My Gusher experience this year was like no other! It was a week long adventure and was nothing more then amazing! I spent the week leading up to the Gusher Marathon volunteering my time to help where needed; whether it be with loading, unloading, getting supplies, putting signs out, packet pickup, packet stuffing, mile marker setting or so on. Whatever needed to be done, I was there willing and ready to help!
Being behind the scenes to see what it takes to put on a race as great as the Gusher Marathon is just mind boggling!!! So much goes into it that most never see and I only got a glimpse. If you’re not running or walking a race you should be volunteering.
The Day Before
I volunteered with helping get things over to the tennis center and set up so that all the runners could start picking up their race packets at 11am. There were several volunteers that stepped in to help with the day in shifts. It went smoothly without any mishaps as far as I could see. I had a blast and everyone else seemed to have had the same experience and I got to learn how to put the runners in the system when doing late registration.
I left packet pickup around 5:45pm to head over to the GTStrutters Pre-Race Pasta Dinner that we were holding at Madison’s to do our Strutter of the Year awards and mingle for a bit. We had a pretty good turn out for the dinner! Strutter awards went as follows: Virginia Leonardi: Strutter of the Year, Nikolas Weaver: Newbie Strutter, and Glen Melanson: Most Improved Strutter. Each and every one of the Strutters did an amazing job of racing and representing the group throughout the year but these three stood out from everyone else. Great job Strutters!
After dinner and awards, I said my goodbyes and wished everyone good luck on the next day’s race and headed back to the tennis center to help load the truck up with all the packet pickup stuff. I got a chance to chat with Amie James and a few others before heading home for a night of what I knew would be zero sleep.
Race Day: Pulling a Hamon (3 events, 1 day)
My morning started at 4:30am when I arrived back at the Montange Center to help finish setting up for the runners before my day of events started. Setting up tables for packet pickup for the out of town runners, setting up tables, trash cans and so on; whatever needed to be done.
I got a chance before the announcements started to talk with race announcer, Jon Walk. We chatted about the past Gushers and other race related talk. I consider Jon a good friend and have since I first ran the Sugarland Half back in 2015. I do my best to find him at the races that I’m running if I know that he will be announcing. It’s always a pleasure getting to talk with him and hearing him announce the runners as they cross that finish line. He’s the best race announcer I know!
Event #1: Half Marathon
The half marathon, which I had originally planned to be the 5K and somehow convinced myself that a half would be better since I hadn’t run the half at Gusher before (I’ve run the 5k the last three years). I set a goal of a 2:10 finish (sub 2 is what I really wanted but I knew that would be rough given what else I had to do). After 27 and a half hours of NO sleep and ZERO energy; I set out at 7:30am to run 13.1 miles. I started out with the 1:40 pace group (I was feeling way too ambitious on no sleep, lol) and stayed with them for about a mile and a half. I knew then there was no way I could keep that constant pace for the duration of the race so I feel back with the 4:00 pacer and stayed right behind him for a few miles until I had to stop to cough up a lung from the horrible congestion I had from allergies I had been fighting for two weeks prior. It was right before mile 5 or so when I had to stop and that’s when Colleen Bauer yelled out at me. I won’t quote what she said but she definitely had me laughing and I was back running. Thanks for the motivation Colleen!!!
I knew exactly where I was at every moment on the course having help put out mile markers a couple days before which was nice. Rounding downtown by the river I saw Laruen volunteering at the aid station. She was on top of things asking what we needed before we reached her so that she could have it ready as we passed by. Thanks for the salted caramel GU Lauren!!! I tuned everything out after that and was in a zone so as much as I wish I had seen some of what was on the course I kinda missed a few main points that I wanted to take in around downtown.
Coming back onto MLK there was a headwind that I could have done without lol. I was on pace for a sub 2:00 half then quickly decided that was out the window and that I’d settle for PR. As I reached McDonald’s (I believe) is where I saw Jason Hanley cheering on the runners. He asked how I was doing. All I could say, “do you have gum?” All I wanted was gum at that point so that I could control my hacking in the wind (damn allegories) lol. No such luck because he didn’t have gum and he apologized so much. Thanks for being out there Jason supporting everyone!
Those last 2.5 miles back around Lamar to the finish were probably the longest 2.5 miles I’ve ever run. They seemed to go on forever lol. I rounded the last corner to the finish in a sprint as Jon announced my name and that I had two other events to do. I crossed the finish with a PR and an official time of 2:11:50 (previous PR was 2:14:38 at Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon in November) finishing 11th in my age group which I’m completely ecstatic about considering I was literally running on no sleep. On to the next event….
Event #2: ExxonMobil Heads or Tails Cycling Time Trial
After finishing my half I had about an hour to change into my SSAH cycling gear and get down to MLK where the cyclists were. I’m ever so grateful that the Montange Center was open so that I didn’t have to change clothes in a port-a-john…whew! I was on the schedule to start my 1oK cycling time trial at 10:28am. Thank you Richard for putting me at the bottom so that I had enough time to run my half and get changed without stressing about time like last year! It worked out great!
I changed gear, said some hellos and congrats to several of my peeps that had finished their race and were now spectating waiting for awards then headed down to wait with the other cyclists until my name was called.
“April Hamon?” I was up to start, eek. I had new pedals, cleats and shoes that I hadn’t taken for a test ride before race day…can we say freaked out!!! Yep, I was a bit freaked out thinking the worst case scenario and hoping that I wouldn’t just bust face and ass in front of everyone as I went down the ramp. Last year I started on the road because the ramp intimidated me so much. Shannon reassured me that they had me and that they would make sure I was locked into my pedals before taking off. “No need to for worry, we’ll take care of you”, he said and that’s exactly what they did. 10:28am on the dot and I was off and pedaling my way down MLK. I had a pretty good momentum going until I rounded the corner back from College. My right calf locked up so bad that when I tried pedaling up the hill my hamstring cramped up too. Well shit! I couldn’t pedal, trust me I tried. I had to stop and move over to the curb. I tried stretching and massaging my right leg and the pain sort of dulled a little but was tight so I got going a little again then my left calf cramped up..damn it to hell!!! O to the M to the G the pain in both of my legs were far worse then giving birth!!! I tried massaging my left leg as well and got going again only for both legs to cramp up. Are you freaking kidding me!!! I said “f*** it” and made my way back to the finish as quickly as my cramped up legs would let me. I finished my 10K in 26:15.6 finishing 4th in my category. On to the next event…
Event #3 Roughneck Challenge
Having finished both the half marathon and the cycling time trial, I had to get a massage from one of Melinda’s girls before starting the Roughneck because I was afraid that I would tear my calf or hamstring with how tight they were. I was trying to be smart and safe by doing so. After a little massage I let Elise Becker know that I was ready to start; she handed me a clip board and sent me over to a score keeper.
Carry two 30lb poles with handles from one green line to the end and back and repeat as many times as possible in a two minute time frame. I had a pretty good pace going for about a good minute and a half then my arms just gave out. Ugh! The feeling of fatigue just hit me all at once. Not sure why lol. Done. One minute to rest then to the next.
So my arms are already toast but let’s press a 65lb steel bar for two minutes lol. The goal, my goal…press as many reps as I could without dying LOL. I knew this one would be a rough one for me considering my strength training took the back seat to my running all year…not smart. I think I managed to press seven reps before I just called it.
You had two choices, either flip the tire from one end down to the other and back or flip it right where it was and move side to side. I opted for the side to side and got 27 flips which is no where close to what I did last year but I flipped that tire the entire two minutes before I stopped.
My least favorite of the five lol. Last year I attempted the same tire pull and managed to rip the sole off of the bottom of my right shoe and busted ass while doing so LOL. Same thing happened this year minus the losing a sole. Kudos to those 110lb and under ladies who moved that tire. Busted ass and didn’t even move that tire half and inch and I tried hard LOL!!!
Anchor & Chain Pull
There’s a strategy to this one. I was just trying to pull the chain with my hands to get it across the line and when that obviously was not working the score keeper said it’d be easier if I looped the ring around my arm at my elbow and try that way. That way actually seemed to work and I was able to move that “massive” anchor a little but not near as far as I needed for it to count bahahaha. I was complete buttery soggy toast at this point and it seemed useless to just keep at it when it was going NOWHERE! I called it several times before actually throwing the towel in. Those score keepers were the best motivators but I just couldn’t. I finished DEAD last in my category and I’m completely okay with that because I did it!!!
All I wanted once I was finished with my three events were a Redbull and chicken salad sandwich!!! I missed the tacos!!! That sandwich was soooooo good!!! After a little refuel, I went down to the finish line to watch Marathon Man, Tony Mireles finish his 100th marathon. What an amazing thing to be able to do and have done it at home! Tony is one inspiring man that never stops. Congrats Tony!
I ended my day with helping load up the trucks and trailer with all the equipment and supplies that were used for the event as well as help with taking trucks we borrowed back to the dealership. As we were loading the truck, Richard was carrying the PR Bell to load on the truck when I realized that I had rang it after I finished my run but didn’t get a picture of me ringing it. Thanks again Richard for sitting it down long enough for me to have a cheesy PR Bell picture taken by Jody Moss. Thanks Jody!
It was a great week leading up to Gusher and a great day! I thought the day went smoothly and there were so many firsts out on that course! I’m really sad to see that the Gusher Marathon has come and gone but extremely excited for what 2018 has to hold for this great event!
I hope that the Southeast Texas community will take some initiative to being and becoming more active. I hear a lot of people say, “I’ll start tomorrow, next year, next month, or next week” to getting healthy and being active but it never happens. Quit putting off what you can do today. The Gusher Marathon is a year away and it’s an event that I look forward to doing and training for every year. You don’t have to be a runner to get up and move. For those who say, “I don’t have time to do a race like Gusher or the time to get outside and be active” is part of the issue we have in our community. If you have time for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or just sitting on the sofa then you have time to be active outside doing something that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping.
If you’re not sure where to start, start with the Golden Triangle Strutters run group. It’s a free run/walk group that meets every Monday and Wednesday at 6:30pm at the HEB on Dowlen Rd in Beaumont in the parking lot between the gas station and Compass Bank. All paces are welcomed and no one is left behind. Come join us and our fun up beat group! Let’s show everyone that we are not the community that doesn’t care about our health and well-being!
Big shout out to Richard and Amie James for the amazing work they do in our community to promote good health with the events they put on in Southeast Texas! Thank you for all you both do and for being an example of what our community needs.
Next Sports Society for American Health event, Daisies & Dragons Duathlon. See you there!