Monday, December 12, 2016

A Few Thoughts From Saturday's Brazos Bend Marathon; December 10, 2016

As I've shared before, I write to help me process life.

When Waverly started college at Liberty University, my advice to her - and even before - was that if she had the time to "do something", regardless of what it was, do it.

Live her life with no regrets.

Returning home from getting dinner out, I was listening a little bit to KSBJ on the ride home and there was some discussion about regret.

And it is how Satan wants us to live in the past in our regrets and to fear in the future and not in the present with Christ.

How true.  Even as I sit and write, I can look at things around me - a stack of stuff here, another there - and see failure or rather that there's still a lot of opportunity in front of me.

I prefer the latter.

I stay busy.  And there's some reasons for that.

People laugh and tell me that they have a hard time keeping up where I'm at or going to and from.

I look for opportunities to maintain peace, joy and happiness in my life.  Especially with a lot of the rhetoric from this past election season, I've moved away from people - on both sides of the proverbial political aisle - whose opinions were extreme or strident.

If you're reading this and you fear that you might be one of them, I'm sorry, but my happiness is more important than your noise.

Constructive dialogue and conversation, I can handle.  Beyond that, life is too short.

As I approached the weekend, I had a release planned, but just didn't know which one it was going to be.

I love running in races in multiples and in new locations and I particularly enjoy the half marathon distance.

One plan had me going to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to run a Friday night race in Denton (timed by my friends with RunFAR), perhaps a 5K on Saturday morning in Fort Worth and then maybe swing west for an afternoon 5K in Comanche.

Another included a half marathon in Temple that I've run three times in the past, including last year.

And finally a third option saw me going to Lake Charles, Louisiana for a half marathon that I ran in 2004, the first time that I ever helped another runner cover the distance for the first time.

I had been in Temple earlier in the week for a memorial service of a friend and former business partner of my father's.

It is a solid two-hour, 40-minute drive each way and the half marathon was an 8:45 a.m. start; therefore, I could see a good bit of the day being tied up -- given that I needed to finish preparing to finish line announce today's 29th annual Fort Bend Kia 30K in Sugar Land.

The half marathon in Lake Charles had a 7 a.m. start, which would have worked.

The race in Temple had a $60 race day price while the one in Lake Charles was $80.  These come with the territory of signing up for a race late.

The one option that I hadn't strongly considered was the Brazos Bend 100 mile race in Brazos Bend State Park, just south of downtown Houston.

I knew there was going to be lots of people that I knew that was going to be there.

Sometimes, being an introvert (although at selected times, extroverted), I don't want all of that stimulation that comes from people.  Granted, the majority of it is always good, but still I like to control the engagement.

Yet I wasn't sure that I wanted to go and drive to an out-of-town race and be by myself like I am much of the time.

The price of the half marathon was $90.  Again, it is a function of limiting the number of late sign-ups, which reduces the load on race day staff and the amount of possible things that can go wrong.

No offense to Rob Goyen and his excellent team at Trail Racing Over Texas, but $90 is past my price point for a half marathon.

But $95 for a marathon isn't.   We runners have a strange sense of rationale, don't we?

Marathon, huh?  I've shied away from them for awhile.  I was signed up for the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon, ready to go for my 10th finish - good enough to earn Veterans Status, but just a lack of "want to" to go walk my way through the back end of a 5:30 finish had limited that pursuit.

The big difference here was that I knew that my best friend Bill Dwyer would be out supporting a couple of his Volte Endurance athletes that were going to be running the half marathon.

When I'm announcing and most other times, I'm a person that does my best to give encouragement to others.

Bill literally lives it and has such an incredible spirit of goodness towards others and the ability to see the positive at all times in everybody.

Start - #1 (40 Acre) - 3.08 miles
#1 (40 Acre) - #2 (Windmill) - 3.6 miles
#2 (Windmill) - #3 (Sawmill) - 2.7 miles
#3 (Sawmill) - #4 (Windmill) - 2.7 miles
#4 (Windmill) - #5 (Finish) - 1.87 miles
Total was advertised as 13.78, even though this adds up to 13.95.

33:46.67 - 46:33.66 (spent four mins at main aid station)
43:22.12 - 50:59.73 (was still running a good bit on the second)
32:39.70 - 44:52.65 (started to power walk)
33:44.10 - 46:52.68
24:37.13 - 29:10.85

(2:48:09.72) Front half
(3:38:29.57) Second half

(6:26:39.29) Overall

One of the easiest things you can do to sabotage your time in a trail race, regardless of your speed, is to spend too much time in the aid stations.

In reality, unless you're running a 50-miler or a 100-miler, you should get in and get out.

I don't know that I gave up too much time on the first loop, but definitely did so on the second loop.

I'm pleased with the effort, especially doing it sort of on a whim.

"I don't think I know anyone who registers for 26.2 the day before," said Volte's Carrie Hyde.

Yes, I'm not that classically trained runner that one should follow.

But one of the things that I realized when I delivered a eulogy at my sister's memorial service almost three years ago and that is:  Nobody is going to really care about the things you accomplished.  What matters is who you were to other people.

Even though I power-walked from the Windmill station out to Sawmill and back and on into the finish, I enjoyed the entire day and all of the people that I saw and interacted with.

First person I saw as I walked in towards the start line from the outer parking lot was Steve Boone.  I didn't know he was going to be there as he had been attending to his family's needs the past two weeks as Paula's father had passed away.  If you can't be friends with Steve and Paula, it is likely that you can't be friends with anybody.

Great to visit with the Bay Area Running Club's Jeremy Hanson at the start.  Funny how things jog our memory.  I remembered him from a picture posted on Facebook at the finish with BARC favorite Veronica Hoge.

Bridge City's Brian Beard came up and said "Hello!" before the start of the race.  Always, always great to converse with a fellow follower of Christ and Steelers fan.

One of the best moments of the day was when I got to run a little bit with West Columbia's Don Womble.  We're all always so busy at races, but it was great to run and chat a little bit with him.  Very compassionate, caring man who always speaks well of and thoughtfully asks about Waverly every time we see each other.

Saw Nils Fowler out on the half marathon course and later as he was done and I was on the second loop of the marathon course.  His wife, Allison, ran the 50-miler.  I really appreciate their friendship.  First class people.

After we had been running for awhile, the half marathoners began to start flying by and leading the pace with Duncanville's Jeff Ball was Lake Jackson's Lauren Smith Stroud.  She hung with him through the Sawmill turnaround, but was still second overall and first female.  The 50-mile American's women record was set on the course on Saturday.  I think one day Lauren could take that down.

Two of Bill's runners, Hope Jimenez and Letty Gonzalez, were running the half marathon too.  I saw Hope first.  She was running well and later on in the morning, I was wondering when she would pass me.  I was ready to offer a shout out, but I later learned - as she was headed to the Sawmill aid station and I was leaving it - she had turned an ankle.  Though I was most delighted that she continued to walk the course and finish.  Solid, steady race from Letty.  I look forward to announcing the finish to her goal race in the spring of 2017.

I've always said that one of the classiest women in sports in our area is Houston's Suzy Seeley, but Nome's Melanie Holland deserves to be included in that company.  Such a sweet-spirited person, she ran up behind me, as she was running the half, and said, "Way to go, Mr. Jon."

It was great to see The Woodlands' Ronnie Delzer out there trying to set the American record at the 100-mile distance.  One of his crew members, Peter Bardenhagen, reported that he went 6:02 through the first 50, which was on pace, but he dropped about six miles later.  After recovering some and reconsidering, given a future goal of running Badwater 135, he went back out on the course and covered the remaining 44 miles.  A lot of humility from somebody who ran 14 hours, 15 minutes at Rocky Raccoon 100 last February.

I announce a lot of races and it is always great to "bring the finish line to the course".  Great to see in the results that Victoria's John Hyak, who is a member of our Seabrook Lucky Trail Leprechaun Hall of Fame, finish his first 100-miler.  I think he was surprised to hear me shout out to him, but I could tell that he appreciated it.

Another runner that I've gotten to know through the Seabrook race as well as Steve and Paula's Texas Marathon is Daniel Bucci.  Positive, upbeat guy that loves trail racing, he was seventh overall in the 50-miler.

Finishing about seven minutes from each other were two of our regulars at Seabrook -- Kingwood's Jacqueline O'Brien Nolen and Houston's Wendy Hammerman.  Jacqueline covered the distance in 8:54:53 while Wendy wasn't far behind in 9:01:08.

Great attempt at the 100-mile distance by April Hamon from over in the Beaumont area.  Incredible mom of three who's as tough as nails.  I surprised her when I first saw her on the course as I don't telegraph where I'm going anymore to race and then the second time I saw her, as she was early in her second of six proposed loops, I encourgaed her to pick her head up.  She completed four laps for 66-plus miles, but realized that it was unlikely to cover the fifth loop in enough time to make the last loop cutoff.

Always good to see Buddy and Becky Howlett from Vidor.  Buddy was running the marathon while Becky was doing well in the half marathon.  Buddy is one of Rob's newest Trail Racing Over Texas race ambassadors - and a wise choice.

I met Missouri City's Theresa Bueno as I came in to one of the aid stations and she commented on my Penn State shirt.  I said, "Yeah, but the guy in the Wisconsin shirt over there didn't like it too much."  She had, like others, recognized me by my voice.  Such a scary thought.  Very, very upbeat individual.  I think sometimes if we leave a race and we haven't made a new connection or two, we're missing out.

Great to see long-time friend and fellow ISS ("Incredible Shrinking Strider") Doug Spence from Houston who was volunteering at the finish line aid station.  Didn't know he was even going to be there as he was signed up for the Fort Bend Kia 30K the following day, but I told him that I thought out on the course that we were just one letter short from being something far worse!

Also great to see Bob Botto.  He was going to be out there later in the night pacing somebody.

The Snowdrop Foundation was best represented out there by Jim Abney.  He later said on Facebook he wasn't his normally bubbly self, but it was still great to see him.

Out there representing Snowdrop too was Traci Duck.  She was working in the Pavilion with Becky Spaulding as I got ready to leave the Park for the day (as I still had a race to prepare for).

A number of folks that support Robby Sabban's races, Texas Beef Team member Alison Brown and Bob Smither were there doing the marathon and 50-miler, respectively.  Both were steady on the course the entire time they were out there.  Bob improved greatly - I think to the tune of four hours, I noticed - on his 50-mile time from a year ago.

Leno Rios found his way out to the trails - and got lost!  Turning what should have been 17 miles into 22.  One of Houston's greatest class acts in racing.  Such a talented, steady runner who is a great encourager to many runners in our community.

At the finish line working with Doug was Paula Boone.  Her Dad had passed away in the last two weeks and she and Steve had just made it back into town the day before.  Steve hadn't run at all during that time and was out there to move off of his 666th marathon finish at the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon, but Paula was giving of herself to other runners.  I had been working on getting a card for her, but it was great to give her a big hug to let her know that we'd been thinking about them.

And I couldn't have left the grounds without getting a hug from a long-time friend Becky Spaulding.  Finish Line Sports race director Andy Stewart recognized Becky this year with his club's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award and it was so deserving.  I've known Becky since the fall of 2004 when she, Doug Spence and myself were all in the same HARRA Power In Motion clinic together.  I don't know how she gives of herself as much as she does, but everyone - especially the trail racing community - is glad that she does.

See running is more about people to me.

I'm glad that I didn't go race elsewhere and regretted not going to Needville (a new Texas city, by the way) -- and neglected the advice that I gave - and continually give - to my daughter.

Nobody will remember your times, but they will remember you and how you treated them and made them feel.

Two more notes that are especially important.

When I came into one of the aid stations, perhaps it was the Windmill station, I recognized Crystal Huff from the Beaumont area that does many of Rich and Amie James' races.  Being the dutiful aid station worker that you are when you work a trail racing aid station, she approached me and asked me is there anything that I needed.

And the primary gist is to take your water bottle and fill it up with whatever you need so you can focus on getting in some calories for the next 2-3 miles.

In life, I generally take care of everything for myself.  And at that moment, I did the same.

However, as I left that exchange, and the aid station, I worried that I offended and discouraged somebody who was trying to be helpful.  When I ran out to the Sawmill aid station and back, Crystal was gone.

I saw her shortly after I finished the marathon, however, and was able to explain to her and ensure that I didn't offend her nor not appreciate the help that she offered.

Finally, one of the things that I did was to engage race director Rob Goyen and tell him what an incredible job he and his team had done on Saturday.

We, as runners, do that often to event directors that do a great job.  That's not abnormal.

However, there's a back story.

Two years ago, after the 2014 edition of the Brazos Bend 100, a day where Ronnie cut short his inaugural attempt at the 100-mile distance partly because some of the aid stations had run out of water, I had some reports from people I trusted in the community that said it was a rough day for many.

I was later asked in a Facebook group of the Seven Hills Running Club about doing either Hog's Hunt (Paul Stone's race) or Brazos Bend 50 (so this would have been for the spring of 2015).  I strongly recommended doing Hog's Hunt.  I just felt like based on what I knew from people that I trusted as well as a post on his blog that Rob had made that - even though his heart was fully-vested in what he was doing - that he just needed a bit more seasoning from a race directing standpoint.

Well, Rob over the past two years has proven that he has gotten that seasoning down well and has spiced things up.

We saw each other at the Snowdrop 55 Ultra this past December, but didn't engage too much.  I tried a little, but I understood how Rob might have felt after an exchange in that Facebook group that one day in January or February from early last year.

However, I stopped to make sure that I told Rob face-to-face, eye-to-eye that he and his team had done well.  He thanked me for spending my money on the race.

It was something that I set out to do once I set my first foot past the start line Saturday morning and I'm glad that I did.

And I'm glad that Rob was gracious enough to receive my words, even though his success didn't need to.

So, in the end, even in racing, there's something to be said for doing the right things and doing them well and with humility and grace.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Jon for your kind words, for being such a tremendous asset to our sport, and for giving us Waverly to sing our National Anthem at so many races.