be at the finish line -- and doing the awards.

The way that North Shore Park and the finish line is setup -- and the hour that it takes to go through all 13 waves -- two race announcers have become necessary to 1.) get athletes to the swim start, into the water and waves started and 2.) try to appropriately recognize a great effort at the conclusion of the race.

Without having to worry about making announcements at 6:00 a.m. -- which is my one hour before race start rule of thumb, I was able to spend the time mentally preparing on how to be at the top of my game at the bottom of the bridge.

At CB&I, I normally start talking as soon as the first elite runner hits the westbound lane of traffic on Lake Woodlands Drive.  I had some notes on every elite athlete in the field -- and was able to speak to a little what they've all done here recently.  (Many of them had competed a month ago at Ironman 70.3 Texas and I had their times there.)

The only thing that I ended up fretting is that when Lars Finanger, the winner, came down the bridge to the finish is that I didn't identify him correctly on the way out as he was in the lead from the get go.

I've known of Lars, but have never seem him compete.

He was in our elite half marathon field at The Woodlands Marathon, but his number "7" looked more like Benjamin Baxter's #1.  Oops!

I did get the ladies identified correctly, including his wife, Emily's incredibly impressive background.  (What I recall now in a post-race report is that I didn't see eventual winner Sarah Hankla, who is coming back from an injury that sidelined her late in the 2013 season.)

So as all of the elite racers begin making their way to the finish, I started to realize that the timer's reader mat -- wasn't reading.  Nice.

Luckily I did have a printed backup -- with 1,200 racer's names (and not the relay teams), but I chose not to laminate them all (six double-sided) because I had seen this timer do well at some races in the central Texas area, which is where they're based out of.

Note to self:  With a race this large and with this timer, laminate them.

It is easy to get many of the names right when you're trying to identify them old school -- and they're all in the same wave start, but when athletes from multiple waves become mixed it really was a challenge to try and catch everyone.

After a little bit of complaining on my part, the owner finally did something to make it read.  However, there was a catch.

It only displayed FIRST names.

I could imagine me saying, "Way to go, BOB!"  Would that be "Bob from Accounttemps" then?

I wasn't acting prima-donna -- because anybody that knows me knows that I don't have a big ego when I do this, but athletes enjoy having their name called out to cap off a great race or effort, depending on how their day went.

And when things aren't working as you expect, it is hard to try and get the crowd engaged today more than what they normally are when you're also trying to make sure that you're thanking the sponsors and volunteers continuously when there aren't runners heading down the bridge.

At about 9:20 a.m., the regular race announcer, who's done the event since its inception, took over for me at the finish line so that I could handle the awards.

So why wouldn't you let him handle the awards?

Two reasons.

I know (or know of) many of the athletes in the area - and am armed with information about them, but I also am available to vet the awards because I've been at the finish line watching the athletes cross.

We had a couple of issues today.

The first print didn't have the age groups in the last wave, which included 20-24 and 25-29 females.

Also, the overall amateur male had a ridiculous and impossible time of 38 minutes and change.  Well, this belonged to a chip that the timer was using as a test.

Once they were removed, it adjusted the men's results as the fastest non-elite male was in the 15-19 age group.

We also didn't have the one competitor in the women's 65-and-over category, 50 States Marathon finisher Geri Henry.

Robby Sabban will tell you that I've saved a day or two in these situations, even though he has a very good and meticulous timer in Richard Campbell.

Because the Woodlands Township is a public entity, certain services that they contract for have to go out to public bid.  Race timing is one of them.

The firm that won the bid this year was the first that we've worked with them.

I warned them when I did a 10K on a Saturday in Bandera that they had Muddy Trails to get the kinks worked out with this size of an event before CB&I.

From a timing perspective, I thought they did a pretty good job.

I think when you try and get fancy with printing results from a kiosk, etc., and wireless and all, while technologically cool, you run the risk of taking away from your core goal -- getting an accurate and properly recorded time.

This timer did that, but I heard a rumble or two about the whiz-bang things that they were doing.

It is part of the unique skill-set that I've been blessed enough to be given - and to continue to work on and develop (thanks to race directors that have engaged my services).

I want things to be the best for the athletes involved (who have dropped their disposable income on) -- and for the event to be presented in the most-positive light.

Each and every compliment is well-received and appreciated, but it isn't why I do what I do.

The moral of the story on a day like today -- when the reader/announcer mat situation didn't work the way that it normally does (or I expect it to) -- though is:  it pays to know the announcer (to get your name called at the finish).

Looking forward to working Texas10 Plano next Saturday and then I have some decisions to make.

Thanks for all of your support.  I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Calling Someone A Quitter: You Have No Right

Very rarely do I get so fired up to write something publicly and if I lose any announcing assignment as a result of it, so be it.

I strongly believe in what I am about to write.

Over the last few years, I’ve done my best – in a totally volunteer capacity – to promote the endurance athletes of Montgomery County and Spring – a place where I live and socialize the most.

I have a trivia question:  How many people who call or have called Montgomery County home have finished both an Ironman and a 100-mile endurance run?

The list is pretty short.

These are ones that live in the County and have recently (both in the last five years):

Karen Felicidario  (Ladies first, of course)

Curtis Hooper

Dan Jordan

I’m not certain if Allen Wrinkle lives in the area anymore.  I know that he used to.  (I just checked.  His Facebook still says “Spring, Texas”.)  Allen has completed some nasty 100-milers as well as Ironman Florida and Arizona.

Yep, count Allen too.

And, of course, there’s the legend:  The Woodlands’ Jim Braden.

Two Western States 100 and (at least) 11 Ironman finishes, including seven straight in Kona, in his 50s.

If I’ve missed anyone, please let me know.  (I looked at all of the guys and gals in the area who have finished 100-milers – John Powers, Troy Pfeiferling, Rick Cook, Patrick Shannon, Les Ellsworth, Bill Dwyer, Lynnor Matheney, Matt Zmolek, Bill Cox – and they haven’t finished an Ironman.  Yet.)

So if any one of these five decides to call any event of any distance a day before they cross the finish line, who has the right to say anything?

Or, heaven forbid, call them – *gasp* – a quitter?

The way I see it:  ONLY the other four (or anybody else who has accomplished both of those feats) can.

I don’t care if they boasted that they could break the Guinness record in some athletic endeavor – even when they didn’t have a chance of doing so or their effort, training or preparation suggested otherwise.

Sure, it may make them look foolish, but it certainly doesn’t justify somebody who hasn’t completed the feats that they’ve already accomplished to either outright call them a quitter or imply it in some other form or fashion.

If you think it does, you’re certainly taking these sports – and yourself – way too seriously.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Corinth PD Foot Pursuit 5K Race Report

Next up - this morning - was the Corinth Police Department Foot Pursuit 5K to make it a race in my 95th Texas city or town.

I honestly can't say that I had ever heard of Corinth before seeing the event on a race calendar or two earlier in the week.

If you follow Texas high school football, Corinth is home to Lake Dallas ISD and the Lake Dallas Falcons.

With an 8:30 a.m. start, and staying just down I-35 in Lewisville near Vista Ridge Mall, I left around 7 a.m. and picked up my packet in plenty of time.

There was a pretty good cool breeze going at 7:30 a.m., but it didn't stick completely around when I came near the finish line at 9 a.m.

They got the race started on-time.  And even though says that the course had an elevation gain of 59 feet, maybe it was the tired legs from yesterday that made it seem twice as hilly as yesterday.

We did almost an entire loop around Lake Dallas High School before heading out on a square course that featured three right-hand turns before a fourth turn back on to the Lake Dallas ISD grounds.

Obviously, the course had excellent police protection and great volunteers -- and plenty of them.

I was a little curious about the timing, because they were using an RFID system that I haven't seen before.  And they had a reader device at the halfway point too.

After an offset time of 10.40 seconds, Mile 1 was 9:52.89 (or at least where I saw chalk markings on the street) and the last 2.1 miles was 21:53.16.

This gave me a time of 31:46.05.

Nonetheless, Delta View Timing captured my gun time as 31:56.13 and my chip time as 31:45.89.  Can't complain too much about performance like that.

The course is here on MapMyRun.

The results are here.

Camp Fire Chicken Run 5K Race Report

The first race of the weekend was the Camp Fire Chicken Run in Cleburne on late Friday afternoon, April 25, with a 6:30 p.m. start.

The race was hosted at Lowell Smith Middle School and had a 1-mile kids' run that preceeded it.

I finished getting my hours in for the week very early and had an appointment at my alma mater that got cancelled.  Therefore, I was in the area way early.

I picked my packet up at the race site, changed clothes in an off-the-main building locker room and still had plenty of time to wait.

I always cut community races - as this one was - some slack with race "formalities", such as announcements, etc.

I think as long as you can get a race started on-time, you're still OK.

The only "criticism" with this event - and some others that I've done - is that the race director needs to be free from doing detail items in the last hour of an event so they can be free to make the decisions necessary to get an event started on time.

The volunteers at this event were absolutely super.  Every intersection was pretty well-covered and they had one water stop at the turnaround point.

The course was an out-and-back with some slight rollers. stated that the course had an ascent of almost 115 feet.  Whatever it was, it felt like more.

As we made a right out of the parking lot, we climbed 39 feet in two-tenths of a mile.  Nice.

We kept proceeding on Country Club Road until reaching Harvest Hill Road where we headed to the south -- and down some rollers that we'd have to head back up.

Mile 1 came through at 10:05.49.

There was a little dog-leg right and then left on to Lakeshore Drive, which was just to the east of Lake Pat Cleburne.

I went 5:31.42 to the turnaround for 15:36.91 at the half way point.

And another 5:01.58 to the two-mile marker for a second mile of 10:33-even.

The inclines on Harvest Hill took their toll, especially with feeling the afternoon heat (80 degrees ... hottest it has been for awhile).

I thought to myself during that stretch, "It wasn't this warm last Saturday morning in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania running that 5K with Waverly!"

Making the right-hand turn back on to Country Club, we had a half mile before we hit the down hill and I thought I could make up a little time, but it wasn't to be.

Mile 3 was 10:48.58 and the last tenth of a mile was 1:01.11.  Ugh.  That's a 10-minue per mile pace.  I usually can gut it out faster at the end, no matter what.

So 32:41.52 minus 13.34 offset and that comes in at 32:28.18.  Yikes.

I checked with a guy - after the race - that was wearing a GPS device on his wrist and he said that he had 3.17 miles -- and there really wasn't any place that would obstruct the reading nor any place to do a lot of weaving around.

It is possible if the turnaround spot was put out just a little bit beyond where it should have been.

Who knows?  The bottom line is that it was a race in my 94th Texas city or town.

If you're interested, here's the link on MapMyRun.

Official results by Cox Racing Services haven't been posted yet.

Why 5 Races In A Weekend?

The first answer would be, "Because I can."

The second answer would be, "Because I want to."

The third is, "Yes, I'm crazy."

And the fourth would be, "Think of as running multiple legs in the Texas Independence Relay (or whatever other favorite relay that you might run in)."

(I technically could have made it seven - with one more city, but I decided against it for multiple reasons.)

As of Saturday morning at approximately 10 a.m., with two down and three to go, the weather could get bad tonight and neither of Sunday's races at this point are a guarantee.

I've been needing to get my running back into gear.

Two deaths in my family this year, a crazy daily commute of anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes road trip, a desk job, working a LOT of races this spring (with 4-5 hours of sedentary prep time for each) and three out-of-state trips and my running - and workouts - have gone to pot.

So this was a way to kick start once I saw that there was a Friday evening race in Cleburne.

I've added Cleburne and Corinth, will add Highland Village this afternoon and hope to add Carrollton and Muenster tomorrow.

I could have squeezed in Decatur at 1 p.m. today, but I'll pass on that event for now.

Additionally, I know that I won't be getting optimal results from this exercise.  Especially finishing it up with a 15K at high noon.

Sometimes, though, you need to just get away, do something different and have fun - even if you're all by yourself.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Texans by Age Division at 2014 Boston Marathon


18-34 - 2:34:08, Zachary Cater-Cyker, 29, Houston
35-39 - 2:35:45, Dane Bartzel, 36, Arlington
40-44 - 2:45:37, John Yoder, 43, Houston
45-49 - 2:46:43, Greg Rankin, 47, Plano
50-54 - 2:53:46, James Cleary, 50, Austin
55-59 - 3:03:22, John Potts, 56, Georgetown
60-64 - 3:05:32, Jerry Hammervold, 61, Sugar Land
65-69 - 3:34:33, Larry Lichnovsky, 66, Arlington
70-74 - 3:51:09, Ed Craighead, 71, Dalhart
75-79 - None
80+ - 3:58:55, Harold Wilson, 81, Tyler


18-34 - 2:53:43, Anita Quirino, 31, San Antonio
35-39 - 3:13:32, Sarah Sallee, 35, Katy
40-44 - 3:06:30, Rachel Hanson, 40, Flower Mound
45-49 - 3:07:34, Laura Bennett, 46, Houston
50-54 - 3:30:06, Ling-Yuan Kong, 50, Houston
55-59 - 3:22:43, Carrie Croan, 55, Plano
60-64 - 3:42:37, Debbie Clark, 61, Colleyville
65-69 - 4:26:18, Roswitha Goossens-Winter, 65, Corpus Christi

Note:  18-39 is the official Boston Marathon division.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Announcing the UIL District 14-5A Track and Field Meet

Great, fun evening the last two days while announcing the UIL District 14-5A Varsity Track and Field Championships at The Woodlands High School.

I've said it many times to boys cross country and track head coach Juris Green -- as well as his first assistant Shawn Hamilton -- that it is an honor to be able to announce their events.

Last night was no different.

You want to make sure that you raise your game to match their great tradition and history.

Announcing a cross country meet, especially working with (and getting great timing support from) Raul and Meghan Najera with Run-Far, is something that I think that I've adapted to very well.

I've had the opportunity to announce both Nike South and the Nike Cross Regionals each of the last two years.

However, track and field is new to me.

A year ago, after doing just the first Nike South and Nike Cross in the fall of 2012, Juris asked me to come out and do their Wacky Relays, which is an off-shoot to a traditional track meet where all of the distances were non-standard.

They were pleased enough with my work where they invited me out to announce the district championship meet last night.

I never got to hear J Fred Duckett announce a track meet, but, reportedly, he was the best.  Especially as the meet announcer for many, many years at the Texas Relays.

Regardless of whether my style is any different, I, like a road race, want to make sure that people get to where they need to be, the events start on time and that people are sufficiently informed.

And that what I do is never, ever about me -- and is always about the kids or athletes (in a non-scholastic event).

I think I succeeded at that the past two days.

At the end of the meet, as he was working as one of the judges (and the fact that he didn't know me from Adam), football and track and field assistant coach (and former McCullough QB great) Robbie Dueitt walked up and told me that I had done an excellent job.

Again, I never look for those types of compliments, but they are appreciated when received (and obviously earned).

I never know what goes on behind the scenes (nor do I ever really want to anymore), but everything about The Woodlands High School programs appear to be as class as they come.

You don't get to be the best in anything by doing things sloppily.

And the athletes there Tuesday and Wednesday night were superb.

Madi McLellan.  Wow.  Of course, I saw her during cross country season, but she was something else on the track.  Almost like a machine.  Very, very focused on dominating the field behind her.

She took two district championships in the 1600 and 3200 meters.  It was her fourth straight District championship in the 3200 on Tuesday night and third in a row in the 1600 on Wednesday evening.

The one young woman that was almost freakishly fast was The Woodlands' Kaitlynn Lindsey as she won both the 200 and 400 meter dashes as well as running an impressive leg on the girls' winning 4 x 400 meter relay team to close the meet.

Oak Ridge High School's Trumaine Jefferson was the boys' top performer as he claimed District titles on Tuesday evening in the long jump and the high jump before checking off the 200-meter title the following evening.  Impressive.

Next up for me in the track and field arena?  Not sure, honestly.

(I would be remiss if I didn't mention the gentleman from Spring's Roberson Middle School who did the FAT timing for the meet.  Just like at road races, the sound guy and the timer make me come across like a million bucks.  It was no different here.)

Obviously, I need to go and listen to a top flight track and field announcer to know where I can get better.  Yet at the same time, I don't necessarily go out and seek business.

I'm pretty busy.  Most of my work comes through referrals - and that's a good thing, of course.

I continuously asked for feedback on Tuesday and Wednesday - not for platitudes (I don't play that game) - but to ensure that I was meeting their expectations.

And living up to the standard that The Woodlands High School had developed and work very, very hard to maintain.

Before I left Wednesday evening, I listened to Juris address the team and I was impressed.  I can't say that I had an expectation of what I thought that I would hear, but he gave all of those young men an incredible amount of well-earned praise.

He reaffirmed that the District Championship was a willingness to buy in to the "crazy workouts that we sometimes put you through".

I can hear the presses working on the T-shirts from here.  :-)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Runner At The Mouth, Part 1

Race's Facebook post:  "Our Awards Coordinator will be reaching out in regards to how one may pick up their award.  Unfortunately, we cannot mail these but you can have someone else pick it up for you and mail it."

Racer's comment on the post:  "Cannot or won't; cannot would assume you are physically unable or the item is not allowed. Won't well I'm sure there is some PC / CYA reason."

Not sure why people have to be so negative and/or cynical.  The award is a nice cloth, fold-up camping chair.  A different award.  Something that can be used instead of set on a shelf or discarded in a box.  Why won't the race mail it?  Probably, expense.

Before I could finish this thought and blog it, the race director responded:  "The Award Ceremony is simply for that reason, to distribute awards. The awards are camping chairs and it becomes expensive to mail and time consuming for a volunteer organization. Runners make the choice to leave before the awards ceremony which is the scheduled well before the event took place. Awards will be distributed on March 15th from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Will there be age group awards?  Page 13 of the race guide.

Will they be mailed?  Page 13 states "Awards will not be mailed after the event."

Time of the awards ceremony?  Page 15.

Where are they located?  Page 30 has a map.

This isn't hard, people.

The commenter?  His marathon finishing time was 6:11:30 and even if he had received an award, it is less than a 10-mile drive for him.

Some people, again, love to complain.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Change Into Your Big Kid Panties and Run

I think some people are just going to complain.  No matter what.

And the majority, if not all, of them haven't helped put on a simple 5K let alone be involved in the many, many moving pieces of the sixth largest marathon in the state of Texas.

Not one, but two "elite" athletes who weren't even at the race felt the need to comment on what they had "heard".

Why?  Because they like to complain?  Who knows.  I sure don't.

Sometimes, things happen despite the best of plans.

Or because things happen when participants don't plan so well -- like arriving to a race site early enough and/or asking enough questions ahead of time if they're not sure where to go.

And other times, the event makes a mistake -- and does their best to resolve and remedy it.

After one "elite" was challenged on their not hearing of ALL of the facts, they deleted their comments on a Facebook post.

Yet a third elite posted early Monday morning on a Facebook album of pictures that I took that she heard things went pretty well.

So do you look at the world "half empty" or "half full"?

Remember the first elite athlete that griped and moaned was talking to an athlete that accepted a free entry from us.

Yes, come race for free and try to win some money while you're at it.

I don't know who the second one talked to, but I do know the third one coaches one of our directors - and was a major marathon winner awhile back.

The bottom line is:  When you put on a race, you know that you're never going to please everyone.

However, you still strive to do your best and try to do so.

And we have a tall standard to be compared to:  the Chevron Houston Marathon.

And people do attempt to hold us to that standard, especially after we have executed well in the first two years.  (Our elite athlete coordinator was reminded of that by a local runner who resides in the bubble.)

Brant Kotch and his team do a great job, but they also have just under 10 (may have the number not exactly right) full-time paid staff people to work towards one day.

All but one person works for a small stipend, a pair of shoes, a staff shirt and a top (last year a hoodie and this year a nice water-repellent jacket).

And then most of your volunteers come on board towards the end of the preparation for an event.  (Of course, no different than most races.)

When a race goes almost perfect, you should lay some money down in Vegas because really, it rarely happens.  Sometimes only those within the event realize things didn't go right or well.

So (back to Saturday) for the third year in a row, I was on the bike riding with the leaders of the marathon.

And each year, we've made an improvement in that area.

The first year, we had a couple of motorcycles to help move back-of-the-pack half marathoners to the side on a double-loop course to allow the fastest marathoners - especially the first male and female - as clear of a shot to the finish as possible.

I ended up leading the way for the men's winner that year, Jeffrey Eggleston, all the way to the finish line.  I still remember telling the race director - when I got there - that trying to bring him down the long chute through the half marathoners was a cluster.

Yet I road back up against the grain, went out and got the lead female and wasn't able to get to her early enough to keep her from missing her PR by four seconds.

However, the next year, we added a team of cyclists - three for the men and three for the women.  They were to stay with the marathoners, not the half marathoners.

And they did.

Even with them, one of the men's marathoners who registered the night before the race - not knowing the course - followed some of the half marathoners down the finish chute on the double-loop course before realizing that he had gone the wrong way.

This year, I was manned with a radio and I rode with the single lead cyclist for the men so I could watch the race unfold as our lead media resource.

As we rode south on Six Pines to the first turn left onto Millbend, guess what?  No traffic control.  Yikes.

We kept rolling without any problem - and a pack of 11-12 Kenyan runners followed by Utah's Bryant Jensen -- until we turned on to Flintridge off of South Panther Creek.

To get there, I had been on some streets that I don't think I had ever been on before.

For whatever reason though, we were routed on to the right-hand side of the street, but at some point the lead cyclist - who was carrying a map - noted that we should we be going against traffic.

With the radio, I had confirmed this with Willie, but we had cars coming right at us.

So it was ride ahead of the lead cyclist, before the group of runners caught up, and direct those cars off the road.  When we made it to the next intersection, might have been Kuykendahl, we instructed law enforcement not to send anybody else down the eastbound lanes.

I think the one intersection that scared us was going north on Branch Crossing and entering the intersection there with Woodlands Parkway.  There was nobody there that was expecting us.

Beyond that, there was one other intersection where I had radio'ed that there wasn't any traffic control, but when I looked back an officer was getting out of their vehicle.  At about that time, I saw a Montgomery County Constable speeding ahead of us to the right to presumably tell all of the intersections that we were coming up the left-hand lane against traffic.

Things were kind of nice and easy as we watched the pack of lead runners get smaller and by the time we passed mile 18, the field had dwindled to four (4).

Before we made it to mile 19 after we had turned off Bay Branch and on to Kuykendahl and while I was looking for what I thought was going to be a 30K mat to capture one of the elite premiums, we had a fire truck barrelling at us from behind going south on Kuykendahl.

I moved to the left shoulder against traffic, instructed the runners to the right shoulder and saw something that I hadn't seen while I had been out on the bike during a race before.

Then the fun began as we turned left on to Lake Woodlands Drive, although it wasn't as big of a challenge as it was in year one -- and that was the merge with the half marathoners.

I had estimated from last year's results that only 11% of the field still remained for anybody under three hours, but I forgot to factor that back for the lead runners -- and the more challenging weather conditions that we faced.

Yet, for almost five and a half miles, until they turned off of Lake Robbins Drive towards the finish (where I turned around and headed back out to see how the women's race was shaping up), we used every technique in our imagination to get runners out of the left lane to clear a path for the lead male runners.

Some, because they had their headphones up loud enough that they couldn't hear me, I had to literally touch on their left-hand shoulder from the bike to get them to move.

My thoughts, which I haven't shared with Willie yet as there was a misdirection issue in the men's half marathon, is that either I -- and an associate for the half -- or the lead cyclist make sure that our top five (money winners) do not have any issues getting misrouted late in the race.

All in all, it was still a pretty good day.

I was really frustrated that I couldn't get any of the group of foreign "elite" runners to translate an interview with the female marathon winner, even though many of them were communicating with her.

The men's winner, Lamech Mosoti, was a pretty good interview.  A couple of shockingly true comments, but I understood where he was coming from.  I've heard them before from the one individual referenced at the top.

The biggest frustation - once again, restating what I said earlier - is that people just don't plan accordingly.

All three years, people haven't taken the time to read the website or the race guide to figure out on their own where to go -- and then give themselves enough time.

And each year, it seems to get even worse.

Last year, I sat at the corner of Six Pines and Lake Robbins and basically kept people from going across the then-unified start line because they were starting to get frustrated that they couldn't get to their corral in time.

This year, it multiplied with the two-direction start.  Not only weren't they in their corral on time, they had no idea which side to be on.

The maps on the web site and in the guide told them.  I looked at the again today.

I actually wrote up written instructions revolving around the start lines and gave them to Willie to start the 2015 folder with.  (I also have another document for the Expo Speaker Series.)

Will probably do the same with instructions on how to get from a specific parking lot to the start line.  We had lots of people who were going through the finish line area (and also the start for the 5K) asking how to get to the start.

It takes a lot out of you and it discourages you all at the same time.

Most of the things that I do are pretty much unseen and I perfectly like it that way.

Even when I announce, if I could do it without people knowing who I was, I would also be perfectly OK about it.

And the things that I do, I feel like I do as well as anybody else out there.  Mostly because most of them are unique.

Yet even with the great people that I get to be around and work with, the negativity and sense of entitlement in our sport can wipe all of that great goodwill in an instant.

A really good friend of mine, who ran the half on Saturday (and hardly does any road races), said it best, "I'm reading the cry baby comments on the marathon's Facebook page.  Can we all agree that the sport is now really soft?"

He continued, "It was once a race of iron will:  Man vs. miles.  Glad I run in the woods."

This guy is Mr. Minimalist.

"My medal is in a shoe box with all the other stuff," he said.  "It's not about the stuff.  It's about the people that you get to run with.  I told a couple of softies on the course to change into their big kid panties and run."

He works part-time at one of our sponsors.

"The folks that came in the store today were all happy," he said of this past Sunday.  "They hated the weather.  We all did.  Can't control that.  We were busy too."

And so were we.

And will continue to be, I guess.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Galveston Marathon and Half Marathon Legacy Runners

The following runners have completed either the Galveston Marathon or the Galveston Half Marathon all four years since it has returned to Houston's running landscape:

Keith Rogers, 35, Friendswood
Lora Lechago, 39, League City
Terry Frank, 59, Seabrook

Half Marathon
Elgin Faulkner, 84, Houston
Jeffrey Davis, 50, Canyon Lake
Jennifer Dewhirst, 41, Houston
Jenny Renault, Katy, 42
Jesse Sarabia, 48, Houston
Jesus Jijon, 58, Houston
Jimmy Kirkhart, 44, Eustace
Karen Cook, 57, Houston
Leo Henny, 63, Lake Charles, LA
Migel Cruz, 39, Pearland
Randall Swearingen, 60, Jersey Village

Marathon and Half Marathon
David Sanderson, 63, Galveston (1 marathon, 3 half marathons)
Ginger Trimble Knox, 57, Fort Worth (3 marathons, 1 half marathon)
Matt Chauvin, 42, League City (3 marathons, 1 half marathon)
Michelle Guigneaux, 52, Galveston (1 marathon, 3 half marathons)
Toshiaki Ansai, 43, Houston (1 marathon, 3 half marathons)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Road Trip: Friends and Races in Mardi Gras Cities

Entering 2014, with an unplanned, major fourth quarter change last year, I already knew that I was going to change up some things -- as it related to my extracurricular activities.

After two failed marathon attempts - due to lower back issues - at the B-CS Marathon and the New Year's Eve Marathon in College Station and Allen, respectively, I had decided that after the Chevron Houston Marathon it was likely that I'd try to run more half marathons this year.

And not focus on any specific goal, such as chasing states in marathons and half marathons or Texas cities and towns.

While those pursuits are fun and certain conversation-starters, it can inhibit one's ability to manuever their schedule at will.

Earlier today, I added a 2015 tab to my spreadsheet schedule with the announcement - by race director Jana Landry - of the date of next year's Galveston Marathon and Half Marathon.

It is a fun exercise to see what all can be done -- and fun be had.

I do know that I want to spend more one-on-one time with people.

Groups are fine, but I'm an "under the radar" guy -- and the more individualized my friendships are the more comfortable I am.

After my sister passed away a month ago yesterday, I fulfilled one commitment -- announcing the Texas10 College Station, but knew that I needed to get out of the area a little bit.

The weekend before this past one, when my good friend in Alabama, Rebecca Bell, indicated that she was pregnant and would not be coming over to run Rocky Raccoon 50, I decided that a road trip to see her and her husband, Keith, was in order.

To get to the greater Mobile area by car, requires one to pass through Louisiana -- so I reached out to another good friend, Cassie (Cowan) Mondragon, to see if she was going to be running a race that Saturday morning in the New Orleans area where she and her husband, Manny, and son, Gabe, live.

She was -- and, therefore, a road trip it was.

I got my 40-plus hours in early Friday morning, left the Medical Center around 12:30 p.m. and almost six hours later, I was checked in my hotel in Metairie.

Talking with Cassie, she had a 10-miler to complete on either Friday or Saturday and since she was going to a Krewe meeting (for Mardi Gras), Friday was soon out.

Therefore, I offered to run it with her and we included the 5K as part of it.

So after visiting with the three of them Friday night, I met Cassie at their place and we ran a mile to the race site.

Once there -- the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans -- I saw, once again, former New Orleans Track Club president and Mardi Gras Marathon race director Chuck George.  And with that "Hello again", I got the royal treatment via the microphone - as being "the" visitor from Houston.

All about who you know, right?  :-)

Since we were going to run 10 in total, it was decided that we weren't going to "race" the 5K.

The course was a long "L" -- and the streets were classic New Orleans:  every form of pothole, grading and camber known to mankind.

Mile 1 came in 10:09.29.  Felt pretty nice and easy.

The second mile, I was feeling pretty good and the temperature was right.  I got a little excitable and ahead of Cassie and came to the mile 2 marker with a 9:50.96 second mile.

I waited for Cassie to get there a few seconds later and we ran together to close to the third mile marker, right before the right-hand turn to the finish.  I clocked a 10:24.74 third mile and then sprinted - as much as I can sprint -- to a 49.55 tenth of a mile (low 8-minute pace).

My total time was 31:14.54.  Not too bad.  (If I were racing, I'd have been really upset.)

We ran a mile back to Cassie and Manny's house, dropped our race t-shirts and headed off to Audubon Park for a loop to cap off a 10-mile run that had an average overall pace of 10:27.

This was faster than Cassie's target pace (10:45) for her workout, which is part of a long buildup for November's Ironman Florida, but it was all good - for the physical being and the soul.

Then it was off to Robersdale, Alabama to catch up with Rebecca and Keith.

I had a really good visit that afternoon and evening with them -- and many of their friends at dinner (Ivey's Fine Food in Robertsdale).

Some of them I had met in previous visits to the area, the Pfeiffers and the Gardners.

The next morning, I was out the door a little bit earlier, I think, than Rebecca - who was running with her normal group of friends at 6 a.m. -- on my way back into Mobile to run in the Biggest Loser Half Marathon, which basically replicated the majority of the First Light Half Marathon course.

I had run 2:14:09 on that course five years earlier (in 2009).

However, I didn't have a specific time goal as my intent was just to run how I felt -- and figure out where my fitness was at.

Mile 1 - 9:34.96
Mile 2 - 9:29.71

In these first two miles, I tried to keep it easy.  I learned from the 10:30 per mile pacer that the event had recruited them late in the game.  As we passed the mile 2 marker, both the 10-minute per mile (a guy) and the 10:30 per pacer (a female) were both just ahead of me and close enough that I could have touch them both rather easily.

Mile 3 - 10:13.38
Mile 4 - 10:07.57
Mile 5 - 10:11.12
Mile 6 - 10:08.47
Mile 7 - 10:06.51
Mile 8 - 9:57.49
Mile 9 - 10:07.46
Mile 10 - 9:54.42

The effort on these eight (8) miles was just simply to run strong and steady -- and I did.  I knew that I might then have a chance to come very, very close to my PR, which is 2:08:45.

And, then, my hips started to hurt a little bit.

Mile 11 - 10:22.46
Mile 12 - 10:29.08

These next two miles were still OK, even though I could tell that I was slipping off a 2:11 time, but it was the next mile and a tenth into the finish that wrecked me.

Even though I hit every single water stop and had Gatorade at each one, I cramped badly in my right calf.  I think I stopped four times in total -- twice to literally try and rub it out.

Mile 13 - 13:02.31

Still, I ended the day with a net time of 2:13:45.

It was my fastest half in a little over three years and age-graded - at 47 - it was a new PR of 2:01:19.

And it was half marathon no. 94 -- on the way to 100.

Here's the skinny on the Biggest Loser Half Marathon Series.  A lot of it is hype from the show.

I was in my car until 10 to 15 minutes before the start because I was trying to stay warm, but the pre-race announcements, et. al., was a lot of rah-rah -- stuff that I wouldn't do and some of it, I held my fingers to my ears literally.

They're coming into a town and using an already established course (with some tweaks -- and not certifying it either), getting - of course - local volunteers, engaging pacers with local clubs and basically producing another "local"-like event.

To their credit, they're probably getting some folks out to at least walk the 5K course that maybe wouldn't any other place -- and that's a really good thing.

Next up?  The Stonebridge Ranch Half Marathon in McKinney this past Saturday.